More than 10 years after seeing it on Broadway, I have now watched the movie version of Rent - an underrated tour de force that’s not as gratifying as seeing the play live when you’re very young and its message was just what you psychologically needed at the time. I listened to the original-cast soundtrack on my yellow Discman, non-stop, for weeks afterwards, which is how I still know most of the words.
Ten years ago, I developed a crush on the guy who played Angel, the street-drumming drag queen. I (ONCE, AND ONLY ONCE) semi-strategically placed myself in the bar next to the Rent theater on 41st Street, knowing the show ended an hour earlier and any after-partying would soon begin. He didn’t come in that night, although Scary Spice (who didn’t scare me at all; I would describe her as sociable) did.
Another night, without even trying, I saw him on an escalator in Port Authority. He was the only one coming up, I was the only going down, like a scene out of the movie adaptation of Rent. (The movie, more than the on-stage production, made me wish daily life were a musical. Philosophers might insist it already is. But I mean a literal, verse-by-verse musical, where people are expected to suddenly break out into song while jaywalking or hauling sandbags out of Home Depot, or right before digging into a Shake Shack cheeseburger, instead of Instagramming proof of it.)
His real name is Justin and we both hail from the Midwest.