Steve and I met at the local improv house, Ad-Libs. For those in DFW, that probably rings a bell. This was way back when they first moved onto Ross Ave. I helped build the stage, in fact, on Superbowl Sunday, '91. We were a tight family, our group. The first night I was working with Steve, about mid-February of '91, we were all hanging out in the Green Room before people were brought in to be seated.
So let me explain you a thing about a comedy club's green room. There aren't bowls of Godiva chocolates and fresh flowers. What was there was a busted up old sofa someone had drug in off the street - the kind where it's so sprung that when you sit down, your knees are higher than your lap and you get knocked into whoever is sitting next to you - a giant electrical wire spindle for a table, and scores of milk crates stacked to the ceiling.
The milk crates were stuffed with porn mags. I'm talking the filthiest, most ridiculous titles you can think of. (Long time readers? This is where my love of redonk porn in fic was birthed.) This room was the epitome of Rule 34. Now, I'm in the heart of my Mormon Rumspringa at the time, I'm 18 and change. And they all know that I'm Mormon (but that at the time I wasn't devout). I'm sitting on this busted up sofa feeling about a foot off the ground, when I sense someone moving close to my left side. I turn to look and come face to naked crotch with a body I don't know. I look up at the guy (it's a guy, tucked) and he's got a shawl draped around his shoulders, and he's writhing with his arms stretched high overhead, and he's mewling, "I'd fuck me. I'd fuck me so hard."
Now, the waitress/bartender they had before me was NOT into their dirty-mouthed shenanigans. I, however, started bouncing my shoulders rhythmically and began singing, "Goodbye Horses." The guy lets out a machine gun fire sounding laugh, I mean, it was ripped out of him, an explosion of "Hahahahha!" He pulled me into a hug and introduced himself as Steve.
I'd passed the test. I was in the inner circle for these guys, and let me tell you: comedy clubs are sausage festivals, make no mistake. That they thought I was funny, that I was eventually able to get on stage was huge. There was nothing like making Steve laugh. He didn't laugh easy - he had an obvious fake laugh for flirty girls after the show - but man, when you ripped one of those hahahahaha!s out of him? Awesome.
Oh my god, he had this thing he would do where he would grab his top and bottom lip and force himself to laugh when dudebros would douche up the place after a show. (And there were always dudebros there.) We went trick of treating with my brother and sister that year, and he dressed in sweats with the words P-E-Z on his chest and wore a chicken head. He tied a Styrofoam block around his throat. Ha, I'd forgotten about that!
He seemed to have had it all - a wealthy and supportive family, the key to the family's international business, spoke multiple languages, never met a stranger he didn't want to listen to. That was the best part, he really wanted to hear people's stories. He introduced me to his "girls" late one night after a show - about 3am? - down on Maple St. It was where the transvestites hung out for coffee and gossip. For a sheltered Mormon kid, that was eye opening, guys with full beards and satin dresses. He was super right wing, but pro-LGBT. Politically right, but pro-choice. He was stocky, looked like Barney from the Flintstones, and always made me feel funny, interesting, and beautiful.
Two plus decades of heavy drug use and hard drinking finally took its toll yesterday - his heart, big as it was, finally stopped. Even though we'd all expected this day to come, it's still hard to face when it does.
Steve Slonina was my friend, he always made me feel special and important, and there will never be another person quite like him.
Icon usage is because we went to see Star Trek VI together and cheered when Sulu was announced as being the captain of his own ship. He had a black sense of humor and was good people.