House Seats


Fire This Time Festival: Wish I Could P. (Pay It No Mind)

Marsha P. Johnson shepherds the lost back home in this new work by playwright Mario (Mars) Wolfe. Under a streetlamp on a New York City night, Ariel and Jamil face difficult news about their future. Wolfe evokes the comforting language of fairy godmothers and Disney princesses as Ariel navigates her way. Filmed at the Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater.

AIRED: July 27, 2020 | 0:13:32


Man: We come over at stage right.

Man #2: Places, everyone.

♪ Walk through that door ♪

♪ 'Cause tonight is the night ♪

♪ For feeling alright ♪

♪ We'll be making love the whole night through ♪

♪ So I'm savin' all my love ♪ [ Chuckles ]

♪ Yes, I'm savin' all my love ♪

Why can't you, too, huh?

[ Scoffs ]

You see, I wasn't studying enough

to give them any attention. I'd pay them one half a mention.

Somebody told me early on

if they ain't gonna pay your bills,

pay them in nothing but sighs.

Palm of hands and back of heels,

and that's only if you're feeling nice.

So why can't you, too, huh?

Pay it no minds?


[ Chuckling ] I see.

You're like that little mermaid.

You gave up your voice, you're stuck staring into

the sea, combing through your hair,

wishing you could be paying no minds.

What the pretty one in the movie say?

Somewhere over the rainbow, all's you gotta do

is click your heels three times and you'll find a way back home.

Well, I guess mermaids don't have heels, do they?

[ Sighs ] [ Scoffs ]

She sighs.

What a surprise.

Well, since you can't speak,

I'll take the lead unseen, like the witch from that movie.

The nice one, not the one that was green.

Somewhere over the rainbow,

Ariel is stuck staring into the sea.

Her leg is shakin'.

You better stop shaking your leg, honey,

or you'se gonna have to go pee.

At last, her Prince Charming arrives.

A quarter till midnight, the last midnight.


Why are you sitting way off from our spot, way over in this cut?

You're late. And so I can see.

It's the last working streetlight in this pier.

So what, now you scared of the dark?

I'm scared of what be dancin', lurkin' in the dark.

You know how them fools around Hudson Park be.

You? Scared of the Bogeyman?

You the Bogeyman.

All them bats in yo cave.

Bogeyman ain't real.

Oh, for real? Come on, get up.

Unh-unh, come sit a minute.

You hella late and my ass got to piss.

If I get up, it's gonna let loose.

They stare, an all too familiar truth or dare.

She extends her arm.

He pulls her in.

They kiss.

He holds her a moment.


You still got to pee?

Yes. So go!

Where? Off the ledge in the water.

Over there. I'll hold you up.

Ew! Not in public.

Dark as it is out here?

Unh-unh, stupid.

Plus, I don't want to piss in the ocean

on the other mermaids and Sebastian and all

the little fishes in the sea. Mermaids ain't real.

Then how do you explain me?

[ Laughter ]

I'm a mermaid. Ariel in the flesh.

See, you playin'. You ain't got to pee.

Come on, let's walk. Unh-unh.

I got to tell you something. Let me sit a minute.

Maybe -- Maybe it'll go away.

See, I done drank most of this here --

You ain't save me half?

I tried. You know I love the watermelon.

I swear you was dragging your feet to get here.

I got stuff to do. Like what?

She pulls a long bundle of red hair out of her bag.

Trekking all the way up to the Bronx tonight.

Lydia gonna do my hair.

This late? Mm-hmm.

You know Lydia's a vampire.

Work all night, sleep all day.

Vampires ain't real either.

But mermaids is?

See, my hair gonna be flowing way past my butt,

and it's cherry red, just like it is

on the Disney princess head.

You got some drink left? Here.

She pulls a Bud Light margarita out of her bag

and hands it over to Jamil.

He takes a cloth out

and continues to wipe off the lip seal.

Dang, Jamil.

Where you think my mouth been?

I know where your mouth been.

They kiss.

Something stirs this time.

Girl, am I gonna have to cover my eyes,

or is you gonna remember your next line?

Excuse me, miss.

You don't know where my mouth been.

Thank you. You don't know my life.

Right. Boy, shut up.

Nah, you just always be having lipstick smeared on the can.

You never cared before. You already got

lipstick on your face. Shit.

Jamil wipes his face.

Ariel follows suit

and proceeds to wipe the places

where he can't see or feel. Dang.

Excuse me.

I just don't like it on my face.

You never cared before.

So why are you so late?

Said you was coming here straight after you --

Had an unauthorized person on the tracks.

We had to stop the trains. Again?

Had to shut off all the power, and that traffic

backed up way past 181st.

The fourth time this month. Second one this week.

Making all the conductors take extra cautions.

Damn. This little young dude

jumped in front of the train.

I mean, they think -- Suicide?

...he just gonna have some damage to his brain,

a bunch of broken bones.

Jesus. Nigga insane.

Tried to kill himself, but the train

was approaching too slow.

Or he was pushed. What?

You ever thought of that?

Maybe somebody had it out for him and pushed him.

You figure? I don't know.

Maybe. Tracks just seem like such a shit way to go.

You jump out in front of a moving train and hope

that'll get the job done.

Best bet is to jump in front of an express train.

[ Chuckles ] Okay.

You thought of this some. No.

Oh, uh... Uh...

Yes, back on some of my worst days.

Got the idea from that movie "Fame."

You remember that?

My sisters used to stay watching some "Fame."

I never went through with it, obvs.

Just my own little private depression game.

What was you on?

I don't know, I figured I could

jump our in front of a train,

a bus, do a closet, hang...

Oh, whoa, whoa, hey. ...jump off a truss.

We ain't about to sit here and talk about

this Suicide Squad horse shit.

That was just my dart game, though.

You know, back when I was sick in the head,

before I got that job.

Back when them dudes up on 125th

used to get under my skin.

Waking up every day, every day feeling like shit.

So then what happened? You found the light.

My luck turned around,

like a Disney princess somewhere near the end.

I got the job at the daycare. I made some play sisters,

ones that I found,

got an actual house situation.

I stopped looking all the time at the ground.

I realize I am that bitch.

[ Chuckles ]

My own personal queen bee.

And that Maleficent depression monster inside me,

just some evil witch. How are you feel now?


A lot, like I could kill the world one day

and live past 35. Look, I got to

tell you something.

What you turn all serious for?

I told you those was old dark thoughts,

gray rain clouds from my past.

I'm fine now, see?

And happiness seems like it's finna gonna last.


What? Tameka's pregnant again.

And? So what?

Your son gonna have a little friend?

A brother.

Aww, how cute.

So, who Tameka fuckin' with?

Who the man?


Mil, who the baby daddy?


Mil?! You said you going to Lydia's tonight, right?

Don't change the subject. Come on, let me take yo up.

I'll ride with you the whole way.

Stop changing the subject. Who's the baby daddy?

Well, I want to make sure you get home alright

'cause I know how you be. Who? Who?!

You already know it's me.

I just knew it. And if you knew that,

why you hollerin' all loud,

making a big deal?

'Cause I wanted to hear it out your mouth.

If you don't say it, it ain't real.

So when you start fucking your baby mama again?

Don't worry about all that.

Does she know about me, huh?

Your secret New York friend?

Chick on the side, stay over in the city?

You already know. Let me see your phone.

Give me your phone so I can call her so --

Let me tell her what's T.

Sorry, I got -- I got caught by surprise.

Caught up in the, uh,

Ariel struggles to grab Jamil's phone.

What the fuck is you trying to do?

Give me your goddamn phone

so I can call trick and tell her the truth.


They struggle... What're you -- Stop!

Sit your ass down! Chill! ...until all of Ariel's

belongings are on the ground.

If you gonna push me, push me in the water.

Push me so I'll sink and drown.

You know I'm not gonna do that, so just shut up and sit.

Listen to me. Tameka, she wanted --

But I want you to, 'cause that would hurt less!

Tameka want to make this work!

And on the real, I want to try, too,

so you cannot be callin' me no more.

Texting got to stop, or I will block your number.

I'm -- I just got to be done with you.

The clock strikes midnight.

The magic fades to gray.

Jamil straightens up to leave

and heads back to Jersey for the day.

His pride lingers behind.

Ariel is left to conjure up

something she can at least believe in.

And when you asked me why I can't pay it no mind,

you got your answer plain right there.


What I wouldn't give to be able to capital P.

Just find another and hope for a better --

a better find.

W-When you land one who actually lets you lay up

on his chest when the act is through.

You end up looking stupid when he leaves you for his baby mama,

and now it's you who don't know what to do.

Prince Strong Chin is gone.

The glass slipper done fell over and broke,

so what am I supposed to do now?

Turn to the streets?

That's all I've -- I've never even opened my mouth

and spoke nothing more than a fetish,

than a flea. Why they treat us like that,

Mama, huh?

Are you listening to me?!

What am I supposed to do now?

Go back to days thinking suicide is enough,

with a rainbow dried up, looking bleak.

Or -- Or -- Or run to a bathroom crying,

drink a gallon of bleach?


I done been there.

Come way too far for that, so please, fairy godmother,

Marsha P.,

wave your wand and -- and make a carriage out of a garden rat.

Give me an ounce of your strength

or a pill or a potion or something strong

so I could drink myself into a deep sleep.

Ariel steps to the edge of the ledge

and peeps her reflection in the water.

Like a magic talking tree, a hand to the womb,

Marsha P. Johnson speaks to her daughter,

fielding her away from impending doom.

Little girl.

You better look at me when I speak to you.

And she does.

You know, this is only one of life's valleys.

Life is not over. The credits ain't rolled.

Go on, lean on your sisters and be free.

Click your phone three times

and you'll find that way uptown, you'll be.

And just like that,

Ariel picks her belongings up off of the ground,

she clicks her phone three times,

and it makes that Uber/Lyft "I'm coming" sound.


pay it no mind,

or pay it what you can.

Child, pay it no mind,

because to be a real princess,

you don't really need a man.

I know it hurts now.

But there are so many other mountains and peaks to come.

So lean on your chosen family,

and they'll show you how to live.

They'll show you how to give.

They'll show your ass the real one.

[ Applause ]





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