Matthew Bubb, cofounder of The Dolls, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Matthew had battled cancer for a year. He died peacefully at home, with friends and family at his side.
I can't believe he's gone.
And I can't imagine the creative life of this city without Matthew. For more than a decade, he (as Geneva Convention) and partner Kenneth Ansloan (as Tequila Mockingbyrd) were the engine of New Mexico's premier theatrical drag troupe.
His incredible knack for dialogue writing and his antic yet sympathetic portrayals of characters like Marilyn Monroe helped The Dolls collect fans and accolades like so many twinkling Christmas ornaments. Just last month, Matthew and Kenneth were awarded the first-ever Standing Ovation Award at the "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are" benefit showcase. At the same event, Oct. 6, 2007, was designated "Dolls Day" by Mayor Martin Chavez.
Matthew was an incredible wordsmith and one of the most gracious people I've ever met. His passion for performing reverberated through every word he spoke, suffused every high-heeled step he took on stage. He once told me that acting was "just kind of rapturous. You get up there, and you get the audience's adulation. I think for me, if I were playing anything else on stage, it would be the same feeling of just loving being on stage. You know, you're always in a costume."
Going through transcripts of interviews we've done I can hear Matthew's animated voice running up and down the stairs of his considerable dramatic range. Even in casual conversation, the way he embedded beautiful turns of phrases and quips—he could seamlessly thread in these vivid and very telling slices of life within the space of a few words—seemed not merely spoken, but written and performed. And Matthew's speech was peppered with laughter. Something always made him laugh.
The Dolls were so much more than a theater troupe to so many. To tell The Dolls' story is to speak of deeply enduring friendships and honest-to-god true love. Matthew and Kenneth had been a couple since they were 15-year-old kids at Del Norte High School. Through their shared playwriting and performing, through an ever-expanding constellation of truly unique and cherished friendships, Kenneth and Matthew loved each other deeply for 27 years. It breaks my heart to see them pulled apart from each other now. The world needs more love like theirs.
Matthew won't be forgotten. He is everywhere in this city. As I pass by the KiMo, the Albuquerque Social Club, the Vortex and so many other venues, all are illuminated with memories of Matthew. His smile flickers on, larger than even life, like the screen of a drive-in movie palace.