The Legend of Buffalo Bill as Told by a Hipster by Matt Micheli

I’ll have the Hemingway cocktail. Thanks.

         They use a bacon-infused rum, here. Fucking killer.

So anyway, you’ve never heard how cowboys came to be in Broadway? It’s kind of an interesting story, really. There was this dude—Buffalo Bill—born sometime in February back in the eighteen hundreds, back in the wild Wild West. So not only did he single-handedly propel the mustache into the new millennia, this guy was the original showman. But before all that, right, this guy was a fucking assassin on the buffalos. I saw some number somewhere… He killed in the upward four-thousands. I mean, he was a real good buffalo-killer person, probably the best ever, and single-handedly supplied buffalo proteins to railroad workers.

And can you believe, some dude actually challenged him to a buffalo-shooting contest? Fucking moron. He was all, “I’m the real Buffalo Bill,” and Buffalo Bill was like, “With that pathetic pre-pubertic stripe of hair you call a mustache? I don’t think so, bro.” Buffalo Bill’s mustache was in expert mode, and he was all, “Small mustaches are so last year.” He was like, “I’ll fucking shoot circles around you.” He was sooo confident, right? He says, “If I lose . . . you can have the buffalo name.” And that other dude was like, “Fuck yeah.” He had always wanted the word buffalo to precede his given name. So they go at it, right, and they’re shooting buffalo—ping, ping, ping—and this other dude comes back and he’s like telling everybody, “I shot like fifty buffalo!” And he’s all excited and proud. He orders a Bronson and chills out at the bar, right, just idling in his victory. And then Buffalo Bill walks in and laughs a little. He had heard how many buffalo this other poser shot. And he’s all, “Sorry, bro. I just killed like seventy buffalo.” And he’s like, “Maybe we can call you like . . . Second-Place Bill or Tiny Mustache Bill or something.”

         Dude, you have to try this cocktail. You can totally taste the swine.

So anyway, Buffalo Bill was in the military for a while but what he really wanted to do was get his choreography, his art, on the big stage. Yes, he was a good soldier but his heart just wasn’t in fighting. It was somewhere else, under the spotlight.

Right after he was discharged, he met his future wife: Lulu. He was nineteen and she was a little older, more experienced. She’d been around the city block a few times. The two of them had some kids. Some died. Some didn’t.

So, he was working as a scout—whatever that means—and trying to figure out how to bring his creative ideas to life. In the meantime, right, Buffalo Bill had a huge fan of his writing stories of Bill’s great crusades. Buffalo Bill met this adoring fan Ned Buntline—I think that was his pen-name—right, and Ned was all star-struck, “Oh, Buffalo Bill.” He fans himself. “I can’t believe it’s you. And you look so much better in person. That mustache . . . is just . . . exquisite.” And Buffalo Bill was never one to shy away from compliments. “Tell me more.” So he bought this admiring fan a drink—some type of martini. But no Vermouth. He hated Vermouth. And they chatted for a while.

         God, Foster the People is so last year. They need to update their playlist.

So they discussed the adventurous tales of Buffalo Bill and Bill discussed his yearning to get his dance and choreography skills on stage for the world to see. There were two… no, three things Bill loved, right: cowboys, performing, and mustaches. I mean, he loved his wife, but he wasn’t in love with her, you know?

So the two men became really tight, laying on the floor scribbling long-distance letters to each other, working out the deets for the upcoming production. His wife was all, “Buffalo Bill, why don’t you come fuck your wife?” She’d be in some skimpy negligee splayed across the bed. And he was all like, “I need to leave.”

So he hit the road to bring his dream to life, leaving his family at home, and he and Buntline rounded up a group of performers and got this really great costume designer to design their outfits—bright but still rustic, western, but not too western. All’s they needed now were tights and chaps and those weren’t hard to find back then, especially if you’re Buffalo Bill. I mean he had that stuff thrown at him. Meanwhile, this life on the road took its toll on his sexually frustrated wife. Poor Lulu heard word that Bill began acting peculiar and was handing out mustache rides like they were going out of style. So she was all like, “Fuck this.” And she filed for divorce. Bill was so wrapped up in his performing cowboys and his new life as the most famous performer in the world, that the request for divorce didn’t faze him. They were like, “Bill, bro, I’m sorry but Lulu wants out.” Bill turned and was all, “What? I told you to knock before entering my trailer, Todd. Now get out! And fucking . . . fuck her.” He didn’t give a shit.

So the show travelled the world, and made a huge splash hitting Europe—Europeans loved cowboys almost as much as Bill did. Somebody said Buffalo Bill had slept with the queen but I think that was just based on a photo of Bill and the queen shopping some boutiques together.

The travelling show found great long-term success for twenty-five years or so, and his performing cowboys were finally seen by the entire world just as he had always wanted. Buffalo Bill was always the main attraction. Anytime one of the younger male performers began taking attention away from Bill, Bill would get sooo pissed, right? “What do you think this is, Stephen? Do you think I’m dense? I know what you’re doing. I know who you’re screwing.” And he’d find some reason to fire these young stars. “This is my show, you fin.” And he’d belittle them, nearly castrate them. I mean, he was mean. This one young boy—a total Cronkite—was totally broken. He was all, “But . . . I love you.” This confession infuriated Bill so he stormed out and shot a buffalo and then scalped some Indian dude out of pure anger. It had been a while since he had killed anything, right. And he was all, still totally pissed, “I won’t sleep . . . until every fucking buffalo is dead.”

Sitting Bull was a friend of his and even he was all, “Bill, bro, wtf?” And Bill was all, “I just need . . . a fucking cocktail.” And he got sloshed and danced around with the dance crew to some Indian beats that had been given to him along the way. When Buffalo Bill wanted you to dance with him, you danced.

Are you kidding me? Another Foster the People song? I knew about this song, like . . . two years ago.

So Bill died of Kidney failure, probably due to his heavy love for cocktails, but his status as the original showman held strong. His dancing cowboys had taken Broadway and the rest of the world by storm… so tough, yet so elegant. His death didn’t slow things. To this day, because of Buffalo Bill, you can see skimpily-clad cowboys performing two to three nights a week at any given city, at any given moment, dancing their little hearts out… leaving everything they have on stage. If only Bill could see it now . . . he would be sooo proud.

So anyway, I can’t handle this music anymore. Let’s ditch.