When I’m not on tour or trying to promote something, I make it a practice to never leave my house. There’s people out there, y’know.
Which is why it’s a testament to my good friend Madge of Honor (a performer you should know in her own right) that she somehow got me out of the house and into a venue of any kind a few years ago, just to watch a show. I don’t remember the exact circumstance, but I know she must have worked hard at it.
The event she brought me to was Perestroika, a monthly alternative drag show at Boston’s historic Jacque’s Cabaret.
[youtube width="380" height="380"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1hh_2ph22E&feature=player_embedded#[/youtube]
The mark of a great stage performance, to me, is when performers show that they
1.) have mastered the form they’re attempting and
2.) are pushing it’s boundaries and using it to challenge the audience.
The normal drag format is something familiar enough to make it a Bachelorette Party destination; that’s a MAN up there! Dressed like a WOMAN! He’s lip-synching a song and dancing up on people! Laughs!
In the hands of a great performer, though… what happens is something like Miss. Nicholle Pride. Thomas-Andre Bardwell created Nicholle, and is an actor-playwrite who fuses spoken-word, song, and traditional African dance into his performances in a way that is smart, subversive, and jaw-droppingly sexy and energetic.
As a heterosexual man, I’d read/been told about/understood in an intellectual way what it meant to be “genderqueer” and sort of… taken people’s word for it. ”Oh, that’s how you feel? Ok. Well, I don’t feel that way… but I can appreciate that that might exist. Do you!”
But it’s entirely another thing to watch someone like Miss Nicholle Pride, and for the first time really understand that a wider spectrum of gender exists. As you’re sat there in the audience watching one of the most intensely feminine things imaginable, and one half of your brain is reacting to that while the other half goes “wait! that’s a man doing that to you!” It was an honest-to-god moment of epiphany for me, giving me a window into a trickier, less polarized idea of gender than the one I’d lived my whole life with. I felt challenged as an audience member in a way that I’ve been striving to challenge audiences for my entire career.
She knows what she’s doing to say the least. Watch the way she turns her back to the crowd and presents a feminine side in the first video, then whips the hood off and turns around to reveal a wigless ‘male’ rapper impression. Or her incredible performance of “This is a Man’s World” below, portraying a glitter bearded, corset wearing, swagger on a hundred thousand, MONSTROUS reincarnation of James Brown.
Needless to say, I left Jacque’s Cabaret in awe of Thomas Bardwell’s craft and determined to work with him.
The videos and photo available online come nowhere close to doing this lady justice, but the Church of Love & Ruin audiences are about to get leveled by the realness. Vockah Redu, The Cru, and DJ BeesKnees are already in the van heading north. Jamie & Sissy arrive in 3 days, and I’m headed to my last practice with the What Cheer? Brigade. Here we come, muhfuckas.
[youtube width="380" height="380"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yo2UT3UIRM[/youtube]
THUR 2/10 – NYC, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall w/ The Metermaids – Doors 8pm – 19+
$10 advance, $12 door.
FRI 2/11 – BOSTON, MA – The Western Front – Doors 9pm – 21+
$10 advance, $12 door.
SAT 2/12 – PAWTUCKET, RI – The Met – Doors 8:30pm
GENERAL ADMISSION $10 advance, $12 door.
SUN 2/13 – PORTLAND, ME – Space Gallery – Doors 7pm – GENERAL ADMISSION
$10 advance, $12 door. $18 for Couples!