SEATTLE REVIEW: Homo Away From Home For The Holidays

Published on December 27, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

I’ve never really thought of myself as the Holiday entertainment sort, but perhaps it’s just because I haven’t found the right holiday entertainment to trim my tree and tickle my Elmo.  On my last work trip to Seattle, I took in a trio of holiday-themed shows that were exactly what was needed to get this ho-ho-hoe in the holiday spirit!

SEA 01First up was the John Waters annual Christmas show at the Neptune Theatre.  Much like his other one-man show, This Filthy World, Waters delights in dirty pop culture musings, memories from the Dreamland crew, and a call to return to radical queerness – not the highly sanitized, politically expedient expressions of LGBT identity championed by mainstream groups like the HRC, but actual disruptive, transformative queerness.  Waters establishes early on that he’s not a fan of President Dumpster Fire, and the jokes there are biting and wonderful, but his commentary is more than just political: he’s on a one-man crusade to make things weird again.  Here is the description of the show from the STG website:

Like a damaged St. Nick for the Christmas corrupted, John Waters – legendary filmmaker (“Female Trouble”, “Hairspray”, “Serial Mom”), raconteur and author of bestselling books, Carsick, Role Models and Make Trouble – hitchhikes into town with a bag full of sticks and stones for the devoted and the damned, spreading Yuletide profanity and perverted piety with his critically acclaimed one-man show, “A John Waters Christmas”. This rapid-fire “trigger warning” for holiday traditionalists asks the questions, “Is Prancer the only gay reindeer?”, “Is it wrong to steal purses from cars in graveyard parking lots on Christmas Eve while mourners leave flowers?”, “Has Santa ever been nude?”, and, most importantly, “Should you disrupt living crèche celebrations this year in the name of political action?” Miracles really do happen at Yuletide, even if they’re false, and Waters prays for a Gaspar Noé Christmas film, and a new sex club that encourages gay men and lesbians to have sex with each other for the very first time. Delving into his love for the annual December warning list of “Unsafe Toys to Give Your Child” and his hatred for email Christmas cards, The Easter Bunny, and any kind of holiday “food issues”, the Pope of Trash will give you a Cool Yule like no other. You better watch out, you better cry! John Waters, the People’s Pervert, is coming to town.

If you haven’t seen John Waters, you really should especially if you believe, as I do, that queers have done far too much to assimilate and make straight people comfortable with our existence.  If ever there was a time for uppity queers to act out, this is it, and Waters’ show is a rallying cry to start the revolution.  (As of this writing, This Filthy World is still on Netflix – you really should check it out to get a sense of Waters’ fantastically filthy worldview!)

Ham 01The second show on the agenda was Ham for the Holidays: The Hamchurian Candidate at the ACT theatre.  Comedy duo Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt (Dos Fallopia) present a show full of sketch comedy, satirical impersonations of Seattle personalities like Dale Chihuly and newly elected mayor Jenny Durkin, and a second half comprised of a funny reimagining of thriller classic The Manchurian Candidate with parts played by fictional country duo The Spudds.  The first sketch of the show featured a Scandinavian polka band called the Polka Dots; this piece felt very close to home and reminded me of something I would hear on A Prairie Home Companion or see at a local festival.  Not surprisingly, this show also took many opportunities to mock and satirize our current president, though those moments were less effective than their playful skewering of Pacific Northwest people and places; my favorite sketch of the evening involved the Sequim Gay Men’s Chorus – it played with stereotypes and clichés in a way that was affectionate and very funny.

My favorite parts of the show were when they toed the line of “appropriate” humor; Seattle can be a very hipster-y, politically correct city, and there were a few moments in the show that you could tell made some in the audience a little uncomfortable.  There was a sketch with Kock and Platt playing two elderly women giving protest tips to a nursing home crowd.  At one point Platt says, “Wrinkled lives matter!” and you could feel a large chunk of the audience share in a collective gasp, but this sort of knee-jerk reaction was part of the humor of the whole sketch.  The material was delivered lovingly and there was nothing in it that mocked or degraded movements for social justice and change; if we can’t lampoon and play with the current events of our time in a respectful manner, then what’s the point.  One of my favorite quotes is from anarchist Emma Goldmann: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”  Humor is meant to entertain, but it can also be used to question and tease, and sometimes find those places where we take ourselves a little too seriously and this was done expertly by this funny comedy duo.

Homo 02Finally, I rounded out my trio of holiday hijinx with Ben DeLaCreme’s holiday show, Homo For The Holidays.  In it’s 10th year, the show features a tasty buffet of drag, burlesque, live cabaret singing, and a poignant message about the importance of chosen families for LGBT people.  DeLaCreme is at the center of the shenanigans, a tinsel-clad holiday hostess, but she once again proves herself able to share the stage and showcase some really fantastic talent.  The two Jewish characters, Dreidel (or Dre for short) and Menorah, have a spunky medley to remind the audience that Christmas isn’t the only holiday happening this time of year, and Danny Kam and Rebecca M. Davis both showcase their impressive vocal chops.

Kitten LaRou (one third of the DeLouRue production team that puts on the show, also including Ben DeLaCreme and Lou Henry Hoover) serves up some classic burlesque cheesecake as angel Angie Lee who is trying her damnedest to finally earn her wings!  She shimmies and winks and struts, and her look is southern belle perfection.  Lou is also a lot of fun, never speaking but using dance and pantomime to create adorably touching performances – after several false starts, he finally gets the opportunity to go ice-skating, and the moment is magical.

Probably my favorite character from the show was Waxie Moon’s Sugarplum Fairy, a self-obsessed hipster Kardashian-wannabe who bumbles into nearly every conversation in the show and manages to make it all about her.  I love the bearded genderfuck look that Moon brings to the performance and her oblivious villain is strangely lovable.  Cherdonna, a clownishly painted character, Jesus, and the One and Only Inga as Candy are all pretty great as well.  Just like in DeLaCreme’s Halloween show, Beware the Terror at Gaylord Manner, the ensemble are all masters of whatever craft and niche performance they bring to the stage.

Homo 04And then, of course, there is Faggedy Randy.  I am low-key obsessed with this gorgeous boylesque beauty; he played the sensually feral werewolf Lunk in Gaylord Manor, and there he was in all his sugary glory as Cookie in Homo!  His striptease, to Prince’s “Cream” is a wonder to behold and what he does with a bottle of half and half will change your life.  Seriously, I would eat the shit out of that Cookie…meow!

Although I’m the last one you’d expect to find decking the halls, I really enjoyed the queer and slightly twisted version of the holidays I was able to put together with these three different but wonderfully entertaining shows.  I loved that they took the expectations of the holidays and turned them on their heads; that’s what queerness is all about!  And beneath all of the laughter, the satire and the stripping, all of the shows held some version of the same message: no matter who you are, or where you find yourself this holiday season, what matters most is the family you create, the love that surrounds you, and how you carry yourself through this time and the rest of the year in a way that is authentic, has integrity, and might be just a little bit outrageous!

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