Bizarre feats of gender-bending fabulousness
Wreckage edges closer to the finals
May 16, Truth Serum Productions moved another step closer to
establishing the lineup for the much-anticipated September finale of
its Wreckage contest - an all gender/all genre talent search
hosted by Jacque's Cabaret that will pit the two winners from each of
the previous contests against one another for a $500 prize. The show is
divided into five sets, with two performances by each contestant
bookended by performances by non-competing professionals. The fourth
show's contestants weren't as offbeat as those from past shows, tending
toward standard drag performances rather than exploiting the
opportunity Wreckage presents to shake up an audience with bizarre feats of gender-bending fabulousness, but it was nonetheless worth seeing.
This month's TraniWreck troupe member was Dominica K, who began
with a bit of background reminiscing about childhood moments spent
hidden away in her bedroom channeling Queen's Freddy Mercury.
TraniWreck fans have come to expect a particular kind of performance
from Dominica, one involving her trusty baton, a catchy pop tune, and a
wicked hint of salaciousness, but for her first performance of the
night, she tossed aside her baton in favor of a mannish costume
complete with a plastic toupee that conjured thoughts of smarmy
politicians or oil industry execs, proving that she's a pony with more
than one trick.
The other competitors went with more traditional drag acts, though
applying the word "traditional" to Belinda Davenport, who has performed
in all previous competitions and will apparently be performing in all
to come, would be an egregious misnomer. As she took the stage, my
friend leaned over and called her "the Phyllis Diller of drag," but the
comparison, though tempting, isn't fair to Diller. Both the winner and
first runner up - Sonia and Calista, respectively - seemed to be
competing for a slot in Jacque's regular line-up rather than the title
of Boston's Biggest Wreck.
Sonia, a San Francisco transport, could give any of Jacque's vixens
a run for her money, but her old-school diva act seemed misplaced in
this context. Calista, who gave the first skate-punk drag performance
I've seen, was more in keeping with the show's usual outrageousness,
with her mohawk and missing teeth, but she too seemed drab in
comparison to past competitors, such as Sir Loins/Donitta Roxx or
Windsor Newton, both of whom she'll have to go up against in September.
The night's other two competitors, Kiki and Mika, could have
benefited from more practice, but both did their best to overcome their
obvious stage fright. Though less unsettling than the terrifying
Belinda, Kiki seems to suffer from the same problem that afflicts Wreckage's
most persistent contestant. Both completely lack rhythm, making their
movements awkward and robot-like, and neither appreciates the fine line
between dressing in drag and preparing for Halloween.
Mika, a transgender former Wellesley English professor, seemed most
anxious about stepping onto the stage. But despite her stage-fright,
she engaged the audience through songs she had written herself, with
lyric sheets cleverly distributed to the audience before her act. Her
first song, "Panties," had a chorus that evolved from "I had to see
your panties" to "I had to smell your panties" to "I had to wear your
panties," which implies that her objective is as much about personal
evolution as captivating the audience. The second, "Back to Wellesley,"
was catchier than most of the night's other songs, with lines like: "As
a first-year long ago, how many things I didn't know/So eager to meet
those sweet MIT frat boys."
The latest Wreckage supplanted its usual eccentricity with
the sort of drag that has bridal parties flocking to Jacque's every
Friday and Saturday night. There's nothing necessarily wrong with
attracting gaggles of bridesmaids, of course, but the contest's unique
appeal lies in its rejection of the conventional, which is what people
tend to look for after a night spent sipping watered-down, day-glow
drinks at the Cheesecake Factory or Applebee's.