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Heywood Wakefield (photo: Allison Carroll)



A 'Wreckage' conversation
IN NEWSWEEKLY SITS DOWN WITH ALIZA SHAPIRO TO GET THE SCOOP ON 'WRECKAGE' AT GREAT SCOTT ON NOV. 20

TraniWreck, started in 2004by Aliza Shapiro (aka Heywood Wakefield), is the all-gender, all-genre cabaret show. The following year "Wreckage: The Contest Show" was born. This year's "Wreckage," takes place Nov. 20 and will feature 11 contestants culled from six preliminary rounds held earlier this year. Each contestant will perform two pieces for a panel judges that includes Hilken Mancini of Shepherdess, Dave Geissler of Musk and Varietae, Vice V'ersitile of Varietae, The (former) Haiku King Frankie Cocktail, Mal from Queer Soup, and Tibbs, the Truth Serum accountant. Shapiro, who debuted her Wakefield persona in February 2000, told In Newsweekly the contest this year will be bigger than last year and next year will be bigger still.

In Newsweekly (I.N.): What do you see as some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the greater Boston drag scene?

Aliza Shapiro (AS): Boston is tough. There are limited venues where drag shows are easy to put on. Any time you find a place and build an audience and have a good run it's a triumph. I think this leads to some separation in the "scene" where not all the kings and queens hang out or even do shows together. It's even hard to find where some of the performances are happening because "the scene" is fractured.

I.N.: Why do you feel that drag performers appeal to such a widely diverse crowd?

AS: There's something for everyone. There's a sense of mystery and sexuality that is appealing to people of all genders and sexualities. And when the performance is challenging and exciting people are drawn to it. The initial "is it a guy? Is it a girl?" impulse is overcome by the idea, "This is a great number, I was taken to another place."

I.N.: Could you have predicted what TraniWreck became?

AS: I couldn't have predicted any of it. TraniWreck and Wreckage have been a blast. We've, me and the folks in the loose thing I call "the cast", put on so many amazing performances and nurtured so many local and international performers, it's really been outstanding. People in the International drag scene check in with me about the shows and what's happening in Boston so word is getting out and I'm really proud of that. Some drag is about impersonation, impressions, and imitation [but] I'm not interested in kings and queens who look exactly like someone they are emulating. It's an amazing skill, but it's not where my heart is at.

I.N.: What's different about Wreckage this year?

AS: We ran Wreckage differently this year than last. Last year, I let the TraniWreck cast compete in the competition. They were scored on a curve to balance everything more fairly. This year they aren't competing and took over as judges, which worked great until our friends started competing! I think word of mouth and the excitement about the loose community of performers attached to the shows got people out to compete and to see the shows. Then things just built.

I.N.: Do you have big plans for 2007?

AS: Heywood has a bunch of gigs in the works in other cities including some in Canada. He'll be hitting NYC a couple of times before the end of the year even. (It's a big change from the karaoke bars on Route 1 where he got his start!) Truth Serum will continue to produce the kind of shows people have grown to expect from us - edgy, challenging performances, bands and films from local as well as national and international talents.

"Wreckage" takes place Nov. 20 at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. The cost is $8-$10. For more information about TraniWreck and Wreckage connect to www.truthserum/traniwreck and www.truthserum/wreckage.


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