Things You Shouldn’t Say!, the irreverent new show from San Francisco-based drag queen troupe The Kinsey Sicks, is as bawdy and shocking as the name implies. This show, which premiered Off Broadway to rave reviews, is a drag-sational trip through modern America by the self proclaimed “Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet.” Behind the sequins and makeup, however, is a serious group of performers, who all met at a Bette Midler concert in the ‘90s during the AIDS epidemic.
The quartet— Tram Po Lina, Winnie, Rachel, and Trixie— were inspired to put together a show to spread joy and awareness as a way to combat the oppression and pain of the times. Now, armed with a brand new show, the girls are spreading joy, knowledge, and fierceness. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Through the miracle of email, here is an interview with input from the entire group.
Bette Midler featured prominently in the formation of the Kinsey Sicks. Have you ever met the Divine Miss M herself? If not what would you say to her if you DID meet her?
Tram Po Lina: I haven’t, but my sister Miss Daisy Buckët has! When I finally do get to meet her, I’d like to thank her for decades of continuous inspiration, and let her know that we’re proud to follow in her footsteps.
Rachel: After getting up from fainting on the floor, I would say, “Why yes, you CAN perform with us. How much do you pay?”
Where exactly does the name Kinsey Sicks come from?
Winnie: The famous Kinsey Scale was created by Dr. Alfred Kinsey back in the 1940s, and it described a continuum of human sexual orientation ranging from exclusively opposite-sex (a zero on the scale) to exclusively same-sex (six on the scale). The group’s name uses one extreme end of that scale, but with a playful twist, hence “Kinsey 6” becomes “Kinsey Sicks!”
Rachel: There was a time in the mid-’90s when it seemed like drag could save the world with movies like The Adventures of Priscilla and Too Wong Foo… and, of course, RuPaul in the mainstream. Do you think drag STILL has the power to change the world?
Trixie: Absolutely! Just this past week, amidst my conservative traditional Filipino family Thanksgiving dinner, my second cousin and I were discussing makeup and various drag personalities (she was even using such oft-used drag-related language as “What’s the tea” and “yaas”). At another party, a friend’s younger cousin learned how to put on exquisite makeup, she said she learned by watching drag queens on YouTube. These would have been unthinkable conversations when I was either of their age and here they were, totally unconscious of the fact that just last century, such figures of inspiration would have been considered pariahs! Thankfully drag, in all its myriad expressions, continues to make queerness more visible and more acceptable around the world.
What’s your favorite song to lip-sync to when performing?
Winnie: Lip-sync? You have the wrong queens in mind, young lady! As the world’s premiere drag a cappella group, we pride ourselves on singing LIVE and in four-part harmony.
So tell me about the show you’re bringing to Toledo. What can people expect?
Trixie: Come join America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet as they lead us all in resisting these new dark times with laughter, integrity, and heroically high hair in an unforgettable new musical.
A more serious question: Do you think there’s a way to really win over people who are homophobic? If so, how?
Trixie: I wish there was an easy answer to this, like we can wave a magic wand and all will be well. But there are some (hopefully not many!) people who will never accept us, no matter what we do. But I believe that by connecting with people through our work and in our own communities, we can continue to make LGBTQ acceptability a reality.
The Kinsey Sicks perform at 8pm on Sunday, December 16 at the Ohio Theatre (3114 Lagrange St.). The show is a fundraiser for Equality Toledo Community Center. $25 general admission (other ticket levels available). kinseysicks.com.