Lyric Hyperion Theatere & Cafe, Los Angeles, CA
I almost didn’t go because I’d come down with some kind of physical plague along with the emotional one I had already been feeling that week, but really thankgawd I have a girlfriend who thinks it’s important for us to show up to community events in the wake of tragedy because the opposite of lonely grieving might be cabaret.
Is there anything gayer? I think I first realized I was gay while attending a weekly cabaret at the Slipper Club in Madison, Wisconsin during my senior year of college. Until then I was very Natasha Lyonne at the outset But I’m A Cheerleader, when she’s still like, “Everyone looks at other girls all the time!” Like her, I thought “everyone had those thoughts,” but the cabaret showed me that what I desired wasn’t just a trip to clamtown (which is requisite, but maybe not sufficient for gayness) but instead a more permanent residence in the sequin-covered cabaret world where camp is the very best way to communicate pathos. I wanted to live among this cheeky and earnest community with its visible belief that desire for the spotlight was what made one deserving of it, where people cheered and sang in such familial chorus.What I remember most about that Midwestern cabaret was that for each finale, the entire cast would get onstage and sing “Que Sera Sera” in this overdone way that made the lyrics —will I be pretty? will I be rich? — seem ridiculous (how hilariously heterocapitalist!)—and yearningly anxious (but like I kind of need to be sort of rich and super pretty!) at the exact same time. At the cabaret, I learned about expressing nostalgia through mockery, about using tacky overperformance as a form of worship. I heard the language there and recognized it as my mother tongue.
SORORITY, organized and hosted by Los Angeles playwright Gina Young, has re-immersed me in that language—has reintroduced the feelings that are able to be articulated and felt when queers get onstage in front of a queer audience. The series, which launched at the Lyric-Hyperion Theater in LA in April, occurring every Thursday night during that month, has reemerged as a monthly event this summer. On its Facebook page, SORORITY is described as a “queer performance k-hole” which includes “works-in-progress,” “theatrical situations,” and “summertime short shorts.” The unfinished feel is refreshing: where LA’s performance scene can sometimes feel like its requires an art school education to access, SORORITY’s performances are playful and engaging. The series is also— with its late-night start time, availability of cocktails, variety-show vibe, and abundance of bad wigs—a true cabaret. Continue reading