Drag Queens and Gay Sex Back on Broadway Where They Belong!

In Kinky Boots, Lola's straight! No, gay! But sexless!

When a Broadway musical called Hands on a Hardbody was announced, everyone assumed this would be the gayest season since 1993, until they realized that it's actually about a big old shiny truck.

But don't worry, there are enough other vehicles coming at you that dare not speak their names. While we wait for Nathan Lane as a gay burlesque performer in The Nance (opening April 15), there's the one-two velvet punch of Breakfast at Tiffany's, with the Truman Capote character only feeling captivated by a female prostitute in between his decidedly male-on-male actions, and Kinky Boots, based on the 2005 movie about a well-heeled drag queen saving a shoe factory, as scripted by Harvey Fierstein and scored by Cyndi Lauper.

The latter work has been refashioned into a bromance between the drag queen (Lola/Simon) and the guy who inherits the factory—polar opposites, though they're united in a burning desire to prove their respective dads were wrong about their being utter failures. At a promo event for the show last week at the Al Hirschfeld, I mentioned the gay drag queen character to Fierstein and he replied, "He's a heterosexual transvestite!" Really? Is that in the movie? "He's asexual in the movie," said the multi-Tony-winning writer/actor. "He never talks about anything. My feeling is that Lola is so damaged that she doesn't have sexuality. She has sensuality and genius, but no self-worth." Hmm. Sounds like Ed Koch.

But heterosexual? "I've always said that the worst enemy of art is prejudice," Harvey instructed. "When I grew up—at Club 82—the whole audience was straight and some of the performers, too." Well, are Kinky's drag-queen ensemble characters gay, at least? "They don't do banter, they just look pretty," he replied. "But there's a bit they do—'Antoinette, you've been a bad, bad girl'—that's pretty damned gay!"

The wildly talented Billy Porter had just led the cast in previewing two numbers of strutting choreography for us, so I cornered him to ask how his "straight" drag character parallels Belize, the gay nurse he played in the Angels in America revival three years ago. "But Lola is gay," Porter replied. "What?" I said, my jaw dropping to my kinky boots. "Harvey just told me Lola is straight. Shouldn't you guys talk?" "We're in a fight about this," he admitted. "Do you think after 25 years of being out, and now wearing a dress and playing the character the way I do, that I'm gonna be straight in it? Nobody's gonna believe my version of the character is straight! That's not how I play it!"

And I love it! But is there anything in the script that suggests any particular sexuality? "There is a bit of sexual innuendo at the top of Act II," revealed Porter. "It used to go in the direction of 'He's straight.' Now it's 'He ain't straight,' " he related, cracking up. Lola's been a bad, bad girl.

Alas, this internal gay-on-gay battle might not get all that explosive. See,Porter agrees that Lola feels too low to really be sexual, and in fact he suspects she might never have had any sex at all. Her frequent vamping around, he said, is a form of overcompensating because in reality she's probably a virgin. He also feels the real love story is between the drag queen and his new male friend. "It's not about who I'm fucking."

The result, he said, is a family show that you can bring anyone over 10 to because "there's nothing offensive in it." "Too bad," I moaned, hoping for some hands on a hard body. "Well, this shit needs to run!" he said, laughing. "I need a house! No more seven-and-a-half-hour plays at $469 a week. Angels was the best experience of my life, but still!"

By the way, in case there hasn't been enough gay content in the above report, let me add that Fierstein introduced Lauper to the press that day as "my daughter, Christina Crawford."

The Truman Show

Also last week, I set out to find out who's zooming who in Breakfast at Tiffany's as adapted by Richard Greenberg from the Truman Capote novella about yearning souls who enslave themselves to glamour—and to each other—while seeking validation. (They could subtitle it Kinky Tiaras.) "We never refer to the film," declared director Sean Mathias at that show's promo event at the Carlyle. "I've never even asked Emilia Clarke, who's playing Holly, if she's seen it, because we're doing Truman's book." In fact, this is so not the movie that the man playing Mr. Yunioshi is actually Asian. ("He does not resemble Mickey Rooney," noted Mathias with a grin.)

What's more, the gay content is back in. Cory Michael Smith (who played the young lover in Cock) is the Capote character and told me, "He has a sexual journey throughout the play, with a lot of complexity. He has relations with men. And he attempts to . . . he does have physical relations with Holly. He says, 'I'm not just one thing. I contain multitudes.' " So he's sort of bi-curious? "Yes," said Smith. "He loves Holly and is trying to understand what that love is. Does he love her? Does he want to possess the qualities she has?" "And the outfits she has?" I interjected. Anyway, Smith has truly thought out the character's textures, and co-star George Wendt told me he's great in the role. And don't forget they're doing the book, not the 1966 Mary Tyler Moore musical version that closed out of town. This shit needs to run!

Read more Michael Musto at La Dolce Musto

musto@villagevoice.com

 
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7 comments
bethesda
bethesda

Oh, you're responding to the mention of Rooney in the bit about Breakfast at Tiffany's. Never mind. Sorry.

bethesda
bethesda

WTF does Mickey Rooney have to do with the gender issues in Kinky Boots????

GreatMartin
GreatMartin

Does anyone know how Mickey Rooney is doing? Last I heard he was before congress talking about elder abuse regarding his son's treatment of him.

bethesda
bethesda

Jerry is so hot and he's the man behind Broadway Bares, the hottest show on earth.

williamHK
williamHK

More about Jerry Mitchell, he's hot I just saw him on the street the other day, very tall.

bethesda
bethesda

You get amazing stuff just by asking. Love this!

bwaybill
bwaybill

I love Billy Porter all of a sudden!! (Always loved Harvey too.)

 
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