Best Gay Theater Fest New York 2009 - The HOT! Festival
It's fitting that The HOT! Festival turned 18 in 2009. Just when Dixon Place moved into a fabulous, state-of-the-art space from the fleabag furnished Bowery room it used to inhabit, HOT! grew up, too. Six weeks of LGBT programming always offer a diverse lineup of new and exciting works, but this year's festival really took the cake, showing some of the most professional and well-composed pieces by an array of theater luminaries. Sure, there was still a crop of the barely legal gay boy variety we're used to seeing at HOT!, like Jeffery & Cole Make It Bigger, starring two early-twenties webcam stars. Another batch of youngsters took on something very old—New York's pre-Stonewall gay history in The Mattachine Project. But on the other end of the spectrum was the self-made legend Penny Arcade, who claims to have been too multidimensional for even Warhol's crowd. Arcade's festival-commisioned solo show Old Queen, which provided enough nostalgic New York fodder to prove her stature as a notorious gay icon—although she's straight—is indeed deserved. Uptown lesbian mommy Judy Gold came downtown to workshop her latest comic diary Mommie Queerest, and other many '90s queer theater world relics dropped in to do a show, like Lisa Kron, Carmelita Tropicana, and Reno. As they walked into the new Dixon Place, passing Liz Liguori's magnificent photos of many of the newer performers they have so influenced, it was as unifying an LGBT community experience as anyone could have ever imagined.