Tears of a Clown


Drag performer Taylor Mac struts onstage wearing what can only be called Q-tip couture, a short white feathery frock designed to accentuate his terrific gams. With his face covered in pancake makeup, he looks like a cross between Gene Simmons and a Vegas showgirl. OK, so he’s having a bad hair day (was his reddish black coif teased in a hurricane?). But Mac has more profound things on his mind—like his unrequited passion for Dick Cheney, which he gives full voice to in the song “Love in an Undisclosed Location.” How can you be the sex slave to a brute you can never find? It’s an old story for some queens, but this distant daddy’s nefarious political maneuverings lend satire to the poignancy of a love that dare not speak its address.

Cardiac Arrest or Venus on a Half Clam is less a cabaret act than a string of performance art numbers, part comic, part purposely pathetic, all performed with unwavering commitment and un-lip-synched intensity. Kicking off the Queer@HERE Festival, the hour-long production rushes through a variety of homo subjects ranging from gay marriage to backroom sociology to the retro hankie code. Attracting a youthful following of trannies and twinks, Mac may be on his way to becoming the pied piper of twentysomething freaks.

At this point, he isn’t quite at ease on the legit stage. On opening night, his rhythm felt rushed, as though he couldn’t wait to have a drink at Slide, where he was performing later that evening. The clown face with painted tears has become part of his aesthetic, but there’s a weird emotional remoteness to his presentation, even when his material climaxes in self-help sentimentality. Not that any of this completely sank an act that clearly has cult potential—if only Mac would calm down and allow himself to revel in the theatrical moment.