Each year, cities all over the world host Pride festivals and celebrations. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals come out in droves to assert their identities and celebrate the diversity inherent to the demographic known as LGBT.
To outsiders (or anyone stuck in the 1950s), the Pride celebrations may seem like a massive, hedonistic fiesta. But Pride is more than that. For many individuals, homosexuality is a hard pill to swallow, mainly the ones who live it. Pride is about people, or better yet, humans who struggle every day to "prove" their equality in an unequal world.
This year, Tulsa will celebrate with "Tulsa Pride 2008: Equality, Love, Tulsa," a week of events that celebrate LGBT culture. In addition to a nighttime parade, dinners and parties, a number of artistic events are happening that give voice to LGBT people through the visual and performing arts.
I have been told that there are certain movies you have to see in order to be a "real" gay man. Well, I've never had a penchant for Muriel's Wedding, or anything featuring Bette Midler or Barbara Streisand (though I did enjoy the costumes in Yentl). These stereotypes are tried and true, yet something that I believe has yet to be phased out of mainstream culture.
Hedwig and The Angry Inch is one such film that I missed out on. Luckily for me, a local nonprofit will be putting on a live performance of it, so I can finally catch up.
Now for those of you who are in the dark, I will give a brief rundown of the idea behind Hedwig.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The text was written by John Cameron Mitchell, and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. The musical premiered in 1998 and has subsequently been performed across the world many times.
The story is told by Hedwig, performed by Ms. Tabitha Taylor, directly to the audience in the form of an extended monologue. I had the opportunity to sit in on a rehearsal at Club Majestic. Glam-rock inspired musical numbers filled the space with sound, while the vocals and dramatics of Ms. Taylor stole the show. I was most intrigued by the backup singers, or "Wigettes," portrayed by Phena Hackett and Kristin Taschal.
I asked Hackett, a newly inducted chorus singer with Tulsa Opera, about her role.
"We make Ms. Taylor look and sound good," she joked.
All joking aside, Hackett did just that. The performance of "The Origin of Love" was quite moving. The theatrics of the lead, combined with the perfect harmonies of the Wigettes created an awesome, familiar sound.
Yes, David Bowie's "Young Americans!" A glam, theatrical melody backed up by the powerful vocals of the sistas! Music is performed by the band Valerie Star.
"This is the perfect opportunity to showcase the diverse talent of Tulsa, and it meets the needs of our nonprofit," said Lincoln Cochran, founder of Lochran Theatrical Ventures.
"We want to recreate shows that haven't been seen in Oklahoma yet. This show is special because it ultimately means something different to everyone," he continued.
Lochran Theatrical Ventures is a not-for-profit theatrical production company dedicated to the future of Oklahoma. They believe bringing this vibrant performance to Tulsa will forward equality and acceptance issues to the consciousness of a new generation, and those who have lived it.
A preview of Hedwig and the Angry Inch will take place June 4 and 11 at New Age Renegade, located at 17th and Main. Performances start at 9pm.
The actual performance will show Thursday and Saturday, June 5 and 7, and also Thursday-Saturday, June 12-14, 9pm, at Club Majestic. Club Majestic is located at 124 N. Boston. Doors open at 8pm and general admission is $10. Stage-side tables are available for $100, and rear tables go for $50. For more information, call 808-2795.
For the Love of Eros
"The Art of Erotica," an erotic art show, is being presented by Living Arts of Tulsa. Steve Liggett, director of Living Arts, curated "The Art of Erotica."
Artists Tunde Darvay, Ted West, J.D. Merryweather, Shane Scribner, Scott Hale, Jeff Hamilton, Angela Castro and Duke Goulden will have art on display at the Meyers Gallery at Living Arts, 308 S. Kenosha Ave.
This event is in conjunction with and in support of Pride Week.
"We worked with the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center to have an exhibit that would coincide with the Block Party happening at the same time," said Liggett.
This show will feature high-quality erotic art, not cheap, tacky pornography.
Shane Scribner's charcoal drawings of torsos are highly representational and demonstrate proper usage of chiaroscuro.
Duke Goulden is a senior in high school and has work features imagery of male torsos with bags over their heads.
Tunde Darvay's work is colorful and detail oriented. In all her pieces, one may find a tiny surprise or two if you look closely.
John Sterling will be painting people's bodies on Saturday night, and Patrick Cunningham's "Digital Icing" is sure to serve up some yummy, erotic goodness.
Wondering about the content, I asked if there would be an age limit to attend.
"We don't censor. This is quality work. Too often eroticism is misunderstood as pornography. Eroticism is about freedom of sexuality. Isn't that what the Pride celebration is all about?" said Liggett.
"The Art of Erotica" opens Thursday, June 5 from 5-9pm. It will be on display again Saturday, June 7 from 6-12pm. More information can be found at livingarts.org.
Wait! There's More...
Many other events occur throughout Pride Week. There will be a Diversity Art Show at Club 209, located at Boulder and Brady. This show will feature work from artists who have recently exhibited at Club 209. The show will open Friday, June 6 from 8-11pm. For more info, log onto club209tulsa.com.
"MORE color" opens Thursday, June 5 from 5-9pm at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. The Equality Center is located at the NW corner of 4th and Kenosha. This show will be on display one night only, so be sure and check it out! Work by more than 50 artists will be on display, including well-known names like C.S. Tomlin, Don Thompson, Neil Cluck, Virginia Harrison and Matt Moffett. There will be a special contribution by Otto Duecker.
Music will be provided by the Tulsa Unity String Orchestra, catering provided by Thyme Bistro, The Brasserie and TW's-AbFab Catering, and admission is free.
Openarms Youth Projects, aka OYP, presents "Dressed to the T Runway Fashions," June 6 at 7pm. This will be a youth-centric fashion show at 2015-B South Lakewood Ave. Admission is $5 for 21 and under, while 21 and older guests shell out $10. For more information, call 838-7104.
Last but not least, a Leather & Fetish Fashion Show takes place Tuesday, June 10 at 7:30pm. This will be at the Equality Center, 621 E. 4th Ave, and this event is for adults aged 18 and up.
For more information on any pride events taking place this weekend, visit tulsapride.org.
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