Ms. Blakk for President

(l to r) Tarell Alvin McCraney and Patrick Andrews in ‘Ms. Blakk For President.’
(Photo: Michael Brosilow)

“Younger audience members who’ve come of age in the era of RuPaul’s Drag Race may not immediately recognize Ms. Blakk’s public political crusades as the daring acts of civil disobedience that they were in 1992. To help provide context, the production makes liberal use of historical video footage displayed on old-fashioned tube TVs hung from the Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre ceiling. We are still two years away from President Bill Clinton’s abominable “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military service policy, and four years out from the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The AIDS crisis is in full swing and people are dying.

As the candidate representing Queer Nation just four years after Ronald Reagan left the White House, Ms. Blakk and her support team have one real ambition: to get on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, hosted that year in New York City. In a pre-Internet media landscape, global television cameras trained on a man in a dress had the potential to draw significant attention to a modest agenda. In full makeup, tall and dignified, Ms. Blakk goes to New York with a message. The right to life and liberty guaranteed by the American Constitution applies to LGBTQ citizens, too. Those promises have been betrayed by hate, violence and a listless approach to combatting an AIDS epidemic that has legions of America’s finest young men lying in hospital beds.

But no one said important work can’t also be fun. Pulling double duty as writer and lead performer, Tarrell Alvin McCraney has created for himself the role of a lifetime with a semi-fictionalized Ms. Joan Jett Blakk – ‘Two Ts, two Ks.’ Strong, introspective, gifted with song, dance and preternatural stiletto poise, Ms. Blakk’s public bravado is an effective cover for Mr. Smith’s private insecurity, poverty and loss.”

Read the full review at The Broadway Blog.

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Sad, But Predictable: Gender Shifts in Political Participation Yield Rise in Violence Against Women

“In ways that most men fortunately never have to consider, what happens to a female warrior of social justice in the center of Africa matters very much to a stay-at-home mother in Dubuque, Iowa – or at least it should. The daily news cycle, and research data such as that highlighted by Forbes, provides evidence of what most of us know by instinct. Mankind’s oldest sociopolitical tool for controlling and silencing women – violence – is as prevalent as it’s ever been.

But where the law has frequently failed to guarantee women their rightful participation in the public, private and professional spheres, perhaps the troubling data reflects a present and undeniable silver lining. A grotesque validation of our gender’s global progress. Men do not fight what which they do not fear. Information can be just as powerful and innovative as brute strength, and we can use it to find new ways to protect our bodies and voices.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.