Those New York harmonisers with the chutzpah of a Yiddish grandmother (and the wardrobe to match) — the Kinsey Sicks — come to Sydney this Mardi Gras.
The renowned ‘dragapella’ quartet will introduce Australian audiences to their new show, Kinsey Sicks: Each Hit & I. The show features musical highlights from their ouvre of drag meets political discourses 101 class meets classic showtunes bonanza.
Dreamed up by a team of nice young Jewish boys — who like other nice young Jewish boys — while at a Bette Midler show, the Kinsey Sicks have grown into a world-touring hit. Their success is due in large part to their clever take on drag performance as a vehicle to have fun with politics, current affairs and affairs of the heart and groin.
“Masked theatre has always been a prime tool for social commentary,” troupe member Irwin Keller explained. “People can say certain things when they have a mask on. But also, people are fascinated with drag, it touches them in this deep place, and makes them uncomfortable, or delights them. Either way, it makes them sit and listen.
“Whatever we have to say, we say it in delightful, four-part harmony. If you’re going to hear something you don’t agree with, better you should hear it in four-part harmony — I mean, who ever said, ‘Screw you,’ to Julie Andrews? You can’t do it.”
Not that there haven’t been the odd protests from some Bible-belt right-wingers.
“We’ve had protesters picketing our shows… well, I might be overstating that, I’ve always wanted picketers,” Irwin explained in an odd tone of disappointment. “The one really good picket threat was when we were performing in a small town in South Carolina.
“A group of people planned to protest outside our show, but cancelled once they realised that the 1700-seat auditorium was going to sell out — and it was not going to be their supporters buying the tickets.
“It really disappointed us, because we’d planned to go to the protest in drag carrying picket signs saying ‘CDs for burning, $15’. ”
But controversy isn’t the main aim. A rollicking, moving night out at the theatre is.
“We take our ridiculousness very seriously. We’re always working on or re-writing the show — we want this to be a real night out at the theatre.
“We have songs about relationships, about love, about sex. We have a song called The Hate Song.
“People tell us they leave our show with their cheeks hurting, but that’s not the entire journey. Our show also brings you some poignant moments — we have a song we wrote in memory of an original member of our group who died.
“I think there’s something incredible about what you’re capable of feeling, after you have been opened up by laughing. There’s also something about how laughter feels after you move to that place, that is also remarkable and joyous and uplifting in a much more expansive way.”