The protean Taylor Mac, fabulously clad in an ever-shifting array of clothes, sings and talks his way into our hearts. By turns hilarious and poignant, Taylor takes us through the politics of the war on terror, dating in the twenty-first century, various past performances, and how to struggle on despite fear and loneliness.
Taylor calls The BE(A)ST of Taylor Mac a play, while others (such as underwriters and promoters) call it a performance art piece—or drag, in Taylor’s language. Playing the ukulele or singing a cappella, Taylor performs with the crowd, always noting their reactions (“Oh, that sounded like an Oprah applause!”). He makes several well-placed jokes at Portland’s expense: a bit about a subway system in Abilene, KS gets laughs; in Portland, the audience seems to say, “Well, we could have one if we wanted to.” “I love a town with attitude,” he says.
Perhaps my favorite song was the one that repeated the line “but I love him.” It begins, “He had the smallest penis of anyone I have ever seen… but I love him.” Then, “He had the worst European teeth I have ever seen…” Soon the song turns uglier: “He shoved crystal meth up my ass while I was sleeping… He got drunk and vomited on me… He wanted to have unprotected sex and when I said no he asked if I had ‘afrAIDS’… but I love him.” The song ends movingly, as Taylor talks about himself and his faults, ending again with, “And I love him.”
Like a Utah Phillips in drag, Taylor Mac often talks during his songs, going on tangents, sometimes telling stories or adding news about recent performances. The set consists of his wardrobe, a stool, and luggage stroller. Light and sound cues were called out by Taylor from the stage. Still, these blemishes did not upset the show: after all, how often do you see a drag show in a Christian Science Church?
One bit involved asking men from the audience to find mylar, then having several men on stage dress in drag. Taylor showed these men how to go from looking awkward to looking fabulous, how to de-masculinize the revolution and do it diva-style. When looking at a baby, in full drag and sequins pasted on his face, he fawns, “You can be anything you want to be,” often alarming the parents. “I’m a part of the decline of Western civilization,” he says. If this is the decline, then I am ready to fall anywhere with Taylor Mac.
Posted by Dusty Hoesly