When the Trannyshack gang first revived enthusiasm for The Golden Girls a couple years back, I thought their concept was brilliant. A drag re-enactment of long-lost episodes, complete with audio of old commercials to keep the nostalgia vibe between scenes? Loved it, especially Heklina as the droll Dorothy (her facial expressions alone need their own IMDB page).
Those fabulous queens really know how to exaggerate female-driven sitcoms for extra comedic effect. The dynamic team's performance repertoire includes Roseanne, Designing Women, and, most recently, Sex and the City. Trannyshack's Sex and the City: Live is now a thing every Wednesday night at Rebel, that cozy little bar across from Martuni's on Market St. And I highly recommend going. Heklina once again rules the pack with deadpan wit as Carrie, playing up the lion-maned princess's entitled attitude with smart-ass humor. Heklina kills it, as does D'Arcy Drollinger, who does a mean Samantha (complete with a winking side lick of her tongue with every wisecrack) and doubles as the show's director. Gender roles are all flipped around here, precious moments are turned into dramady for extra camp value, and plot points get Trannyshack twists. Plus, there's plenty of raunchy sex, big hair, and naked ass on display, if you care about those kinds of things.
All this and Rebel offers discount "Carrie"s (a 10oz Cosmo, of course) to set the tone in the room. To further get you in the mood, though, I did Q&A with Heklina to get a little more background on how this show came together.
The Trannyshack crew has re-enacted/reinterpreted a number of old school sitcoms now. Is there a general criteria the shows need to hit? One, they need to have camp appeal – something, as a gay man, you just know instinctively. For instance, The Facts of Life is campy, Diff'rent Strokes is not. Two, we have to actually like the show on some level (we have to love to hate it, or genuinely love it). And three, it has to have some sort of appeal to people now, it has to be in the current cultural lexicon so it can create a buzz and people will relate to it. While we would love to do live stage creations of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or The Brady Bunch, we feel both of theses shows are now a bit dated.
What connects the four women of The Golden Girls with the women in Sex and the City? To a certain degree, Carrie is the Dorothy Zbornak “straight” character, Charlotte is the Rose Nylund, Miranda is the grumpy Sophia, and Samantha is, obviously, Blanche the slut. The great thing about both of these shows is that groups of friends can go together and say to one another that they are the Carrie, or the Samantha, etc., or that they have a little of all of them. Everyone can relate to each character.
What's the best thing about getting to be Carrie every week? Well, unlike the character I play in The Golden Girls (I worship Bea Arthur and her portrayal of Dorothy Zbornak), the character of Carrie Bradshaw drives me crazy – she’s so annoying! She’s never happy, whether she is with Mr. Big or not; she always looks for a way to be miserable. So, that’s where the fun lies, sending up this neurotic, entitled, spoiled fashion victim who constantly over-analyses everything. The audience definitely is in on the joke, too.
Going back to the TV version of SATC now, what do you realize about it that you didn't catch the first time? Hmm, there really aren’t a whole lot of layers there. We have been, of course, watching the show a lot getting this production up and running, and I’m still amazed at how blatant the sex was on this show, but I guess it has to be – sex is in the title! And the fashions really were ahead of their time – we go shopping for outfits at H&M, etc., and it’s still obvious the influence the show had on everyday women’s fashion.
What are your favorite moments from the show? Most of my favorite moments in the show belong to Samantha. I loved the episode when everyone in Samantha’s building confronts her about what a whore she is and how she’s threatening the safety of the building. She denies it, and then has this flashback of all the men she brought into the building – it’s a hilarious moment, Kim Cattrall is great.
Public consensus seems to be that HBO's Girls is the new Sex and the City. What would it take for that show to get on your radar as something to perform live? Well, it has to run for a few more seasons, and then it should go off the air and people should become nostalgic for it, although that part isn’t essential. It is a very smart show.
What big plays/productions is the Trannyshack crew working on next? The next play if we do one? D’Arcy really wants to do Friends, which could be brilliant. He wants me to play Lisa Kudrow, which sounds fun; she was the best thing on that show. As far as Trannyshack itself goes, we have several big shows coming up this year. The next one is our annual talent contest, Star Search, coming up February 15. People can always go to www.trannyshack.com for all the info.
Have you guys ever met any of the ladies whose TV shows you'd performed? No, unfortunately. I almost did a show with Rue McClanahan a few years back, but then she fell ill and died shortly thereafter. I would hate if Sarah Jessica Parker came to the show, it’s not the most flattering portrayal, but who knows, maybe she would get a kick out of it.
Sex and the City: Live is every Wednesday at Rebel (1760 Market St.) at 7 and 9 p.m. Seating is limited; tickets available here.