The Chez Deep drag showcase at Villa 221 last night demonstrated that shaven eyebrows are actually a good fashion move. The small backroom, where ambiguously gendered performers threw themselves on the floor, climbed speakers, spit out fake blood, and smooched those in the front row, was packed with gays and girls, some of whom made even that questionable a style statement look like the right thing to do.
Among those in attendance was Ryan Heffington. He's the choreographer made pop famous by RuPaul's Drag Race whose dance dedicated to Nirvana-frontman Kurt Cobain will be performed tonight at Kurt, a multidiscipline exhibition with Thurston Moore and Adarsha Benjamin. In from Los Angeles, Heffington explained that he choreographed moves for five dancers to accompany a piece composed from recordings of people's breath by the Entrance's Guy Blakeslee. He called it an "abstract, beautiful, surreal musical piece. It's really fucking intense, 'cause it's so visceral."
The night's performances at Villa were also totally human and stimulating. Hosted by No Name, a monthly night dedicated to electronic music, the New York-based Chez Deep brought heart and skin to the stage.
Heffington knows the boys of Chez Deep through friends. "I'm a big supporter of the queer community and performance art," he said. The dances last night didn't bear many similarities to traditional notions of what drag is.
"It's the evolution of a culture." Heffington observed. "Simply, the aesthetic of drag is changing. What we deem important is changing. Like any culture. The freaks are shining these days! It's a sign of the time. Individuality is shining. It's not so classic, but it's progressive."
Colin Self of Chez Deep, a lithe blond in a white spandex bodysuit, seemed to agree. "Drag is a blanket term that the majority of the public can understand. It's not a word that encompasses everything that happens, but it's a facet of what pulls us together. You're born naked, the rest is drag." Their "drag sisterhood" is an expression of feminine energy and power, spirituality, and art. Their purpose, Self said, is "to set an example of a community. What can happen when people are brought artistically together, and how important it can be."
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