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Tim Ranney


21 Years Later, Edgy Queer Performance Thrives at the 2012 Dixon Place HOT! Festival

Posted: 06/28/2012 6:52 pm

When I first moved to the East Village in the early 80s, I had no idea I was living in the epicenter of a world that was giving birth to what is now considered a golden age of queer art and performance which launched the careers of so many talented and revered artists. The Pyramid Club was, unquestionably, the holy ground for this nascent movement and little did I know that Lady Bunny, RuPaul, Lypsinka, Charles Busch, Holly Hughes, Reno, Penny Arcade, and dozens of other performers who appeared at Pyramid's Whispers party on Sunday nights would go on to become the inspiration, trailblazers, and mentors for an entire new genre of queer entertainment. The idea that some of them would go on to appear in movies and on television and Broadway just wasn't in the realm of our thinking back then. My friends and I just knew them as our friends and neighbors and we'd faithfully show up every week to see their hysterically brilliant -- and often magically messy -- shows that not only left the crowd catatonic with laughter but also politically charged. You see, most of us were in ACT-UP and fighting for our lives then, and when we weren't involved in demonstrations and caring for our sick friends, places like the Pyramid provided a haven from the fight, kept our spirits up and gave us a place to dance, fall in love, and forget about Reagan, Jesse Helms, and a rising and frightening Moral Majority. The artists that appeared at Pyramid, 8BC, Lesbo Lounge, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, and Dixon Place were not only crazy talented but also pointedly political with their performances by embracing an activism and anti-establishmentism that remains pretty much alien to many of today's younger queers who want nothing more than to be assimilated into a suburbanized culture filled with Targets, strollers, and American Idol.

Nearly all of those East Village venues have disappeared and the neighborhood has become a playground for roaming packs of bankers, frat boys and stilleto girls on a mission to pursue their Sex and the City dreams. LGBTQ artists now appear online and nearly every network (thankfully!) and politically-tinged live performance may seem like only a blip in an ancient chapter of our history except for one place -- Dixon Place. In spite of all the gentrification and assimilation, this thriving performance venue grew out of Ellie Covan's living room over the years and into a self-owned and self-sufficient complex that supports queer artists year round. But on July 2nd, Dixon Place launches their 21st Annual HOT! Festival of Queer Culture that will be all queer, all the time and will host rising young artists in addition to some of the alumni who performed from years past. For 30 days, HOT! welcomes a new generation of talented queer folk who you probably won't see on the Style section of The New York Times anytime soon. These are the artists who make daily sacrifices for their work in order to create an uncensored, un-mainstream, and in-your-face experience that challenges and entertains in a way that LOGO or Bravo wouldn't touch with a 10-foot-pole. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Dan Fishback's new play, The Material World, with breakout downtown star Cole Escola. And Even For One Night, the musical homage to Michael Callen, the AIDS and gay rights hero whose work saved the lives of thousands of men during the dark days of the plague will surely attract a faithful old school crowd as well as the young queers who are hungry for their history. For comedy, I'm catching Jessica Halem's See Something, Say Something and MargOH! Channing's Skanks in Pearls. And nothing will keep me from seeing D'Lo, the critically acclaimed queer boy/stud/trans stand-up John Leguizamo-esque artist who has quickly gained a following since moving here from LA recently. D'Lo's appearance last year was nothing short of electrifying and he brought the crowd to their feet during every performance.

It's no mystery to me why the Village Voice calls the HOT! Festival New York's Best Gay Theater Festival. It has not only stayed true to the mission of giving underexposed queer artists a forum for their work, but embraces them with a support system including marketing, state of the art technical tricks, and even a lounge with a full bar to celebrate their show with their friends and fans afterwards. I'm proud to play a supporting role in HOT! and invite you to spend part of your summer to experience queer performance that you simply won't see on television or online. And if you've got kids, no worries! Just bring them along. HOT! Festival has Homoeroticism for the whole new modern gay family and you may even inspire the little ones into taking the Dixon Place stage one day. I'll even give you a tour of the backstage and dressing room where all the pre-show magic happens.

Dixon Place Presents the 2012 HOT! Festival of Queer Performance

July 1 - 31, 2012

161A Chrystie Street

New York, NY 10002

(212) 219-0736


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  • 'Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors & A Portrait In Black And White' By Megan Gendall

    Megan navigates NYC transit while in a handstand, squeezing her way into crowded subway cars and getting jerked as the train leaves the station, just like everybody else -- except that she's upside down.

  • 'Rusty, The Anger Management Cowboy' By Rebecca Nagel

    A drunk cowboy in a court-ordered anger management class tries to express his inner feelings.

  • 'Moving Men' By Jonathan Royse Windham

    This Man-centric dance series features work and performances by artists Keith Thompson, John J. Zullo Dance/Raw Movement and Jonathan Royse Windham.

  • 'Natti Vogel & Najva Sol' By Natti Vogel And Najva Sol

    To celebrate the release of their alternative wedding song, "Let Bloom," seductive songbirds Natti Vogel and Najva Sol will immerse all guests in a romantic, midsummer fantasy world where people become trees, vows become treason, and audience becomes priest.

  • 'The Material World' By Dan Fishback

    A pop musical about a family of socialist Jews in the 1920s who live in a house with Madonna and Britney Spears. Will they spark a global anti-capitalist revolution? Will Madonna use secret Kabbalistic codes to harness the power of God and fix everything wrong with the universe? These questions will be answered... in song. The Material World is the second play in Dan Fishback's "Ian Fleishman Trilogy."

  • 'D FunkQT: Stand Up or Die' By D'Lo

    D'FunQT (pronounced "defunct") is a one-person stand-up storytelling show featuring the inimitable comedian D'Lo sharing hilarious and poignant snapshots of the worlds that shaped who he is now. He grew up in a strict immigrant Hindu family, caught between two overzealous parents who provided a wealth of material for his self-reflective musings, rants, and side-splitting coming out stories. Written and performed Leguizamo-style, this one-person show celebrates the joy of survival in a world often intolerant of difference.

  • 'Slip And Slide Transsexual' By Jack Shamblin as Mia Kunter

    Mia Kunter debuts the electro pop single "Slip Slide Transsexual" amidst mayhem & comic catastrophe accompanied by Shecky Beagleman.

  • 'Prom Night, Holy Night' By Faux Pas

    Touchdown Jesus! R Faux Pas' KineticArchitecture returns in a fun and heartwarming romp through the country of Texas. A land where cheerleaders are immaculate, football a religion and God drives a cadillac. Modern Dance, Butoh, Burlesque and the laying on of hands are all blended for a Prom/Big Tent Revival!

  • 'Dandy Darkly: A Case of The Vapors' By Dandy Darkly

    Dandy Darkly's virgin appearance at Dixon Place having previously performed solo "kneeling-room-only" shows beneath the infamous "Dick Dock" in Provincetown and on Stonewall's cabaret stage alongside the Americana vaudeville troupe Fein and Dandee. Dandy Darkly is the creation of Brooklyn based writer-performer Neil Arthur James. Joining James will be Adam Tendler as Dandy Darkly's loyal manservant and accompanist, Hookah.

  • 'Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men Of The South Tell Their Tales' By E. Patrick Johnson

    A one-man show based on the oral histories collected in E. Patrick Johnson's book, "Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South." The oral histories are from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South and range in age from 19 to 93.

  • 'Craft For Your Life' By Jill Pangello And Jason Black

    Join celebrity morning talk show hosts Jason & Jill in their real-time reality show "Craft for Your Life!" J & J will walk you through the very basic instructions of how to create your own, one-ofa kind craft as they and their special guests entertain you throughout the process. Of course we are all crafting winners, but the biggest and best winner will be chosen and rewarded at the end of the show!

  • 'Gomez & Tropicana Do Jan Brewer' By Marga Gomez And Carmelita Tropicana

    Lovers of satire, Marga Gomez and Carmelita Tropicana, take on Latino sexual myth, drag, and anti-immigrant hypocrisy via the wasted mind and brittle loins of Arizona's Jan Brewer. An imagined but probable walk on the wild side through the Republican National Orgy by the insatiable finger pointing Brewer and the only undocumented gigolo who can satisfy her. Their July Dixon Place run marks ten years of collaboration between Marga and Carmelita since their sold out engagement of "Single Wet Female" at Performance Space 122 in 2002.

  • 'A ChimeBox Sermon' By Dane Terry

    Noted ChimeBox orator Dane Terry will sing your favorite stories of the nowtimes and thentimes! The Wolfpilots and the invention of the Bureau Chain! The rise of the ChimeBox Circuit! Plus archival orator-holofeeds from the falltimes! Come all bright children of the Bureau! Card a few flozzies from the bar! Futuretimes are bright! They fall from no height!

  • 'My Wife's Ass' By Glenn Marla

    A full-length theater piece in progress based in values of body liberation and the need to produce fat narrative and performance in a world intent on dehumanizing and shaming fat bodies, fat sexuality, and fat imagination into silence. In a tale of the bravery and imagination required to fall into fat love, "My Wife's Ass" explores agency over and fear of the fat queer body, the "headless fatty," unabashed consumption, "fat panic," the backlash against gender nonconformity, and how the "war on obesity" is experienced at street level.

  • 'Super Spectacular! To Opera With Love' By Johnnie Niel And Joe Kolbow

    Two showmen. Six operas. One hilarious hour. Has been/never was actor Merril Garrick has been waiting to make his big comeback and opportunity has finally knocked: an audition for a TV miniseries chronicling the life and times of Luciano Pavarotti! Merril's sidekick Emmet has schemed up the perfect audition material: absurdly reinvented seven-minute versions of the world's greatest operas.