What a Drag!

Had it not been for the Divine Miss M, the world might’ve missed out on the fabulousness that is The Kinsey Sicks. The San Francisco-based, self-proclaimed “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet” was founded in 1993 by four friends inspired to form a drag a cappella group after attending a Bette Midler concert. Named after the Kinsey sexual orientation rating scale, The Kinsey Sicks includes Winnie (Nathan Marken), Trixie (Jeff Manabat), Trampolina (Spencer Brown) and Rachel (Ben Schatz). The quartet will perform their cabaret-style musical “Things You Shouldn’t Say” on Aug. 18 at Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave. Jmore recently spoke with Schatz, the quartet’s longest-standing member and chief lyricist, about the group and its upcoming Charm City performance.

1 How was The Kinsey Sicks formed?

By accident. I used to do drag, but I had since become an attorney. I started the first national AIDS legal program. Then, I was the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. One night, me and some friends went to a Bette Midler concert dressed up like the Andrews Sisters. During intermission, someone asked us to sing. We said, “We don’t sing,” but after the show we were so inspired [by Midler] that we stayed up until 3 a.m. singing. We all had musical theater training and we sounded really good. That was when we decided to mix our singing with drag, and we’ve been doing it for 24 years!

2 How would you describe The Kinsey Sicks?

First of all, as comedians, if we’re not funny, the rest doesn’t matter. We’re hilarious at times and heartbreaking at times. We’re thought-provoking. Part of our goal is to inspire, to light a fire under people, and we talk about some uncomfortable issues in our society that challenge people to think. Without that, we wouldn’t be us.

3 Who inspires you and the other members?

Donald Trump is a great source of inspiration. He manages to keep on challenging us. When your specialty is satire, it’s hard to out-ridiculous Trump. [Also,] Divine — I was a fan of Divine before I knew I was gay. I think we channel some of the edginess of Divine, but we’re a fresh and later incarnation. We have that defiant spirit. 

4 Any connection between drag and Jewish culture?

There is a profound tradition of Jewish satire and commentary. You see that in Bette, in Lenny Bruce. I think if you look at the gay theater culture — people like Tony Kushner, Harvey Fierstein — they have this double outsiderness that gives them a unique take. And those two cultures [Jewish and gay] — Israel notwithstanding — there’s a tradition of fighting back with words and smarts, not fists. Two out of the four members of The Kinsey Sicks are Jewish. Everything I write is influenced profoundly by my cultural, tribal but not religious Jewish identification.

5 What can we expect from your show?

It will be fun and people can expect to be surprised. You’ll hear about culture and politics from the standpoint of four loveable, bizarre drag queens with a healthy dose of Yiddishkeit.

For tickets and additional information, visit creativealliance.org.

 Top photo by Maurice Molyneaux

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