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June 16, 2005 Find Print Edition : Search : Archive : Login : Register

Bizarre feats of gender-bending fabulousness

Wreckage edges closer to the finals

Dominica K
Dominica K

On May 16, Truth Serum Productions moved another step closer to establishing the lineup for the much-anticipated September finale of its Wreckage contest - an all gender/all genre talent search hosted by Jacque's Cabaret that will pit the two winners from each of the previous contests against one another for a $500 prize. The show is divided into five sets, with two performances by each contestant bookended by performances by non-competing professionals. The fourth show's contestants weren't as offbeat as those from past shows, tending toward standard drag performances rather than exploiting the opportunity Wreckage presents to shake up an audience with bizarre feats of gender-bending fabulousness, but it was nonetheless worth seeing.

This month's TraniWreck troupe member was Dominica K, who began with a bit of background reminiscing about childhood moments spent hidden away in her bedroom channeling Queen's Freddy Mercury. TraniWreck fans have come to expect a particular kind of performance from Dominica, one involving her trusty baton, a catchy pop tune, and a wicked hint of salaciousness, but for her first performance of the night, she tossed aside her baton in favor of a mannish costume complete with a plastic toupee that conjured thoughts of smarmy politicians or oil industry execs, proving that she's a pony with more than one trick.

The other competitors went with more traditional drag acts, though applying the word "traditional" to Belinda Davenport, who has performed in all previous competitions and will apparently be performing in all to come, would be an egregious misnomer. As she took the stage, my friend leaned over and called her "the Phyllis Diller of drag," but the comparison, though tempting, isn't fair to Diller. Both the winner and first runner up - Sonia and Calista, respectively - seemed to be competing for a slot in Jacque's regular line-up rather than the title of Boston's Biggest Wreck.

Sonia, a San Francisco transport, could give any of Jacque's vixens a run for her money, but her old-school diva act seemed misplaced in this context. Calista, who gave the first skate-punk drag performance I've seen, was more in keeping with the show's usual outrageousness, with her mohawk and missing teeth, but she too seemed drab in comparison to past competitors, such as Sir Loins/Donitta Roxx or Windsor Newton, both of whom she'll have to go up against in September.

The night's other two competitors, Kiki and Mika, could have benefited from more practice, but both did their best to overcome their obvious stage fright. Though less unsettling than the terrifying Belinda, Kiki seems to suffer from the same problem that afflicts Wreckage's most persistent contestant. Both completely lack rhythm, making their movements awkward and robot-like, and neither appreciates the fine line between dressing in drag and preparing for Halloween.

Mika, a transgender former Wellesley English professor, seemed most anxious about stepping onto the stage. But despite her stage-fright, she engaged the audience through songs she had written herself, with lyric sheets cleverly distributed to the audience before her act. Her first song, "Panties," had a chorus that evolved from "I had to see your panties" to "I had to smell your panties" to "I had to wear your panties," which implies that her objective is as much about personal evolution as captivating the audience. The second, "Back to Wellesley," was catchier than most of the night's other songs, with lines like: "As a first-year long ago, how many things I didn't know/So eager to meet those sweet MIT frat boys."

The latest Wreckage supplanted its usual eccentricity with the sort of drag that has bridal parties flocking to Jacque's every Friday and Saturday night. There's nothing necessarily wrong with attracting gaggles of bridesmaids, of course, but the contest's unique appeal lies in its rejection of the conventional, which is what people tend to look for after a night spent sipping watered-down, day-glow drinks at the Cheesecake Factory or Applebee's.

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