Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reel Thoughts Interview: Meet the Kinsey Sicks!

The Kinsey Sicks, America’s favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet, doesn’t hold back when it has an opinion, as evidenced by the title of its latest show, Wake the F#@k Up, America! Equality Arizona has partnered with the voluptuous foursome to strike fear in the hearts of bigots statewide for a night of bawdy and brilliant comedy and song.

Founded in 1993 by four friends who attended a Bette Midler concert in drag, the Sicks pair razor-sharp parodies with flawless harmonies. Oy Vey in a Manger, its holiday show, demonstrates the troupe’s Jewish sensibilities, but everyone can enjoy the Sicks’ comic sense. From sold out concerts nationwide to the Off Broadway sensation Dragapella!, to its popular and long-running Las Vegas show, the Kinsey Sicks prove a huge audience exists for the take-no-prisoners humor it provides, mixed with out-of-this-world singing.

You’d never guess that Rachel (Ben Schatz), Winnie (Irwin Keller), Trixie (Jeff Manabat) and Trampolina (Spencer Brown) actually led lives pre-Kinsey as activists, lawyers and actors before donning their gay apparel and becoming the fabulous quartet that will invade the Chandler Center for the Arts September 25 for one night only.

I spoke with Rachel, the group’s muscular worrywart, and sometimes her creator, Ben Schatz. I thanked her/him for doing the interview, despite coming straight off of a rehearsal and performing in Provincetown, Massachusetts. “Let’s see what you think afterward,” she joked.

The Sicks managed to make it through the Bush era, even “switching sides” to sing “I Wanna Be a Republican,” so I asked Rachel how life was for the Sicks in the Obama age. “Oh, much better. The sex is better,” she replied.

The Sicks are excited to come to Chandler and help Equality Arizona. “We believe in being equal. It’s my favorite sugar substitute.”

I warned Rachel about the crackpot pastor in Tempe who wishes President Obama would die and preaches that homosexuality is “an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty.” She sounded sad for a moment. “Ahhh, he’s just pissed off because we had a difficult break-up,” she said.

I gamely suggested that the Sicks might go kick some wacko right-wing ass, but Rachel demurred. “I think we’re wacko enough ourselves, thank you very much. It’s hard to kick your own ass. Try it!”

I asked Rachel what Dragapella lovers should expect from the show? “Years of therapy,” she quipped.

I asked whether or not the Kinsey Sicks ever goes too far, and Ben stepped in to answer. “We do sometimes push the envelope, but we’re constantly reevaluating to see how we can hone our material, and some routines are great for some audiences but not for others.” But is the material too biting? Do they go too far? “People do often complain that we use too much teeth. But that’s generally after the show,” Rachel replied. And sometimes the group’s members feel that they went places they shouldn’t go? “Well, I certainly hope so!”

I asked Rachel what she thinks of America now, and the whole political climate. She said, “I think we need more lunatics. I’m lonely. I’m hoping that at one of these health care forums, I can find a mentally-deranged date.”

I mentioned how Rachel is referred to as the most muscular of the Sicks and she corrected me. “That’s only my genitals.”

I asked Rachel to dish a little and tell me things about the other Sicks that they wouldn’t want to see in print. “I absolutely would never say that they’re all untalented cows … but I would think it. And how many cows are talented when you really think about it?”

I asked Rachel if she is looking forward to coming to Arizona and she quickly replied, “You know, I love Arizona. It’s my favorite iced tea, and a damn good place to perform.” Ben cut in and added, “We’ve always had just a phenomenal time, we get such a great reception. It’s such a relief to know that there are so many tasteless people all gathered in one state.”

The Sicks have been through Clinton, then Bush, Rove and Cheney, and they’re still here, so I asked Ben what the secret is. “There will always be idiots to make fun of, so my work is never done.”

Back to Rachel, I asked her what one thing people should know about the show. “No refunds,” she replied. And what would she like people to take away from their performance? “Several of our CDs.”

I thought in closing, it would be fun to do a little word association with Rachel, just to see how sick she was. She did not disappoint ...

NC: Ann Coulter ...
Rachel: The sex was HOT! Although someone needs to tell Ann that up close, you can totally see his Adam's apple.

NC: Swine flu ...
Rachel: This is why you should never have sex with a pig without using a condom.

NC: Venereal disease ...
Rachel: Not an obstacle. Call me. PLEASE!!!

NC: The Defense of Marriage Act ...
Rachel: When I was young I saw my parents performing a "marriage act" and believe me, there was no defense for it.

NC: Death panels ...
Rachel: I don't know why they want to pull the plug on grandma. If she wants to use a plug, Obama has no business pulling it out of her.

NC: A good man is ...
Rachel: An oxymoron.

For more information on The Kinsey Sicks' fundraiser for Equality Arizona at the Chandler Center for the Arts, click here.

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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