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A Gay In a Manger

July 5, 2017 5:00 am0 commentsViews: 61

Kitten_and_Lou_HolierThanThouby Steve Desroches

Kitten and Lou fell in love in Provincetown.  Those aren’t their real names. They’re stage names, but even around their house they call each other Kitten and Lou.  Kitten La Rue is the founder and star of the Atomic Bombshells, the Seattle-based burlesque troupe that is celebrating their tenth summer in Provincetown this year. And Lou Henry Hoover is an award-winning dancer, drag king, faux queen, and boylesque star who brings his vaudeville style persona to the shimmy and shake of the Bombshells. On stage they present as a show biz husband and wife, but in real life, they are two happily married women who have made a career in glitter and glam.

It was back in the summer of 2010, Lou’s first in town with the celebrated burlesque ensemble, that the two were struck by Cupid’s arrow. And while they’ve collaborated on dance pieces and skits for shows with the Atomic Bombshells, this summer they are presenting their first show in Provincetown as a duo mixing in burlesque, traditional dance, comedy, and more in their new show Holier Than Thou, a demented and glittery exploration of the Old Testament with a decidedly queer eye. The show opened at the Fringe World arts festival in Perth, Australia, this past January, followed by dates in Seattle and at Joe’s Pub in New York City.  Drag, pasties, and the Bible? Yup. And audiences love it.

“It’s really been amazing,” says Kitten. “The response has been great. Some have told us it was cathartic as so many queer people have problematic relationships with religion. We’ve been really pleased that religious people and clergy have come. Ministers have told us how much they loved the show.”

Indeed many LGBTQ people have complicated views and experiences with religions, with it so often being a source of oppression and discrimination. And that clash seems to be heating up once again, which makes this fun and comedic show also timely and relevant. The two attended church for a year to create this show, as they wanted to address what the Bible has to say about homosexuality from a gay perspective, but while also acknowledging how important a role religion plays in many people’s lives, including within LGBTQ community.

HTT_honeybeavers_babyjesusIndeed both Kitten and Lou have their own perspectives on religion. Kitten in particular, who grew up in a small Louisiana town with conservative, religious parents who disowned her for a period of time, still feels the hurt that can be brought on by someone else’s beliefs and faith. In this political climate where claims of “religious liberty” are used to mask discrimination and bigotry, it appears we are once again going to see the culture wars go nuclear. But that isn’t the standpoint from which Holier Than Thou comes.

“I definitely think creating art from a generous place, even if you are angry, is really important,” says Lou. “It’s a way for us to have a conversation together. But we started making the show before the election. We were so hopeful and thought we’d get to say, ‘I told you so’ to the patriarchy. But that is not how things turned out. So that was a very hard moment to go back into the studio and keep that same generous spirit.”

In short, the show is a whole lot of fun with a mischievous soul and a miraculous sense of queer positive theology, featuring narration by Jinkx Monsoon as God and Major Scales as the ghost of Charlton Heston.  Forget the King James Bible, this is a queen’s version.  And Kitten and Lou, who got his drag name from the wife of President Herbert Hoover and First Lady of the United States from 1929 to 1933, are the missionaries of a brand new religion full of camp, sequins, and gender play.

Both Kitten and Lou have won a variety of awards and honors for their work, with Lou most recently winning “Best Boylesque” at the 27th Annual Tournament of Tease at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, becoming the first drag king to do so.  This show is the current culmination of all they’ve learned and created along the way thus far. And as they return to the sandy shores where they fell in love, they also credit Provincetown for not only bringing them together with it magical, witchy ways, but also for driving them to be the best they can be as performers and as queer people.

“The town, for me, has both personally and professionally been life changing,” say Kitten. “It’s helped me feel comfortable with coming out and being who I am. Being immersed in a sea of drag queens has definitely shaped my career, too! Provincetown is also the ultimate boot camp. You learn so much.  It isn’t like any place else. It gives you this thick skin because it’s such a hustle.”

Kitten n’ Lou present Holier Than Thou at the Art House, 214 Commercial St., Provincetown, Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. through July 24, with two Saturday performances on July 15 and 22 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets ($30/$40 VIP) are available at the box office and online at ptownarthouse.com. For more information call 508.487.9222.