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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Melania?

by Steve Desroches

There are all kinds of sights and sounds to grab your attention on Commercial Street in the summertime. That’s especially true when the various performers hit the pavement to bark for their shows. It’s a fixture of life in Provincetown to see a gaggle of drag queens in head-to-toe red sequins with matching feather boas or as celebrities ranging from Cher to Bette Midler to even Tinker Bell. But, hold up. Who’s that over there? Is that Melania Trump? What is SHE doing here?!

The last time a first lady was in Provincetown was when Hillary Clinton visited the Pilgrim Monument campaigning for President. Prior to that it was Jackie Kennedy, who came to town to party with her sister Lee Radziwill and Gore Vidal. Those are the kinds of first ladies Provincetown is much more familiar with. The current first lady of the United States is a lot of things to a lot of people, much of which isn’t printable for a general release publication such as Provincetown Magazine, but as is a long-standing tradition here in Provincetown, when it comes to the stage, it’s no holds barred. And of course that’s not really Melania strolling past Lopes Square, but Aurora Sexton making her feature show debut in Provincetown with Let Them Eat Cake! Diary of a First Lady, a show of our times, perfectly matched for this town.

As she hands out her lobby cards to passersby one woman looks at the image of Sexton as Melania sitting next to a picture of her husband, the president, and says, “I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!” to which Sexton replies, “Then you’ll love my show!”
While a lot of celebrity impersonation drag shows are homages or a playful lampoon, Let Them Eat Cake! Diary of a First Lady has a punk edge and an intelligent soul as it also entertains. Most of all, Sexton rides the rail delivering an inventive show capturing the tumultuous times in a way that is rare for drag. It’s daring and bold, as Sexton delivers a searing political satire draped in Tiffany Blue.

Aurora Sexton as Melania Trump.

“Politics is not for everyone,” says Sexton. “It’s not for everyone who goes into entertainment for sure, but with all the issues we face as a community if you have a platform, use it.”

Based in Nashville, the former Miss Gay USofA (the awkward “of” was added in the 1990s after legal threats from Donald Trump, who owned the Miss USA Pageant at the time) fell in love with Provincetown when she first visited several years ago, especially after seeing numerous shows in the town’s storied and unique performance scene. She’s been a performer for years, but had never attempted a “Provincetown style” show, that being a full hour, theatrical act, rather than a lip-synch number at a night club or bar. Sexton echoes what many say, that there is no place like Provincetown when it comes to supporting the eclectic types of entertainment here. She wanted to be a part of it all.

Politically astute and articulate, Sexton worked on this show with the same eye for perfection she’s honed over the years on stage performing and competing in pageants. For those who were horrified at Trump’s victory in 2016 and the behavior of the Republican Party, she looked for a way to do her part in the resistance to all this madness. And in part, this show is an extension of her activism as a transgender woman. She’s been involved in fighting hateful legislation in Tennessee, most recently attempts to pass so-called “religious liberty laws” that allow discrimination against LGBT people, and “bathroom bills,” which use scare tactics to dehumanize transgender people.

Let Them Eat Cake! Diary of a First Lady is a rallying cry. If it pisses people off, then good, says Sexton. That’s part of the point. But what it also does is provides a steam release valve through humor and parody. When she was working on this show, the fire and fury of the Trump administration began to get to her, so much so that friends pulled her aside out of concern. That’s when she refocused and made a show about the most serious matters in the history of our democracy and made them funny.

So, in this evening of political drag, expect Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ wonkey-eye, the dried-up corn husk of a woman Kellyanne Conway, a self-flagellating Mike Pence, a rabid Ivanka Trump, the dumb-as-a-fox Betsy DeVos, the dumb and dumber duo of Donald Junior and Eric, and of course, Melania herself starring as the American Marie Antoinette.

Aurora Sexton as Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sexton did a preview one-night-only in Nashville before bringing it to Provincetown, where she always wanted to start what she hopes grows into a national tour. It was a huge hit in Nashville, which Sexton says is a liberal oasis in a conservative state. But, she says, people are quick to categorize the South as only conservative, which is not true, as progressive southerners are more motivated than ever. And while Provincetown is liberal, with 87 percent voting for Hillary Clinton, and attracting progressive visitors each summer, there were 208 people who voted for Trump here, and there is the occasional red “Make America Great Again” hat on Commercial Street, so she’s ready if she’s confronted by a Trumpster, especially after Trump’s recent speech in Kansas City, where he told a group of veterans, “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

“It’s so Orwellian what’s going on,” says Sexton. “What’s scarier to me than Trump are the people who follow him. He could rip a baby apart on live TV and they would find a way to make it okay. It’s scary.”

For many, these are disturbing times that can leave you feeling powerless and overwhelmed. But Sexton has created a show that feels like a political rally with really funny jokes, often mixing a live-action stage show mixed with motion picture in a very cool multimedia production style that has Sexton as the only real character in the dumpster fire that is the Trump White House. At first you may feel like you’re laughing to keep from crying, but Sexton doesn’t get you all worked up for nothing, as the show has a kick-ass ending after some savage fun that would make even Vladimir Putin blush.

“Humor is so important,” says Sexton. “You need to keep sane. Everyone who is parodied in the show is based on the truth. Sometimes you have to just laugh….and then go to vote on November 6.”

Aurora Sexton presents Let Them Eat Cake! Diary of a First Lady at the Post Office Cabaret, 303 Commercial St. through September 9. For specific dates and times, as well as tickets ($30/$40) visit the box office or For more information call 508.487.0006.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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