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Sick in the Head

The Kinsey Sicks Return to Provincetown

by Steve Desroches

Top Photo: Paco Ojeda

Like so much of gay history, the story of the Kinsey Sicks begins with Bette Midler. Picture it: San Francisco, 1993, and the Divine Miss M is riding high off of the success of Hocus Pocus and Gypsy. The entertainer who got her start playing for towel-clad gay men at the Continental Baths, with Barry Manilow on piano, is about to take to the stage in one of the gayest cities in the world. It is indeed not only a high homo holiday, but would prove to be an auspicious occasion for a young group of gay friends. So certain were they that their brethren would mark the occasion similarly, they all agreed to dress in drag, choosing the Andrew Sisters, a nod to the original artists behind Midler’s 1973 hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” A quick survey of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium revealed a terrifying truth—they were the only ones in drag in the 8,500-seat sold-out venue! No matter. Despite having to compete with the legendary gay icon on the stage, that night in San Francisco launched those boys to stardom creating an institution of song and activism that continues to this day.

The guys were such a hit at the concert they were asked to perform by a fellow concertgoer at her upcoming 50th birthday. But all they had were the clothes on their backs, and the wigs on their heads. No show, no names, no nothing.  They quickly developed personas, an act, a shtick, as well as a purpose. These were dire times. The HIV/AIDS pandemic continued to rage, as did the corresponding ignorance and bigotry. The Kinsey Sicks became a fixture of the Castro District, bringing not only awareness to the AIDS crisis, but also as leaders in the LGBT rights movement. While none of the founding members are still in the cast of the a cappella drag act, the Kinsey Sicks are a bit like Lassie; it might have been portrayed by many different dogs, but she always got Timmy out of the well. The group now is comprised of Nathan Markan, Jeff Manabat, Spencer Brown, and the newest cast member, J.B. McLendon. And after touring the country on the 25th anniversary tour, the Kinsey Sicks have landed back in Provincetown with their brand new show, Naked Drag Queens Singing.

Photo: Paco Ojeda

“For them it was based on a bit of nostalgia for the Sixties,” says Marken, who portrays Winnie. “They based it off the groups like the Ronettes, the Chiffons, the Shirelles. The Kinsey Sicks comes out of that aesthetic. They started the Kinsey Sicks as a reaction to the AIDS crisis. The LGBT community needed to laugh and the Kinsey Sicks were that laugh.”

Times have certainly changed since the group formed, but the raison d’кtre remains the same: to entertain and to respond to the issues of the day. And since the election of Donald Trump, the Kinsey Sicks are flooded with new material for the parody songs for which they are so famous. Some say drag is always a political act, and in many cases it is, but laughter can be a political action, too. It’s de rigueur here in Provincetown to mix the political with comedy, and the Kinsey Sicks do a marvelous job of roasting marshmallows of laughs in the dumpster fire currently raging in Washington, D.C.

At times like this places like Provincetown, that not only welcome the LGBT community, but many others considered outsiders in mainstream culture, are so important. Carrying on that legacy of empowerment, the Kinsey Sicks present their vaudevillesque show with the same call to action via finger-on-the-pulse satirical songs that manage to  find lots of words that rhyme with Melania and gonorrhea. With perfect harmony, and pitch, the dragapella group mixes the sweet with the stanky, managing to be both respectable ladies of the stage and down and dirty drag queens at the same time. And they do indeed reveal quite a bit as the name Naked Drag Queens Singing might suggest, but you’ll have to see the show to find out what comes flying out of their color coded haut-ish couture.

The Kinsey Sicks- Photo- Paco Ojeda
Photo: Paco Ojeda

For decades, Provincetown has been an important congregating spot for LGBT entertainment. And just like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, each year a migration of drag queens comes back to the Cape tip. The best of the best grace the stages of Provincetown, creating an important drag convention that spills out nationwide, making the town as important as the phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Over and over again drag performers affirm there is no place like Provincetown in the world. It’s an important capitol of drag…and at least for this summer for a fashion trend from the Seventies having the Kinsey Sicks doing double takes as they think they just saw a herd of Mrs. Ropers.

“It’s pretty special to see this LGBT expression and such a visible celebration of queerness,” says Manabat, who portrays Trixie in the quartet. “It’s such a gift, especially at this time with the political climate.”

“It’s awesome to see so many queer folks celebrated here,” says Marken. “And to see this concentration of queer entertainers. It’s needed now more than ever.”

“And kaftans,” says Manabat. “

I’ve never seen so many kaftans!”

“Right?!,” agrees Marken. “It’s just one kaftan after another on Commercial Street. Tea dance is loaded with them!”

The Kinsey Sicks present Naked Drag Queens Singing at the Art House, 214 Commercial St., Provincetown, Sunday through Wednesday at 8 p.m. through September 8. Tickets ($35/$45) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.9222.

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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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