“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”
– Oscar Wilde
Buenos Aires – I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not fond of drag shows. You’d think that would be enough reason for them to revoke my gay membership card (and yes, we do have membership cards, and a secret handshake – you didn’t think we could get into this club without something special, did you?), but, here’s the second little secret. A lot of us aren’t fond of drag shows. Oh, maybe when we were 18 they were all the rage, or even perhaps 28, on occasion, but for most of us, a few minutes past 30, and the whole transformista thing really should have been left to The Royal Shakespeare Company. I’ll tell you, it isn’t the whole idea of being up on stage in women’s clothes… it’s just that it’s done so badly. It’s the rare guy who looks good in a slinky dress or a Daisy Duke mini. And no one, no one, looks good trying to lipsync to scratchy recordings of old show tunes.
Unfortunately, Buenos Aires’ gay scene, entertainment-wise, seems trapped in the late ’70s/early ’80s, at least from a New York perspective. Drag shows are the thing, and often, the exact same drag show, week in and week out. One of the semi-exceptions is the Teatro Arlequines, a mixed club and theater, that on Sunday nights offers a weekly mostly transformista show called 5 Segundas de Fama… or Five Seconds of Fame. They pick, out of whomever applies for the week (and some come back week after week), eight performers, each of whom has to appear in a choreographed group opening number, and then present two solo numbers, one in each half of the show. What they present for their own moments of fame is completely up to them – most offer some sort of lipsynced song, perhaps spiced up with a bit of dance, and most are in drag, but not all. We went once, a few months ago, to see a friend of a friend of a friend perform.
Apparently it’s been in the back of someone’s mind… or maybe it just came up again because of friend of ours decided to apply to be in the show. Suddenly, my boyfriend was also apparently applying to be in the show. He borrowed and altered dresses from a friend’s wife. He had various and sundry friends and acquaintances over to help with makeup, wigs, music, choreography, and whatever else goes into a successful performance. Other than the applause, which is gratifying in itself (I know from my short stint as a standup comic, a story which is best left for some future date), and a nice little “Ya sos un artista” (You are now an artist) certificate, there’s no reward or prize. It’s not a competition, just a show, and 90%+ of the people in the audience are friends of the performers invited for the evening (ten peso cover charge, includes one drink, you may as well go and experience it once).
There’s just something disconcerting about seeing my boyfriend in a dress. At least for me. But he was thrilled, and both he and his friend who were in the show clearly got the most applause and put the most work into choreography. And he pulled it off pretty well. So it wasn’t all bad. So here, first, is Henry’s friend Juan in his tango number, followed by Henry’s two appearances: