L.A. entertainer Miss Barbie-Q purrs in the world premiere of DiverseWorks’s ‘Cat Lady’
by Donalevan Maines • Photos by Austin Young
“Man up,” the catch-phrase of the 2010 elections, was the direction given Los Angeles drag queen Miss Barbie-Q in rehearsals for the world premiere of Cat Lady in Houston, March 24–26, at DiverseWorks.
However, just as that silly Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle will never know how much mouthing “Man up, Harry Reid!” helped her lose in the election against the Senate Majority Leader, neither is it likely that Cat Lady audiences will see a butch Miss Barbie-Q. A few days after OutSmart interviewed Miss Barbie-Q in February, he sent word that the male cat costume wasn’t cutting it, so he’s doing the role in drag.
The change “pushed it right over the edge for the show,” he crowed.
At press time, Cat Lady was still being tinkered with. And while there were no plans for Miss Barbie-Q to show off his uncanny command of lip-synching in his role in Cat Lady, he probably will be more recognizable as the performer from Lady Gaga’s video of “Telephone” with Beyoncé.
In southern California, Miss Barbie-Q might be best known for his impression of Jennifer Hudson. However, he says, “Cat Lady is taking me out of the box.”
He admits he had never heard of Cat Lady creator Kristina Wong or her show, Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, when he auditioned for his first foray into ensemble work.
Likewise, Wong didn’t know Miss Barbie-Q. But Wong wanted to explore gender-bending as she sculpted the script, which is about male pickup artists. That’s because after focusing on straight men trying to pick up women, Wong concludes, “They are very drag-queen-like.”
What she probably means is that straight men, navigating the meat market of dating, try hard to present themselves with masculine traits in much the same way that a female impersonator creates an illusion of being a woman.
“These guys play a character until they meet somebody who likes what they’re putting out there,” she says.
In Cat Lady, Miss Barbie-Q plays Wong’s cat, who shares his feline wiles with two lonely guys to help them attract a mate. Wong says, “He tells them, ‘Be a man!’” That the cat’s in drag while putting the guys through macho boot camp, well, that’s why it’s called avant-garde.
Or, as Wong describes the play, “With incisive wit and delectable comic timing, [Cat Lady] bends the parallel worlds of the pathetically lonely into an intersection of characters living at the margins of gender and society, while boldly attempting human connection, confronting inter-species betrayal, and seeking solace and celebrity on reality TV. Oh yeah, and this show will also end racism.”
What: the world premiere of Cat Lady
When: March 24–26
Where: DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway
Tickets: 713/335-3445 (24 hours)
More info: diverseworks.org or 713/223-8346
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.