It’s Thursday night on the Washington corridor, and Pearl Bar Houston is enticing guests inside with the aroma of vegan cooking, a vintage clothing pop-up shop, and a DJ set with great bass.
Inside, the bar’s dim lounge is lit by bright-orange Halloween decorations, and three microphones stand in the center of the dance floor. People from all walks of life mingle and enjoy the ambiance, waiting for the show to begin. It’s nearly time for Abundantly Queer, a monthly LGBTQ artist showcase hosted by Space Kiddettes and Stoo.
After returning from San Francisco Pride and all of its bar-hopping in June, Julie Mabry, owner of Space City’s only lesbian bar, grew inspired to expose her predominately queer female patrons to a wider range of LGBTQ entertainment.
“Older generations in our community only had men’s and women’s bars,” Mabry recalls. “But this is changing. The new queer perspective is much more encompassing to all types of people. It’s amazing to see that, and to be able to share that with Houston’s lesbian community.”
Mabry called the folks who she knew could create the perfect solution, and in September Abundantly Queer was born.
The Making of an LGBTQ Artist Showcase
Queer creatives Trent Lira and Devin Will, also known as the Houston synth-pop duo Space Kiddettes, met queer-femme performer Stoo nearly three years ago. Early in each of their musical careers, the artists joined forces to host Adventures of Space City, a recurring concert series at Leon’s Lounge.
When Mabry contacted Space Kiddettes (who had organized several successful concerts at Pearl) about hosting their own monthly show at her bar, the duo again partnered with Stoo to make Abundantly Queer happen. For this showcase, Space Kiddettes and Stoo give other LGBTQ artists a space to promote their work every second Thursday of the month.
“We perform our own work here and there,” Stoo says, “but the mission for Abundantly Queer is for artists that don’t normally get showcased in the city to have a space to share their magic.”
Will says the idea for the showcase stemmed from the difficulties that new musicians had in finding opportunities to perform. “When we were first starting out, people were not checking for us,” she recalls. “We had to consistently put ourselves out there, and it wasn’t easy. Now that we have these spaces, we want to uplift other queer artists.”
It’s difficult for local queer artists to gain popularity in Houston, Lira admits, because “the city lacks the infrastructure to support us.” But shows like Abundantly Queer make a difference, especially when LGBTQ folks support one another.
The first two Abundantly Queer events were themed Sleepover and Haunted House, respectively, and saw performers from across the city showcase drag, spoken word, live music, performance art, and more.
In addition to the performances, each showcase features an Abundantly Queer cocktail, vegan treats by Sinfull Kitchen, and a pop-up shop by Audly Creative, a local business that sells vintage clothes, toys, and face painting.
The next Abundantly Queer occurs in December. If you’re interested in performing or more information, email [email protected] or send a direct message to @stooizm on social media.
Non-Stop Ironic Cabaret
If you can’t get enough of Space Kiddettes, Abundantly Queer isn’t the only recurring event the duo hosts. In October, Lira and Will launched Non-Stop Ironic Cabaret, a monthly variety show that features standup, comedy, book readings, sketches, and more, at The Secret Group.
Non-Stop Ironic Cabaret is also where fans can watch episodes of Space Kiddettes’ new web series, Domestic Adventures, which shows the bandmates navigating wacky scenarios. In episode one, the two get dropped off at an undisclosed location and hilariously try to make it back into the city.
“Trent and I have so many ideas, so we don’t limit ourselves to just music,” Will says, noting that the duo also has a podcast, and had been organizing Houston’s Drag Queen Storytime until March 2019. “But there’s not always a space for all of these ideas, so we have to create them ourselves.”
When it comes to Space Kiddettes’ concepts, the duo always tries to see things through, Lira says. “The reason we keep creating things is because people keep asking us to,” he says. “We believe if you want to see things happen, you have the power to make them happen. Additionally, if someone is doing something that you like, you should go out and support them.”
Lira points to Smoke Break, an alternative monthly drag show at Guava Lamp, to further emphasize the creativity that Space City harbors. “There’s so many cool things going on in Houston,” he says. “More people need to go out and see them.”
The next Non-Stop Ironic Cabaret takes place in December, and will be followed by a DJ set by Space Kiddettes.
Releasing a Mixtape
Two years after the debut of their first body of work, an EP called Livingspace // Headspace, Space Kiddettes will release Deadspace on November 20. That mixtape includes three remastered tracks from the first EP, two new songs, and five collaborations with local and national artists.
Deadspace features sounds by Stoo, Kam Franklin, Tee Vee, Hank Honey, and Kirrrrby the DJ.
“We’re incredibly proud of the material that’s on the mixtape, and think its some of the best we’ve ever written,” Lira says. “The collaborations are insane, and many of them are left-field for both us and the other artists. I don’t think anybody is going to see it coming.”
Stoo, who is featured rapping on the track “P.S.A.,” says the song was the inspiration for the character Stoo embodies in their debut album Supersuit, which dropped in July. “Every single time I work with Space Kiddettes, they inspire me to show more of my truth,” Stoo says. “As you can tell, I love them both so much.”
Space Kiddettes will host a Deadspace release party at White Oak Music Hall on November 19. The event will feature sets by each of their collaborators (excluding national artist Kam Franklin), and live accompaniment for the Space Kiddettes will be provided by The Body Speaks.
“We promise you’re going to hear our songs a lot differently,” Lira says, “The sound is going to be fuller, in your face, and staging is going to be brand new. People are gonna get their life.”
In the future, Space Kiddettes hopes to perform music full-time and around the U.S. The duo says they will spend next year focusing on their variety shows, promoting their music, and touring in venues outside of Texas.
For tickets to the Deadspace release show, visit tinyurl.com/deadspacerelease. Follow Space Kiddettes on all social media platforms @SpaceKiddettes.
This article appears in the October 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.