Kevin Cahoon is there when the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling do Sin City in the third season of the award-winning comedy-drama series GLOW.
What happens in Vegas, circa 1986, begins streaming August 9 on Netflix, but we’ve already seen the preview trailer with Cahoon “in a blonde wig and a coffin toward the end,” the former Houstonian says.
And is that Cahoon disguised as Liza Minnelli in a nightclub scene? Hmmm.
The gay actor’s career has careened from the Astrodome, where he was billed (at age 6) as “The World’s Youngest Rodeo Clown,” to Hollywood, where (at age 13) he won the Teen Male Vocalist Grand Championship on TV’s Star Search, to Broadway and Off-Broadway, where he performed once a week as the replacement for John Cameron Mitchell in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
In July, Cahoon came home to Houston from New York City to direct Matilda the Musical at the JET-PAC, a training academy for dance, acting, and vocal performance in Webster, across the way from NASA. In fact, the Johnson Space Center was the setting for a Jeté Society Honor in 2011, when Cahoon was feted by the Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre, where he directed six shows.
On GLOW, Cahoon plays Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who meets the lady wrestlers when they flee Los Angeles and arrive in Vegas to perform at a nightclub managed by a former showgirl played by Oscar winner Geena Davis.
“There’s nothing bigger than a live show in Vegas,” the wrestlers are told.
“My character is a celebrity impersonator,” says Cahoon. “I’ve never done female impersonation, so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative.”
Cahoon has been a fan of GLOW since its buzzy debut on Netflix in 2017 as an homage to an actual 1980s women’s wrestling troupe that originated in Los Angeles but moved to Vegas.
“It has a rabid fan base,” he says. “It’s fantastic and thrilling. It’s everything.”
The show’s creative wrestling scenes won this year’s award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series from the Screen Actors Guild, which also nominated GLOW for best cast and best female actor (Alison Brie).
It is nominated in five categories at the 71st Emmy Awards that will be announced in September.
Cahoon grew up in Dobbins, near Conroe, and began acting at the age of 10, performing at Theatre Under The Stars, Stages Repertory Theatre, Main Street Theater, and Houston Grand Opera. He has had roles in culturally significant Houston productions such as the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse musical Chaplin, a scandalous staging of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, and a show about Mama Ninfa at Miller Outdoor Theatre. That musical, by the late Frank M. Young and Jim Bernhardt, featured Cahoon as Gino
Laurenzo, the youngest son of Mama Ninfa.
Next, Cahoon majored in acting at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Montrose, before earning a bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts at Circle in the Square in the Big Apple.
“All of my stuff is in New York,” he says, “but I am such a nomad.”
On Broadway, Cahoon played the roles of Ed the Hyena in The Lion King, George in The Wedding Singer, and the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
His debut album, Doll, from his band, Kevin Cahoon and Ghetto Cowboy, won the Out Music Award for Outstanding Debut Recording, a Citation of Merit from Billboard magazine’s World Songwriters Awards, and the Pabst Blue Ribbon Live & Local Award for New York City.
Cahoon has appeared in a number of television series and films by Disney, Gus Van Sant, Woody Allen, and others.
This article appears in the August 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.