by MK Scott
On the eve of Summer Solstice and Seattle Pride, On the Boards (OtB), Seattle’s premier center for contemporary performance, presents two special benefit cabaret performances by renowned trans-genre artist Justin Vivian Bond (Viv). OtB presents ‘Summer Solstice Benefit Cabaret with Justin Vivian Bond’ on Thursday, June 20 and ‘Justin Vivian Bond: House of Whimsey’ on Friday, June 21.
Mx Bond will take the stage on Thursday, June 20 with their band in a solo performance, featuring their signature mix of songs, banter, razor-sharp social commentary, and real glamour. On Friday, June 21, Mx Bond presents ‘House of Whimsy,’ an alluring, edgy, and irreverent evening of Seattle’s own queer spirit leaders and cutting edge culture warriors, selected and introduced by Mx Bond. Established favorites mingle with talented newcomers in a program of variety acts including performances by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Cherdonna Shinatra, Nath Ann Carrera, and Ms. Briq House.
I managed to correspond with Viv through Facebook about their two upcoming shows, and about some ‘Burning Questions’ I had to ask.
MK Scott: Welcome to Seattle, Tell us about your show at On the Boards.
Justin Vivian Bond: Since we’re celebrating both Pride and the Solstice while I’m in Seattle I’m envisioning a witchy extravaganza of queer pagan fabulosity. The first night is a solo concert with my band, which will blow your minds, I have no doubt. The second night is ‘The House of Whimsy.’ When I travel I really like getting to see some amazing local artists I either already know or who I’ve heard about and really want to see. I try to convince the venue to let me host a variety evening I call ‘The House of Whimsy.’ Fortunately On The Boards decided to indulge me and I’m super excited that the people I’ve asked – Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Ms Briq House, and Cherdonna Sinatra – all said YES! To round out the bill I’m bringing a gift from New York – Nath Ann Carrera – who will interpret some early Dolly Parton songs for your delectation.
MK: What do you like most about Seattle?
JVB: In 1990 I was in a play called Hidden: A Gender a groundbreaking show about being trans, which was written by the legendary Kate Bornstein. We were part of a groundbreaking queer arts festival at The Alice B. Theatre. That week was the week the NEA defunded a bunch of queer artists and it was clear they were trying to silence our community. The whole experience blew my mind, radicalized me, and changed my life. It was during that week in Seattle that I decided to dedicate my life to queer performance and visibility. So, in a way, this is the town where I found my voice.
MK: You were in the movie, Short Bus. What was it really like on the set? JVB: All I can say is orgies under hot movie lights get to smelling real funky, real fast.
MK: Jake Shears has said he was inspired by you as well as by Jinkx Monsoon, both are Seattle treasure. Who inspired you?
JVB: I love Jake Shears! He’s a screwball angel. And Jinkx is a witch, hippy Goddess. I’m inspired by people like them – talented and loving revolutionaries who belong to the ‘don’t give a fuck’ club.
MK: Have we seen the last of your persona, Kiki, with Herb? Could a comeback happen? JVB: You never know when and where Kiki and Herb might turn up. When she wants to make an appearance she’ll let me know.
MK: What is your response to the proposed straight Pride concept? JVB: Straight Pride? Are they really that organized? According to Fox News they can’t even manage to put the Christ back in Christmas and it’s right there in the spelling! What a bunch of dumb dumbs. Good luck kids.
Both performances with Justin Vivian Bond will transform On the Boards’ Merrill Wright Theater (100 W Roy St) into an intimate cabaret space, including some exclusive 4-top table seating on the stage. Tickets are $75 general admission – standard; $100 general admission – premium (first three rows); $500 – cabaret seating: table for 4 on stage. For more information on Justin Vivian Bond’s shows and for tickets, visit www.ontheboards.org or phone 206-217-9886.