ONSTAGE Relax, fellow San Franciscans — all the freaks have not been chased to the East Bay yet. I could run down a list of examples of the still-thriving (though constantly endangered) exquisite characters in our midst. But let us now just take one relevant example: Fauxnique, the gorgeous female drag performer (Miss Trannyshack 2003) and brilliant dancer and cabaret artist, whose latest one-queen show, The F Word, plays at Oasis, Wed/17-Sun/21.
As she herself describes it: “The F Word is FEMINISM! No longer unmentionable, now on everyone’s lips, let’s hear it from the painted mouth of a lady drag queen: Fauxnique. A frank fabulist whose Fosse-lized focus and forceful frame forge fanciful factual fictions, Fauxnique’s fashionably fierce form of feminism is filled with fucking fantastic feats of hi-femme frippery. See why she broke through the glass ceiling of the male-dominated world of drag to become a queen among queens.”
That’s a lot of F bombs. I spoke with Fauxnique — aka performance artist Monique Jenkinson — briefly about feminism, drag, Beyonce, Scalia, and more.
48 HILLS OK, so feminism is kind of a huge subject to base a show on. As a female-identified drag queen (and one of the most lauded drag queens at that) in a gay man’s world, you definitely occupy a unique place in terms of making space for women. Is that the perspective the show grew out of? What larger issues will you address, and how challenging is that to do in a performance piece at a drag club?
FAUXNIQUE I know. Feminism is a huge subject. Knowing I couldn’t possibly cover everything in a single one-woman cabaret show, I take comfort in that fact that I can only tell my own story. I have been a feminist since high school, but didn’t start doing drag as a feminist statement. However, I am who I am, and doing drag most certainly happens to be a feminist action.
This show grew out of a desire to acknowledge the way in which the work is feminist, and a desire to read drag as feminist. I am thrilled and honored to have made space for women in any way, and I plan to continue. A lot in this show honors the women and queens who have made space for me. There is a lot of HERSTORY in this show! I feel really lucky to occupy the specific place I do in the ‘man’s’ world of drag, and I really feel like the drag world I am a part of is also unique in its own right, so it is a two-way street. Pretty much all of the queens I have encountered in my scene support and get me and have a genuine love and respect for the women they celebrate through drag. I don’t know that we can say that for the drag world in general.
I touch on a lot of the big issues in this show, but they are through my personal lens. Feminism coined the phrase ’The Personal is Political’ and it is true for this show. Also, it is a drag show, so though I get real and even earnest in some parts of the show, I come at the big issues with irreverence and humor. The drag club is the perfect place to discuss all of those issues, because we can do it in a sneaky way. Drag queens can get away with a lot of subversive stuff.
The show will include my usual combination of stories, songs, lip-synch, high kicks and humor. There will be feminist heroines, Herstory lessons, musings on mothers and women in the art world, witchy spells, ballet (ballet is always a feminist issue for me), and of course there have to be a couple of folk songs.
48 HILLS Feminism really is on everybody’s lips, especially with this election. Here’s a big and maybe unfair question: How do you see the current state of feminism — especially from your viewpoint as an engaged performer in the local theatre and drag worlds?
FAUXNIQUE I am thrilled that feminism is on everyone’s lips! And it means different things to different people. I say this in the show: we need all of the feminists out there. We need all the feminisms. Intersectionality — coming together with a real acknowledgement of difference and perspective — is essential. But we do need to come together. I feel really strongly about that. As Beyoncé says: we need to get in-formation! We need to organize. And there are a lot of ways to do that. Making art is not itself political organizing, but it can be political, and it is powerful when people in the public eye proclaim themselves as feminists.
I think the fractiousness we’re seeing in this election is petty and damaging. The power distribution between Hillary and Bernie has created a perfect storm. I am frankly appalled at the blatant misogyny I see out there as a result. It really really bums me out when people denigrate women who built foundations for our lives and fought for our rights. And when I say us, I mean us, not just me. A lot of folks may not know this, but the LGBTQ rights movements grew directly out of the women’s liberation movements. It is incredibly disrespectful and short-sighted to erase that Herstory. Our work is not done.
48 HILLS Hot take: Antonin Scalia just died. What’s your reaction?
FAUXNIQUE Well I personally think it is an insult to witches to even say ‘Ding Dong!’
So, Whoop De Do! Let’s get some more sensible people on the Supreme Court!
THE F WORD
Tickets and more info here.