The Partly Dave Show: The Return of the Pansy Kings | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Partly Dave Show: The Return of the Pansy Kings


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It was nearly a decade ago that the Pansy Kings first swished their way onto the local performance scene. Creator Dave Awl brought together the poofiest of Chicago's cognoscenti in October 1994 for The Pansy Kings' Cotillion, an evening of songs, stories, videos, drag, finger snaps, and general mincing. That first outing was such a smash that the Pansy Kings followed it up two months later with their Holiday Pageant, which featured as a bonus Awl's homemade wassail. By 1996 the Pansies could fill the Park West; among other moments of campy fabulousness, monologuist Edward Thomas-Herrera, video maker Kurt Heintz, and novelist Robert Rodi took the "Billie Holiday Challenge" and vied for big prizes with competing impressions of the jazz diva. By the end of the next year, however, Awl was worn-out. "It was all incredibly high maintenance," he says. "I'd spend an entire year planning a one-weekend event." He also feared being pigeonholed as the Sissy Performance Artist. So he took a few years off, did a one-man piece on nonsissy issues, released a book of poetry, then returned to the variety-show format earlier this year with his monthly, deliberately low-maintenance Partly Dave Show. This month he welcomes back many of the original Pansy Kings, including Heintz, Thomas-Herrera, and Rodi. A few newly crowned nellies chime in as well, among them performance artist Murray McKay, singer Scott Free, and Neo-Futurist Jay Torrence. This time Awl doesn't even know what his guest artists are doing. "The show will be very spontaneous and unpredictable," he says. "People may be doing pieces they finished the night before." No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 773-743-3355. Wednesday, June 11, 8 PM. $5 or "pay what you can."

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