CABARET WITH A DIFFERENCE 

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SARAH JACKSON a.k.a DOLLY PARTON (MD. Art Place)

I have not attended many cabarets; however, my recollection saw most attendees bring food and drinks, silverware, cups, plates and tablecloths. I’ve seen individuals set up for sale to others, of what they brought to the cabaret. 

I have never attended a white cabaret, except for the movie Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman (2001). 

Why is it called a cabaret anyway? Originally titled La Cabaret, The Club, to distinguish itself from The Tavern. Some people wanted to upgrade their surroundings while having a “drink” and not be uninterrupted by the overly indulged i.e (drunks). 

The separation became more acute when club owners added music. From the piano, the concept morphed to live bands, comic acts, and new fashion outfits. In the black community, it was reliving Harlem of the 1920’s

ERVENA CHLOE and NUMI VAN (MD. Art Place)

Josephine Baker, an African American from St. Louis, Missouri, won the award (in the public’s mind in the 1920’ s) before Nicole Kidman, with moves to the Cancan musical genre, very few could successfully imitate. The French male population had mental seizures watching her perform. 

MICHELLE BLUE (MD. Art Place)

Two weeks ago, I attended a cabaret in downtown Baltimore MD. M.A.P. : Maryland Art Place. It was entitled A 14 KARAT CABARET: 

FOR SOME, LIFE IS A DRAG

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KENDRA

In the original sense, it was something tedious, boring, ..like sitting through a rehearsal with participants who kept forgetting their lines and falling out of character; for some, sitting on a stoop waiting for something, anything to happen to break the monotony. 

EXTASY

For others its going downtown in a fancy car, dressed up riding along the main street, the main “drag”, watching the world lose its mind going in and out of stores, eating ice cream, playing loud music; street vendors hacking their wares! 

KATIE

“Brother can you spare a dime” got replaced with a “drag” on that “cig” (cigarette). That drag was a “hit”, to settle the nerves that called for that nicotine infusion. Today it’s a drag on a “blunt”. In the 1960’s, high schoolers of the PEYTON PLACE era, described their female dates, as “drags” for the night. 

Then there is the dress-up person, usually a male, who has become so enamored with a female celebrity, he impersonates her in the way she walks, talks, dresses, and apply make-up. He then is said to be in “drag.” 

The person being impersonated must have a measure of dominion over her followers, she then is attributed the title QUEEN, thus the morphed phrase, DRAG QUEEN. 

Black men have made drag queening very famous, where they have become more celebrated than the ones they are imitating, the most famous drag queen in the world being Rhu Paul. 

As one who covers culture in and around Baltimore Maryland, I heard there is a thriving community of Drag Queens in Baltimore, and their post pandemic party was being staged at the world’s oldest theatre, THE ARENA PLAYERS, playhouse. 

This is what I saw: