Before uttering an ENTHUSIASTIC YES, he asked, very naturally, what was an Electric Circus? So I went to the Arts on Site webpage and I read him ALL ABOUT IT.
In a nutshell:
THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS is an NQT Queer and Trans festival weekend of dance, poetry, theatre & song, co-curated by the National Queer Theater and Arts On Site, all highlighting queer and/or trans artists. Every night of the festival Program A will run at 6:30 and Program B will run at 8:30.
Carlos said it sounded fantastic (“sounds like the Fringe!”), agreed to a theatre night out, then sat back on the couch and looked at me speculatively.
“Cooney,” said he. “Whaddya say we take a day off?”
“A… day off?” said I, bewildered.
“A day off,” he stated. “I could use one. We go early into the city. Have lunch. Have a little adventure.”
So we did. We got off the R on 14th street and wandered down Broadway. We passed The Strand. We passed a shop full of vintage T-shirts. We passed our favorite Halloween costume store, which is still full of awesome costumes and masks, but which shut down during the pandemic. It’s for sale.
“So… that’s our costume shop now, right?” I asked.
“We’ll just live there,” he agreed.
“THAT WOULD BE THE BEST HOUSE EVER! And everyone we invite in could wear any costume they wanted!”
Right next door was Gothic Renaissance, which I thought had closed. But it hadn’t. I went and drooled over all the fluffy and/or sparkly and/or gold lamé things that would not fit me, and a unicorn pegasus rhinestone necklace that I HAD NOT BUDGETED FOR and therefore DID NOT BUY, and then we moved on.
Carlos had an idea that he would like some bulgogi, but as we wandered on that hot, windy day, we decided it was perhaps too warm. But we found a great TORTAS AND TAQUITOS place, and sat outside and took a load off.
As we sat, Carlos started looking bright-eyed. “There’s a game shop around here, you know,” he said. “You can go in, rent games, get a coffee. It’s called The Uncommons.”
“LET’S DO IT”
So, after lunch, we strolled through Washington Square Park to The Uncommons, where Carlos taught me a very famous game I’d never heard of before called MUNCHKIN. Apparently, a MUNCHKIN, in D and D, is when a Level 1 player wants to have all, like, the Level 20 weapons and stuff. So game designer Steve Jackson made a card game that leaned into that.
After playing two rounds of MUNKCHIN, we had to pull ourselves away and walk to the incredible Arts on Site performance space. We’d last been there in the fall to see Carla perform as La Carlotta in her feminist Shakespeare Cabaret “Whores and Weeping Women” (links above, where I first mentioned her).
She wore a pink dress with a pink mask and was, as usual, AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT.
But we still had time before the show. And just a few doors down was a Barcade that used to be the historic New Saint Mark’s Baths.
Carlos saw all those arcade games and got a bit glittery with excitement. So I gave him some quarters and dollar bills, and he bought Carla and me two chilled pinot grigios, and she and I chatted at hummingbird speed about audiobook narration whilst he played Streetfighter II Turbo for a few minutes.
After which, we headed over to the ELECTRIC CIRCUS. Being early birds, we saw the 6:30 performance, which featured the Program A artists:
THE BANG GROUP — in their own words, is “directed by choreographer David Parker and dancer Jeffrey Kazin, straddles percussive and contemporary dance forms and is known for its wit, innovation and devotion to craft. TBG was founded in 1995 and has performed and toured widely in both the US and Europe ever since.”
(Note from Claire and Carlos: if you EVER ever EVER get a chance to see these men dance, do it do it do it! It was the most incredible choreographed experience I’d seen since STOMP. Carlos compared it to a two-man Blue Man group. It was so FUNNY, so clean, so TENDER, so agitated, so comforting, so ANGRY, so PERCUSSIVE. Hot damn!)
AYLA XUÂN CHI SULLIVAN — Sullivan, in their own words is: “a Black and Vietnamese, queer, non binary, interdisciplinary arts practitioner. They are an actor, a playwright, a director, a poet, an educator, and a co founder of Shift 23 Media. They believe in making art the most accessible form of education and a world without cages, which means: I’m sure we should be working together!”
(Note from Claire and Carlos: They were incredibly powerful. Like, rip-your-guts-out stuff. They could go from adorable to chilling in a turn of a phrase. Carlos said, after, “I like angry theatre. I like an angry poet.”)
KE’RON WILSON — in her own words: “(they/she) is a movement artist, choreographer, and poet… They were awarded Dance Source Houston’s Spark Dance Grant in 2021, and have most recently presented work as an emerging choreographer with Mare Nostrum’s Emerging Choreographer’s Series in NYC. Their art, being heavily influenced by their activism, pulls from a wide range of disciplines and seeks to cultivate a shared sensitivity towards the human condition.”
(Note from Claire and Carlos: There was such beauty and vulnerability in this performance. The soundscape especially was amazing, working with the lighting design and choreography to move the dancer from a nightmare of doubt into a place of grace and surety, though the transition was riddled with terrors.)
ANTONIO AMOR — in his own words: “(he/they) is a Boylesque/Draglesque entertainer located in Jersey City and actively working in the New York City nightlife. Combining the elements of vogue, drag, and the art of strip, he seeks to create a production every time he hits the stage. Antonio brings beauty, grace, sex, sass, and a whole lot of ASS. He was born in the ballroom, has been forged in the flames of drag, and is Red HOT as Jersey City’s Premier Latino Boylesque Entertainer. He is the Boylesque Babe of Jersey City, Antonio Amor.”
(Note from Claire And Carlos: Antonio was the note the festival ended on–a glittering, energetic, graceful lip-sync and dance number, with a lot of ruffles and sequins and VERY HIGH STILETTO BOOTS. At the end, all that was left on stage was a pile of discarded splendor.
“Rainbow carnage,” Carlotta murmured as we clapped and stamped him through his curtsey and his sashay offstage.
Ah, “rainbow carnage.” A fine description of the whole Electric Circus indeed. It’s playing through tonight, so New Yorkers, don’t miss it.
But if you DO miss it, the National Queer Theatre is having their fourth annual Criminal Queerness Festival next week at Lincoln Center: new plays from three East African LGBTQIA+ writers fighting criminalization through their art.