The Wedrock Benefit was truly astounding. Beyond what I would call a simple fundraiser, it was a revelation and a revolution in one fell swoop. This was by far the best show I have ever had the honor to participate in.
All the artists in the house, who believe in truth, freedom, equality and love, collectively paint an amazing picture of who we are as a community. There was: the coolest of the cool Moby with velvet voiced Laura Dawn; genius beauty Sandra Bernhard; fucking oh-my-god it’s Lou Reed; the inimitable and mighty Bob Mould (“If I can’t change your mind then no one will,” which of course, I cried throughout); ironic and cheerfully brilliant genre inventors Le Tigre; the truly great Sleater-Kinney; alarmingly smart Penny Arcade; always funny Lady Bunny; darling and dashing Alan Cumming; a poignant and devastating message from Yoko Ono read aloud by John Cameron Mitchell; and then of course, up top, a perhaps slightly longish and self important monologue from yours truly (I rocked my cock off). This isn’t the entire list of performers, but a good overview of the diverse unity of the show which is such a testament to John Cameron Mitchell who brought all these break the mold outfits together.
Getting to sing with John for the finale was the dream that lay within the satiny, slippery folds of dreams. To stand next to the creator, as his creation (I joked about being his monster) was absurdly mindblowing for both of us.
It was a moment of absolute bliss. I am a comedian for a reason, and I neither wish to pretend to be a singer nor ridiculously consider myself in any way an audibly acceptable one, but for that brief heaven, to sing with my heart shoved up into my throat, I was lipsyncing pure love that was coming through my body from someone else, somewhere else, someplace better.
After we sang “Origin of Love,” we held each other hard and long – putting ourselves back together, which was befitting that song which wistfully portrays love. I don’t know if the audience was as moved as I was. I will never be the same. I feel like there is more of me, much needed in these times. The wars we fight daily hollow us out like canoes. If you were there, I wonder if you could have seen that there was a kind of serene magic, the spells that cast hope upon the world. Perhaps that would be proof it was not merely a selfish mirage on my part. I don’t think it was.
I love John Cameron Mitchell. I am lucky to be a friend, as well as a massive fan. After some years of friendship, when I am with him, I still feel like screaming out of sheer devotion. His work is profound and resonates with a loudly captivating savage grace.
Years ago, when he brought forth Hedwig, everyone woke up. A new kind of hero was born, leaving Joseph Campbell with 1001 faces, and no way to posthumously update his classic. The immediacy of the iconic status of John’s East German erstwhile/meanwhile/almost/burnt toast /between God and us/coitus interruptus transsexual was unexpected. It spoke to the need for oddity as normalcy, the void in the honesty and imagination of theatre, and the genius of the author. Here was Everymanwoman for our generation, disappointed and darkly drawn, but with an impossibly pure heart, a voice of angelic virtue and a cynical lust. A glam-bam thank you ma’am who rocked hard, as well as soft. A character we all wish to be, we all fear to be, we all are, and are not.
Hedwig’s unexpected arrival and triumphant success brought with it an upswing in artistic activism that wasn’t preaching to the choir, but teaching the choir entirely new ways to sing. This was a movement that trannies/ nannies/ freaks/ geeks/ breeders/ leaders/ sisters/ hipsters/ hags/ fags/ dykes/ look- likes/ wannabes/ realities – could hang onto, because it had the bitter and scary fun flavor of a mean spirited children’s fable, like the ever austere Shockheaded Peter. It had an intensely intellectual and complex mysticism, an amazing and beautiful score by Stephen Trask, and of course a brilliant book and lyrics by John that spun tales of walls smashed and crumbling, new ones built to take their place, yet this time, the walls were within.
There were themes of isolation and idolatry, singular duality, heartache and heartbreak, regret and redemption, war and love, jealousy and misfortune which spoke to the human condition in a unique way – transporting you far away and deep inside. It soothed and challenged audiences more deeply than anything related to gender and sexuality ever had. It covered more than the politics of the body, but the politics of the soul, and the law and subsequent court systems of nature that have no judges, only witnesses, criminals, victims and innocent bystanders.
As evidenced from the undeniable success of tonight’s event, the movement has come of age. We are ready for Stonewall II. And this time, it is really really personal.
Thank you John, and to all the performers and organizers, volunteers and sponsors, audience and press involved in Wedrock. Mazeltov.