Men in pink are taking over. With duo Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, from Alberta Canada performing their show, “Bash’d”, a gay rap opera at the Zipper Theater, pink is the color du jour, but the act is anything but flaming. And even though Nathan Cuckow does a mean Cher impersonation, neither he nor his partner are drag queens nor do they act like them. In fact, the show is done entirely in rap, spoken word and poetry.
Even while saying, “All you real faggots, flip your wrists in the air”, these performers express themselves with characteristic rap hand gestures and body moves that swerve though their action-packed, fast-talking narrative. The effect is ironic, not only because rap is a homophobic genre, but also because their performance style runs counter to the stereotype of gay male performers. In fact, some of the strongest moments in the production occur when the two men openly express their affection for each with the most unexpected of acts, kissing on the lips.
There is, as well, an edge of irony in the story they tell about star-crossed lovers. Craddock, who plays the rap artist named T-Bag and Cuckow as Feminem portray the lovers Jack and Dillon, as well as a host of characters – lezzies and faghags, bears and queens. Craddock’s T-Bag also plays Dillon’s angry butch dad as well as his cajoling mom along with members of their wedding and finally, the men on the street. When Dillon gets brutally bashed outside a club late one night, Jack revenges the deed. It’s gay violence and not just violence against gays that underlies the musical’s moral about violence. It also leads to some overstated, though well-intentioned, proselytizing.
Still, Craddock and Cuckow have broken a lot of boundaries by telling their tale in rap. And they have a wonderful lyric command of the genre. As an interesting side note, Cuckow who plays the good-looking Dillon is in real life, engaged to be married to a woman. Craddock identifies as gay. But as Jack and Dillon, they show a lot of love for each other, and their repartee speaks to the tenderness of sexuality.
By: Isa Goldberg
A Gay Rap Opera
The Zipper Factory Theater & Tavern
336 West 37th Street in NYC
Mondays at 8 pm Thursdays at 8 pmFridays at 7:30 & 10 pm & Saturdays at 8pm