Thursday, March 16, 2006

Out The Box, Please!

Well by now you know I went to the circus three times, count 'em three times in a week. So, either:

a. I'm some kind of a nut.
b. I'm married to some kind of a nut.
c. I have some nutty friends who are in the circus.
d. I want to be a clown (shut up)
e. I have a mad crush on Lola Jenkins.
f. I think circus stuff make good posts.

Three of those are true, you pick.

Stilettos, Circus and Soul got really good reviews from the Chicago newspapers and magazines. Whenever my friend Alexandra is in anything I usually watch for the reviews, but this time I really didn't. I guess because I was so busy going to the circus I didn't have time to read about it. Anyway, Alex brought to our attention on her blog (the best on the net) post Time /Out Chicago Review that Time Out Chicago Magazine referred to her comedy in the circus as Drag Queen humor. Drag Queen humor? First of all Alex is not a Drag Queen. Secondly, did he not understand the story line going on in that show? Alex played a Diva with a capital D. Period. Everyone got that except the reviewer guy.
His whole tone and choice of words were really insulting not only to Alexandra but to the show. This show was enjoyable for all ages but with the slant this guy put on it, I could see some folks wondering if it was good fare for the kiddies. He began in the first sentence letting everyone know Alex is Transgendered. Big deal she doesn't hide that but it is certainly not something people would automatically know if they didn't already know. I think that was his point. He had to make sure folks knew. It was killing him that people may have gone home not knowing that fact. OMG! ...... Let the labeling begin!

An aside here. Alexandra Billings is an amazingly talented singer and actress. The first time I saw Alex in a play, I was a goner. Then after the play, she came out and talked to the audience about AIDS and the important work Season of Concern does. She was sincere and sweet and funny as hell. I went home that night NOT knowing she was Transgendered. A few days later I stuck her name in the search thingy and ...Monica!!! Alexandra Billings is Transgendered! Moni replied, "she is not". Yep she is. Moni said "that's cool". That was it, so what.


He catagorized her choice of songs as '70's era Boystown and then said about the combination of Liquid Soul, Alex and the Midnight Circus "It is to be sure a peculiar three way". OK, now my mind may be down in the sewer eating pizza with the ninja turtles, but if you are reviewing a family theatrical event, you can come up with different phrasing than that.

I actually think and Alex thinks he liked the show but you'd have to read it carefully to discern that. It was a very blow bite blow (a Maya Angelo-ism meaning something positive then something negative...) type of article with a slant that connotated something other than what it was.

I understand, I think, another reason this upset Alexandra is because she works hard at her craft and it hurts when someone who is supposed to be reviewing her work, pigeon holes her into a little box. Alex has proven long ago that neither she or her talent are containable in any box.

So Alex wrote Time Out Chicago a letter and so did I. Here is my letter.

I went with five members of my family including two small children to see "Stilettos, Circus and Soul" at the North Light Theater in Skokie, IL. We loved it! I read the review in Time Out Chicago after seeing the show and I am confused and disappointed with the tone and slant of the review. My concern is how and why it skewed Alexandra Billings' performance around to be drag queen humor. The article hurries to mention in the first sentence that Ms. Billings is Transgendered. A fact of her life certainly, but I fail to see its relevance in reviewing her performance in this show, especially since a majority of the audience probably did not know this and simply enjoyed her as the extremely funny centerpiece of the show. Or, to this reviewer does Ms. Billings being Transgendered automatically label her comedy as drag queen humor.

Time Out Chicago usually does a good job in a city as culturally rich and diverse as Chicago. But the descriptive language in this review is misleading and unfortunate. Time Out Chicago Magazine owes Alexandra Billings an apology.


We both got notes back that they are interested in printing our letters in the magazine, (hopefully with an apology to Alex).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jackie,
thank you for coming to Circus and supporting us!!!! and thank you for speaking up when it counts..you are a classy lady!!!
-Mitchell

Maria said...

Jackie,
Your "critique" of that awful reviewer was brilliant. Great news that your letter will be published...especially for Alex' sake.
Maria

Jackie said...

Mitchell,
Thank You, with your talented self! We enjoyed every minute of it!

Jackie said...

Maria,
This person is not such a bad writer. I actually liked some of his descriptions of the circus acts. He'll just needs to get out of his own way to be a good reviewer.