Tranny Take-Over?
Conquering the world through rock musicals

Two transsexual terrorists plotting world domination? They turn up in Cyberotica!, the provocative new rock musical about a transvestite chat room. The theatrical performances also feature a horny female FBI agent whose pursuit of sleaze has, even in her personal life, left her "Looking for a pervert." And somewhere in the mix, there's a giant Teletubby.

See also...
... by David Cassel
... in the Scope section
... from September 24, 1999

This wacky entry in a growing national resurgence of rock theatre comes from San Francisco -- a city proud of its rich culture of sexual exploration. Cyberotica! melds drag to another San Francisco fascination -- technology.

The central number tells the story of Dr. Karen -- a male genetic engineer who dies in childbirth, after undergoing a sex-change operation in a successful attempt to give birth to "technology's child." His/her mutant Teletubby offspring "Oopsie" wanders through the show, an orphan, seeking the unknown male sperm donor who is his biological father.

As the denizens of a randy chat room huddle in darkness after a climactic Y2K blackout, the narrator remarks on the folly of turning to technology for love -- "The one thing that I can't give you."

"We really wanted to showcase drag talent, and I think we did that successfully," says Peter Fogel, who authored the show with creative partner Kelly Kittell. This Duke Ellington of drag tailored numbers for specific performers from the cutting-edge of gender issues. "A few well-known drag queens contacted us about auditioning for cast replacements before they had even seen the show!"

But he's not just using any drag queens. Cast members cut their chops performing scathing parodies of celebrities. Arturo Galster is known for his "post-modern impersonations" of Patsy Cline and Marlene Dietrich, and the cast also features lesbian Elvis impersonator Leigh Crow -- a.k.a. "Elvis Herselvis." And Fogel himself was guitarist for Enrique, a drag rock band that brought flamboyant fun (and punk sensibilities) to San Francisco in 1989 -- "kind of like a KISS concert," as Fogel recalls.

Throughout the '80s San Francisco's underground scenes had offered just about everything -- except live rock and roll in drag. (The best you were likely to find was the passel of big hats and showtunes in Beach Blanket Babylon, and that particular tourist trap is aging so fast that no amount of Mary Kay can help it.) Then, when Enrique bandleader D'Arcy Drollinger left San Francisco for New York City last year, the "boys in the band" decided that the show must go on. They were reborn: The "Tuck & Roll Players" and Cyberotica! are the happy results.

The Great White Way may have Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but San Francisco now has Opal and Maybelline. Fogel hints that the two transsexuals bent on world domination will continue appearing in theatrical productions. "It's possible that they may truly start the tranny revolution -- and start taking control!"

If Fogel and Kittell can lay their hands on Broadway backers, perhaps they will.

Cyberotica! returned September 9 for a triumphant extended run of Thursday night performances at the Transmission Theatre next to San Francisco's trendy nightclub, the Paradise Lounge. David Cassel is Interactive Media Editor at GettingIt.