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Transvocalizers — The Kinsey Sicks

| Oct 6, 2008
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Tranvocalizers HeaderThe Kinsey Sicks are no strangers to TGForum. When the idea for a new column featuring drag entertainers who sing in their own voice was first brought up, The Kinsey Sicks were naturally on the short list of potential features. In fact, they were definitely in the top five when it came to “must have” articles.
They were featured in our companion column, Perpetual Change, the first time in April 2001, and again in January 2003. Throughout the years, the occasional update was also provided as press releases were received.

However, for the benefit of new readers and/or the totally uninitiated in the world of drag entertainers, some background is probably needed.

The Kinsey SicksThe Kinsey Sicks describe themselves as “…a radical new concept-drag queens who actually sing…not lip synch!” Think of them as a sort of drag barber shop quartet. They prefer calling themselves America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet, however.

The name is sort of a joke on the Kinsey Scale of Human Sexuality, with a six being totally homosexual. They prefer to think of it as a “perfect score…”

The group hails from San Francisco and was formed in 1993. The story is that the original members all showed up at a Bette Midler concert, thinking that since it was after all Midler, most of the audience would be in drag. Well, not really…they were the only ones.

Realizing there was an obvious common bond, they soon also found out each shared a vocal ability that came naturally. Since each had some form of musical training, coming together as a group seemed the right thing to do.

The original line up was Ben “Rachel” Schatz, Maurice “Trixie” Kelly, Irwin “Winnie” Keller, Jerry “Vaselina” Friedman, and Abatto “Bergonia” Avilez. “Vaselina” was eventually replaced by Chris “Trampolina” Dilley, and Abatto Avilez passed away in 1996. The role of Trixie was taken over by Jeff Mamabat in 2004, and Kevin Smith Kirkland is now “Trixie”, starting earlier this year. Spencer Brown also recently joined the group as “Trampolina”.

Patriotic SicksThe Kinsey’s first release was a self-produced live CD entitled Everything But The Kitch-N-Synch (1996). This was followed by Dragapella (1997); Boyz 2 Girlz (2000); Sicks In The City (2002); I Wanna Be A Republican (2004); Oy Vey In A Manger: Christmas Carols And Other Jewis Music (2005); and Sicks! Sicks! Sicks! (2008). I Wanna Be A Republican is also available as a DVD.

Speaking of the “…Republican” theme, the Kinseys have gotten a lot of mileage out of this idea. Their first concert film was a live performance of “…Republican” in 2006. Another film, Almost Infamous, released in 2008, follows the group to Las Vegas and back.

Like most touring groups, major excursion out are also named, and of course the “…Republican” theme was used as a name to promote the album when it was first released.

Even before they started touring, the Kinseys first major shows held at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center were all “themed”. You have to appreciate the humor and oftentimes double entendre of things like Sicks Appeal, Sicks Tease, The Ballad Sopranos, Motel Sicks: A Dragapella Summer Vacation, Everything But The Kitch-N-Synch, (and my personal favorite) Greatest Tits. More recent jaunts have been called Condoleezapalooza, the “Oy Vey…” theme for the holidays, and perhaps one of their most controversial tours, Wake The F&@k Up America!.

Even Sicker Sicks2001 saw The Kinsey Sicks return to their theatrical roots with an off-Broadway show entitled Dragapella! Starring The Kinsey Sicks. This earned the group national praise from every major paper and music industry trade such as Billboard.

Although we’ve taken quite a bit of time to discuss what the Kinsey Sicks have accomplished, it’s quite possible that there are a few (…probably very few…) who aren’t familiar with what the group actually sounds like. Think in terms of impeccable four part harmonies done acapella, by four outlandish looking drag queens. Their songs are parodies of tunes everyone knows, ranging in style from show tunes, movie themes, to 1950s style doo-wop standards. Definitely everything including the kitch-n-sink. (Sorry, couldn’t resist using that…)

I have to admit to having a favorite parody, Baby Dyke, from their Boyz 2 Girlz project. This is a great send-up of the old Supreme’s Baby Love. (Here goes in part, with original parody lyrics by Ben Schatz)

Baby dyke, my baby dyke
Look so butch on your motor bike
First you met a girl named Lynn
You had some drinks and you moved in
Maybe someday you’ll have sex again
Maybe with your ex again
Oh baby dyke, my baby dyke
Comin’ out don’t mean bummin’ out
Don’t listen to what others say
Don’t throw your frillly bras away
Lots of dykes like lingrie…
(on and on…you get the idea.)

Granted, this is just one small example of what The Kinsey Sicks are known for. After several albums, a DVD, a couple of films, and coutless live shows, it’s probably a bit ridiculous to pick just one parody out of such a huge body of work to serve as an example, but like I said, it’s my personal favorite.

The Kinsey Sicks are also starting to gain attention on an even greater, national stage, simply because of a few minutes of network air time. The results of this exposure, and the circumstances thereof, are all pretty unique. In closing, this press release sent by the group sums it up the best.

THE KINSEY SICKS AND AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
(received Aug. 18, 2008)
“We have been flooded with emails, phone calls, and carrier pigeons from you asking us what the heck is going on with the Kinseys and the NBC-TV show ‘America’s Got Talent’. People keep saying they have seenus on tons of promos for the show (and still are), and have caught tantalizing glilmpses of us on the show itself, but they have not seenus actually perform

“There is much we cannot, for the moment, tell you…but we can fill you in what is public record: Yes, we auditioned for the show. Yup, we got passed on to Las Vegas week. Nope, we did not make beyond there. And alas, we will not be appearing live for the American public to vote on…

“Perplexed at watching for us week after week, the sweet folks at GLAAD published an article wondering why we weren’t being seen on the show and lobbied NBC to show us. Thanks to their efforts, you can now view tape of our first AGT audition (and the standing ovation we received) at:
www.nbc.com/Americas_Got_Talent/Video#mea=516501).

“We will be back on the road in the fall, and will look forward to seeing you in the uncomfortable venue of your choice.”

The humor, even in times of seeming rejection, doesn’t stop with these gals. It probably goes without saying that The Kinsey Sicks do not have to worry about finding an audience anywhere. They’re absolutely amazing to hear, and even if you can’t attend a live performance, there’s an entire library of Kinsey stuff available to keep you highly entertained and laughing so hard it hurts. Do yourself a favor and add some Kinsey Sicks to your music collection.

The Kinsey Sicks perform Dragapella.

To experience what the Kinseys call a unique impulse shopping experience, check out their web site at www.kinseysicks.com. Kinsey merchandise is also available on amazon.com.


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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