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Transvocalizers — Trauma Flintstone

| Jun 18, 2012
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Trauma Flintstone is one of those people most of us envy-she’s multi-talented, and just doesn’t seem to ever have any “down time” in her career. She’s one of the best known drag entertainers in San Francisco, and also finds time to function as a composer, arranger, musician, cabaret singer and performance artist.

As an actor, Trauma has appeared in over fifty productions since 1993.  Most notably, she did 10 years of Christmas At The Crawfords, playing the roles of Patty Andrew, Gloria Swanson, Rosalind Russell, Vivian Leigh, and Carmen Miranda.

Trauma has been nominated for a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for her role as Aimee Semple McPherson in Club Inferno.  Other notable productions include The Andrews Sisters Hollywood Canteen, Queer, The Big Drag, Gross Indulgences: The Trials of Liberace, Jungle Red, and Dirty Little Show Tunes.

Through all of this, Trauma’s vocal talents have been her mainstay.  While she’s familiar to West Coast and New York scenes, the name Trauma Flintstone might be somewhat unfamiliar to may TGForum readers.  We’re therefore pleases that she has been gracious enough to grant us this exclusive interview.

TGForum: It’s mentioned on your site that you came to San Francisco in 1988.  Where are you from originally?

Trauma Flintstone: I moved here from Atlanta, Georgia.  Originally, I’m from Virginian Beach, Virginia.  I sure pick them, don’t I?  From one coast to the other!  I grew up two blocks from the cliff that lead to Back Bay, which fed into the Atlantic Ocean.  Now, I live just minutes from the San Francisco Bay, which feed right into the Pacific Ocean.]

TGF: Do you have any formal musical or theatrical education/training?

TF: I began studying piano when I was in fourth grade and continued studying music all through college. The piano led to voice and trombone, oddly enough, I don’t play the trombone anymore, but folks say my voice still sounds like one!

TGF: Who are your musical and/or theatrical influences?

TF: I was always drawn to the big, brassy belters of Broadway, Elaine Stritch in particular.

TGF: How did you first get started in drag and how old were you at the time?

TF: Drag happened when I was a senior in high school. I was dating a man a fair amount older than myself. He had a roommate who was transgendered. She sat down with me one night and asked if she could dress me up. I was quite curious about the whole thing. After beating my face into submission, she stood me up, put a large coiffed black wig on my head and a full length green gown. I looked quite like Ann Miller at her most glamorous. That first feeling, seeing myself n the mirror — well, I was hooked. It’s an intoxicating feeling, seeing yourself so pretty, so alluring.

TGF: I’m interested in the name Trauma Flintstone. What’s the story there?

TF: The name comes from my first time back in drag after more than a decade of not dressing. I had been invited to a Mardi Gras party and decided to go as Wilma Flintstone. I threw together an outfit (‘cavewoman chic’) and bought a wig (a lovely auburn ‘do). Now, mind you, it had been well over 10 years since I had even put on make-up. I’m trying so hard, so very hard, but it just wasn’t working. As I looked in the mirror at my final results (which were comical at best), I shrieked, “This is more Trauma than Wilma!” The name stuck. That was 1991.

TGF: Let’s talk about some of the projects you’re involved in . . .

TF: I’ll focus on two of the projects I’m truly involved in: Bijou and the Cabaret Showcase Showdown. Back around 2003, I had been quite active in the local theater scene, but felt there was a major disconnect between theater, cabaret, and drag. I really wanted to create a venue for variety performance that was drag-centric. There just weren’t any venues for those of us who sing or play live music. My dear friend, Freddie Angeles, coerced me into starting a variety show in 2005 called Bijou. Now it has become a standard variety show which includes drag but is certainly open to everyone.

In those early days of 2005, I met and started working with another queen named Katya Smirnoff-Skyy who debuted her act at Bijou. Since 2005, Katya has become quite the local legend, with sold out shows at the New Conservatory Theatre and the Jewish Theatre. Together, we decided to foster the local cabaret scene and create a cabaret contest for all the “newbies” in San Francisco. With the help of Bill Wicht, we came up with Cabaret Showcase Showdown. We’re finding lots of local talent and showcasing lots of winners.

TGF: What criteria do you use in selecting material for your show? Is there anything, or any particular genre/style you won’t use? And if so, why?

TF: I’m very old school. I love the American Songbook and the music from the 1940s. Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael. Their music speaks to me in ways I can’t express. I love modern music that finds its voice through beautiful melodies, which includes the music of Adele, Natalie Merchant, Alicia Keys, Sara Bareilles. I think Elton John has written some amazing melodies that, when you strip them down, become absolutely gorgeous songs for cabaret.

TGF: I understand that you’re also quite political. Given the events of the last couple of years, what’s your overall opinion of where the nation is right now. How is the GLBT community doing?

TF: I was hostess for the 2011 Pride Concert, featuring the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band, the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus Ambassadors AND the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Chorus. We honored commander Zoe Dunning for her work in helping to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

I’m a dove. For the most part. I just don’t support war as an answer to conflict. There are very few situations in history when war was justified. But, in my parents’ lifetime, the defeat of Hitler seems valid, so I can’t flatly deny the need for a military in our country.

No matter how anyone feels about war or peace, it’s not justifiable to prevent anyone from serving their nation due to race, gender, religion, or sexual preference. The larger LGBTIQQ community needs to be vigilant on this issue. It should have been resolved when Clinton was president, but it has taken this long to get past archaic prejudices.

Similarly, I am elated by the news in New York regarding same-sex marriage. My husband and I were wedded in September, 2008, and are part of the 18,000+ couples in California that remain legal. It’s a semi-sweet joy for us because we’d prefer everyone have the same privilege we received. We feel like we snuck in and were allowed to stay for the party. How’s’bout everyone gets to attend the party?

TGF: What advice would you offer to anyone who is thinking about becoming a professional drag entertainer?

TF: Oh, lawdamercy . . . be careful and don’t spend your entire income and life savings on costumes. That’s such a big mistake. So many queens come onto the scene, ready to be the next-big-thing. They think they have to have a new costume for every single time they go out in public. Resist that urge! Spend more time on your performances and acts than on your costumes. You’ll acquire a full wardrobe through the years, but your performances are what people t ruly remember about you.

Never let the fun of drag disappear. Sure, the professional part requires a discipline and acuity. But never let the fun escape you. There is a reason we dress up . . . always keep that reason near and dear to your heart.

I think I may be the only drag queen who’s drag mother is a lipstick lesbian. And, oh, did she coach me on a few finer points of femininity. She always complained that drag queens would only present the “slutty” side of womanhood. She insisted that I showcase the entire package and NEVER use language that debased women. She was also the one who insisted that I place Trauma in perpetual menopause. I also chose to make her a divorcee, so my actual drag name is Mrs. Trauma Flintstone. She was right . . . I find that women, more than men, are Trauma’s audience.


With the beginning of summer, and June being Pride month, there’s a lot of new music being released. While we don’t have space that enables us to go into detail concerning each new project that’s come to our attention, hopefully a brief summary will spark your interest. At any rate, get out there and support the musical acts who are representing our community.

Justin Vivian Bond

Justin Vivian Bond

Transvocalizers started the year off with an interview with Justin Vivian Bond (known as V), and followed up with a review of V’s album Dendrophile. The newest project from V is Silver Wells, and we’ll be posting a full review for next month’s column. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to talk V into yet another interview down the road.

LaLa McCallan

LaLa McCallan was first featured in this column back in 2010, in a two part interview posted for the months of February and March of that year. At that time, she talked about plans for a DVD of various performances. It’s taken some time to get the entire process running, but she has just recently shared links to both her newest video and a “making of…” video. LaLa’s Get This Party Started (Shirley Bassey Version) a Modern Rococo Fantasy, is now on YouTube. This has to be seen to be believed. While her vocals are absolutely impeccable, with LaLa’s range and delivery, the overall production values are of a quality that’s becoming rare in music videos. I don’t know what the budget was for this — and I probably wouldn’t want to know, especially with all the 18th century costumes, the extras, the crew, the location, and sound quality. I’m really looking forward to a finished DVD of LaLa’s work. (For more information, please check her out  on the Web at and, as well as YouTube and Facebook.)


Hip-hop artist Katastrophe, featured in our companion Perpetual Change column back in September, 2004, has a new video posted on YouTube of his song Wake Me If I’m Dreaming. The video production values as well as the song are mainstream and comparable to what artists with major money backing are putting out. Great work for a transgender rapper. The song is taken from a new project called Second Hand Emotion, due out 6/26/2012.


There’s new video on YouTube from Foxxjazell (featured in this column in an interview, Feb. 2011, plus reviews posted in March and August that year) of a song called NYC Love. Shot in black and white in New York City, obviously, given the title, the tune has a very urban, in-your-face attitude. This is the premier single for her soon to be released new project called Elevation. Hopefully, we’ll get a review posted when it comes out, and maybe even another interview with the lady herself.


Magic Hour by the Scissor Sisters has just been released. This is the fourth album from the band that no less than Bono has called “…the best pop group in the world.” That’s quite an accolade, and for anyone else, it would be nothing but hyperbole. In the case of The Scissor Sisters new album, it’s a pretty fair assessment.

Overall, the album doesn’t stay in one genre throughout. Of course there are the dance tracks, such as Inevitable (modern soul/R&B slow groove feel, with excellent production); Only The Horses; Let’s Have A Kiki; Shady Love (rap/hip-hop beginning that turns techno in a hurry); Self Control and Best In Me.

The real surprises on this project include the opening cut, Baby come Home, which is very danceable, but also reminiscent of disco-era production while being far more musical than disco; Year Of Living Dangerously, one of the better moments both in it’s production value and musically; San Luis Obispo, which is what Jimmy Buffet might sound like if he ever went techno; and the most stand out track, The Secret Life of Letters, a tune I didn’t expect to hear from The Scissor Sisters. It’s an excellent mellow tune, and one of the better production moments on the entire project. Excellent harmony throughout and excellent overall musically.

In the press release that accompanied my review copy, the band said that they actually had fun making this record. Believe me, it shows. They didn’t trap themselves in any musical ruts, took some chances that actually worked, while all the time managing to stay true to what their audience expects. Excellent work here.

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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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