Like A Record, Baby :: San Francisco Album Project’s Drag and Rock Mix
San Francisco has a rich history of drag, which has brought us everything from the acid-tinged musicals of The Cockettes, to extravaganzas dedicated to this season’s reigning pop divas.
But The San Francisco Album Project is a bit different. Pairing gender-blending performance art drag with some of the greatest albums of the last few decades, the Album Project presents classic records in their entirety. On Sunday, January 19, the Album Project will be breaking out the flannel shirts and plaid glitter for a drag interpretation of Nirvana’s breakthrough 1990s classic Nevermind.
According to Robert Barber, (who produces the bi-monthly Album Project shows, alongside Nathan Rapport and Michael Soldier) the Album Project came into existence after years of working within San Francisco’s thriving drag scene.
"Nathan and I were bouncing ideas back and forth trying to find our own niche, our own take on a drag show. Some of our favorite drag events ever were the ’album’ nights at Trannyshack back when it was at The Stud. That concept was first thought up there at Trannyshack by Heklina, Peaches Christ and Vinsantos, and we wanted to try and build off of it. Once Nathan and I were able to bring Precious Moments (Soldier) on board as our third producer/director we knew we had to go for it."
The first show in May of last year featured Yaz’s 1982 record "Upstairs at Eric’s." Since then, the Album Project crew have also tacked Radiohead’s "OK Computer," Prince’s "Parade," and Roxy Music’s self-titled debut from 1972. They’re not traditional drag fare, and that’s part of the beauty of Album Project shows.
According to Barber, one of the ideas driving the shows is that that "drag performance can be many things; not just in content, but in form as well."
In keeping with that boundary-pushing, the Album Project performances are not your typical lip-sync show in a bar. Thus far the shows have also been presented in a "non-traditional" venue for drag performance. The first four happened at The Chapel on Valencia Street, and this month’s Nirvana show is moving to the Victoria Theater.