Entertainment » Theatre

The Caché of Cashetta

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Saturday June 3, 2006

Like most youngsters, Scott Weston was dazzled by magic; he bought his own "magic kit" and performed miniature magic shows for his neighbors in New Jersey. But somewhere between those humble beginnings and today, he took his fascination to places somewhat unexpected, creating in the double entendre of "illusionist" the world's first drag magician, with no small amount of comedy and singing thrown in to sparkle up his show. Cashetta now tours internationally with a variety of unique tricks, many of them targeted to the gay community; she comes to Boston for the first time on Tuesday to perform at Pridelights.

Like most youngsters, Scott Weston was dazzled by magic; he bought his own "magic kit" and performed miniature magic shows for his neighbors in New Jersey. But somewhere between those humble beginnings and today, he took his fascination to places somewhat unexpected, creating in the double entendre of "illusionist" the world's first drag magician, with no small amount of comedy and singing thrown in to sparkle up his show. Cashetta now tours internationally with a variety of unique tricks, many of them targeted to the gay community; she returns for her second year in Provincetown with a new show at the Crown & Anchor.

"I'm a born performer," Weston explains. "I used to perform all kinds of shows for people when I was a very young kid. I used to sing and dance - and the drag started there too, because my parents had a console television set, and I would stand on it and lip sync to Karen Carpenter songs.

His musical talents were the first to be cultivated; Weston studied classical piano for 18 years. But the stage beckoned quickly, particularly given his proximity to the Great White Way.

"I was taking lessons in singing, dancing, tap, acting, doing summer stock. auditioning in New York," he enumerates. "So that was always the direction I wanted to go into - I just didn't know where I'd end up."

Even his parents got into the act; his father happily took the talented youngster to piano bars, where Weston would get on stage and sing jazz. Ironically, the boy's interest - magic - was subverted by the teenager's intense theatrical pursuits.

"You don't ever think that you can be a magician, you know?" he quips. "It's not something you plan. There are no courses in it, no training - no college for magic."

Nor are there schools for drag, per se; but as Weston came out and explored the New York gay community in the late 1980s, he found himself dressing up nonetheless.

"At that time, everyone was putting on women's clothes or these absolutely crazy outfits," he reminisces, "and I loved that. As I went a character was being developed, and the drag was getting more pretty and less freakish. Finally, someone asked me one night what my name was, and I said, 'Scott.' He laughed and said, 'No, you need to have something more fabulous, something with cach?.'"

Voilá; Cashetta was born.

Within a few years, Weston was enjoying a growing reputation as a drag artist; as Cashetta began hosting her own cable access show and enjoying regular performances, Weston's singing and comedic abilities conjoined with his new, larger-than-life drag personality. But ever the showman, he felt the act lacked a unique hook.

"I wanted to incorporate something new in my act," he explains. "I started thinking in a couple different directions, and one was incorporating the classical piano; you know, maybe being a Liberace type of act, a grand piano-wielding drag queen playing Chopin. But I'll never know if that actually could work. Or, I was going to be the drag equivalent of Dolly Parton, you know, write my own country music and dance and get a band together and start touring. I still think that's a great idea."

But neither idea quite had the "magic" of the third.

"Magic seemed to combine everything that I loved to do," he describes. "The standup, the singing, the drag, and the llusions."

Only problem: he didn't know where to start. There had never to his knowledge been a drag magician. Solution: Vegas, baby.

"I flew to Las Vegas and went to every magic show I could find," he laughs. "I spent a few weeks there and I saw literally everything to do with magic. And I was hanging outside after the show and meeting magicians. And one day I was in a magic shop, buying all this stuff - 'cause I was brand new to it, so I was just buying everything - and after telling the guy behind the counter what I was thinking, he told me I had to come to a show that night. It was called 'Showgirls of Magic.' He was in it, not as a magician, but as a gigantic Cher with a midget bunny." Weston winks. "Yeah."

With tricks in hand, the would-be drag magician headed back to New York. There, he set about attempting to build a new kind of show.

"I could make a helicopter disappear, and then a monkey could run on stage and take my wig, and the audience would remember the monkey."

"I didn't want to do little sleight of hand," he recounts, "nor did I want to do big trunk shows - they're too big, nobody could afford me if I did. To me, magic alone is kind of boring. To just go see a magician and watch him pop cards out of the air isn't really that entertaining. You know there's a secret, you don't know how it's done, you know they spend hours at it, but it's not really that entertaining."

Even with a gimmick, Weston discovered that becoming an illusionist isn't in itself magic; he spend months practicing full-time simply to build up his basics.

"It took a very long time," he laments. "I didn't realize it would be that hard. I thought I'd just be able to put a couple of props together and poof! That was not the case."

After nearly a full year of training and rehearsing, he opened his first show, and found acceptance in the venues and audiences of New York. The secret, he soon discovered, was the invention not of tricks that could incorporate gay humor or drag - but instead, the injection of magic into a musical or comedic segment.

"When I think of a trick, I think of an idea first, and then I add magic to it. In this year's show I do a makeover because I thought it would be funny to take a straight guy and put him in drag. Then," he adds, "I added magic to it."

In Cashetta's show for 2006, now appearing in Provincetown at the Crown & Anchor, she also makes predictions based on scribbles on a mens' room wall; and of course, closes the show with her trademark gag, which involves a balloon - and, apparently, an equally elastic esophagus.

"When I was writing last year's show," she recounts, "a magician came to my show and met me, then told me he had something he had to show me, that he wanted to teach me. I said OK, and he showed me this trick. I went out of my mind! Other magicians cannot perform this - it's too gay. I was so excited - and still it took me months and months to be able to do it."

It went over well in Provincetown, where Cashetta joined the existing lineup of performers mid-season in 2005. This year, she built a show on a larger scale.

"P'town is great, it's I wanted to perform here for a very long time," she says. "And last year when I got the opportunity to do it I got very excited about it. And I'm doing bigger stuff, but I've also learned this: I could make a helicopter disappear, and then a monkey could run on stage and take my wig, and the audience would remember the monkey.... It's really about the experience, not about your stuff and how big it is."

I raise one eyebrow.

"Well," she amends, "here in P'town, maybe it is."

Despite her insistence that more intimate magic is her hallmark, when I point out the larger publicity stunts that have ritualistically been performed by the world's most famous magicians, she ponders.

"You know, I think I should do a stunt like that here in Provincetown," she opines. "I don't know what, though. I don't want to be buried alive. But maybe if I were in a box on Commercial Street and they put a thousand scorpions in there with me, that would be fun. Or then again, nobody has ever made the Pilgrim Monument disappear before...

"Tell your readers to write to me with their ideas," she laughs.

And then - poof! - she's gone.

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Cashetta performs at the Crown & Anchor through September. Visit her website at www.cashetta.com for more information and showtimes.

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.


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