Working with Katjana Vadeboncoeur (Cherry Manhattan) and Donna Stewart (Lyla la Coeur) to produce the Beebo Brinker Pulp Cabaret has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have been endlessly surprised by the generous love and support we’ve received from the performance community, audiences, and even the queen of lesbian pulp fiction, Ann Bannon herself! So many people have contributed their time and talent, often as volunteers, to help this project make the transition from ink on a page to living breathing art on the stage. And even more dumbfounding than the fact that people have been so willing to contribute is the fact that THEY have been thanking US for the opportunity to participate in work they feel is important.
When I sit back and think about why people have had such love for this project, I can only assume that they have been moved in much the same way that I have been. The aesthetic of a “pulp pinup show” easily resonates with me because of the sexiness, the camp, and the vintage styling. And we, as producers, have never been afraid to go all the way with the fact that this is a show about lesbians, their lives, their loves, and their SEX. It is a truly extraordinary feeling to see lesbian sex portrayed on stage in way that makes the women the subjects of their own desire as opposed to the objects of somebody else’s. Its hot, it’s empowering, and it feels revolutionary in its honesty.
And though I’ve certainly had more than my fair share of titillating moments throughout coproducing this show, I’ve also felt a whole range of other emotions in reaction to what we’re putting on stage. I felt a sense of honor in bringing this sliver of queer history to the stage and paying tribute to the works of a woman is important as Ann Bannon. I’ve felt rage and sadness at reading Ann’s words and coupling them with my memories of reading Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg or Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam, knowing in such a painfully intimate way that women in the not too distant past were emotionally, physically, sexually abused, incarcerated, and institutionalized… simply because those women were like me, they were gay. I’ve felt a sense of hope and motivation in honoring the bravery it took to write the Beebo Brinker series in the 1950s, knowing it was bravery like Ann’s that helped propel us into a new era were I can actually produce a show like this and not only will it not get shut down by McCarthy era restrictions, but it’ll be featured in a mainstream, reputable theatre. And I feel a sense of justice knowing that, as we continue in the year 2011 to struggle for full human rights and acceptance, I am making my own little contribution to the movement for full equality.
When I say that it is an honor and privilege to bring these stories to you, I mean it with the utmost sincerity. I have enjoyed this process fully: with my head, my heart, and my loins. I invite you to do the same.
Sasha Summer Cousineau, AKA Diva le Déviant
p.s. Add YOUR voice to this project! Back it at: http://kck.st/nUyBwv