By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
Sound scary? And intriguing? It should. While "crissXcross" is more comic and camp (a bar pickup between a queen and a king; a fake boob popped during shooting, says Rubin), "Hitler" is uncomfortably mesmerizing, pounding taboo after taboo into a wicked whole. The malleability of gender is fascinating: where O'Neill's kings offer a new (or sometimes almost traditional) form of masculinity, Rubin's bare-breasted Nazi king is something like nega-feminine, metamorphosed by careful context out of the constraints of biology and society.
For an instant, it's gender vertigo—a primally unsettling effect capping a piece that snaps from smirks to screams to breathless sexuality. (Note to Mom and Dad: yeah, I'm a pervert. Sorry you had to find out here.) Don't get all wanky over the swastika-waving: if it'll calm you down, Rubin's parents were Holocaust survivors, so hold the spit next time.
"Had [the spitters] asked me about it, they might have been a little more enlightened," she says. "But it was a reaction, and any reaction is a good reaction."
It's that kind of vertigo (and that kind of pull-no-punches aesthetic) at the throbbing heart of "Drag" that keeps the dynamism of the drag king intact: Rubin, O'Neill and Zimmerman's subjects all have a certain energy, but the kings have something like an outlaw streak (appropriate that O'Neill shot a Harley-straddling cowboy). Maybe it's because they're performing and existing on the frontier: it's unexplored territory, something sleek and strong and still growing. And that's why it works, says Rubin.
"If you take a woman that beautiful and put her out there, you give her power with just her form and figure; it strikes people, to look and pay attention," she says. "But make her into a man, and it's totally different in how it works. You're still giving her power but in a completely different way.""Drag" at Coffeehaven Coffeehouse & Art Gallery, 1708 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 437-3785. Call for hours. Through June 23. Free.