Exploring the bond between gay men and straight women in the performance piece fag/hag

Oct 13, 1999 at 4:00 am
"I look for performances or ideas that our audiences will find interesting," says Joan Lipkin on the eve of the Alternate Currents/Direct Currents (AC/DC) Series' eighth year. "In this case, I was struck by gay male and straight female relationships and how they were showing up in popular culture. But I wanted to do something where the gay male was more than a prop, as in My Best Friend's Wedding."

Lipkin found just the thing in a new performance piece called fag/hag, created by and featuring Kate Nugent and Joe Salvatore.

Lipkin explains that the collaboration between Nugent and Salvatore began when they met at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she was a guest instructor and he was a student. "They became good friends," says Lipkin, "and realized they would have been each other's prom date." As they began to explore the nature of their relationship, with experiences such as drinking and cruising for men together in bars, they began to investigate the gay-male/straight-female relationship more broadly. Employing some of the techniques of actress Anna Deveare Smith -- who created her pieces about race in America, Fires in the Mirror and Twilight, after interviewing various people and then re-creating those individuals as characters -- Nugent and Salvatore did interviews of their own, creating a piece that Lipkin describes as "both quite comic and quite poignant."

Lipkin says she doesn't want to give away any of the best lines from fag/hag but offers that the piece explores a relationship that has at its core "a yearning for what you don't get, yet at the same time gives you a validation that you don't often get."

This year's opening of the AC/DC Series includes some extra-special events. The Gateway Men's Chorus Ambassadors give a miniconcert before the Friday-evening show, performing music from the enchanting ABBA songbook. Saturday evening combines theater with a birthday party for Oscar Wilde, with Ces and Judy's new Arctic Dairy providing free chocolate-ice-cream torte for everyone.

fag/hag is performed at 8 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16 and 4 p.m. Oct. 17 at the St. Marcus Theatre, 2102 Russell Blvd. Call 995-4600 for reservations.