Hot Festival Opening Night: Sampling Queer Theater + Six I Want To See

I saw 15 of the 48 shows in the Hot Festival on opening night and I can say almost honestly that I loved all of them.

For a complete line-up, check out the Hot Festival online catalogue

Hot Festival began in 1992, and claims to be the oldest annual LGBTQ+ festival in the world. It smartly launches each year with a FREE opening night sampling of what’s on offer for the rest of the month. Each of the productions is allowed just a two-minute excerpt. I enjoyed each of the two-minute shows, although some didn’t really give me enough to go on as to what the full show (maximum length 70 minutes) would be like, and, for some, two minutes were enough for me.

But these six made me want to see more. In the order in which they are being presented in full this month:


Very High, Underground (July 3 – tonight!)

The description in the catalogue: “After falling into a TV wormhole, two teens go on a drug-fueled odyssey.”

The two minutes: Raeilly Willson and Shelby Quinn, the show’s writers and performers, presented a humorous, zombie-like song “We are a computer simulation” in vaguely German accents.

My comment: There was enough talent and humor in that song to make me hope that the show is more original and structured than the description might lead you to believe.

Spanking Machine (July 11, 12, 13)

Catalogue description: Marga Gomez A darkly comic memoir about the first boy she ever sloppy kissed and how it made them gay forever.

The two minutes: Gomez explains how she recently heard from her friend whom she met in the third grade.  She and Scotty (the Anglo name he preferred to Agamemnon) both attended Immaculate Conception in the Bronx, and he was the first to be subjected to the “spanking machine” by the “sadistic nun, which is redundant.”

My comment: Anybody who has seen Marga Gomez perform (as I did: “Latin Standards” her 12thsolo show) knows how hilarious she is, and what a good storyteller. Spanking Machine is her 13thsolo show.


The Tyranny of Structurelessness (July 20)

Catalogue description: After a series of sado-masochistic relationships, Tom Cole embarks on a “normal” relationship far more terrifying than anything that came before. An enhanced autobiography in four parts.

The two minutes: Tom Cole describes how a stranger from online wanted to feed him drugs so that he could play with his unconscious body, but he decided that this was not the right guy to do this with because he was attending a conference of graphic designers

My comment: Cole managed to make this weirdness matter-of-fact and, if not laugh-out-loud funny, engaging. It also gave me hope that the title was the only vague, pretentious aspect of the show.

Reawakening (July 23)

Catalogue description: A young gay couple tries to rekindle their broken relationship after a tragic incident at the Stonewall Inn. A new play by Anthony Fusco of Triangle Rainbow Theater.

The two minutes: A scene where a son reveals to his mother how he was seduced by someone masquerading as gay, who then beat him up.

My comment: The scene was well put together, which suggests that the rest of the play will be professional, albeit conventional.

Process memoir 5: The indigo kid (July 26, July 27)

Catalogue description: “Movement performance, part of a six-year process=anthology actively engaging the recent past, and the accumulating present.”

The two minutes: Johnny Cruise Mercer sings “Hallelujah” (beautifully) as he walks really slowly from the hallway to the stage, dressed in a black robe, which he throws off to reveal colorful silks hanging around his arms.

My comment: There is little about the title or description that would have drawn me to see this show, but the two minutes promise an intriguing theater piece full of graceful movement and satisfying song.

Type Me Queer (July 31)

Catalogue description: “Juicy eclectic sounds oozing from two twangy queers bing their best friendship to theatrical fruition”

The two minutes: They sing a beautiful song, with terrific harmony, accompanied by guitar.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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