All photos by Katherine Gaines
Those unaccustomed to the John Waters-esqe variety show CRACK might find themselves offended by the humor. It is bawdy. It is bold. And, if it doesn’t offend you, then the organizers would probably see their mission as having failed. CRACK did not fail on Saturday night in its holiday show CRACK: Xmas with the Camps at Town nightclub.
The brainchild of DJ Shea Van Horn (who hosts the show as his drag alter ego Summer Camp) and nightlife promoters Karl Marx and Chris Farris, CRACK has spent years cultivating talent which has “fallen through the cracks” of mainstream theater in Washington. This means a comedy show with lots of drag, lots of semi-nudity, a large amount of offensive material, and a focus on getting amateur performers to write and produce some really hilarious sketches.
CRACK: Christmas with the Camps followed the fictional story of drag queen Summer Camp returning to her unnamed hometown in West Virginia to visit her mothers (conjoined twins) for the holidays. That setup allowed a variety of performers to stop by the Camps’ home, much like the template used by network holiday broadcast specials of the 1970s, but with CRACK using much more scat and simulated semen. Saturday night’s CRACK show started out sweet enough, with host Summer Camp making her way through the audience with a suitcase singing a holiday song by The Carpenters. But, by the time the first neighbor stopped by, it was clear to the uninitiated that things would be getting a lot weirder.
D.C. comedic veterans Church Night stopped by as the West Virginia hollow’s local clergy, praying with Summer Camp in her family in an expletive-filled blessing. A nun from Summer Camp’s Catholic high school also visited, bringing with her the heart of Jesus (which, we think, was an actual cow’s heart) that she sliced and danced with in a strip tease. Other acts were harder to shoehorn into the holiday home narrative, but that didn’t mean they were any less funny. A man-sized bunny rabbit doing a parody of Adele’s “Hello” hopped along in a perfect recreation of the artist’s video (with a Jesus impersonator standing in for the video’s boyfriend character). You would think that Adele parodies would be stale by now, and they often are. But, the surrealist “WTF?!” approach to this parody sketch made it fresh and hilarious.
Among the drag performers, the crop included two members from the young drag collective The Fagettes. Jezzibel Haunt was superb as Summer Camp’s grandmother as she performed Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” with a walker. Salvadora Dali shined with a straight-forward rendition of “Where Are You, Christmas?” as she brought out a six-foot tall Starbucks red holiday cup to lament the loss of the holiday. At each verse, Dali opened the lid of the cup she was holding to reveal a slightly smaller version – working her way down to a thimble-sized red holiday cup and contently falling asleep in Christmas pajamas next to a line-up of her Starbucks matryoshka cups.
The rest of the show was filled out by games (including the popular, and straightforward “Show Us Your Crack” along with a lap dance challenge), characters, and Santa Clauses dressed in jock straps. The highlight of the night actually came offstage when the straight couple we were seated next to leaned over to ask “What is up with all of those horrible girls at the back of the room who are just talking over the comedy and spilling their drinks everywhere?”. To that we replied “Gay men call them ‘Jennifers’ and, sometimes, ‘Beckies’. They can be a problem.” Indeed, many of this group had showed up expecting a regular Town drag show. So, our favorite part of CRACK was actually turning around each time something offensive happened to observe the horror on their faces while the rest of the audience laughed. If we doubted that CRACK‘s offensive material had a larger purpose, we were sure of it now. It was a CRACK Christmas blessing, and one that should happen more often.
Get more DC queer nightlight info by connecting on Twitter with us at @BYGays.