After over a year of traveling down the road of quarantine, Golden Girlz Live is back again. This month, the longtime stage parody of the iconic sitcom returned to Silver Lake’s Cavern Club, with Jackie Beat, Drew Droege, Sam Pancake, and Sherry Vine reprising their roles as network television’s favorite geriatric foursome, Dorothy, Rose, Sophia, and Blanche, respectively. To Jackie, their takes on these classic characters have evolved since the show premiered back in 2015, aiming less for verisimilitude and more for vaudeville.
“I always say that a ‘perfect,’ dead-on impersonation is more of a parlor trick than an actual performance,” Jackie said via email during their hectic tech week. “It can also be exhausting for an audience. I feel the same way about drag. It’s not 1967; ‘passing’ shouldn’t be the goal. You need to twist and warp the original. That’s your job as an artist. So, I do Dorothy like she’s a Muppet with emphysema. I always say, ‘Give people what they think they remember.’ Sherry Vine as Blanche will give a two-syllable word about seven, and it’s hilarious. And Drew and Sam are both hilarious and do Rose and Sophia like you’re watching a rerun in a funhouse mirror and on acid!”
But live performances are defined by their audiences just as much as they are their casts. During its 18-month hiatus, GGL adapted to a virtual format, but lost the synergy of live viewers.
“I think we have all learned just how important sitting in the dark, laughing with strangers can be.”
“As much as I love not having to wear women’s shoes for an online virtual show, nothing beats the energy and excitement of a show in front of a living, breathing audience,” Jackie says. “They truly are just as important as we are to the whole experience. Life is back! The Renaissance has begun! I think we have all learned just how important sitting in the dark, laughing with strangers can be. We are social animals. And no, social media doesn’t always satisfy that desire for human contact.”
Their longtime venue the Cavern Club, the blackbox venue nestled in the basement of Silver Lake Mexican dive Casita del Campo, is the antithesis of isolation. The audience is tightly packed and elbows often overlap on arm rests. Patrons can’t help but engage in physical contact.
“We have been approached by larger venues where, frankly, we could make a lot more money,” Jackie admitted. “But there’s something about the intimacy of a small black-box theater that really works for what we do. We don’t have to be miked for people to hear us and the audience can see our facial expressions—even if it’s just Dorothy raising one of her owl-like eyebrows or Blanche licking her lips. Plus we often break the fourth wall and include unsuspecting audience members. Again, it’s about that human connection.”
This run of GGL adds an additional connection with the inclusion of Jackie’s longtime comedy compatriot and Dirty Sanchez bandmate Mario Diaz. He and drag queen Roz Drezfalez serve as guest stars for this run. The cast is part of what makes the show an appropriate nod to Golden Girls’ large LGBTQ+ fan base. Nearly 30 years after its last episode aired, the sitcom continues to resonate strongly with the queer community.
“The show is very popular among the LGBTQ+ audience and I think it’s because women of a certain age are considered outsiders, too,” Jackie says. “Especially back in the 1980s. Add to that the amazing/hideous fashions, campy writing, lots of sex, and the occasional cat fight and it’s gayer than Liberace holding a toy poodle on Fire Island.”
Golden Girlz Live: The Return, Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; July 17, 18, 23, 24 & 25.
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