Eat Me: The Limited EditionHomotopia @ District 30/10/20
Despite being fraught with technical difficulties, incomparable cast and provocative performances help redeem Homotopia’s Eat Me drag cabaret extravaganza tonight. Don’t expect Britney or Madonna, this is Liverpool’s queer spirit at its filthiest and finest.
Like most of the audience, I experience the cocktail of art, sex and politics from the comfort of my own front room; a cup of tea in one hand and a matching set of ready salted hula-hoops in the other. The lucky few who got to see the show live can be heard off stage, muttering amongst themselves before a blinding blue-green light illuminates the gaudy tinsel backdrop and one MISS PENNY LANE.
The mistress of ceremonies stumbles into full view in her Covid-chic jumpsuit and matching surgical mask, only to emit unintelligible, mechanical gibberish from her overdrawn lips. The shrill, sharp bursts of audio make it impossible to understand Penny, who was understandably but visibly shaken by the technical glitch. It feels like some sort of alien telenovela. It should be entertaining; I just can’t tell why. Lane eventually bursts out of her PPE into a little scarlet number, to what I manage to decipher as a Bjork tune. Although the technical loose ends would eventually Come Together, Penny Lane really could have used a bit of Help! (Sorry.)
Opening the show is JADA LOVE. A self-described ‘gorelesque’ performer, Love gives the audience a slow burn striptease that’s as intriguing as it is enticing. Roars of elephants and lions herald her entrance; she emerges masked in black vinyl and dripping in green sequins, like the sexiest supervillain in Emerald City. The number is eye-catching, if a little brief, but Love’s understanding of how to work an audience is undisputed. For her finale, she removes the gown with rhythmic precision, revealing nothing but graphic white body paint (à la Grace Jones) to thunderous applause, of course.
Next up is CHIYO GOMES, who saunters on stage with a confident, palpable swagger. Gomes is introduced as a finalist for Mr Gay England 2021 and is the first trans man to do so. It seems hugely unfair, as a gay man myself, to think that it’s taken this long for the most visible and often most targeted members of our community to be celebrated. Homotopia seems committed to giving platforms to queer artists in every form, no matter how bizarre or risqué, and Chiyo is no exception. The king’s performance consists of him, suited and booted as ‘the Tory Tosser’, gyrating his hips and stripping down to a pair of porcine pants with gestures I fear won’t make it past the editor. Think Magic Mike meets Michael Gove, then shove a briefcase up his arse while he pretends to pleasure himself on stage.
Following a (thankfully) short intermission of Penny Lane counting onions from a sack, MISS KALYPSO BANG takes centre stage. Following her incredible performance in the first half – a haunting, ritualised piece about motherhood – she now waits, in traditional African dress, with regal composure as the audience settles and thus begins. “Le monde a changé!” she proclaims, holding the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in her hands; unapologetically confronting her audience and mourning their loss. Bang pulls out a set of manacles from her coat, snapping them with symbolic defiance just as Beyoncé bursts over the speakers. And that’s it. A quick change into a tailored leopard print suit ignites the audience, who can be heard screaming off camera. Bang’s impeccable choreography would make Miss Carter proud and as she lip-syncs “you’ll never take my power”, I don’t dare doubt it. Kalypso Bang is an indisputable talent. Her conviction, clarity and sincerity left me in awe, rethinking everything that drag can be.
Eat Me is certainly a feast – refreshing, fulfilling and of course in bad taste. It’s a showcase of the indomitable queer spirit, and a testament to the resourcefulness of those who won’t let a little thing like Covid keep them quiet.
This review was written as part of Bido Lito!’s Bylines programme – workshops for culture writers of the future. To find out more about Bylines join our mailing list.