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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 2, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 35
Beebo Brinker hits the town
Arts & Entertainment
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Beebo Brinker hits the town

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

The Beebo Brinker Pulp Cabaret
August 25-27
ACT Theatre


Beebo Brinker is the cool, unattainable Lesbian heroine of the historic pulp fiction books by Ann Bannon, The Beebo Brinker Chronicles. Bannon's books, published in the late '50s and early '60s, were the stuff of danger at a time when two men or two women could be jailed just for sitting next to each other in a bar.

The five books focus on the lives and loves of Beebo, who liked to dress like a boy, and another young Lesbian just discovering her sexuality, Laura. They describe an underground culture in New York's Greenwich Village that was a revelation to women all over the country at that time, who had no idea there was anywhere they could go to feel 'normal' rather than having to hide in the shadows. The books gave many hope, though fear of people finding that they'd even read the books made many hide them away.

A flurry of homages to Bannon's books and their groundbreaking nature have been occurring over the last few years. In 2007, Lily Tomlin produced an off-off-Broadway play, The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, that was such a hit it moved to Off-Broadway the following year. The Seattle Women's Chorus devoted half a concert in 2008 to Bannon, with Ann making an appearance during the show to read from her books and talk about writing them. Original songs were written by talented chorus members and performed to frame her readings and the historic context.

Katjana Vadeboncoeur, director and producer of Cherry Manhattan Presents, plans to debut the Seattle premier of The Beebo Brinker Chronicles in September at Re-bar. Prior to that, Vadeboncoeur developed a series of cabarets intended to recreate some of the Greenwich Village atmosphere of the 1950s. Several were produced at Re-bar, and on August 25, 26, and 27, a 'best of' evening was presented at ACT Theatre's Bullitt Cabaret space.

Ann Bannon has been enormously supportive of the local effort, even attending a couple of the cabarets, as she did on August 27. She will attend opening night of the Chronicles on September 15 at Re-bar, as well!

The cabaret was a kitschy recreation of a Greenwich Village nightclub with a live band, The Cooper Smith Quartet, and several major local burlesque performers. Lily Verlaine, Fuchsia FoXXX, Polly Wood, and Lady Tatas were featured in several burlesque routines that followed introductions of segments of the Bannon books.

Suggestive but restrained, the performances were meant to act out the passages. Beebo Brinker was portrayed by Rhonda J. Soikowski, a talented local actor who embodied the shy, but enormously sexually appealing character. Dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, often holding her belt buckle like a cowboy, Soikowski wordlessly interacted with the burlesque performers, sometimes suggestively stroking them and once disappearing underneath a sheet in a humorous, titillating moment.

Soikowski will also play Beebo in the upcoming production. Given her ability to smile the perfect shit-eating grin, she's perfect casting. Polly Wood will perform as Laura. The two together appear to generate a lot of sexy chemistry.

For more information about the upcoming production, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/184155.

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