If you know you've heard of the "Kinsey Sicks" but can't quite remember who they are, you can currently find an answer at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre, where The Kinsey Sicks [sic], "America's Favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet," are performing their latest, Motel Sicks: A Dragapella Summer Vacation. The show began previews June 17, opened June 18, and after a week extension will play its final performance on July 17.
Who are the Kinsey Sicks? Spoofily named after a group selected for sexual research by the famous sexologist, The Bay Area Reporter has labeled the quartet "a pathetically fabulous drag ensemble -- and some of the best a capella music you will ever hear."
Sicks' word-of-mouth popularity led them to perform in Lincoln twice, the Daily Nebraskan praising their singing and describing them as "blatantly liberal."
But who are they? A press release for the group lists a bio: "The Kinsey Sicks began their career as hair and make-up consultants for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. After completing the Sally Struthers' Correspondence Course in Musical Performance in five short years, ...the Kinsey Sicks became an a capella group somewhat inadvertently, after the opening night of their ill fated Broadway hit, Poison the Band.
"The Kinsey Sicks have performed to standing-room-only crowds in sitting rooms across the country. Their earlier musical productions, Dragapella with a Z and Color Me Barbarous, and their musical revue, I'm Okay, You're a Mess, set the critics tongues wagging." Not exactly accurate. Schatz, main composer for the Sicks, told PBOL the "true" story: The Kinsey Sicks stared performing about two and a half years ago doing gigs in smaller San Francisco venues (the only titled revue was Sicks Tease). The four friends came up with the idea to form a singing group on New Year's Eve, celebrated at a Bette Midler concert -- where they arrived to pay homage to the "Divine Ms. B" in drag.
"We looked fabulous of course," Schatz said, "The whole theatre broke into applause." That night, a promotor asked the four if they would sing somewhere, an opportunity they declined because it never occurred to them. Afterwards they discovered each had musical backgrounds, which, along with their voices, blended well together.
The Kinsey Sicks' previous show, Greatestits, offered "a different tragedy every night" and rotated their play list according to audience requests. Schatz says, "We combine three things: excellent music, really good comedy and scary drag." "Scary" may be an appropriate term, considering that the Kinsey Sicks pose by day as a bunch of "young gay professionals" as Schatz puts it, being "probably the most over-educated group of drag queens." Schatz boasts of his Harvard Law Degree (with honors, no less).
Rachel's (Schatz's) day job is working as the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Trixie (Maurice Kelly) is a Project Analyst at Levi Strauss & Co., Vaselina (Jerry Friedman), is Director of Audiology at the San Francisco Hearing Society, and Winnie (Irwin Keller) is Executive Director of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.
As professionals, it seems The Kinsey Sicks are beyond the need for an agent. "We have a big word-of-mouth thing going on. . . people who see us really love us ." With their political edge, the Sicks gather a real crossover crowd, and perform mostly for fun.
For tickets ($16-$20) or more information about Motel Sicks, playing at The New Conservatory Theatre (25 Van Ness Ave.) call (415) 861-8972.
-- By Sean McGrath and David Lefkowitz