If you know you've heard about the "Kinsey Six," 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, billed as "America's Favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet," are performing their show, Sicks Appeal, now through Feb. 8 and possibly longer.
The press release describes Sicks Appeal as "an evening of camp a capella singing, drop dead glamour, new compositions, old chestnuts, tart satire, and flatulent fun." When asked more specifically what material Appeal's evening consists of, one of the group's diva Rachel, aka Ben Schatz, answered, "sequins." After a moment, Schatz continued, "original songs, and truly evil parodies."
One example of a "truly evil parody" consists of a rewrite of the nearly sacrosanct Marvin Hamlisch classic "The Way We Were." Schatz says, "I should warn people we are a mostly a comedy group, but every once in a while we throw people for a loop by singing something really serious."
Who are the Kinsey Sicks? 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." The Daily Nebraskan (Sicks' word-of-mouth popularity led them to perform in Lincoln twice) has praised their singing highly, also 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 Struther's 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, revealed 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 a 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 denied because it never occurred to them. Afterwards they discovered that each had musical backgrounds, which, along with their voices, blended well together.
The Sicks' Appeal has just been extended an extra week and possibly more at the New Conservatory, the largest facility they've performed in (130 seats), playing four shows a week to standing ovations.
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.
Schatz, whose also a presidential appointee, will be flying to D.C. after performing the two evening shows on Saturday Jan 18. for the Presidential Inauguration. He says, "I just don't know what I'll wear.....One of these days it'll catch up with me, but I enjoy living mutually inconsistent lives for as long as I've been."
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.
What fun they have, according to Rob Vogt, the technical director of New Conservatory. "They're really witty, coming up with outrageous comments even when they're rehearsing...It's been a crazy tech, one of the more fun ones I can remember. . .I know the show's going to be a great success."
For tickets or more information about the Sicks Appeal, please refer to the New Conservatory Theatre regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser