It is no secret that, even in 2017, trans* citizens still struggle with everything from finding work to even expressing themselves creatively. One show, however, is packing its lineup with a fantastic array of the area’s best trans* performers while, at the same time, offering them and audiences alike a safe space in which to fully showcase their craft.
"Turn Up The Trans*Mission" will be holding its last show of 2017 at Tattooed Mom on South Street. Presented by PLAI (the Philadelphia LGTBQ Arts Initiative), Turn Up The Trans*Mission held its first successful show in March 2017. Co-producers and local performers Vyvyan Sassafrass and deadb0y IX are eager to bring the show back not only to entertain the latest appreciative audience, but to continue their work of giving trans* people a safe space to perform in a society that tends to be judgmental. The pair met at local producer Josh Schonewolf’s “Mr. Everything” competition.
“Personally, I think there is a lot of difficulty for trans* people to get bookings in a place where they will feel comfortable to express themselves and their experiences without getting gawked at, or hounded with a bunch of inappropriate questions after their intimate performances,” Vyvyan explains. “I am very happy that trans artists have become more visible, but 'Turn Up the Trans*mission' is specifically created to allow trans* and gender non-conforming artists of any level to express themselves about anything they want and however they want, without judgement.”
Co-producer deadb0y agrees.
“I feel most trans* people get pigeonholed into only performing drag because that is what people expect,” deadb0y said. “I think there are rare opportunities for any trans* people to gain experience or exposure in the scene in Philly.”
Reflecting on past "Turn Up the Trans*Mission" shows, Vyvyan said that each one is “always a wild ride through all sorts of emotions and performance types,” promising that the December show will be no different. Meanwhile, deadb0y recalls a memorable moment brought to the stage by trans* performer Iguana B. Lyzard. “He performed a duet with an old recording of himself. His singing ability gave me chills, and being comfortable enough to share old voice recordings really meant a lot to me.”
The December show, which coincidentally happens to fall on Vyvyan’s birthday, will feature a variety of performances from not only Vyvyan and deadb0y themselves, but also local performers Bakedpizza, Emilie Mary Lemieux, Hadeel, Icon Ebony Fierce, Iguana B. Lyzard (Jax Savage), Genome Kelly and Ron Binary. Admission is free and donations are accepted at the door, with all money collected going directly to the performers. “We do not charge an admission as we don’t want to turn anyone away for lack of funds, especially considering how difficult it can be for trans* and gender nonconforming people to get jobs,” Vyvyan notes.
If you go:
Wednesday, Dec. 20
8:00 p.m.; Pay what you want
530 South St.