As Drag Machine's Shirley Delta Blow, actor Stuart Sanks tells drag's vibrant history

Meghan Anderson Doyle
In regards to Drag Machine -- Emily from Off-Center approached you about bringing Shirley Delta Blow to the theater and developing your show in some capacity, right?

Yeah. The first, fully produced season of Off-Center was last season. They had heard of me through some friends at the Denver Center for Performing Arts, and they asked me to be the emcee -- or be the hostess, if you will -- for the season announcement party. That's where our relationship began.

The season announcement party (involved) these live trailers -- they did a little piece of each one of the shows that you were going to see in the Jones's upcoming season, to build some buzz and get people familiar with the style. It's different -- it's not your standard theater fare, it's not your standard open mike. There is something different about it.

In the course of that first season, I appeared in a video for Cult Following. I was also a celebrity judge for Square of Ice, their Johnny Cash send-up -- you know, "Ring of Fire," "Square of Ice" -- (involving) a Johnny Cash cover band performance. People could take a Johnny Cash song and perform it in any style that they wanted.

I got what they did, they liked what I did -- so both Charlie (Miller, co-curator at The Jones) and Emily came to me and were like, this is what we need to do: We want to produce the ultimate drag show. We want you to write it, create it, brainstorm it, and we'll all make it happen.

I've only been to one show at the Jones, Date*, but it was great. I think the theater's programming serves as a good point of entry for "non-theater" people, or those unfamiliar with it.

Yeah -- exactly. It also (brings people) down to the Denver Center. The Denver Center Theatre Company has won the Tony for "Outstanding Regional Theater Company" and the Ellie Caulkins is this state-of-the-art opera house where the opera and the ballet perform. And there's the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Buell that hosts massive touring productions.

Those have very specific -- I don't want to say rules about them -- but they have their form. You go to a ballet, you're going to see some dancing. You go to the opera, you're going to see people marching around and singing in Italian. I don't want to say it is expected, but people kind of know what those things are. A lot of times, that can limit the audience.

What is interesting is, you went to see Date*, and Date* was like, the least Off-Center show of any of them. It was a pretty traditional play. But with Off-Center, it is collaborative; it is a lot of local artists and new voices. It is giving people a chance to be produced and seen that may not have the resources of the opportunity. Some resources -- the design element, the costumes, lights, sounds, setting -- are pulled from the Denver Center. But it makes something unique.

Location Info

Stereo Wine Bar - CLOSED

2151 Lawrence St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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