There are many ways to describe playwright, songwriter and performer Taylor Mac: He is a MacArthur Foundation “genius,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Ibsen Award-winner.
Mac frequently invokes “Radical Faerie realness” in his performances and refers to himself as a “fool” and “collagist.” More recently, the GenX Californian-turned-New Yorker classifies his gender as “judy,” in the lower case.
Mac’s work is equally hard to pin down, an ever-changing “fight against conformity and categorization,” drawing on commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, contemporary music theater and drag.
Like many creatives, he’s pivoting in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering an online version of his signature holiday cabaret online beginning Saturday, Dec. 12. “Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!” blends music, film, burlesque and random acts of fabulousness in the most subversive and cathartic event of the season, Mac promised in a recent phone interview.
“It’s all about incorporating the calamity of our lives and celebrating it,” he said. “Holidays are historically a rough time, but since we created the show [in 2017], it’s been fun. I gathered my friends and family and made a show … we contemplate mothers and drag mothers and even the Virgin Mary — moms, single moms and moms who don’t need a man!”
Mac is partnering with local arts and nonprofit organizations across the country for this virtual premiere, offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. In South Florida, Mac chose Live Arts Miami, an initiative of Miami-Dade College.
“What a year we’ve been living. We all need a moment with Taylor Mac right now. This is going to do the world a little bit of good,” according to local producer Kathryn Garcia, who noted that proceeds from the show would fund a new scholarship for LGBT students.
As a tribute to Mac’s drag mother, each institution presenting “Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!” is honoring local elders, collectively referred to as the Queens, who have made a significant contribution to nurturing the LGBT community in their city. In South Florida, Mac and Live Arts Miami selected HIV/AIDS and bisexual rights activist Luigi Ferrer, co-founder of Pridelines Youth Services.
After the premiere, the local audience will be invited to join the “Sash and Sashay” afterparty in honor of Ferrer, a virtual celebration including special appearances from Miami drag legends, community leaders and surprise guests from the show.
Ferrer, who also identifies closely with the Radical Faerie community, is honored by the recognition, but he reflexively pivoted back to his lifelong mission.
“It’s LGBTQ youth I worry about the most during these difficult times. Sheltering at home and COVID-19 restrictions have been difficult for all of us, even for those of us who are still employed and are coping well with the adjustment to the New Normal, which it is not!” he said. “We are all learning new ways of building and finding community, and just like we did in the early days of the HIV pandemic, we must continue searching for ways to retain connection. Now is the time to learn how to go on, how to keep building community and celebrate the family of choice, whatever the circumstances.”
Taylor Mac stars in “Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!” on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. The performance is free, but donations will be accepted for the Miami-Dade College Pride Scholarship for LGBT students. On-demand replays are pay-what-you-can. For more information and to RSVP, go to LiveArtsMiami.org.