Last night, Martha Graham Cracker, Brittany Lynn and Bearded Ladies founder John Jarboe came together at the new FringeArts building for a ThinkFest panel on Philly’s emerging drag queen culture. The evening began with a performance from each queen: Brittany Lynn — summoning some big-haired country diva from the ’70s — sang Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” In typical fashion, Martha Graham Cracker wandered up into the audience to perform “The Man That Got Away.” And John Jarboe shocked the crowd when he came out as a man to sing a song from James Bond. He made up for his wig-less number by inviting Brittany and Martha on stage to sing backup vocals at the end. This was the first time the two local drag legends have ever performed together.
Afterward, the gals changed into their regular clothes for a discussion expertly moderated by G Philly Editor-in-Chief Michael Callahan. He covered the gamut in the quick timeframe, asking Brittany how she started doing drag (she stood in for a queen at 12th Air Command who had to run to the bathroom to poop), Martha if he ever considered singing professionally as a man ("I would if someone paid me, but this is working out great for me right now"), and John why in the hell he didn't perform in drag (he wanted to show that drag is not just about becoming a woman, it's about inhabiting something you're not, which, in this case, was a straight man.)
The best moment of the night happened after the panel, though, when Michael surprised the fellas by asking them to "sing us out." They didn't have anything prepared, but their impromptu performance of Carly Simon's "Nobody Does it Better" was magical. Check out videos from Brittany and John's opening performance below. I accidentally, stupidly deleted Dito Van Reigersberg (aka Martha Graham Cracker)'s number from my phone. Sorry! You'll forgive me after watching his grand-finale performance, where he absolutely brings the house down. I've still got chills.
Brittany Lynn Sings "Fever"
John Jarboe Does James Bond
Dito, John and Ian Sing "Nobody Does it Better," Part 1
Dito, John and Ian Sing "Nobody Does it Better," Part 2 (start at 2:00)
ThinkFest runs Nov. 4-Nov. 8 at different locations around the city. Click here for more information.