LiCK Turns Five

The Liberty City Kings celebrate their fifth anniversary this weekend with Tricks & Treats

Liberty City Kings Drag & Burlesque (LiCK) is turning five. And the drag troupe is celebrating in a big way at the William Way with “Tricks & Treats” (Oct. 15) at 8 p.m.

Photo by Kelly A. Burkhardt

“LiCK was started by myself and Nicola Visaggio – my ex-wife – as a drag king troupe in the fall of 2006,” says Heather Coutts, the group’s artistic director. “The Royal Renegades had just disbanded and there was no other drag king organizing happening in Philly.”

In LiCK’s early days, Coutts remembers rehearsing in the couple’s tiny basement. “It was so cramped that we used to talk about the numbers rather than actually run through them,” she says.

But what started off with “a couple of queers, a scary politician and the desire to produce fun and sexy performance art” has blossomed into a troupe of 20 performers with eight regular shows each year – including the bimonthly Vixens & Vagabonds Queer & Kinky Cabaret at Tabu – and dozens of other appearances. LiCK also produces the Mr. Philly Drag King Comeptition, now the biggest fundraiser for the Philly Dyke March.

Courtesy of Liberty City Kings

“Over the past five years, we have become more organized and have worked incredibly hard to build a troupe of performers and staff who are committed, creative and consistantly perform well-rehearsed, comedic and dynamic numbers,” says Coutts, who would like to see LiCK eventually become a non-profit theatre company.

To help celebrate, the troupe will be performing old favorites with new and past members, like Lance Fennig, Peachy LeFever and Roi Ovarian, and releasing their 2012 Drag & Burlesque Calendar, featuring photography by Kelly A. Burkhardt of the Midwives Collective.

“We like to make performance art that blends, bends and blurs gender and sexuality,” says Coutts. “We like to make people think and question gender – ours and theirs. And we like to explore sexuality in our performances in fun, creative and kinky ways. We believe that both gender and sexuality can be fluid for some and that there is no binary with either.”

Coutts remembers quite a few memorable moments with LiCK over the past five years, like being scouted by America’s Got Talent – and scoring an audition – and attracting hundreds to this year’s Mr. Drag King Competition. LiCK also marched in the Pride parade for the first time this year.

“Our truck decorations didn’t work, our sound system blew out, but thanks to the help of the Philadelphian MC, our performance won the judges over,” says Coutts. LiCK took home prizes for Gayest in the Parade and Best of the Philly Pride Parade Fruit Bowl.

“Tricks & Treats,” Oct, 15, 8 p.m., William Way, 1315 Spruce St., with an official after-party “Flirt” at Tabu.