Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music (2023) - full transcript

Captures Taylor Mac's exuberant, blatantly gay 24-hour musical performance in New York City, featuring skilled musicians, creative costumes, and the American myth as recounted through sailor's ditties, disco, and sugary pop alike.

I was born four years
after the Stonewall Riots.

All the songs that we're
gonna sing in this decade

were on the jukebox
in Stonewall at the time.

I don't actually know if that's true.

Who started the Stonewall Riots?

♪ Ooh-ooh... ♪

The most fun story is that

Marsha P. Johnson
was hanging out at Stonewall.

And the cops come to arrest the queers,

just because you're who you are.

♪ Ooh-ooh... ♪

And Marsha took a shot glass.

She threw it against a mirror
and it shattered,

and they said,

"It was the shot glass
heard 'round the world."

♪ War, children ♪

♪ It's just a shot away ♪

♪ It's just
a shot away ♪

♪ Ooh, the fire is spreading ♪

♪ On our very streets today ♪

♪ Burning like
a red coal carpet ♪

♪ Mad bull has lost its way ♪

♪ War, children ♪

♪ It's just a shot away ♪

♪ It's just
a shot away ♪

♪ War, children ♪

♪ It's just a shot away ♪

♪ It's just
a shot away ♪

The show is about
our history as Americans.

That history is in our songs.

It's what happens
when history is filtered

all through one body.

I love the idea that a queer body

could become a metaphor for America.

♪ Yeahhh! ♪


Singing has just always been...

My mom, she sang
around the house, you know,

all the time when we were kids.

So it's just been
a part of... my life.

And when I was thinking of
a form that would best represent

our history,

it just seemed like
popular music was the thing

that would tell the story the best way.

So we're gonna do a transition
into the next decade right now.

We've been working on this show

for over ten years now.

We took it out on tour
as four six-hour shows.

I knew I wanted to do the whole show

as a 24-hour performance,

but I only wanted to do it once.

Hello, everybody!

Today, tonight and tomorrow,

we are making a 24-decade history

of popular music.

I didn't know if I could do it.

I would be singing basically
nonstop for 24 hours.

♪ Yankee Doodle went to town
riding on a pony ♪

♪ Stuck a feather in his hat
and called it macaroni ♪

♪ Yankee Doodle keep it up ♪

♪ Yankee Doodle dandy! ♪

♪ Mind the music
and the steps ♪

♪ And with the girls
be handy ♪

I was dreading having to start
our show with this decade

because most of the music
that has survived

is patriotic music from
the American Revolutionary War.

And maybe you can tell
from the way I'm dressed,

I'm not exactly an unironic patriot.

♪ Father and I
went down to camp ♪

♪ Along with Captain Gooding ♪

♪ And there we saw
the men and boys ♪

♪ As thick as hasty pudding ♪

♪ Yankee Doodle keep it up ♪

♪ Yankee Doodle dandy! ♪

♪ Mind the music
and the steps ♪

♪ And with the girls
be handy ♪

♪ And there we saw
a great big gun ♪

♪ As large as a log of maple ♪

♪ And every time
they shoot it off ♪

♪ It takes a horn of powder ♪

♪ And makes a noise
like father's gun... ♪

Uh-oh, that's sad.

♪ ...only a nation louder ♪

♪ It scared me,
so I hooked it off ♪

♪ Nor stopped as I remember ♪

♪ Nor turned about
till I got home ♪

♪ Locked up
in mother's chamber ♪

This is the song I'm supposed
to feel patriotic about?

A song that makes fun of effeminate men?

But then I did a little research

and it turns out that
this song was a British song.

The British wrote it
to make fun of Americans

'cause they said we were effeminate,

which is really saying something
coming from the British.

Not only were we effeminate,

they said we had no fashion sense...

...which is kind of true.

But then what happened was
the Americans won a battle

and we pointed our bayonets
at them and we made them dance

and sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy"
over and over and over again.

And that's how it became
an American song.

Dandy revenge!

Please welcome the Dandy
Minions, all through the house.

They're here to perform
random acts of fabulousness.

Taylor was like, "Look,
I'm looking for a co-director.

"I'm working on a 24-hour
performance art concert,

which is a radical fairy
realness ritual."

It is a radical

fairy realness ritual sacrifice!

The gathering, the event,
that is the ritual.

The audience is the sacrifice.

We didn't want to be the only
ones dressed up this evening,

so we brought some drag,
and the dandies are going

to pass that drag out
to you all right now.

It's a ritual that asks us to move closer

to our queerness,

and to practice empathy,

and most importantly,
I think, practice joy

and exuberance and maximalism.

Hey, ready?


A lot of people would say,

"Have you ever thought
about making traditional work?

I don't know, a-a kitchen sink
drama with a couch?"

And I always thought,
well, the Ancient Greeks

wore platform high-heel shoes
when they would perform,

and they had masks on,

and sometimes when I'm in
my drag, I just feel classical.

The project started
with the idea of making a show

that was a, a metaphorical
representation of the AIDS epidemic,

specifically about how
communities build themselves

because they're being torn apart.

♪ Fare thee well ♪

♪ My own true love ♪

♪ Farewell ♪

♪ For a while ♪

♪ I'm going ♪

♪ Away ♪

♪ But I'll ♪

♪ Be back ♪

We start with 24 musicians on stage,

and then every hour we lose a musician.

♪ Can't you see ♪

♪ Can't you see ♪

♪ That lonesome dove ♪

♪ That lonesome dove... ♪

And at the start of the show,

we have all the sound,

and slowly it diminishes,

diminishes, diminishes.

♪ He's weeping for ♪

♪ His own true love ♪

The concept came from the AIDS epidemic,


you fall in love
and then somebody's gone.

♪ Come he back ♪

♪ My own true love ♪

♪ Come back and stay a while ♪

♪ If I had a friend ♪

♪ In all the earth ♪

♪ You've been ♪

♪ A friend to me ♪

Machine and I are going to change!

Bring down the screen.

When Taylor first came to me

and said we were gonna do
this 24-decade show,

I got totally inspired.

I was like, "Oh, my God,
I get to make 24, like,

historical, like,
period costumes, but my way."

So this is Crazy Jane.

She lives in a whisky barrel.

She has a toothbrush.

She has her dildo.

She has everything
that she needs. She's crazy.

I'd never tell Machine what to do.

- You're crazy, girl.
- Crazy, Crazy Jane.

I'll say, "This is
what the decade's about.

I'm gonna sing songs that were
popular in pubs in 1796."

That's all I tell him,
and then he's like,

"Okay, it's in pubs
and they're pub songs."

So then he makes me
a headdress of corks...


Um, corks all popping...
He puts them on little things

so it looks like they're
popping out of my head.

He's an artist.

I'm not gonna tell
an artist to change their art.

- We're good. Thank you.
- All right.

Whatever he gives me, I wear.

We were drinkers,
we were such big drinkers.

The pub was a community center.

There wasn't clean water
so we had to drink.

We're gonna pass out
some beer to the drinkers

and ping-pong balls to the non-drinkers.

The theater can be so uptight, and
there's so many rules, and don't talk,

and don't express yourself
from the audience,

and it's... you're just there to listen

and to a-appropriately clap
and, you know,

appropriately laugh at the right places.

And it was just saying, it's okay
for you to be chaotic in this space.

Now, you're gonna
negotiate with your partner

which one of you during the next verse

is gonna spit their ping-pong
ball into the other person's mouth.

And, drinkers, just sit back and drink.

American Revolutionary War just happened.

They've been living
under the system of oppression.

It's a little bit like
a kid in high school's

living under the thumb of his parents,

strict rules and stuff.

Goes to college for the first
time and what does he do?

He turns America into a frat party.

♪ ...and I'll not ask
for wine ♪

♪ The thirst that
from the soul doth rise... ♪

I think a temperance choir
just walked into our pub,

and they're trying to ruin all our fun.

♪ I sent thee late
a rosy wreath... ♪

That decade is so much about

my own life in the, in the club world

and coming from the theater.

When I got out of acting school,

I found that I couldn't
even get an audition.

And I said, "Okay, well,
where can I go where they'll just

let anyone into the room?"

And it turned out it was
the clubs in New York City.

♪ Why, fair maid
in every feature ♪

♪ There's such signs
of fear express? ♪

♪ Does this wandering ♪

♪ Wretched creature ♪

♪ With such terror ♪

♪ Fill thy breast? ♪

♪ Do my brazen looks ♪

♪ Alarm thee? ♪

♪ Trust me, sweet ♪

♪ Thy fears are vain ♪

♪ Not for kingdoms ♪

♪ Would I harm thee ♪

♪ Well, I'm not
some Crazy Jane ♪

I started showing up to the clubs,

dressed up in my version
of drag at the time, and...

I'd say, "Can I do a number?"

And they'd just, "Sure," you know.

♪ I'm Crazy Jane ♪

I'm singing a song
and somebody's giving somebody

a blow job right there in the audience.

So, I would learn these techniques on how

to steal back the...
the story.

♪ While each passerby ♪

♪ In pity ♪

♪ Cries, "God help thee" ♪

♪ "Crazy Jane" ♪

♪ Cries, "God help thee" ♪

♪ "Crazy Jane" ♪

I cut my teeth
in the clubs in New York City.

The Cock, the Slide
and the Hole, in that order.

When you cut your teeth in the clubs

and then you try to work in the theater

and stuff, ah, ah, it's a long road.

I used to only get booked in,
um, in theaters

when there was a festival going
on with a, a caveat in the title.

I was at Yale performing one time

in a, in a festival there.

They called it
the "No Boundaries Festival."

Which made me really nervous
because I have boundaries.

One time at The Cock I saw a woman,

she pulled a chicken leg
out of her vagina.

She ate it...

...and she threw it
into the audience.


she pulled another chicken leg...

...out of her vagina.

She ate it and she threw it
into the audience.


...she pulled the rest
of the chicken...

...I kid you not...

...out of her vagina.

She ate it and she threw it
into the audience.

And I thought two things
when I saw that performance.

Only two.

The first thing I thought
was, "She's full."

And the second thing I thought was,

"She has no boundaries."


I actually thought three things.

The third thing was, "Taylor,

you're just
putting on eyeliner."

Maybe you've noticed this isn't
like a regular concert.

I call this a performance art concert.

What does that mean?

At a regular concert, if you don't laugh

and enjoy every single moment,
cry all in the right places,

then the artist has failed you.

But in a performance art concert,

you can... you can love it
or you can hate it.

You can be bored out of your mind.

You can despise me.

You can hate everything
I'm asking you to do.

You can be annoyed,
and I still will have succeeded.

It is the genius of performance art,

there is no failure.

Gold... The gold goes away...

just a little bit.

This is a beautiful opulence,

just for the sake of opulence,
for the sake of beauty,

for the sake of...


- And it's a reveal too.
- It's a reveal, like when...

Because the audience has been
blindfolded for an hour,

so we want them to concentrate
on their other senses for a while.

There's multiple reasons,
but one is because

they've been staring
at the stage for four hours.

And I thought, let's let them
focus on different senses.

And I wanted this because
the audience is blind,

I wanted this to be the most
beautiful, most opulent costume

that they don't get to see
during the show.


That's what I love about it.

My job is to surprise the audience enough

that it can push them
out of their patterns

and, um, out of the current
mood that they're in

so that they're... they continue to dig in

and continue to consider.

How can we get everybody to
ask questions in the audience

about the moment,

rather than, "Ah, yes.
I understand that moment"?

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Plays on the banjo
all night long ♪

♪ Then she sings
her Southern song ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Her bangles and her beads ♪

♪ They jingle all night ♪

♪ They never stop ♪

♪ Till the morning light ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ One more round
then heave her dry ♪

♪ Come on, Jack Tout ♪

♪ You're not that shy ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ Oh, me Rosie ♪

♪ Coal black Rose ♪

♪ ♪

The... Don't applaud that song.

Don't applaud it, don't applaud it.

That is a sea shanty adaptation
of the very first minstrel song.


What is happening, and may-maybe
you didn't hear the lyric,

uh, there's this lyric i-in
the song called, ah, it goes,

"One more round then heave her dry,

come on, Jack Tout,
you're not that shy."

And what is happening is
the men on the boat,

they are hoisting up a sail

and they're trying
to build their community

by hoisting up the sail together,

with the idea that
when they get their job done,

they can go into town
and gang rape a slave,

a woman who is enslaved.

People love things that build
communities, you know?

And they never want to get rid of
anything that builds a community.


sometimes you have to acknowledge

that the things
that have built the community,

um, the foundation for them is evil.

And that it's not serving you

and that you have to tear it down

and start from scratch.

You can take off your blindfolds now.

And these are the songs
that are part of our DNA

passed down through us all.

We teach children these songs
and they sing them.

That's the foundation of,
of our, our learning.

♪ A-B-C-D ♪

♪ E-F-G ♪

I'd say, "What is this particular
hour of the show going to be about?"

and go and hunt for songs that
were popular around the time.

♪ Now I know ♪

♪ My ♪

♪ ABCs ♪

♪ Next time won't you sing ♪

♪ With me? ♪

In the Indian Removal Act,
we're singing children's songs.

I wanted Taylor's look to have
a playful element to it.

So it's kind of in the
likeness of a, like a nanny,

a caretaker of the children,

or it could be the mother.

I wanted whimsy
for the sake of the children,

but I wanted something disturbing and sad

as a representation of the extermination

of the Indians.

We tell the story of the Cherokee people

who are on the Trail of Tears.

Andrew Jackson had this agenda to get rid

of all the Native Americans.
He wanted genocide.

Let's sing a bunch of children's
songs on the Trail of Tears

in order to distract you
from what's going on.

He forced the Cherokee to go on
this trek from Georgia to Oklahoma.

And thousands died.

♪ I went up on a mountain ♪

♪ Gave my horn a blow ♪

♪ I think I hear
my one true love say ♪

♪ "Yonder comes my beau" ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, poor boy ♪

♪ Got nowhere to go ♪

♪ Mama gave me meat ♪

♪ And the Christians
give me bread ♪

♪ The pretty girl
gave me a kiss ♪

♪ It just about
knocks me dead ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, poor boy
got nowhere to go ♪

♪ An opossum
is a pretty thing ♪

♪ It rambles in the dark ♪

♪ The only time
you know he's 'round ♪

♪ Is when you hear
that Ranger bark ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, poor boy ♪

♪ Got nowhere to go ♪

And I don't know if this lyric
is about the Trail of Tears,

but I do know they had to go from Georgia

through Arkansas to get to Oklahoma.

♪ I went down to Georgia ♪

♪ And what
do you think I saw? ♪

♪ A thousand feet
pushing a cart ♪

♪ All the way
through Arkansas ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, Rove ♪

♪ Rove, Riley, poor boy ♪

♪ Got nowhere to go ♪

I came up as a jazz musician,

and I brought some of those
people into the 24-hour show,

into Taylor's world.

Taylor would send me a list of songs.

"Here's 30 songs that happened
in this ten-year period.

Which of these songs
are interesting?"

And trying to storytell out of that.

We're going to sing the oddest
abolitionist song for you now ever written.

♪ Oh, the Black man's
only made for work ♪

♪ The Southern people say ♪

♪ But the Black man's
very willing ♪

♪ And he wants
to have his pay ♪

♪ So he swims
across the river ♪

♪ And he flies
across the plain ♪

♪ But the Northern people
catch him ♪

♪ And they place him
back in chains ♪

What if we tried it in three-four time?

What if we tried it as a
ballad and then it gets fast?

And it was always about trying
to find out how we could exhume

the meaning of the song,
the deeper meaning of the song,

and the lyrics be heard in a new way.

♪ Well, the Black man's
only made for work ♪

♪ The Southern people say ♪

♪ And the Black man's
very willing ♪

♪ But he wants
to have his pay ♪

♪ So he swims
across the river ♪

♪ And he flies across
the plain ♪

♪ And the Northern people
catch him ♪

♪ But they place him
back in chains ♪

♪ Knock knock knock ♪

♪ When the hour
of midnight comes ♪

♪ Who's that a-knocking? ♪

♪ It's the ghost
of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ It's the ghost
of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ Who is that knocking? ♪ -
♪ It's the ghost of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ He's always knocking ♪ -
♪ It's the ghost of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ He's always knocking ♪ -
♪ It's the ghost of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ He's always knocking ♪ -
♪ It's the ghost of Uncle Tom ♪

♪ He's always knocking ♪

Maybe you noticed, this is
my subjective take on history.

I'm not really interested
in the show being about history

as much as I'm interested in it
being about all of us in this room

have a lot of history on our backs

and we're trying to figure out
what to do with it.

In this decade, we champion Walt Whitman

adorned with gay male erotica,

flowers and potato chip bags.

The reason for the erotica is,
Walt Whitman,

famous queer writer, also wrote erotica.

The reason for the potato chip bags is,

apparently potato chips were
invented during that decade too.

♪ Weep no more, my ladies ♪

♪ Weep no more today ♪

♪ We will sing a song
for the old Kentucky home ♪

♪ For the old
Kentucky home ♪

♪ Far away ♪

♪ Corn tops ripe
on the little cabin floor ♪

♪ All merry,
all happy and bright ♪

♪ The time has come when
the darkies all must part ♪

♪ The time has come ♪

♪ When the darkies
all must part ♪

♪ Oh, my old Kentucky home ♪

♪ Good night ♪

This is the state song of Kentucky,

a minstrel song.

And they didn't know that
until the 1980s,

so they changed
the word "darkies" to "people."

They couldn't get rid of the song.

The song was written by Stephen Foster.

He is considered
the father of American song.

And people say, "Oh, you can't
be too hard on Stephen Foster,

he was a product of his time,"

but other people were a product
of Stephen Foster's time.

You know, Sojourner Truth,
uh, Frederick Douglass,

and one of the great radicals
of all time,

so radical he's still radical
to this very day, Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman said
that his poems were songs.

So I think Walt Whitman should
be the father of American song.

So what I thought we would do
is to have an epic smackdown.

In this corner...

...the sentimentalist minstrel
songwriting Stephen Foster.

In this corner,

the self-proclaimed no-sentimentalist,

radical fairy poet Walt Whitman.

Who will win the title
of father of American song?

You decide.

All right.

You, sir, with the scarf
and the popcorn right there?

Yeah. Come up here.
Come up here.

Gorgeous. You're going to be
Stephen Foster.

I'm gonna play Walt Whitman.

But I'm gonna sing your songs

'cause you don't know them, okay?

Stephen Foster.

♪ The sun shines bright
on my old Kentucky home ♪

♪ The young folks,
they're rolling on the floor ♪

♪ We will sing a song
for our old Kentucky home ♪

♪ Keep those hard times
away from my door ♪

Walt Whitman.

"Native moments when you come upon me...

"Oh, you're here now.

"Give me now libidinous joys only.

"Give me life, coarse and rank.

"Give me the drench of my passions.

"Today, I consort with nature's darlings.

"Tonight, too, I am for those
who believe in loose delights.

I share the midnight orgies
of young men."


And the historians will all tell you

"orgy" meant "party" back then, you know?

They do, do whatever they can
to convince you that no...

There was no queerness.
You know, they,

"Orgy meant party back then."

No! It meant orgy.

"No, it meant party."

Yes, but what happens at a party, right?

A drinky-drinky, a
smokey-smokey, and pretty soon...


At least that's been my experience.


Stephen Foster.

♪ Camptown ladies
sing that song ♪

♪ Doo-dah! Doo-dah! ♪

♪ Camptown racetrack
five miles long ♪

♪ All the doo-dah day! ♪

♪ Gonna run all night! ♪

♪ Gonna run all day! ♪

♪ I'll bet my money
on a bob-tail nag ♪

♪ Somebody bet on the bay! ♪

Walt Whitman.

I will be honest with you.

"I do not offer old, smooth prizes

but offer rough, new prizes."

I love that.
That's how I feel about my art.

I don't offer you old, old smooth prizes.

I offer you rough, new prizes.

If you came to this show
expecting a polished show,

you came to the wrong show girl.

Yeah. And you came
to the wrong show comma girl.

But Stephen Foster says,

"Wait a minute.
Wait a minute. Wait a minute."

Uh, w-w-wait a minute.

"This epic smackdown is rigged."

This epic smackdown is rigged!

What else would I say?


"Everybody knows I'm
the father of American song."

Everybody knows I'm the father...

...of American song.

- "And to prove it..."
- And to prove it...

"...I'm gonna release
my secret weapon."

...I'm gonna
release my secret weapon.

"A song so insidious..."

A song so...

- "Insidious."
- ...insidious...

- "...the minute you hear it..."
- ...the minute you hear it...

"...you're not gonna
get it out of your head."

...you're not gonna
get it out of your head.

"You're gonna go home and you're gonna try to
sleep, but you're not gonna be able to sleep

because it's gonna go around and
around in your head on an endless loop

until you go mad,
I tell you, mad!"


English was my second language.

You know, all the school
bands' marching uniforms,

they're all actually modeled

off of the Civil War soldier outfits.

And I read somewhere that hotdogs

were invented during this time
from German immigrants,

selling their sausages
inside of buns on the street.

Is it blood or is it ketchup?
You get to decide.

Hot dogs. Hot dog!

Spins! We like spins!

It's drag as metaphor

as opposed to drag as impersonation.

I'm never trying
to look like Marlene Dietrich.

It's a metaphor for
an idea or a specific time.

It's the Civil War, and I'm
gonna divide you in half.

This side of the audience, you're
going to be the Union soldiers.

This side of the audience,

you are going to be
the Confederate soldiers.

It's not personal.

I don't know you.
You're not playing you.

You're playing the part I assign you.

Now, everybody stand.
Everybody, everybody.

We're going to have
our very first battle.

This one is gonna be a slow-motion fight.

And you're gonna slow-motion fight
with each other, people around you.

And I want it dirty:
I want it like g-groin punches

and kicks and strangulation
and asshole slaps.

I don't like calling them
"bitch slaps," asshole slaps.

Just make it dirty and disgusting
and cruel in slow motion.

It's gonna go on a lot longer
than you're gonna want it to.

♪ With a whack, rowdy-dow ♪

♪ A hunky boy
is a Yankee soldier ♪

♪ Whack, rowdy-dow ♪

♪ Invincible is he! ♪

Keeeeep going in sloooow motion.

I'm gonna kick you dirty
Confederate soldierssssss.

I'm gonna punch you in the faaaaaace.

I'm gonna strangle youuuu...

I'm interested in what happens

when the audience has to make
a commitment to something.

It stops being just a party game.

It becomes something, um...

something deeper.

Six hundred thousand people
died in the Civil War.

Representing one of those 600,000

is our mandolin player, Ethan.

Come on down, Ethan.

Every hour we lose a musician.

♪ The old church bell
will peal with joy ♪

♪ Hurrah, hurrah! ♪

♪ To welcome home
our darling boy ♪

♪ Hurrah, hurrah! ♪

♪ The village lads
and lassies say ♪

♪ With roses
they all stray away ♪

♪ And we'll all feel gay ♪

♪ When Johnny
comes marching home ♪

We lost Johnny in the war.

So Mother, after the war,

wants to have

a big family dinner.

She wants us all to be together
and enjoy ourselves,

so this is Reconstruction,
which means dinner.

So, um, I want you guys

to jam out a little bit
'cause I'm gonna go pee.

♪ Oh, I'm gonna lay down ♪

♪ My sword and shield ♪

♪ Down by the riverside ♪

♪ Down by the riverside ♪

♪ Down by the riverside ♪

♪ I'm gonna lay down ♪

♪ My sword and shield ♪

♪ Down by the riverside ♪

♪ I ain't gonna study war
no more ♪

Other inventions of this time
were the toilet paper rolls,

so I have these empty toilet paper rolls,

but also dynamite is
another invention of the time.

So I thought that was kind of a nice
combination, toilet paper and dynamite.

- ♪ I ain't gonna ♪
- ♪ Study war no more ♪

- ♪ I ain't gonna ♪
- ♪ Study war no more ♪

♪ Oh, yeah, I don't want to,
you can't make me ♪

- ♪ Whoa-oh-oh ♪
- ♪ No-oh-oh ♪

- ♪ I ain't gonna ♪
- ♪ Study war no more ♪

- ♪ I ain't gonna ♪
- ♪ Study war no more ♪

♪ Oh, yeah,
I ain't gonna study war ♪

♪ No more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna
study war no more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna study
war no more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna
study war no more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna study
war no more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna
study war no more ♪

♪ I ain't gonna study
war no more ♪

♪ Yeah-eah ♪

We bring out all these tables and we do

a dinner theater production
of the Mikado.

We call it the Marskado.

The Gilbert and Sullivan operetta,

popular music.

Deeply problematic.

Uh, because the history
of English and white folks

putting on yellow face,

putting on a culture that is not theirs,

uh, in-in order to tell
a story about themselves.


And so we couldn't do that.

And I said, "Well, what's
something that we could put on?"

So we went to Mars.

Now, on Mars, in this strange coinky-dink

that mirrors the Gilded Age in America,

two percent of the population owned about
40% of the entire wealth of the nation,

and 40% of the country had zero wealth.

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

Just do that over and over.

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow... ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow, tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

♪ Tit-willow... ♪

♪ Tit-willow ♪

Well, let me tell ya, dinner's over.

The makeup kind of takes over.

There is, uh, less control,
through the movement,

through the sweat, through the tears.

It transforms itself,

uh, without my control, at least.

Well, it was part of the concept
of the drag in the beginning was,

it's never homogenous.

You can't really say that,
that it's one thing.

It's, it's giving you masculine
and femininity at the same time.

It's, um, giving you mess
and order at the same time

and beauty and, um...

and just real grotesquery...

...all happening
at the same time.

We have never done
more than 12 decades before.


So we are about to venture

into uncharted territory.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

Part of the art was that the audience

would be with us for 24 hours as well.

Most of the profound experiences
in my life have happened

as a result of giving
more time to the, to the event,

or, um, or the art,
or, I mean, weddings...

that last all day long.

You know, those are things
that you remember.

Um, uh, trips to various places

last weeks, or at least a few days.

So these are things
that you're welcoming in

a certain amount of surprise
and a, a different way

of looking at the world, uh, when you,

uh, when you commit to them.
So I just want,

I've always wanted theater
to kind of do the same thing.

It's World War I.

♪ They were summoned
from the hillside ♪

♪ They were called
in from the glen ♪

♪ And the country
found them ready ♪

♪ At the stirring call ♪

♪ For men ♪

♪ There's a silver lining ♪

♪ In the dark clouds shining ♪

♪ Turn the dark cloud
inside out ♪

♪ Till the boys come home ♪

All the women in the audience,
self-proclaimed women,

I would like you to sing this song.

We have the lyrics.

♪ Keep the home fires ♪

♪ Burning ♪

♪ While your hearts
are yearning ♪

♪ Though your lads
are far away ♪

♪ They dream of home ♪

♪ There's a silver lining ♪

♪ In the dark clouds shining ♪

♪ Turn the dark cloud
inside out ♪

♪ Till the boys come home ♪

♪ Happy days are here again ♪

♪ The skies above
are clear again ♪

♪ So let's sing a song
of cheer again ♪

♪ Happy days are here again ♪

This song is like a person at a
party trying to force their fun on you.

Sixteen and a half million people

died in World War I,

and people are singing a song called

"Happy Days Are Here Again."

Here we go!
♪ Happy days... ♪

♪ ...the skies above
are clear again ♪

♪ So let's sing a song... ♪

Everybody who is over 60, stand please.

Is anyone over 80?

Come to the stage.

Raise your hand if you're under...


Great, come up on stage.

You are going to teach
this person how to dance.

She's gonna copy everything you do, okay?

All right? Ready?

Here we go.

♪ The old folks are doing it ♪

♪ The young folk too ♪

♪ But the old folks teach
the young ones what to do ♪

♪ They shake that thing ♪

♪ Oh, they shake that thing ♪

♪ They're getting
sick and tired ♪

♪ Of telling you
to shake your thing ♪

Oh, my God, yes.

Oh, my God.

Wow, okay.

So everyone over 50, stand up.

Everyone over 50?

Now, everybody who is sitting,
clock someone who's standing,

and in this next musical section,
you're going to copy their moves.

Now, we live in an ageist culture,

so if you don't actually look at the
person and try to do what they're doing,

you're being ageist, all right?

And here we go!

♪ Well, Grandpapa Johnson,
he grabs sister Kate ♪

♪ And he shook her just like
you shake jelly on a plate ♪

♪ He shook that thing ♪

♪ He shook that thing ♪

♪ He's getting
sick and tired ♪

♪ Of telling you
to shake your thing ♪

♪ With music like this ♪

♪ Why wouldn't you
wanna shake ♪

♪ Your thing? ♪

Yeah. Gooey.

- Yes, gooey good.
- Yeah, yeah...

It's the Great Depression,

and one of the ways

we survive poverty-induced depression

is just to get together
and admit that it's happening.

♪ I ain't got no home ♪

♪ I'm just
a-wanderin' 'round ♪

♪ I'm a wanderin' worker ♪

♪ And I go from town to town ♪

♪ Police, they make it
hard for me ♪

♪ Wherever I may go ♪

♪ I ain't got no home ♪

♪ In this world anymore ♪

♪ That old dust storm ♪

♪ Killed my baby ♪

♪ But it won't kill me, Lord ♪

♪ It won't kill me ♪

♪ That old dust storm ♪

♪ It killed my family ♪

♪ But it won't kill me, Lord ♪

♪ It won't kill me ♪

♪ I'm farmin' on the shares ♪

♪ And always I am poor ♪

♪ And all my crops they go ♪

♪ Into the banker's door ♪

♪ And my wife
took down and died ♪

♪ Upon the cabin floor ♪

♪ I ain't got no home ♪

♪ In this world anymore ♪

♪ That old landlord ♪

♪ He got my homestead ♪

♪ But he won't get me, Lord ♪

♪ He won't get me ♪

♪ That old pawn shop ♪

♪ Might get my furniture ♪

♪ But it won't get me, Lord ♪

♪ It won't get me ♪

♪ As I travel 'round ♪

♪ It's very plain to see ♪

♪ That this whole world's
a great ♪

♪ And a funny place to be ♪

♪ Where the gamblin' man
gets rich ♪

♪ And the workin' man is poor ♪

♪ I ain't got no home ♪

♪ In this world anymore ♪

My father was born in Abilene, Texas.

He died when I was four.

So we're going
to sing this song. Uh...

I just want to point out
that I decided to sing

one of the hardest popular songs
in the history of popular songs

at hour, what is it, 16?

- 16, yeah, 17.
- Something like that. Yeah.

A-And the reason that I decided to do it

is because this song
traumatized me as a child,

and I thought, "Well, only way to
get over that trauma is to own it."

This was my dad's favorite song.

I don't know if that's true,
but that's what I was told.

♪ I wonder
what he'll think of me ♪

♪ I bet he'll call me ♪

♪ The "old man" ♪

♪ I bet he'll think ♪

♪ I can lick
every other fella's father ♪

♪♪ Well, I can ♪

♪ I bet that he'll
turn out to be ♪

♪ The spittin' image
of his dad ♪

♪ But he'll have
more common sense ♪

♪ Than his
puddin'-headed father ♪

♪ Ever had! ♪

♪ Bill ♪

♪ My boy Bill ♪

♪ I will see that
he's named after me ♪

♪ I will ♪

♪ My boy Bill ♪

♪ He'll be tall
and as tough as a tree ♪

♪ Will Bill ♪

♪ Like a tree he'll grow
with his head held high ♪

♪ And his feet planted
firm on the ground ♪

♪ And you won't see
nobody dare ♪

♪ To try to boss him ♪

♪ Or toss him around! ♪

♪ No flat bottom,
flabby face, pot-bellied ♪

♪ Baggy-eyed bastard
will boss him around ♪

I grew up with this mythology,

I'm not supposed to be the way I am.

That's... I'm supposed to be like Bill,

like his ideal version of, of what a son
would be is what I'm supposed to be.

Oh, no...

What if he is a girl?

Oh, Bill, Bill!

Now, what can I do f...
What can I do for her?

What can I do with her?

♪ You can have fun
with a son ♪

♪ But you gotta be a father ♪

♪ To a girl ♪

♪ My little girl ♪

♪ I gotta get ready ♪

♪ Before she comes ♪

♪ I got to make certain ♪

♪ That she won't be dragged ♪

♪ Through the slums
with a lot of bums ♪

♪ Like me ♪

♪ She's gotta be sheltered ♪

♪ And fed and dressed ♪

♪ In the best
that money can buy ♪

♪ I never knew how ♪

♪ To get money ♪

♪ But I'll try! ♪

♪ By God, I'll try! ♪

♪ I'll go out and make it ♪

♪ Or steal it ♪

♪ Or take it ♪

♪ Or ♪

♪ Die! ♪

I made this Marilyn Monroe kind of wig

out of 3D glasses and, um, the big,
almost like poodle-esque kind of skirt,

lots of white picket fences, and all
of the houses that were the same.

McDonald's, the rise of the suburbs,

uh, you know, complete with a marabou white
picket fence, but not before the heels.

Gorgeous. Yes!

Yes. Beautiful.

Stunning. Stunning.

It's so good.


Yes. Yes.

What about fingers in mouth?

Oh, my gosh, she just came
from the drive-through.

She can't wait to go home
for her TV dinner.

Love, love, love.

I grew up in Stockton, California,

which is maybe two and a half hours away

from San Francisco.

It's in the middle of
what used to be great farmland

but has been overdeveloped
with tract housing,

so it's a lot of, uh,
kinda cheap, ugly houses

one after another after another.

It was pretty homophobic.

Nobody said anything about gay
people unless it was to call us fags.

Now the white people in the suburbs,

they can stop people of color
from being in their community

by making it really hard for
people of color to get loans.

But what they can't do is stop the white
queer from being born amongst them.

You thought you were safe in the suburbs,

and then your child is me.

All the young men
ages 18 to 30 who are straight

are going to come
to the stage now because

the only way the white queer

can hook up with anyone
is if he converts.

♪ When marimba rhythm ♪

♪ Starts to play ♪

♪ Dance with me ♪

♪ Make me sway ♪

All the straight guys!

♪ Like a lazy ocean
hugs the shore ♪

♪ Sway me smooth ♪

♪ Sway me more ♪

♪ Other dancers may be
on the floor, yeah ♪

♪ Dear, but my eyes,
they see only you ♪

♪ Only you have
the magic technique ♪

♪ When we sway, I go weak ♪

Do exactly what I do.

♪ Other dancers
may be on the floor ♪

♪ Dear, but my eyes,
they see only you ♪

♪ Only you have
the magic technique ♪

♪ When we sway ♪

♪ I go weak ♪

♪ I can hear
the sound of violins ♪

♪ Long before it begins ♪

♪ When we sway
you have a way with me ♪

♪ Stay with me ♪

Do exactly what I'm doing.

♪ Stay with me ♪

Keep doing that, keep doing that,
keep doing that, keep doing that.

I think we have a winner.

You all may go sit down now.

Thank you. Thank you.

♪ Don't ♪

♪ Don't ♪

♪ That's what you say
in the suburbs ♪

When I wanna have a little
public display of affection with you

and you're gonna try to stop
me, you know, just a little bit at first

and then by the end of the number, I'm
gonna be chasing you around the stage.


♪ Each time ♪

♪ That I hold you ♪

♪ This way ♪

♪ When the night is cold ♪

♪ And I want to hold you ♪

♪ Baby, don't say "Don't" ♪

♪ Don't, come on,
say "Don't" ♪

♪ Don't leave my embrace ♪

♪ For here in my arms ♪

♪ Is your place ♪

Just give me a kiss!


♪ And if you think that ♪

♪ This is just a way ♪

♪ Of saying ♪

♪ I don't mean... ♪

♪ ...everything I say ♪

♪ Don't... ♪
Just give me, love me!

Why can't you love me?


♪ That's ♪

♪ What you say ♪

♪ For here ♪

♪ In my arms ♪

♪ Is your place ♪


♪ Marching ♪

♪ On the freedom highway ♪

♪ Marching ♪

♪ Each and every day ♪

You all are on the bus
to the March on Washington now.

♪ On the freedom highway ♪

♪ I found dead people
in the forest ♪

♪ The Tallahatchie River
and lake ♪

♪ The whole wide world
is wonderin' ♪

♪ Oh, what's wrong
with the United States? ♪

♪ Oh, yes, we want peace ♪

♪ That's if it can be found ♪

♪ I'm gonna stay
on freedom's highway ♪

♪ And I won't be
turned around ♪

♪ Well, I guess I'll vote
for the right one ♪

♪ Who said we'll overcome ♪

♪ And I'll march
on freedom's highway ♪

♪ Until the day is done ♪

♪ Oh, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ Marching ♪

♪ On the freedom highway ♪

♪ Yeah, hey, yeah ♪

♪ Marching ♪

♪ Each and every day ♪

♪ I made up
my mind ♪

♪ I said I made up,
I made up my mind ♪

♪ And I won't
turn around ♪

♪ And I won't turn around ♪

♪ I made up my mind ♪

♪ Made up my mind ♪

♪ And I won't
turn around ♪

♪ And I won't turn around ♪

♪ I made up my mind ♪

♪ I made up
my mind ♪

♪ And I won't
turn around ♪

♪ And I won't turn around ♪

♪ I made up
my mind ♪

♪ Made up my mind ♪

♪ And I won't
turn around ♪

♪ And I won't
turn a... ♪

♪ ...round ♪

♪ Ooh-ooh... ♪

♪ Every ♪

♪ Day ♪

♪ Hey-ey-ey-ey... ♪

♪ No, no, no, no, no ♪


Steffanie Christi'an and Thornetta Davis!

The March on Washington, it was organized by a
queer Black man by the name of Bayard Rustin.

They did not want you to know
he was a queer Black man,

because they were thinking,
"One thing at a time."

Growing up in Stockton,

you're feeling like
the world is attacking you,

and so you have to find your
people or, or you'll dissolve,


or be beaten to a pulp.

You know, you have to find,
you have to find them.

So I-I found them.

1, 2, 3, 4...

♪ In the day we sweat it
out on the streets ♪

♪ Of a runaway
American dream ♪

♪ At night we ride through
the mansions of glory ♪

♪ In our suicide machines ♪

♪ Sprung out on cages
out on Highway 9 ♪

♪ Chrome wheeled,
fuel injected ♪

♪ And steppin' out
over the line ♪

♪ Whoa, baby this town rips
the bones from your back ♪

♪ It's a death trap ♪

♪ It's a suicide rap ♪

♪ We gotta get out
while we're young ♪

♪ 'Cause, baby
tramps like us ♪

♪ Baby, we were born to run ♪

This is what's gonna happen.

I'm going to be the queer of America,

you're the homophobes of America.

- Whoo!
- I'm gonna run by you, and when I run by you,

you can throw your
ping-pong balls at me, okay?

One, two, three, four!

♪ The highway's
full of broken heroes ♪

♪ In a last chance
power drive ♪

♪ Everybody's out
on the run tonight ♪

♪ And there's no place
left to hide... ♪

My mom a-and dad came

and after the show ends, my mom

still has the ping-pong ball
in her hand and she says,

"I'm sorry, but I-I just
couldn't throw it."

And his aunt was like,
"Yay, I'll..."

She was throwing the ping-pong ball.

Everyone has a different internal
monologue that they're going through.

That's the art that's in the room.

♪ Run ♪

♪ Run-uh-uh-uh-un ♪

So that's what it was like
in America before Will & Grace.

♪ Ooh ♪

♪ Snakeskin cowboys ♪

♪ Who the hell
you think you are? ♪

♪ You're hangin' around ♪

♪ With your
high-heeled boots ♪

♪ Don't think
that should get too far ♪

♪ You're hangin' around ♪

♪ With your fancy pants on ♪

♪ You ain't got
nothin' on me ♪

♪ Thinkin' you got it ♪

♪ Right here on the stage ♪

♪ Stick around, boys ♪

♪ Maybe I can set you free ♪

Matt and I, we didn't wanna
actually have to listen

to the Ted Nugent song
in order to learn it.

We read the lyrics
and they seemed bad enough.

I said, "This lyric
is about fag-bashing."

And, and I thought,
"Well, that's maybe not true."

And then I-I heard an interview
with Ted Nugent from the '70s

where he said,
"This song's about fags."

He doesn't like anyone
who dresses fancy on a stage,

and he's gonna set them free.

Maybe you could see why I would
take offense to that song.

When I read that lyric, I said,
"We're gonna appropriate that shit."

So, so Matt threw down
some of his own music

and we decided to turn the song
into a gay junior prom song.

I want you to find somebody

who is the same gender as you.

If you're gender queer,
you can pick anybody.

And find someone
who's the same gender as you

and you're going to slow-dance with them.

Come on up, come on up.
Everybody, everybody up.

Stand up. Stand up, everybody.
You're all doing this now.

You're all finding somebody of
your same gender to dance with.

Here, let me... I'll demonstrate
on this guy right here.

I've noticed, uh,
that when straight guys dance,

or even gay guys
that don't know each other,

they can sometimes, you know, um, ch...

Or when they hug, they, like,
try to put their, their pelvises

as far away from each other as possible.

Like, I don't want any space between you.

I want this kind of...

- All right? Okay?
- Okay.

All right. So that's what I
want. So go find somebody.

It doesn't have to be two people,

it can be three people.

It's not a heteronormative narrative.

♪ Ooh ♪

♪ Snakeskin cowboys ♪

♪ Who the hell
you think you are? ♪

♪ You're hangin' around ♪

♪ With your
high-heeled sneakers ♪

♪ Don't think
that should get too far ♪

♪ You're hangin' around ♪

♪ With your fancy pants on ♪

♪ Prancin' all around
the stage ♪

All right, I let you have a round

where you got to laugh and joke
and hook up with people and stuff.


But now, I want you
to take it really seriously.

I realize that sometimes the nervous
laughter and the chatting and stuff

is about intimacy with strangers in
public spaces and, you know, I get it,

but it's also maybe the possibility

that there's a little bit
of that nervousness

is about internalized homophobia
or a homophobia, right?

So just, uh, just hold the person,

just be romantic with them

and while Matt plays this piano solo.

♪ ♪

I want to believe that an artist's job

is to dream the culture forward.

So to look at the things
that aren't working in society

and imagine how it could be better.

♪ Ooh, snakeskin cowboys ♪

♪ Who the hell
do you think you are? ♪

♪ You're hangin' around ♪

♪ With your
high-heeled boots ♪

♪ Don't think that should
get too far ♪

♪ Ooh ♪

♪ Snakeskin cowboys ♪

Thank you so much!

Taylor's created something that

is a radical format

for creating community,

and I, I think

the number-one reason
we have problems in America

is lack of community.

That's my opinion.

Um, I think that's why
all these people are so angry,

because they want to belong to something.

What Taylor does is opens the
queer community to the world.

We're gonna focus on songs that were

popular in the, in the back-room
sex party from 1976 to '86.

♪ Gloria ♪

♪ You're always
on the run now ♪

♪ Runnin' after somebody ♪

♪ You got to get him somehow ♪

♪ I think you better
slow down ♪

♪ Before you stop growing ♪

♪ I think you're headed
for a breakdown ♪

♪ So be careful not
to show it ♪

♪ Then you really
don't remember ♪

♪ Was it something
that he said? ♪

♪ Or the voices
in your head ♪

♪ Calling ♪

♪ Gloria! ♪


So, every single person in this room

has had somebody in their life,
at some point in their life,

tell them that having sex with
multiple partners is a bad thing.

Every single person in this room.

So I want you to channel
that person right now.

You're just going to point
at your neighbors

and you're gonna sing this.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

Just do it, channel that judgy person.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Glo... ♪

Now, point it at yourself.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

And then other people and yourself.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

Okay. Great.

All right, now the next step is, uh,

you're about to enter the back room
and you're gonna liberate yourself,

so you're like,
"Oh, my God! So exciting!"

So you're just gonna, like,
shout out "Gloria" to the universe,

like you're saying hallelujah.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

Great, you guys got that one, all right.

Now, now the real trick,

in order to really know
what it's like in a back room,

you have to have that shaming,
the shaming of yourself

and also the liberation
all at the same time.

That's what it really feels like
to be in the back room.

Okay, so, everybody, you just
mix it up whenever you want, right?

It is not a homogeneous experience.

You can do all kinds of different
things. Ready? Okay, here we go.

♪ Gloria, Gloriaaaa! ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria! ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

Now, everybody up on your feet.

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

One more!

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ Gloria, Gloria ♪

♪ I ♪

♪ I wish I could swim ♪

♪ Like the dolphins ♪

♪ Like the dolphins can swim ♪

♪ And nothing ♪

♪ Will keep us together ♪

♪ We can beat them ♪

♪ Forever and ever ♪

♪ We can be heroes ♪

♪ Just for one day ♪

♪ I ♪

♪ I will be queen ♪

♪ And you ♪

♪ You'll be my queen ♪

♪ And nothing ♪

♪ Will tear us apart ♪

♪ Oh, we can beat them ♪

♪ Forever and ever ♪

♪ We could be heroes ♪

♪ Just for one day ♪

♪ I ♪

♪ I remember ♪

♪ I remember ♪

♪ Standing ♪

♪ Standing by the wall ♪

♪ By the wall ♪

♪ And the bullets flew ♪

♪ They flew above our heads ♪

♪ Above our heads ♪

♪ And we kissed ♪

♪ As if nothing could fall ♪

♪ Nothing could fall ♪

♪ And the shame ♪

♪ It was on the other side ♪

♪ We could beat them ♪

♪ Forever and ever ♪

♪♪ We could be heroes ♪

♪ Just for one day ♪

Come on down, Russian penis!

Here comes Gorbachev!

I think we're gonna have
to have a Cold War reenactment.

But when we do, the penises are
going to ejaculate all over you.

Now, when they do ejaculate on you,

I want you to take that energy and
have a little sex magic ritual right now.

Take all that energy from it,

and we're going to put it
out into the universe

so that we can have some world peace.

Everybody, pull that energy in.

You're gonna have three yells,
ready? Here we go.

Ohh! Ohh...

♪ Ohhhhhh... ♪

♪ We could be heroes ♪

♪ We could be heroes ♪

♪ Just for one day ♪

Because we've lost a musician every hour,

hour one, you've got all the support,

but as you're at your weakest, you
have the least amount of support.

But the audience,
they start to support us more.

We lose energy onstage,
but they give more energy,

even though they are really tired too.

We're also building ourselves
because we rally together

to figure out how to navigate it.

♪ When routine bites hard ♪

♪ And ambitions are low ♪

♪ And resentment runs high ♪

♪ But emotion won't grow ♪

♪ And we're changing our ways ♪

♪ Taking different roads ♪

♪ Love ♪

♪ Love will tear us
apart again ♪

This is the AIDS era,

the era when so many people
lost their loved ones.

And, and, you know,
like how your mascara runs,

so it's tears, but it's also
like mascara's running,

and it's just like, it keeps running,

and it's, like, doesn't stop.


I've just watched
the network television premiere

of Clash of the Titans.

That night I go to bed

and I have a dream of
Maggie Smith riding a Pegasus.

And it is my first wet dream.

There are also two men
having sex in the dream,

but I think it was
Maggie Smith that did it.

I woke up from that dream in,
like, mid-orgasm,

I was like...

And I immediately thought,
"Gay people, when they have sex,

"they give each other AIDS,
and I just had sex, and I'm gay.

That means I must have
just given myself AIDS."

Then all that day at school,

the teachers were teaching, teaching,
teaching, talking, talking, talking.

I couldn't listen to a single
thing they were saying

'cause the entire time,
I thought, "I'm gonna get AIDS."

♪ I'd like
to help you, Doctor ♪

♪ Yes, I really
really would ♪

♪ But the din in my head ♪

♪ It's too much
and it's no good ♪

♪ I'm standing
in a windy tunnel ♪

♪ Shouting through the roar ♪

♪ And I'd like to give
the information ♪

♪ As before ♪

♪ But blood makes noise ♪

♪ It's ringing in my ear ♪

♪ Blood makes ♪

♪ Noise ♪

♪ I can't really hear you
in the thickening, I fear ♪

♪ Blood makes noise ♪

So we've reached
our AIDS decade, and, uh...

I thought we should
lose something very special,

so this is our last time with Machine,

our costume designer.

The audience has a bond to that queen.

Every time you see one of those outfits,

it is just pure delight,

so when you think
that all of that delight

and all that artistry
was gonna be taken away,

for me, it's...

what it was like to come of age
during the AIDS epidemic.

Uh, every incredible artist

that you... hoped
would be a mentor,

you know, um, passes.

It's time to say
goodbye to our guitarist,

Viva DeConcini.

The first time we lose a musician

after the first hour, you're like,

"But you've
only been here an hour."

Uh... Hmm. Excuse me.

Uh, we lost so many people
in our community,

um, to HIV and AIDS
and the complications,

and some folks had only been with us

for a very short amount of time.

Excuse me.

So it's very hard to lose
people throughout the work,

um, and-and to be reminded
of that, um, in our community.

Uh, so, yeah, it's deeply significant...

because when you're, when you're left,

and you've been working with them so hard

and then they're gone and
you're left and so you're like,

"Great, I have to, I have to keep going.

I have to keep bringing
my artistry and my voice."

Uh, I think there's
so much poetry in that...

but that's also our life.

Dating in the '90s was navigating

whether or not you wanted to go on a date

with someone who might not
be here in six months.

Never having the moment
where your sexuality is free.


So not... not kinda having

the sense of what you may be missing,

but you know, always,
always being afraid of sex.

♪ Denny picked me up,
Denny did me ♪

♪ He got a tattoo
of his dick on his belly ♪

♪ It was double vision ♪

♪ Disorienting ♪

♪ Denny's kind of
a dorky fella ♪

♪ Denny's dramatic ♪

♪ Denny is dark ♪

♪ He ain't nothin'
like the restaurant ♪

♪ He's got "HIV positive"
tattooed in black ♪

♪ In six-inch letters
on his back ♪

♪ He says, "I want them to see
what they'd done to me" ♪

♪ Denny ♪

♪ Denny's reading
the Decameron ♪

♪ About a plague
that came before ♪

♪ 'Cause Denny is dying
and Denny don't like it ♪

♪ And Denny
don't dance no more ♪

♪ He's kinda New Age
but Denny's not that smart ♪

♪ He's trying to love himself
but doesn't really know how ♪

♪ He's got a heart tattoo
with his own name in it ♪

♪ Trouble is
Denny doesn't really get it ♪

♪ Self-esteem is just
a dream for Denny ♪

♪ Denny can be very funny ♪

♪ He says he wants my asshole
tattooed on his chin ♪

♪ Denny is very demanding ♪

♪ 'Cause Denny
don't got long to live ♪

♪ Denny did porno ♪

♪ Photos and film ♪

♪ Until his tattoos
ruined his career ♪

♪ He stands there
watching the video ♪

♪ Watching himself
get infected ♪

♪ Denny has pneumocystis ♪

♪ And a new tattoo as well ♪

♪ Denny got a skull
and crossbones ♪

♪ Smack in the middle
of his forehead ♪

♪ He said, "I want them to see
what they'd done to me" ♪

♪ Denny ♪

♪ He said, "I want them to see
what they'd done to me" ♪

♪ Denny ♪

♪ He said, "I want them to see
what they'd done to me" ♪

♪ Denny ♪

The very first time I ever
met an "out" homosexual,

it was thousands all at the same time.

I found out about this thing
called an AIDS Walk,

and my friend Marcy and I
went to the AIDS Walk,

uh, in San Francisco,

and the first time I ever saw one "out"
homosexual, it was thousands of them,

and the reason they were all together
is 'cause, of course, they were dying,

and their loved ones were dying,

and they were screaming and
laughing and dancing and joyous,

while at the same time
horrified and full of sorrow,

and they, uh, were pushing
loved ones in wheelchairs



what I experienced
was a community of people

that were being, um, built

as a result of being torn apart,

and it was a pretty profound
experience for a kid.

Years later, I thought,
many years later, I thought,

I wanna make a show that is some kind
of metaphorical representation of that.

So we started making a
24-decade history of popular music.

This decade is all songs
that were popular

with radical lesbians
during the AIDS epidemic.

Many gay men, their parents, family
members wouldn't take care of them

and their lovers were dying at the
same time that they were struggling,

and so, um...

many lesbians really stepped up

in a way that was above and beyond.

I learned my politics
from radical lesbians

and I learned how to have
confidence from radical lesbians.

Lesbians spend so much time
having to stretch towards the rest of us.

I thought it would be sweet

if we invite all of
the lesbians in the audience

to come up on stage.

So, they got to see

all of us stretch towards them.

♪ My momma was a waitress ♪

♪ My daddy a truck driver ♪

♪ The thing that kept
their power from them ♪

♪ Slowed me down awhile ♪

♪ I remember the morning ♪

♪ It was the closing
of my youth ♪

♪ When I said goodbye
to no one ♪

♪ And in that way
faced my truth ♪

♪ And a walk along the river ♪

♪ And a rain a-coming down ♪

♪ And a girl ♪

♪ On a road ♪

♪ But if music is a boulder ♪

♪ Let me carry it
a long while ♪

♪ Let it turn into a feather ♪

♪ Let it brush
against my smile ♪

♪ Let the life
be somewhat settled ♪

♪ With the life
that song has made ♪

♪ Let there be nothing
I am longing for ♪

♪ In some plan
I may have made ♪

♪ In some story
quickly written ♪

♪ In a long forgotten time ♪

♪ By a girl ♪

♪ On a road ♪

♪ Rain upon the water ♪

♪ Makes footprints
sunk in sand ♪

♪ Anger upon angry hurt ♪

♪ Take me by the hand ♪

♪ Take me
by the heartstrings ♪

♪ And pull me deep inside ♪

♪ And say I'm one
with your forgiveness ♪

♪ And separate from my pride ♪

I had put so much of my life at that
point into helping create the show.

It took a physical toll on me
and it took a mental toll

and it was all positive,
but it was a lot.

We've been doing this
all night and I thought,

I don't want to leave Taylor
alone on stage.

I can't leave Taylor alone on
stage, i-it's... I have to stay here.

♪ When all the artists ♪

♪ Leave or die ♪

♪ And you're alone on stage ♪

♪ Naked and unrehearsed ♪

♪ Grasping for lines ♪

♪ And trying
to save some grace ♪

♪ When all the fairies ♪

♪ Are dead and buried ♪

♪ Then will the pixie dust
be swept? ♪

♪ When all the radicals die ♪

♪ Or are married... ♪

♪ ...then will
the tragedy end ♪

♪ Or begin? ♪

Ultimately for me, it's all about

expressing and experiencing

the full range of who you are

and taking the time

to actually do that, and, um...

and so, who you are

as somebody who has to leave,

as well as somebody

who can, um...

be at the center.

♪ Sleep well ♪

♪ Get up ♪

♪ Do it again ♪

♪ Day after day after day ♪

♪ Until the cockroaches are ♪

♪ Your only patrons ♪

♪ Even then ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

Go ahead and sing it.

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ You can lie down ♪

♪ Or get up and play ♪

♪ I was dreaming
in my dreaming ♪

♪ Of an aspect
bright and fair ♪

♪ And my sleeping ♪

♪ It was broken ♪

♪ But my dream
it lingered near ♪

♪ In the form
of shining valleys ♪

♪ Where the pure air
is recognized ♪

♪ And my senses newly opened ♪

♪ I awakened to the cry ♪

♪ The people have the power ♪

♪ The people
have the power ♪

♪ The power to dream ♪

♪ To rule ♪

♪ To wrestle the earth
from fools ♪

♪ It is decreed
the people rule ♪

♪ It is decreed
the people rule ♪

♪ I believe ♪

♪ Everything we dream ♪

♪ Can come to pass
in our union ♪

♪ We can turn
the earth around ♪

♪ We can turn
the world's revolution ♪

♪ The people have the power ♪

♪ The people
have the power ♪

♪ The people have the power ♪

♪ The people have
the power ♪

♪ The people have the power ♪

♪ The people have
the power ♪

♪ To everything ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ There is a season ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ And a time ♪

♪ For every season ♪

♪ Under heaven ♪

♪ To everything ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ There is a season ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ And a time ♪

♪ For every purpose ♪

♪ Under heaven ♪

♪ A time for love ♪

♪ A time for hate ♪

♪ A time to rend ♪

♪ A time to sow ♪

♪ A time you may embrace ♪

♪ A time to refrain ♪

♪ From embracing ♪


♪ To everything ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ There is a season ♪

♪ Turn turn turn turn
turn turn turn ♪

♪ And a time ♪

♪ For every purpose ♪

♪ Under heaven ♪

♪ A time to gain ♪

♪ A time to lose ♪

♪ A time for love ♪

♪ A time for hate ♪

♪ A time to reap ♪

♪ A time to sow ♪

♪ A time for peace ♪

♪ I swear it's not too late ♪

Good night, everybody!