Good gone bad
Star Trek Live's new show at Oasis
by David-Elijah Nahmod
After their rousing success last year with a stage adaptation of "Mudd's Women," an episode from the original Star Trek TV series, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the rest of the crew from the USS Enterprise will be beaming down for a return engagement to the Oasis beginning November 18.
This time D'Arcy Drollinger and the gang will be presenting "Mirror, Mirror," a 1967 Trek favorite which takes the gang on a strange journey into a parallel universe.
Concurrently, their evil counterparts are zapped onto the "real" USS Enterprise. "Mirror Mirror" is considered to be one of the top ten Trek episodes of all time among Trekkies.
"Who doesn't love to see the good go bad?" asked Drollinger, who co-directed the stage adaptation with Erin-Kate Whitcomb. "A knife-wielding midriff-exposing Uhura, an evil Sulu with a scar down his face, a murderous Kirk, and Spock with a beard!"
Drollinger said that the show will serve as both a serious homage and a camp parody.
"We treat this show somewhat different than the other shows at Oasis in the respect that we treat it primarily like a historic period piece," he explained. "Sarah Phykitt, our production manager, has not only recreated Kirk's chair, but for this episode has recreated the famous computer, complete with data storage cards and the Tantalus machine, as well as the 3D models of the Agonizers and the Blackship daggers. We also uncovered recordings of about 75 percent of the music from this episode."
The episode's camp appeal, according to Drollinger, is already built in.
"I think much of the comedy comes from viewing the already campy episode under a magnifying glass," he said. "We're elevating and celebrating whats already there. It's also refreshing to see a cast almost primarily made up of drag kings."
Some might think that Star Trek is a strange choice for a gay-centric club such as Oasis. Drollinger reminded us that the series' diverse cast was considered quite groundbreaking at the time, making it a perfect fit for an LGBT audience.
"Star Trek crosses age, gender, sexuality," Drollinger said. "The diverse audience unifies around their love of the show."
He also pointed out that Star Trek shows might pull in more traditionally straight scifi geeks.
"I think this show was groundbreaking on many levels," he said. "It told a story of going outside the norm, and those that were different were accepted. I also feel that having such a racially diverse cast at that time represented a kind of inclusion that really spoke to a gay audience, just as it continues to do."
Drag king extraordinaire Leigh Crow also returns as Captain James T. Kirk. Crow was once a popular Elvis Presley impersonator known as Elvis Herselvis.
Crow acknowledged that Captain Kirk was more popular that William Shatner, who played the Captain on the original series, and whose conflicts with his co-stars have become legendary.
"I think Kirk has some Shatner in him," said Crow. "Both are blustery and very confident; that confidence can quickly turn to megalomania. Kirk is held back by a script."
Crow emphasized the importance of bringing Star Trek Live to an LGBT audience. "Our show is cast 80 percent women." she said. "You hardly ever see that. In this political climate we're talking about equality and diversity, yet there's room for improvement on those scores even in our own community."
The original Star Trek cast included George Takei, a now-openly gay Asian man as Sulu, and Nichelle Nichols, who is African American, as Uhura.
In interviews, Nichols has said that Dr. Martin Luther King wrote to her to tell her how much she meant to his children during a time when people of color were largely invisible on television.
In Star Trek Live, Uhura will be portrayed by Bay Area drag queen Honey Mahogany, who first came to prominence when she competed during season five of RuPaul's Drag Race. Mahogany is reprising her role from "Mudd's Women," the first episodes staged by the Oasis team.
Mahogany spoke about the significance of having a character like Uhura on television during the mid-1960s.
"She was one of the first black characters to appear regularly on television, and of course, the famous kiss between Uhura and Kirk goes down in history as the first on screen interracial kiss," Mahogany said.
"Personally, I appreciate Uhura and Nichelle Nichols as trailblazers and role-models. I think the class and elegance that Nichelle Nichols brought to the role was inspiring, though in our version, we tend to play up the sassy sex-kitten aspect of the character. I mean, this is a drag show!"
Mahogany added that Star Trek Live will please both die-hard Trekkies and drag fans.
"Needless to say, there will be comedy involved," she said. "We play with all the innuendos we can come up with, but I think the audience will appreciate the attention to detail in the construction of the characters, sets and costumes. It is a parody, but it is also a resurrection."
'Star Trek Live' at Oasis. $25, $35 and $225 VIP champagne tables. 7pm. Most Wednesdays through Saturdays, thru December 10. 298 11th St. www.sfoasis.com