boy in a billowy, flowing, white gown informally
steps onto stage,
saying hello, and
quickly becomes engaged with the audience.
(half in costume) offers us
sweet greetings and warm welcomes before he asks
us to state who is an icon to us, living or
dead, famous or unknown, and to explain why. As
each person answered, I was racing through my
heart and mind, running through the few icons I
feel were powerful enough for me to call an
"icon". I dreaded giving my response,
because I know of no "icons" who are
as obvious as what other people were saying.
While others find Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa,
Princess Diana, and Miles Davis to be their
icons, I find Jane Roberts and Elizabeth Fraser
to be mine. See what I mean.
I stated who my icon was (I had chosen
Elizabeth), there was so much confusion and
"what?" and "who?" and
gawking that I quickly changed to the most
recognizable name of inspiration to me: Björk!
they all nodded as if that explained everything.
we segue into the performance as
Jade begins to
transform, to complete his costume, by throwing
on a large, mass of golden, curly hair, and
altering his voice. His first icon is emerging
and the play has begun.
takes us through 6 major icons across time,
seeming to focus on their pivotal part in
history, using monologue, singing, and dancing.
He begins with Sappho, the famous lyrist from
Lesbos, whose wealth and aristocracy allowed her
to explore her sexuality, making her the first
"lesbian" in recorded history (the
word "Lesbian" is derived from "Lesbos",
the island). Though her freedoms were attributed
to her status, there is also strong evidence to
support that sexual exploration was not an issue
in her time. Nonetheless, Sappho created a world
of poetry and inspiration (Plato called her the
10th Muse!), but time, culture, and ignorance
have reduced her to mere slang.
the next hour or so,
Jade flips through the
pages of history, moving from one icon to the
next, leaving you more and more engrossed,
inspired, and even emotional. As he channels
Michelangelo (sculptor, painter, architect, and
poet), Oscar Wilde (poet/playwright), Gertrude
Stein (poet, playwright, feminist), Sylvia
Rivera (transgender veteran of Stonewall), and
Ellen DeGeneres (modern day comedienne), he does
not mock them or make them into caricatures.
Although entertaining, Jade's icons are wrought
with insight and each one offers a profound
contribution to the overall message of the
performance: We've come a long way in learning
to accept each other, and we have a long way to
doesn't overshadow his characters with a
perfected portrayal of them, nor does he
distract you with strained efforts to actually
perform impressively, instead he seems to honor
each icon with his casual and playful approach.
Bad wigs, adorable, fumbling costume changes,
random interactions with the audience, big
Broadway singing voices; these make the play
more like watching a magical child playing
dress-up, except with a complexity and wisdom
that is not lost in the fun. There are moments
you may be thoroughly surprised by your lack of
knowledge, (one woman stated that she had never
heard Oscar Wilde was gay!), other times you may
be moved to tears by the realization of what has
been contributed to the freedoms we take for
granted as a people. Gay, Straight or
in-between, adult, teen, parent or grandparent,
this performance is about PEOPLE, about our
freedom, and about accepting one another.
performance may be called "ICONS:
The Lesbian and
Gay History of the World", but it is not
about gay pride, politics, or power; it is about
humanity and the overlooked contributors to the
on-going struggles for absolute freedom for all
of us to be who we are, no matter what we are.
has been featured on Graham Norton, and has an
extensive and notorious history of writing,
acting, and singing, boasting a powerful resume
dotted with several awards and praises. He is
one of the most famous people you may have never
heard of… but you will!
is currently beginning his tour to promote the
sequel, "ICONS Vol. 2," wherein he will invite us
to explore Alexander the Great, Queen Christina
of Sweden, Susan B. Anthony, Billie Jean King,
Harvey Milk and 9/11 hero Mark Bingham.
New York Cool