By Seth Reines, February 2018 Issue

Kinky Boots is back! Last seen at ASU Gammage in 2014, the Tony Award-winning musical will take the stage at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre from Feb. 16 to 18.

Inspired by a true story (and the 2005 British film by the same name), Kinky Boots is the story of Charlie Price, a young shoe factory owner who is struggling to save his late father’s business. Enter Lola, a fabulous drag queen in need of sturdy stilettos. Charlie and Lola form a partnership that ultimately saves the business and teaches audiences the messages of tolerance and acceptance.

Echo caught up with the cast of Kinky Boots ahead of the Phoenix tour dates to find out what this show means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

Daniel Joseph Baker

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, Kinky Boots affected me deeply when I first saw it. To see an unabashed portrayal of acceptance be received the way it was by a large audience of all types of people made me so happy. I was living in LA … when I saw Kinky Boots for the first time and it actually inspired my move into musical theatre. I knew that I could be myself in this show and from that moment on I knew wanted to be a part of it one day.”

 

Eric Stanton Betts

“I believe what’s glorious about this show is that, while there is an underlying perception of ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ themes, it is never ever explicitly talked about or even said out loud. Beyond that, you have every type of person on stage that every audience member can relate to. They can see a factory worker’s heart and mind change simultaneously as their own changes over the course of the story.”

 

 

Tyler Jent

“Performing as a drag queen in this show has taught me a lot about self-love. Growing up gay and closeted was really challenging, especially during puberty. Once boys began to experience testosterone, they used their masculinity as a weapon. Their own insecurities brought them to attack anyone who was not as ‘masculine’ as everyone else. This led me to really suppress my natural femininity that I believe all heterosexual and LGBTQ+ people experience. Touring around the country as a woman has allowed me to embrace my feminine beauty. When I leave the show, I feel a balance of my femininity and masculinity. I feel whole. I feel beautiful.”

 

Andrew Malone

“In October, I had the honor of stepping into the stunning heels of ‘La-La-Lola!’ And because of my excitement, I’ve posted all over social media of me in makeup, dresses, and fabulous wigs; in full beat, honey! Well, somehow the pictures got around to a very respected cousin who strictly follows the religious traditions in my family. He texted (in short), ‘God is not pleased.’

... being a person who proudly practices my family traditions and spirituality, [I] was at a crossroads of emotions; I could either be the victim or the victor. I confidently responded (in short), ‘Thank you for your concern. I love you.’ Lola, these characters, this story ... has taught me to proudly stand up for what I believe in, and become the change I want to see.

My cousin noticed that I’m not backing down – my heels are waaaay too high, and he sweetly responded, ‘I love you, too.’ It all begins from within."

 

Madison Pugh

"I find that Kinky Boots provides a great way to open a dialogue about a lot of LGBTQ issues. Early on in the tour, there was a group of four teenagers at the stage door and I got to speak to them for a moment. They confessed to me that they were all in the LGBTQ community and had pooled their money together to buy tickets to the show. They began to talk animatedly about how they wanted to recreate Lola’s red finale dress – a couple of them could sew.

Then, one of the group said that she wanted to wear Charlie’s finale outfit to her homecoming dance. I laughed and said that her school might not be willing to let someone wear boxers and thigh high boots for homecoming. She said her school would probably have a harder time reconciling a girl wearing a blazer.

That one moment chilled me and made me realize that though we’ve come a long way with LGBTQ rights, there is still so much left to do and to discover. I wouldn’t have been able to talk to these teenagers about this issue if it weren’t for Kinky Boots."

 

Ernest Terrelle Williams

"I am now 22 years old and came out of the closet as gay when I was 16. Even though I began my journey as an out gay man a few years ago, I never saw myself in heels or in makeup or a wig, and that’s because my upbringing never allowed me to venture outside of the toxic masculinity that I was brought up on. It just feels natural doing what I’m doing in this show. It’s like the last puzzle piece putting together who I am and how I want to live MY life."

 

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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