Slam, bam, thank you, man!” would be an appropriate subtitle for this impassioned, in-your-face treatise on gay life by David Drake. The “kiss” in the title is a euphemism for the kindling of a fire under Drake’s political consciousness that was sparked when he viewed Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart.” But the impact of Drake’s words and performance go far beyond a “kiss” they are more of a wallop into awareness elevation.
In seven vignettes, Drake shares — no, exposes — his scathing introspect on the homosexual lifestyle. His unabashed honesty and clarity of statement are everything a one-man show should be — piercingly to the point.
On June 27, 1969, angry gay customers of a Greenwich Village bar fought with police and brought the issue of gay civil rights into the fore with the Stonewall riots — that same day David Drake turned 6. It is this event with which Drake chooses to associate the beginning of his formative years. Ten years later, after attending “A Chorus Line,” Drake identifies with the gay dancer Paul’s story and begins his self-acceptance.
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Particularly outstanding are Drake’s unglossed looks at aspects of the gay lifestyle: the gym, the bars and the personal ads. At the gym he illustrates the narcissism that compels the self-obsessed to external primping as a substitute for internal growth. The bar is a collage of desperately sensual sights, sounds and smells of escapists on the prowl for sex.
Nearing the end of the show, with tangible poignancy, Drake demands the audience share his sense of loss and frustration over friends who have died of AIDS. Lifting the prevailing mood, Drake ends with a view of what life will be like in 2000, when there will be a Queer Culture Wing at the Smithsonian. Siskel and Ebert will be “outed,” and Tom Cruise will remake “The Way We Were” with Jason Gould.
Few performers possess the soul, charisma or the passion of David Drake. No matter how close he gets to the edge in his fervor, under Chuck Brown’s fine-tuned direction Drake exerts precision and control. This is theater par excellence, not to be missed.