American Idol Meets the Gong Show On Acid at "Come As You Are: Houston"

Houston may finally be celebrating the perfect gay marriage. Next month, DiverseWorks Art Space will be presenting Come As You Are: HOUSTON! - a showcase of original work that couples local performance art with explorations of queer sex.

DiverseWorks performing arts curator Sixto Wagan knew that he wanted to spotlight a multi-gendered and multi-generational group of artists with performances representative of the diverse queer community in Houston. With these goals in mind, curators Chuck Jackson, Grayson Jacobs and Blake Smith selected artists from an open call for short, individual pieces about queer sex. Performers range from the young Gendermyn, who inject comedy and acrobatics into their act about sex inside the genderqueer community, to the pre-AIDS generation theater artist Joe Watts, presenting a monologue about a transsexual woman.

Smith says that the show "provides a unique opportunity for the Houston queer community and its allies to celebrate and investigate queer sex, a topic that is often pushed aside, but its celebration can be so empowering."

It's also an opportunity for Houston to be a part of the Come As You Are national project, which honors the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and supports queer artists around the nation.

Contributing artist Michael Harren says he's excited to be a part of the project especially because it brings together the "tight knit artistic community in Houston."

Harren's work is essentially Brahms on keyboard accompanied by stories of how sexual experience changes over time. "My piece was inspired by entering my 40s as a perpetually single person and trying to do so with some semblance of grace and hope.... to find a way to accept where I am in my life and find the gifts that come with each moment."

Co-curator Chuck Jackson says that his hope for the project is to generate new ideas for how to take queer performance in unexpected, risky, and hilarious directions. "In order to spotlight the often-times stunning queer performance work being done in a city that one might assume has no alternative queer cultures or performance art cultures to speak of, CAYA Houston is perfect for this city because it allows these cultures to come together at the same time."

"Think American Idol meets the Gong Show on acid," says Jackson. We really had no idea what to expect from the open call and Houston came out and showed us some exceptional work."

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