Cabaret performer Kyle Hustedt talks to Nightspots about his new review "Geisha and Gaysha," why gay men love cabaret and how peeing his pants changed his life.
NOTE: Due to reader response on the issue of a white performer using a traditional Japanese female artform, a response from the performer to these issues has been posted at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Kyle-Hustedt-on-Geisha-Gaysha/16875.html and a note from the editors at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/More-on-the-Gaysha-cover/16876.html .
Thanks very much, and we do welcome input on these issues. The Editor
NS: I see you have some operatic background. How does that play into cabaret performing?
A: Well, it is what drove me to it really. I came to Chicago to do my Master's in Opera performance at Northwestern in 2002 and fell in love with a little cabaret that I am sure many remember: Voltaire. It was watching the shows there that I knew this was where I was meant to be! I finished my degree in opera in 2004 and was ready for a new adventure. I was tired of the snooty attitudes and judgmental behaviors and I feel that my classical training made me a very versatile singer. I can go from a musical theatre sound to Mozart in the same song and it gives a fun dynamic to the shows.
NS: How did the idea for the new revue "Geisha Gaysha" come about?
A: I was working aboard the M.S. Norwegian Star playing the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Weber's 'Music of the Night' and my cabin mate and I had had a few too many cocktails in the crew bar. When we returned to the room we had gotten on a kick of hilarious stereotypes and I wrote them down. I was working in revues on the ship and I saw how well they really work with audiences. When I returned to Chicago I pulled out that notebook and mended all of these random thoughts into this new work!
NS: Why do you think cabaret has always been such a hit with the gays?
A: Are you kidding?! I have two words for you…Liza Minnelli! No, seriously it is an after dark world of fantasy where people can come and forget about life and trouble for a while! As we both know the gay community is riddled with drama and sometimes it is nice to be able to see all this drama in satire…it reminds us that it isn't that serious or bad. Where else can one go and get the 'hits' of Broadway, jazz and pop sewn together with a sassy story and flashy costumes? It is FABULOUS!
NS: Fabulous costumes! Who does 'em?
A: Byron Batista is a friend of mine and he worked as the costumer for the national tour of Hairspray as well as Bruce Vilanch's dresser. When I presented the idea to him he was so excited to tackle this challenge! He really gave the characters a hysterical personality. For instance: Suki's opening wig has a bunch of sushi in it and Sakura's has a take-out box spilled over with chow mien…the comedy! He is currently working for the L.A. Opera and we keep in touch…the man is a genius!
NS: Have you always been a performer? Tell me about an early-life experience when you knew that performing was your future.
A: I have been singing as long as I can remember. A high school history teacher never called me by name he just called me 'golden throat!' I recall a time I was singing at church, I was eight at the time, and I tried telling the pianist that I had to go to the bathroom. She insisted that it was just my nerves…I did in fact pee my pants in front of everyone that day! I ran home crying and I knew from then on that I was destined for great things!
See Kye Hustedt and renda Vushera in "Geisha and Gaysha" every Sunday night in December at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. 7 p.m., $10. cover.