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Fake it like a man

Vamp/Revamp festival puts gender issues on stage

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Say the word "drag" and most folks probably think RuPaul, Mrs. Doubtfire or Tootsie -- men breaking out heels and wigs for a little La Cage Aux fun.

But what of the forgotten drag kings, those brave women who fake the facial hair and strap on some machismo to show the queens that gender-bending is not a one-way street?

Drag kings, butch women and female-to-male transsexuals take the stage as part of Vamp/Revamp, a collaboration between PushPush Theater and EstroFest Productions in observance of this month's gay and lesbian pride celebration.

"In Atlanta's theater scene in June, a lot of arts organizations do gay-themed work," says Ruth Anna Millman, artistic director for EstroFest, "but they rarely do lesbian-themed work." With Vamp/Revamp, EstroFest mounts two lesbian and transsexual-themed performances, while PushPush pulls out some fresh gay male material.

In Underground TRANSit, Emory grad Kt Kilborn relates her life experience as a boy-identified homecoming queen candidate and tackles the issue of gender conformity. Boy/girl rocker Angela Motter accompanies the narrative and also shows up in the second half of the double bill. Lip-synching drag kings, butch dykes and performance-art transmen hold court in KINGdom Come.

"In cities like New York, San Francisco, London or Chicago, there are strong drag king performance groups," Millman says. "In Atlanta, there have started to be performances in groups, but it's not a solid community yet." EstroFest is also sponsoring a June 22 workshop on drag and gender flux material, which includes a segment on how to become a drag king.

Not to forget the boys, Vamp/Revamp kicks off June 13 with The Lies of Handsome Men, a new play by PushPush's playwright in residence Rob Nixon. NOVA Performance Co. promises outsider art, cabaret, comedy from Lucky Yates and Bart Hansard, and an adult puppet show with its Medicine Show and Art Auction, June 14-15. Two staged readings -- Kiss It All Goodbye by Rob Nixon and Intelligence by Scot Augustson -- are also planned.

Underground TRANSit and KINGdom Come will be performed June 20-23 at 8 p.m. as part of Vamp/Revamp, taking place June 13-24 at PushPush Theater, 1123 Zonolite Rd. $10, some events free. 404-892-7876. www.pushpushtheater.com.

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