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Alaska Thunderfuck invites anti-LGBTQ members of Congress to D.C. show

Drag queen to perform at the Howard Theatre on Saturday

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Alaska Thunderfuck has invited anti-LGBTQ members of Congress to her show at the Howard Theatre in D.C. on Saturday. (Photo by Albert Sanchez)

Alaska Thunderfuck has invited anti-LGBTQ and anti-drag members of Congress to her show in D.C. this Saturday at the Howard Theatre.

“The world and the community of drag is a place where we welcome people, and I think for people to see that firsthand, it’s transformative,” Thunderfuck told the Washington Blade during a recent telephone interview.

Thunderfuck’s show will take place at the Howard Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m. 

She will be performing songs from her latest album, “Red 4 Filth.” Among the list of songs she will performing is one of Alaska’s favorites, “Ask Me,” which is ironically one of her least popular songs on Spotify and other streaming platforms. However, that doesn’t discourage Thunderfuck, as she prepares to give every song on tour a new purpose. 

The show has less of a concert style and more of a story-telling energy, according to Thunderfuck. Instead of standing around and changing costumes a few times, Thunderfuck’s show will be a sci-fi storytelling experience. 

Thunderfuck will prepare for her Howard Theatre show the way she prepares for every other show; she’ll get herself a smoothie — a near-addiction she wouldn’t dream of kicking before a big show — and a healthy serving of Chipotle to keep her energy up. She doesn’t have much time for anything else right now, with her life in full rehearsal mode. 

Thunderfuck said her show has been in the work for years.

She had to put it on hold with COVID-19 cases surging in due to the omicron variant, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I’m really glad it’s happening (now,) it’s turned into a really cool thing,” said Thunderfuck. “It’s kind of unlike anything I’ve done before.” 

Alaska Thunderfuck (Photo by Magnus Hastings)

While touring around the country, her stop in D.C. is more important than the others. 

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds for drag queen story time, which Fox News has categorized as “radical gender theory.” When asked about how she felt about this measure, Thunderfuck said “it’s ridiculous,” noting the GOP is supporting these proposals in order to get the “cheap” votes.

Making politics more about control than freedom is shifting the way marginalized communities are fighting back. Thunderfuck is nevertheless taking the high road, which is why she has invited members of Congress to attend her show. 

The Proud Boys and other groups have also targeted drag queens.

Violence broke out at a “drag queen story time” event in Eugene, Ore., on Oct. 23 when a group of LGBTQ rights supporters clashed with members of the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed his state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law earlier this year, in July filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant that hosted a drag brunch with children.

Proud Boys members in harassed D’Manda Martini and photographed her car during a “drag queen story hour” at a library in Kensington, Md. Thunderfuck acknowledged drag queens are under fire across the country, but the stressed she won’t waiver in the face of danger.

“They can try to disrupt me, but they won’t,” said Thunderfuck.

Thunderfuck also said she doesn’t let the reviews get her down-or get to her head, even though she is one of the drag world’s biggest stars. 

“I’m always like ‘reviews don’t matter,’ she said. “I don’t care what reviewers have to say I just care about the work.” 

Her shows get raving reviews already, with “BroadwayWorld” calling her an “undeniable and unequivocal star of Drag! The Musical.” 

Thunderfuck’s words of wisdom to anyone considering a career in drag are “if it’s something you want to try or something you’re into, by all means, go for it.” Thunderfuck herself doesn’t have an outlet for future drag superstars yet, but she’s always dreamed of opening her own summer camp-like experience for adults who are interested in drag. 

“There’s so much that you can’t really learn from a YouTube video or from watching drag race, there’s so much that’s like tactile and so much knowledge that can be passed on so I’ve always loved the idea of that.”

Until Thunderfuck opens her own drag summer camp, you’ll have to catch her show-stopping performance of her album at the Howard Theatre or follow along with the rest of her tour on her website, alaskathunderfuck.com/tour/

Alaska Thunderfuck (Photo by Magnus Hastings)
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Photos

PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride in the Park

Annual celebration featured vendors, performers

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(Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

Baltimore Pride in the Park was held at Druid Hill Park on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Linus Berggren)

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Photos

PHOTOS: “Portraits”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs at the Kennedy Center

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A scene from "Portraits," as performed in a technical rehearsal at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, June 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed “Portraits” at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Sophie Zmorrod embracing life on the road in ‘Kite Runner’

First national tour comes to Eisenhower Theater on June 25

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Sophie Zmorrod (Photo courtesy of Zmorrod)

‘The Kite Runner’
June 25 – 30
The Kennedy Center
$39-$149
Kennedy-center.org

Newly single, Sophie Zmorrod is enjoying life on the road in the first national tour of “The Kite Runner,” Matthew Spangler’s play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s gripping novel about damaged relationships and longed for redemption. 

“It’s a wonderful time for me,” says Zmorrod. “I’m past the breakup pain and feeling empowered to explore new cities. A lot of us in the cast are queer, so we figure out the scene wherever the show goes.” 

What’s more, the New York-based actor has fallen in love with the work. “I love how the play’s central character Amir is flawed. He is our antihero. He has faults. As a privileged boy in Kabul, he bears witness to his best friend’s assault and doesn’t intervene. He lives with that guilt for decades and gets that redemption in the end.” 

“He does what he can to right wrongs. For me who’s regretted things, and wished I could go back in time, it resonates. Watching someone forgive themselves and do the right thing is beautiful.” 

Via phone from Chicago (the tour’s stop before moving on to Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on June 25), Zmorrod, whose background is Lebanese, happily chats about sexuality, ethnicity, and acting. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Looking at your resume, I see you’ve been cast in roles traditionally played by men. And have you played queer characters? 

SOPHIE ZMORROD: Oh yes, both. Whether or not they’re written on the page as queer, they sometimes turn out that way. And that holds true for this show too.  

With “The Winter’s Tale” at Trinity Rep, I played Leontes — the king who banishes his wife — as a woman. So, in that production it was about two women and touched on the violence that women sometimes inflict on other women.

And there was Beadle Bamford in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” also at Trinity Rep; I played him as a woman who was masculine and wore a suit. It was a great opportunity to explore myself and gender expression. That was a really good experience. 

BLADE: Are you an actor who’s often be called in for queer roles? 

ZMORRAD: Not really. I’m what you might call straight passing. Sometimes I’ve had to advocate for my queerness. To be a part of something. 

Similarly with my ethnicity. I’m called in to audition for the white and Arab roles. It gets tricky because I’m not the exactly the white girl next door and I’m not exactly Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin” either. 

This is one of the reasons, I really want people to come see “The Kite Runner,” Audiences need to experience the reality of the wide diversity of Middle Eastern people on the stage. We’re all very different.

And not incidentally, from this 14-person cast, I’ve met some great people to add to those I know from the Middle Eastern affinity spaces and groups I’m connected to in New York.

BLADE: In “The Kite Runner” what parts do you play?

 ZMORRAD: Three characters. All women, I think. In the first act, I’m an elderly eccentric pomegranate seller in the Afghan market, waddling around, speaking in Dari [the lingua franca of Afghanistan]; and the second act, I’m young hip and sell records in a San Francisco market; and at the end, I’m a buttoned-down American immigration bureaucrat advising Amir about adoption.

BLADE:  Your training is impressive: BA cum laude in music from Columbia University, an MFA in acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, and you’re also accomplished in opera and playwrighting, to name a few things. Does “The Kite Runner” allow you to flex your many muscles? 

ZMORROD: Very much. Playing multiple roles is always fun for an actor – we like malleability. Also, there are instruments on stage. I like working with the singing bowl; it’s usually used in yoga as a soothing sound, but here we save it for the dramatic, uncomfortable moments. I also sing from offstage. 

We are creating the world of the play on a very minimal set. Oh, and we do kite flying, and I’m able to use the some of the languages I speak. So yeah, lots of challenges. It’s great. 

BLADE: It sounds like you’re in a good place both professionally and personally.

ZMORROD: It’s taken a long time to feel comfortable. My being gay was never something I led with. But I’m on the journey and excited to be where I am, and who I am. 

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