Photo by Richard Wood of kapchur.us photography
In her most recent theater project, San Francisco drag icon Peaches Christ brought a new show to Seattle last week. “9 to 5 Inches ”— based on the Bechdel Test champion film “9 to 5” — was true to the movie’s theme of sisterhood, empowerment, and dismantling a repressive capitalistic patriarchy from the inside out.
But unlike the film version, “9 to 5 Inches” was always going to be a show by and about drag queens, henny.
Heklina starred in Lily Tomlin’s original role as the senior office employee who had been passed over for promotions while her mediocre male (and non-drag) trainees were pulled up the corporate ladder. Peaches herself played the fresh-faced newbie to the office, originally portrayed by Jane Fonda. And Drag Race alum Pandora Boxx gave us her best Dolly Parton as the busty secretary who faced sexual harassment on the regular.
Also from Drag Race stardom, BenDeLaCreme graced the stage as the “sellout” employee at the office who betrayed her fellow queens for the sake of her own ambitions, while Major Scales stepped in as a last-minute substitute for the role of the chauvinistic boss.
The set was 80s-inspired office deco, the costumes were knock-off-thrift-yet-spot-on-camp, and the musical numbers were highly entertaining — especially Heklina’s lip sync as Snow White, performing to Grimes’ “Kill vs. Maim” while surrounded by gyrating woodland creature furries, spiking her employer’s coffee with rat poison. (PS, who hasn’t had this exact fantasy?)
While “9 to 5” was all about sisters doing it for themselves and proving they can work as hard as any man, “9 to 5 Inches” served shady hat-tips to the corporate empire that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. Lines like “Just say a catch phrase over and over until you’re famous” combined with Fraya Love’s excellent parody of Cynthia Lee Fontaine (and her cucu) made it crystal clear that these drag professionals are disillusioned with the way a formulaic reality television can reduce a queer art form to a monetized bachelorette party entertainment industry.
As with any Peaches Christ show, the real gold was in the unplanned moments that the actors improvised before jumping back into the smart, topical, wittily scripted story. Flubs and late entrances made the entire night one big inside joke, including references to meth-induced “sewer pickles.” You’re welcome.
“9 to 5 Inches” was a refreshing celebration of local talent and queens who have irreverently ventured off-road to pave their own paths for their careers. It was a real treat to see Seattle favorites like Fraya Love, who showed her real talent as an actress, and Sparkle Leigh, who stole the show with her bearded drag rendition of the office drunk.
But perhaps most impressive was Major Scales himself: an exceptional pianist who partners with Jinkx Monsoon for The Vaudevillians. Major came in at the last-minute to replace one of the main actors, learned the lines and choreography in a handful of hours, and absolutely nailed the part — especially the bit when he’s strung up in leather handcuffs and gagged with a 9-inch… scarf.
The show was a huge success, the audience couldn’t get enough, and the performers all delivered hilarious moments that reinforce the fact that there is a drag career to be celebrated beyond reality TV!
Peaches Christ will bring another fan favorite to Seattle: a drag rendition of Hocus Pocus starring Peaches herself, Jinkx Monsoon, and Ginger Minj! Stay tuned for ticket sales and show dates.