Taylor Mac On Manscaping, Kellyanne Conway, and Baby Shark

Photo DKC O&M (O&M). Art by Jack Vhay.

Taylor Mac isn’t one to shy away from the eccentric. The playwright by day, drag queen by night who prefers the gender pronouns “judy” (as in Judy Garland, with a lower-case j), also prefers Titus Andronicus—that frowned-upon Shakespeare drama whose levels of bloodshed rival that of Game of Thrones—to the more hegemonic (and heteronormative) Romeo and Juliet. Mac’s Broadway play, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, which was nominated for 7 Tony Awards, is a bit of the oddball among the family dramas, literary adaptations, and glitzy musicals that populated this year’s shortlist. An imagined follow-up to the Bard’s that involves a lot more flatulence and (overt) phallic imagery, the comedy is set among a pile of male corpses, with subtext quite pointedly targeted at the Trump administration.

“I sort of feel like we’re living in a perpetual sequel to Titus Andronicus, with mass shootings and immoral leadership and all this sensationalized abuse of women as our entertainment,” Mac says. “It just feels like we have to take a step back from that. I thought, ‘Let’s start with a horror and instead of getting excited by it, see if we can transform it into something that is more useful to us. Can we use our ingenuity to invent a new system, new ways of expressing ourselves, instead of the same old ones that we have been using since The Metamorphosis?'”

The inimitable Mac gave Interview some gut reactions to 9 topics chosen at semi-random—from safe spaces to oat milk to that other Shakespeare play about two-star crossed lovers. (“Where’s the butt sex?”)



“I’ve been part of this community of all these hair activists. Everyone’s like, ‘Hair, hair, hair. Don’t buzz, don’t shave, don’t groom.’ And I just kind of think, you know, monkeys groom themselves. All animals groom themselves. Yes, I get it. The culture has tried to give us shame about body hair, and I get it, let’s embrace our body hair. And at the same time, can we please groom? I am so pro-grooming. I’m for making yourself look like whatever it takes for you to enjoy your life, as long as it doesn’t destroy the planet.”



“I just feel sad about her. I feel sad that something could be created that way, and have that much ambition in them that they’re willing to destroy things in order to achieve it. Makes me want to cry. I don’t know her eating habits, but that eating disorder aesthetic makes me sad. Her whole situation makes me sad. And Sarah Sanders too—she’s a blatant liar. When they didn’t serve her, I thought, ‘Good.’ She should be shamed publicly. Look, I make fiction for a living, but she’s not supposed to be a liar. Of course, she thinks she is and that she’s doing her job well. It’s appalling. I don’t think any of them should ever be served food by any person. They should have to make their own food. And they should have to grow their own food too, because they don’t believe in the people that are working to grow the food either. So screw those people.



“I love baby sharks. I love dichotomy. Put something evil and something cute, and then see that evil in the cuteness and the cuteness in the evil. I like it when people squish things that don’t seem like they should go together, and that baby shark onesie [featured in Gary] is hysterical to me. Who knew you could just buy a shark onesie for a baby? I guess thousands of people knew that.”



“I’d rather they give their employees benefits. I mean, sure, great. Let’s work on all of the things that are bad. But I’d much rather people be able to pay their bills than somebody get the right pronoun. I don’t think we have to choose between the two, but if I’m prioritizing, I would prioritize that people can pay their bills. I don’t like it when people pretend to be progressive and they use queer rights as the way to that. I find that a little suspect.”



“Not into it. The concept of the safe space is for hermits. I don’t believe in safe space. I believe in reasonable space. I don’t think your life should be threatened, but the concept that you should be able to go to a place where you don’t have to be challenged is ridiculous, and slightly annoying to me. People try to say my theater is safe space. I’m like, ‘No, it’s not.’ You might get an STI at one of my shows. It’s not safe.”



“I like passages of Romeo and Juliet, but I’m not sure I’m a big fan of the play as a whole. I think it’s partially just because I don’t like young people. I didn’t really like children when I was a child, so why should I like them now? I relate to young love, to that feeling of being swept up and passionate, and I know that Romeo and Juliet has more to it than that, but it’s not one that I’ve ever been drawn to. I think it’s all just too straight for me. It’s just, like, the straightest play. You’re like, ‘Oh, Jesus. Can somebody, can …’ Who’s the one that has the Queen Mab speech? Like, ‘Could he please have sex with another man?’ Where’s the butt sex?”



“Yvie is a very special queen. I think Yvie has that point of view and is refreshing. I like a queen who makes artistic choices. The choice isn’t just to make you want to applaud her. That’s exciting—when an artist, especially a drag artist, isn’t just trying to get applause or pump up your adrenaline. That being said, I like the queens who know how to give me a little button on the end of a dance move. I kind of like them all.”



“I know people make fun of it, but I am into it! I love any milk that’s not milk. I think it tastes better than milk. It doesn’t make me sick. I was sick my entire childhood. I had a sore throat and bad digestion, and then I saw a nutritionist and I realized it was dairy the entire time. Obviously we can survive, but I’m not sure it’s the best thing for us to be drinking milk.”



“I like Pete Buttigieg! I’m gay. This is how I decide who I’m going to vote for: Would they have a photo op with me? Seriously. Because a lot of politicians would not have their picture taken with me when I’m dressed up in my drag. Nancy Pelosi did. I don’t know whether or not Pete Buttigieg would because he might be protecting himself from too queer of an aesthetic. So that’s to be decided whether or not I fully support him, but so far, I think he’s smart and interesting. Does he have all of my politics? No, but we live in a pluralist society, and I don’t expect perfection from the leaders. I expect somebody who knows how to work with lots of different kinds of people and who has a platform progressive enough that I can get behind it. But, ultimately, if they won’t take a photo with me, that tells me something about their character and their agenda. And I got to say no to somebody who wouldn’t pose in a picture with Yvie Oddly or some other crazy queen. You know what I mean?”