Audiences “may not forgive seeing us,” Ben Schatz says. “But they won’t forget.”
Schatz is a founding member and the self-described “grand poobah” of The Kinsey Sicks, a dragapella barbershop quartet that’s bringing its irreverent Christmas revue “Oy Vey in a Manger” to Theater J.
In “Oy Vey,” The Kinsey Sicks have been living in the Bethlehem spot of Jesus’ birth for “about 2016 years,” Schatz says. Now the property is being foreclosed upon, so the quartet needs to sell the manger. “[The show] involves reminiscences of the day and has unforgettable and unforgiveable parodies of classic holiday songs, both for Christmas and Hanukkah, and some original songs.” (“God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians” and “I’m Dreaming of a Vanna White Christmas” are among them.)
The Kinsey Sicks came to be in 1993, when Schatz needed a break. “I was working as an executive director of a national gay health organization. I was the first attorney working full time on AIDS discrimination issues, and this was in the midst of the horrors of the AIDS epidemic,” he says. “I was on TV a lot and playing the earnest, respectful homosexual, but deep down I knew I was a bad girl.”
That bad girl was Rachel, and she and her friends in the troupe were unleashed one late night after some revelry following a Bette Midler concert. Since then, Schatz and the gang have performed all across the country (Winnie, Trixie and Trampolina round out the current lineup). Even with all of that experience, performing in D.C. post-election — especially post-this-election — is something entirely new.
“I had to radically rewrite [the show],” Schatz says. “Satire involves exaggerating a kernel of truth. How do you exaggerate what’s happening now? But I think, like Donald Trump, we have sunk to the occasion.”
Schatz says the group attracts a diverse fan base — people who like a cappella music, people who like drag and people who like progressive, subversive humor. That said, all are welcome — and some people are even encouraged to see the show.
“I very much doubt Mike Pence will attend,” Schatz says. “But I’ll pay him if he sits through the whole thing.”
Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW; Tue. through Dec. 28, $17-$47.
More D.C. holiday activities