Merlin’s People Like Me | ‘Dandy Darkly’ and the Gay Theater


>>>Well, one night, Cha
Cha had had enough, ladies and gentlemen. He
flounced to the fire pit throwing his hands together to
create captivating shadow creatures that scurried
across the cavern walls, while he regaled them all
with tales of heroic hyperbole!>>>People like me. People like
me. Merlin’s People Like Me!>>>Hi. This is Merlin. Welcome
to Merlin’s People Like Me! A web series devoted to the
greater New York LGBTQI Community. Come with me as we
meet up with Neil Arthur James- creator, writer, press agent,
designer and masterful magician of a new and refreshing icon of
Queer Theater, Dandy Darkly.>>>Hi, Merlin.>>>Hi, nice to meet you,
ah, Neil. >>>You can also call me
Dandy, if you want. The interesting parts of being
a performer with an alternate persona, you
know, it’s deciding when and where the names come
in. I think he’s a Drag King. Definitely, if I’m out in
Dandy drag, I prefer people to, of course, refer to
Dandy as Dandy Darkly. Always. He gets very fussy if people
refer to Dandy, as Neil. Yeah, I’m from Georgia
originally. Grew up in a very small rural home
town in Northwest Georgia. My grandfather was a
storyteller, and I loved it very very much. I have recordings of
me as a little boy, saying ghost stories
at five-years-old, barely able to speak.
But just possessed of that passion to tell stories.
For me, it was never the big glamorous divas or the
Supermodels. I was certainly was obsessed with Wonder
Woman. Who wasn’t in the 70s, you know. But for me, it was the
mean, the mean old queens, like Paul Lynde, Charles
Nelson Reilly and Liberace, all those bitchy old sissies.
I understood what they were talking about, you know. I
understood their little jabs, and I understood how
they were making everyone laugh, and, I kind of also felt such
sympathy for them because they all seemed like they
were just so miserable and there was no, like,
you know what I mean?>>>Yes. I do. >>>You look lost baby.
Little lisps, Paul Lynde, as he took center square
in hot new game show, Dead Hollywood Queers. Sit to
my left Cha Cha! You’ll make my bad side look
better. Eww! They were joined by Noel Coward,
Coco Chanel, Plato, James Baldwin, Lord Byron, Keith
Haring and Alan Turing. The quiz show hostess was
infamous Hollywood actress Joan Crawford. And Paul
seethed with envy when Turing won instantly. But
honestly, it didn’t take a hero codebreaker to
determine the answer to every query would be,
everybody! “No, wire hangers!”>>>The major themes of what I
write on are sex and death. How creation and destruction,
you know, the pleasure and pain, how the two of
them all kind of weave themselves together.
Particularly for gay men, particularly for me, I came
of sexual maturity at the height of the AIDS crisis.
So, I was a little closeted gay boy in North Georgia,
seeing…>>>And my husband, also.>>>Yeah, just seeing death
on the television screen, knowing that that’s
what awaited me. If, you know, if and when I came
out. And went to…>>>Or did anything!>>>Or did, yeah, or had
sex. I would be dead within a week! You know or
whatever. I guess around 2008, was when I started writing a
website about this embittered little exorcist who lived in
this sort of fantasy version of Manhattan, and it
was about Dandy. It was Dandy Darkly. As fate
would have it a friend of mine, who was a Vaudeville producer
and performer who really enjoyed my website, had a Halloween
cabaret show at Stonewall in 2010. He knew that I had
a background in performance and so suggested, “Why don’t
you come and perform one of your stories as Dandy,”
and it was a smash. >>>With a single gesture,
Cha Cha invented mythology. (giggle) He
also invented dinner theater. Yah, you win
some, you lose some.>>>As a kid, I was
obsessed with all sorts of different mythologies.>>>The whole story of
Persephone. >>>That’s a great myth. >>>It really is a
powerful myth. >>>It’s one of my
favorite myths. >>>Now. It was there in
the Underworld, amidst the fossils and the forlorn, where
Sephie truly found herself. The flower taken for granted
above was cherished below. Never abused. Never broken.>>>It speaks to cycles.
You know, like the cyclic nature of the seasons.
Spring awakening and the beauty of that, with
flowers and everything, and then just the mournful
loss of her daughter. Demeter casting the world
into frozen wasteland again when Hades takes her back
every year down beneath.>>>Hades doted on his
Queen like some exotic amazon orchid. Persephone
was a flower that required darkness to fully blossom.>>>It started off,
Dandy was very focused on the macabre and the occult…>>>Yes, I remember some
of that. >>>The supernatural.
Even the name Dandy Darkly, it’s kind of happy
and dark. Really, Dandy is truly a solo endeavor. I
mean, from the costumes, the makeup, the backdrop,
the press, the posters you see hanging on the walls,
everything Neil does himself.>>>The name of the press
that has issued the Dandy Darkly book…>>>Gaybird Press.>>>Is Gaybird Press. >>>Oh, you have a copy of
my book! >>>Yes.>>>This is Dandy Darkly’s
“Six Hundred and Sixty-Six Tales of Sex and Death”. >>>Is there a statement or
anything you would like to say?>>>Oh, I’ve said enough,
honestly. >>>Yes, I agree. >>>It’s really um… What
do you mean by that? No, I’m teasing. (Laugher) No,
thank you Merlin. No, honestly, thank you,
Merlin. I’m happy to come out and be a little, have
a little chit chat with you about Dandy Darkly. >>>Well, it’s been a delight
to sit here under the trees on a park bench somewhere in
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.>>>Isn’t it wonderful. >>>Yes. It is. Thank you
so much. >>>Mwah! >>>I appreciate this. >>>Your incredible physique.
I know. Sir eyes up here. Please. Oh, my goodness.>>>Merlin’s People Like
Me!

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