Virtual Drag Race With Mackenzie
It’s become something of a Provincetown tradition: RuPaul’s Drag Race screened live on a big TV at Pilgrim House or the Crown & Anchor Cabaret, while drag stars provide barbed commentary in person.
But since the coronavirus has chased all social activities into cyberspace, so it goes with Drag Race. Now, every Friday at 8 p.m., local drag star Mackenzie hosts a virtual watch party via Pilgrim House’s Facebook page. Mackenzie provides live banter, while co-host Austin Tyler fills the comments section with his own comedic shtick. Viewers can watch the show on their TVs while simultaneously playing the live-stream on a laptop or smart phone.
“It’s a digitally immersive version of a drag host and her standup comic co-host in your living room,” Tyler says.
Though Mackenzie hosts from her own home, her looks are no less impressive. One week she rocked an all-orange number to rival the Lorax, the next, a black-and-white look that was haute couture Cruella de Vil.
For Mackenzie, performing online is a whole different animal. “I am used to that interactive back and forth with the audience, but in this case, I just have to trust that people are still rooting me on and having fun,” she says.
Tyler feels that drag queens are having a heyday during the crisis, because “they are a complete distraction from what is going on in the world.”
Mackenzie agrees. “We are putting on makeup and hair and encouraging positivity and laughter and light,” she says. “We want to be a beacon of hope and happiness and love and joy and acceptance and tolerance, things that might be currently lacking in the world.” —Saskia Maxwell Keller
Provincetown Galleries Convene on Coronavirus
PROVINCETOWN — Twenty-seven gallery owners and directors met on Zoom on May 1 to discuss the upcoming summer season. Jill Stauffer, executive director of the Provincetown Commons, along with Liz Carney of Four Eleven Gallery, Stewart Clifford of Stewart Clifford Gallery, Marian Peck of Adam Peck Gallery, Scot Presley and Jill Rothenberg-Simmons of On Center Gallery, and Marla Rice of Rice Polak Gallery started the group to help galleries band together in the face of the pandemic. Stauffer told the Independent that it seemed like a natural thing to do, considering that the Commons’s mission is to “buoy the arts community as well as support the local economy.”
During the virtual meeting, which lasted an hour, gallerists shared their concerns about reopening. Some of the ideas discussed included safety protocols; buying masks, gloves, or signage in bulk; and creating a shared website listing galleries and hours of operation.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Stauffer said. “We don’t know what the guidelines are going to be or the capacity. However, one upside is that most of the galleries here are small, and usually only have two or three people in them at one time.”
The group will meet again this Friday and has started a private Facebook group called P’town Gallery Stroll. While open to any Provincetown gallery, the group is not yet open to the public. Stauffer says a survey to hear the views of gallery-goers is currently in the works. —Saskia Maxwell Keller
Empty Schools Inspire a Children’s Book
Thomas Dirsa is a 1959 graduate of Provincetown High School whose career as a teacher took him to Alberta, Canada, where he raised a family, eventually became a principal, and retired in 2005. Now he writes children’s books and history textbooks and, since the coronavirus caused schools to shut down throughout the U.S. and Canada, a picture paperback called The School With No Students, put out by Lulu Publishing and available at lulu.com for $11.38 (U.S.).
“I was fortunate enough to get the cooperation of a local school and take photos of the empty hallways, classrooms, gym, lunchroom, and playground,” Dirsa says via email. “The book starts off with the question ‘Where are the students?’ We meet Ms. McNiff, who explains where they are and when they will return.”
Ms. McNiff, as it turns out, is the name of Dirsa’s fourth-grade teacher when he was a student at Provincetown’s Central School in the ’50s. He says that The School With No Students will soon be available on Amazon, and, he hopes, at Provincetown bookstores and the library, as some of his other books have been. —Howard Karren
Jay Critchley’s 36 Solar Lights
“I’ve had eight gigs canceled in the last couple of months,” Provincetown performance-installation artist Jay Critchley tells the Independent. Among them were his ambitious plans to fill the V.F.W. hall with artifacts and collective memories before the town razed it, an exhibit at the Fine Arts Work Center, and his May show, “The Moo Moo World,” at AMP Gallery.
Undeterred, Critchley has created a piece of street art called, straightforwardly, 36 Solar Lights, which he’s been planting around town and photographing. “It’s just the beginning,” he says. —Howard Karren