Do ask, do tell, in "Closet Cases"
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, August 29, 2011
courtesy William Mullin - Performers (from left) Frank DeCaro, Lizz Furtado, William Mullin, lucky audience winner, Robin Cloud, and Steven Polito (Hedda Lettuce) in the 2010 season of 'Closet Cases.'
Coming out of the closet isn’t just for gay people anymore.
Or, at least, coming-out stories aren’t!
That’s what I learned when talking with William Mullin, comedian and producer of the popular Closet Cases, now back for a second season at the Vixen in Provincetown.
“One of our performers is a straight woman who talks about her reaction when her father came out to her,” says Mullin. “It’s a really interesting take on the subject.”
Closet Cases presents an ever-changing cast of characters, with Mullin himself as anchor. Every night, two lesbians and two gay men (and a straight person or two), all of them artists, performers, comedians, or writers, share their coming-out stories to an audience that howls with laughter in response.
They say time heals even the most difficult memory. As the show proves, these performers have not only healed, they’ve been able to find the humor in even the most painful of situations.
Get your gay-dar on!
One Easter Sunday, William Mullin went to visit his mother, who’d already had a head start on the chain-smoking and the boxed wine by the time he arrived. She wanted to know about his roommates: were the three young “bachelors” attracting lots of girls?
Mullin reached quickly for the wine. “They’re gay, Mom,” he said. And eventually admitted that he, too, was gay.
More wine. “You hear that, Frisbee?” his mother addressed the dog through drags on her cigarette. “Your brother’s gay!”
There’s gay trivia (slanted somewhat toward men) between each performer’s story, and Mullin even invites a brave audience member to come up on stage and be interviewed about his or her own coming-out.
Mullin has the skills to draw out even the most reticent individual (for a chance to win free tickets and gift cards at Provincetown shops), keeping it light, keeping the audience interested, and keeping the laughs going.
Coming out of the closet
The mostly youthful audience on opening night was very appreciative of both the poignancy and the humor in the stories. This is one of the few shows in town that caters to neither a gay male nor a lesbian crowd; instead, it’s meant to integrate the two. Somewhat to my surprise, the crowd included a full complement of straight couples that laughed at the stories as loudly as anyone else.
Closet Cases seems to instill a sense of respect in the audience, a welcome change from a drag show I recently attended, where I was appalled by some frankly misogynist comments from admittedly drunken audience members.
That wasn’t the case here: everyone seemed to feel that they were “in it” with the performers, and even when an awkward audience member went up on stage, there was nothing but encouragement from the room.
This is a great opportunity to see a deeper side of Provincetown, beyond the wild abandon of Carnival and the glitz of the drag shows. Here, performers and ordinary people tell stories that make you feel, at the end of the night, like you know a part of them that no one else does. And that’s a very special memory to take with you as you leave.
If you go...
Shows nightly from August 31 to September 4 at 9 PM
Vixen Night Club
336 Commercial St # 7
Provincetown, MA 02657-2335
Note: the last Closet Cases show is also the Vixen’s last show, as the nightclub is closing.