Of late, a possibly former preacher named Charles Kripp has been making a fuss as Shirley Q. Liquor
, an obese black woman reputedly "the mother of 19 chilluns."
I first caught word of this performer's act in the Hartford Advocate, which reported that people found it offensive, even racist, for a white man to go black face and play the role of a black welfare mother.
My gut reaction was to offer critical invectives, yet at the same time I wondered if I wasn't falling into the trap of casting aspersions and calling for CD-burnings of someone whom I'd never even listened to before.
So I went Shirley Q Liquor's website and took the time to hear out [if you would
] Ms. Liquor's comedic rants.
I also googled both Shirley and Charley Kripp and got an odd range of material. Not surprising, there were many sites or articles, that spoke of boycotting Ms. Liquor/Kripp's performances. Racist, sexist, "...too much like a latter day minstrel show
..." some of his critics say.
And, had I taken only one of his website entries to listen to, I might very well have thought the same.
Then I noticed RuPaul, another famous drag performer, coming to Shirley's defense. This gives me pause. But the real head truner was the curiously sensitive little monologue about homosexicals
, making comparisons to American Blacks "not having any clear identity
" to go by, and I have begun to think about Ms. Liquor in a different light.
From that point of view, I began to think of all the times that comedian Eddie Murphy has gotten away by portraying so many fat black big- breasted mammas that, and have begun to wonder how much serious thought might actualy going on to produce the act. Some counterintuitive stuff, whereby one mocks the stereotype only to try to get others to recognize the falseness of the stereotype itself. Is there anybody out there who can recall an outcry of protests about Mr. Murphy and his constantly negatively depicting African American women? I don't know of any.
I began to recall the stack of 45 rpm records that my father had of Redd Foxx. These were filled with self-depreciating humor that was used as a foil to come across with some gallows humor and some sly social comment. But Foxx was more genius and original and, frankly, underground. I don't get that from Kripp's few online featurettes.
So I don't know what to think.
I dunno. Maybe I'll have to clandestinely go to a performance in order to watch and learn more. Until then, I suppose my approach to assessment would, by necessitiy, be one of the men behind the gun. Just to find out and, as Ms. Liquor says, "To each they's own. I learned that from the Bible. Either that or the Enquirer.
UPDATE: The owner of Hartford's gay club Chez Est announced yesterday that the club was cancelling Shirley Q. Liquor's engagement.
Labels: comedians, drag queens, race-bating, stereotypes