Metro Weekly

Gender-Juggling

Jeffrey Johnson fuels his passions

Special Agent Galactica is every woman.

”She’s a rock chick. She is a ’50s dynamo singer. She’s pop. She is whatever is necessary,” says Jeffrey Johnson, the man beneath the make-up and pink wig, and artistic director of Ganymede Arts.

In addition to making sure he’s fine-tuned Galactica’s fluid personality, dance steps and lip syncs for her upcoming performance in Ganymede Art’s Second Annual GLBT Fall Arts Festival, Johnson is also responsible for organizing the entire event, running Sept. 26 to Oct. 5 at the Church Street Theatre.

Naturally, performing is more fun than organizing.

”The art part of it is something that I thrive on — it’s a passion,” Johnson says. ”I would much rather have my headphones on, kicking back and visualizing light cues, than having to balance the checkbook. But it has to happen.”

With the help of five board members and seven volunteers, Johnson, who works part-time managing Go Mama Go!, has worked hard to raise the bar of Ganymede’s annual festival.

”Last year was our first one, the first thing coming out of us as Ganymede arts. We didn’t know what to expect,” he says, adding that the inaugural festival featuring Karen Black successfully sold out five nights. ”This year we decided to follow the same formula but to up it a little bit. Instead of bringing in one celebrity, bring two: one to open and one to close.”

This year’s opening headliner is legendary drag queen Holly Woodlawn.

”What I like to do is not get the usual artists that everyone expects to see,” Johnson says. ”There’s an educational…and historical value that’s important, especially for the younger audiences, to realize why they can walk down the street hand in hand today.

”That’s the main reason why I’m bringing in Holly Woodlawn. She was one of the very first people who decided, ‘You know what, I’m much more comfortable being a woman than I am being a man, and I’ll be damned if anybody is going to tell me to live my life differently.’ And she did it.”

Closing night is given over to ”gender-bending performance artist” Justin Bond, a Tony Award nominee and one half of the duo Kiki and Herb, in the D.C. debut of his critically acclaimed one-man show.

”Justin is an amazing performer,” says Johnson. ”[As] much as you have to cater to the educational, historical aspect, you’ve also got to cater to what’s hot, and up and coming.”

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