When Mikey Torres decided to start a queer-focused, performance-based party, he didn’t want to just copy what he liked about Town’s holiday-Sunday party, WTF, or more recently the Black Cat’s Gay Bash.
”I wanted to take things a step further,” Torres says. ShockTart is also ”kind of like the next level of an open mike,” he explains. ”I would love for people to come to this and get inspired by it, and then they come back to the next ShockTart as one of the performers.” Whether starting a new band or a performance-art act, the ultimate goal of ShockTart ”is about inspiring and creating.” Torres will have a trunk of makeup and art supplies on hand, just in case people feel spontaneous, but the main performances will be selected in advance.
The party launches Saturday, July 20, at Phase 1, with a lineup that includes edgy drag performer Heidi Glüm and bold dance music DJ David Merrill. But the focus is chiefly on avant-garde acts you haven’t seen, at least not regularly, giving these new or underrated acts a platform for wider exposure. The headliner for the debut ShockTart is the local duo Pleasure Curses, which Torres initially heard at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
”They remind me a lot of New Order,” he says. ”It’s just two guys — one guy sings and the other guy plays all the instruments. It’s just very cool and very danceable, catchy synth-pop, but with sort-of a dark vocal style.”
Also on tap is the drag king group the Nancy Boys, women portraying and covering ’80s-era mournful Brit-pop — think the Cure, the Smiths and Joy Division.
Torres will also perform, but not in his well-known role as lead singer of glam-rock band Glitterlust. ”That was a conscious decision,” he says. ”It’s not about me, it’s not about Glitterlust. I really want the party to be about the kids that are coming to it.” Instead, Torres will be nearly unrecognizable, performing a ”boy-lesque performance art routine.”
”I’m really just doing this as an experiment to see if it’ll work,” concedes Torres, who intends to make ShockTart a monthly party and one that hops around from venue to venue. He hopes it finds appeal among a diverse group of people — all genders and orientations.
”I think that the type of person that would be into this,” he says, ”is the kind of person that’s sort of looking for something different, and is interested in a more cerebral, interactive experience.”
ShockTart Vol. 1 is Saturday, July 20, starting at 7:30 p.m. Phase 1, 525 8th St. SE. Tickets are $10. Call 202-544-6831 or visit phase1dc.com.