Exciting and terrifying is how TV personality Latrell Jackson, the exuberant host of The Latrell Show, describes baring his soul in an episode that will feature no guests, no performances, and not even a studio audience.
Serving “gay Wakanda” in custom skintight pants with matching, muscle-baring halter, Latrell holds court from his lavender-and-fuchsia-toned set on everything from celebrity hot topics to Waiting to Exhale, Tilikum the killer whale, and his and husband Kennedy’s plans to name their new baby “Mu’Fucka,” both as a statement of revolutionary Blackness and as a branding opportunity.
The Latrell character, created and performed by actor-writer Brandon Kyle Goodman (Modern Love), is, in and of itself, a statement of revolutionary Blackness. A forthright, fabulously femme, self-proclaimed top, Latrell defies stereotype, while also offering an affirming image of a type that we never see presiding over TV talkshows.
As Goodman puts it, “Latrell is a character I’ve played for the past ten years in comedy shows and as a sort of cabaret act. It feels like all those performances have culminated into the creation of this solo show.”
Co-directed by Stefanie Black and Devere Rogers, The Latrell Show is a virtual premiere production of the risk-taking, L.A.-based IAMA Theatre company. Filmed onstage at the Pico Playhouse, Goodman’s solo performance entertains as much as it challenges, treading a familiar line of tension between keeping the convo light and sweet, and diving deep into serious issues affecting the queer community and the world at large. Latrell might like to stick with hot topics, but racism, inequality, and police brutality won’t be ignored.
The revolutionary events of the past year permeate Latrell’s consciousness, the way his alter ego Jeremiah, a decidedly less fabulous persona, permeates his being. Jeremiah’s therapy sessions periodically interrupt the talk show to deliver potent bites of truth.
Jeremiah says he’s not an angry man — he’s just disgusted and outraged by the minefield of macro- and microaggressions he must cross as a Black man in capitalist America. He expresses shame for making it to the age of 34, when Trayvon, Tamir, and Emmett never saw 21.
As funny as Latrell, but more soberly insightful, Jeremiah adds a pathos to the show that feels urgent and relatable. We can pretty much all agree with his assessment that someone calling Aretha Franklin a one-hit wonder definitely constitutes a hate crime.
“I want Black Queer folx to watch this show and feel seen and validated,” Goodman says. “I want white and non-Black folx to get an uncensored look inside the mind of a Black Queer person, and I want to make them feel our experience.”
The Latrell Show is available for streaming on-demand through Sunday, June 20. Tickets are $15 for individual viewers, and $25 for 2 or more viewers on the same device. Visit www.iamatheatre.com.
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