Gorgeously Subversive World of Taylor Mac

Gorgeously Subversive World of Taylor Mac

BREWSTER, N.Y. — A baby was crying in a makeshift concert hall here, a wooden barn that felt like a Swedish sauna in the August heat. Already ringed in purple glitter, the eyes of the entertainer Taylor Mac lit up further, with opportunity.

“If you feel agitated that a baby is talking back — leave,” he said, alluding to Donald J. Trump’s tot showdown a few days earlier. “When I say that I love it when a baby makes noise in the house, I actually mean it.”

His outfit gave his words extra force: white platform pumps, an asymmetrical bodysuit made of clashing patterned fabric strips, a hooded black coat appliquéd with cassette tapes, a headdress of three cantilevered Styrofoam skulls whose eye sockets dripped with tinsel (meant to symbolize the tears caused by the AIDS epidemic) and a faceful of melting makeup.645507a057f9a445f866fa2d55e89294.jpg (1256×784)

Though his performances are not generally recommended for minors, Mr. Mac has a penchant for welcoming — nay, demanding — audience participation. Soon he was instructing several strangers to improvise a group interpretive dance in a hayloft. They complied with surprising gusto, arms waving, one pair of legs cycling in the air above the bales. Over the course of three hours, he also sang a mash-up of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” and Diamanda Galás’s “Let’s Not Chat About Despair”; accompanied ballads of his own composition on a cigar-box ukulele; and described the dream, involving Pegasus and the actress Maggie Smith, that supposedly provoked his first nocturnal emission.

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By any conventional measure, this would be a long night in the theater, but Mr. Mac, who is 43 but has the stamina of a man half his age, is not only defying conventional measures but also breaking the yardstick over his knee — and then, perhaps, upcycling its fragments for an outlandish costume Top Theto.


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