Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women Drag Show Entertains and Enlightens San Francisco Audiences This Month

mudd_cover

Dressing in drag is old hat in the theater world. Back in the olden days when women were not allowed to be professional actors it was a utilitarian device. In modern times it’s often used for comedic effect. For me, however, drag is best when it doesn’t just entertain, but makes us reexamine the traditional roles of men and women. A new Star Trek drag show, now playing this month at the Oasis Bar in San Francisco, does just that.

01 full crew

Directed by D’Arcy Drollinger and Laurie Bushman and starring Leigh Crow, the world’s first female William Shatner impersonator, Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women manages to be a hilarious and brilliant parody by merely recreating the episode line-by-line and scene-for-scene. This isn’t some loose send up by people who only have a vague idea of the show. This is the full, one hour episode read verbatim by real, longtime fans. Even Kirk’s chair is recreated to a level of detail that would impress the likes of Adam Savage.

06 sulu
“Did you get the crew off?”

07 mccoy drinks
“You mean are they gender swapping alien illusions? That sort of thing?”

The original Star Trek, despite its progressive reputation, had its share of cringe-worthy backwards moments. Mudd’s Women, the “Just Say No” after school special where women are sold to Old West style prospectors, contains plenty of them. That’s why gender swapping the actors in this particular episode seems so richly deserved.

One thing that’s immediately clear is that the mostly unaltered space-hooker costumes and beehive hairdos, designed by William Theiss and recreated by Amie Sarazan, look much more natural on drag queens than they did on the actresses who originally wore them. Similarly, moments of machismo like Kirk stealing himself against the temptations of Eve (get it?!!?) or Childress and his men fighting over who will dance with whom are so much more fun in the hands of skilled female comedians. The entire crew is well represented, from Kirk’s bombastic swagger to McCoy’s gravelly charm to Harry Mudd’s on-again, off-again brogue. Having three towering men in dresses as the objects of the crew’s desire also adds an interesting twist on the “male gaze” trope.

02 mudds women
Leo Walsh and his crew of lovelies

04 venus runs out.png
The Venus drug wears off

It’s true some of Mudd’s Women was always supposed to be played for laughs, but it’s the bits that sport the grim seriousness of the early first season that allow the audience to laugh hardest, especially when they’re punctuated by innuendos not intended in the original script. This includes the muddled and confusing moral that skin-deep beauty is ok as long as it’s not induced by drugs.

05 you want this_
“You don’t want wives, you want this!”

All in all, Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women makes me glad, for the first time, that this episode exists. If you’re in the Bay Area or will be visiting this month it will be playing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in October. Tickets range from $25 for general admission to $200 for a four person front row table with a bottle of champagne included. And be sure to look out for their next production, Mirror, Mirror, coming in January, 2016.

Mark Farinas is the author and illustrator of Star Trek: The Webcomic.

 


 

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Keep posting these fascinating articles TrekMovie, while Trek Core beats you to the punch every single time on new, RELEVANT articles.

Apparently, by the 23rd Century, we’ve finally accepted that both (all?) genders have an equal right to camp out at the local donut shoppe.

“Similarly, moments of machismo like Kirk stealing himself against the temptations of Eve”

That should be “steeling”. Kirk didn’t steal anything, least of all himself.

This is really cool, thanks for posting! Sounds like the show combines comedy with a playful critique of a series that, much as we love it, simultaneously reflected both progressive and retrograde attitudes about gender roles. Would love to see it.

And no need to body-shame the actors, I think we want this to be a safe space for all Trek fans, in line with the values of that imagined future.

Can these productions be videoed and preserved for posterity? They certainly sound like they merit it, and deserve a wide audience.

# 3. Joe Smith – October 15, 2015

” That should be “steeling”. Kirk didn’t steal anything, least of all himself.” — Joe Smith

Well, this Kirk IS a parody so there’s some of what the original copyright holder might regard as “stealing” happening with every word this Kirk character speaks — not to mention that holder would, indeed, regard this Kirk as having stole himself, so to speak, even though copyright makes allowances for parody.

You also bring to mind that in the first series Kirk has more than established his bona fides as an accomplished thief — not even considering his ability to steal women’s hearts.

I Like to think of myself as having an open mind,but I don’t think this is very cool. I have nothing against gays or transgender people- I don’t like this. I don’t even care if a gay person is a character on Star Trek. This ruins the show for me.

It’s nice to see that Star Trek fans are as open-minded, accepting and progressive as the show they claim to love and emulate.

Oh, wait…

When I realized what the story was about I wondered how long it would take. Only six comments, I thought it would be at least number 3

Sorry I was referring to comment 7.

@ BatleinTheGroin

I vote progressive and think progressive, but seeing people that look nothing like Kirk and Spock, and also in drag, doing Star Trek at a public event, is in bad tasted and kind of embarrasses fandom at large.

9

How long it would take for what? A negative yet respectable opinion? Oh how horrible.

@ #1

Agreed, just took a look, much more interesting and useful information on the new movie!

There use to be a site called TrekMovie .com that would post news about the new Trek movies. Hence the name.

11. Tay Dervis – October 15, 2015

A provocative opinion that proves nothing but the need to say gay people still seem to freak number 7 out. No one needs to know that but attaching their ST fandom to it in an attempt to make what he is saying credible is what I was waiting for someone to do

#8 &9
I use to do a karaoke show at a gay bar with drag queens,yes they are funny
and their show was fun! Imho people tend to jump on a cause because it is the popular choice, not because they really believe in it ( jumping on the band wagon)
I want to hear whats going on with Star Trek Beyond not about drag queens doing a parody of Star Trek. I’m not being negative or hateful, and this does not make me closed- minded. I would never disrespect some one because of their sexual orientation. If a person is good to me, I will be good to them. I just don’t like this type of parody of Star Trek. I’ve seen the fan made production of ST where Peter Kirk is gay, this did not bother me because it was done with respect for the show.

#7, #12 – I’ll respect you’re opinions when you learn the difference between transvestism, transgenderism, and homosexuality. All of which seem oddly and ignorantly conflated in these comments.

#11 – Have you ever SEEN Mudd’s Women? That episode is in bad taste and kind of embarrasses fandom at large. Some people have the oddest sacred cows.

I enjoyed this article. Another example of how Trek has become so ingrained in our minds.
This looks like it would be a fun night out to experience.
Joan Rivers would love it.

Giver of pain and delight

@1 and 13

I enjoyed this article, clearly you didn’t and prefer the other site. Different strokes for different folks.

Why are you still here?

I enjoyed the article as well. I wonder how it would have looked as an original series show. Changing bodies from male to female has been done in trek before. “Turnabout Intruder” I think,,, I for one was offended when I first saw William Shatner acting as a female character, the mannerisms were just too much,,, or were they,,, I later accepted it and now when I watch the re-mastered version on my 60″ 3D TV, I Love that episode. I’m not the child I use to be either. Live and Let Live, I love all things Trek.

This is absolutely Brilliant!! On many levels this particular episode plus the fact that is all done in Drag, now that’s taking ST to the next level. Too bad it’s not on your, can somebody video this???

That sounds absolutely wonderful! The one thing that would redeem this episode is reversing the genders and making the whole thing into social commentary. Cool!

I really wish I could get out to San Francisco to see it, but sadly, I can’t. I wonder if they’d be interested in filming this…

@ 19 Giver of pain and delight

Why I’m still here? Is that supposed to be a brilliant retort to my complaint? I’m here for the times this site does come through with good stories. I’m here because there are posters here that I like to interact with and have for years. That doesn’t preclude my occasional bouts of frustration with this site and certainly doesn’t prevent me from voicing it. Happy?

Honestly, I’m kind of shocked at the level of venom in the comments…7 and 11 seem to subscribe to the fundamentalist school of fandom. Can’t deal with having the Holiest of Holies being poked fun of. Booooo-hoooooo!

I participate in a radio theatre company called The Post Meridian Radio Players (http://pmrp.org). One of the shows they do every year is a gender-swapped Star Trek episode. The first one they did last year was The Trouble with Tribbles (https://vimeo.com/97079278). This year was Space Seed (http://pmrp.org/events/spaceseed).

As Corylea said, one of the aims is definitely social commentary. I went, as a spectator, to the Space Seed show and they held a Q&A after, allowing that conversation to continue.

This sounds like a fun show in a similar vein.

Whilst there seems to be no video of the show itself there is a video of Leigh Crow as Shatner encountering George Takei

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV5DiIJ0qd0

That actress is much too thin to play Shatner.

This site is free, folks. When you complain about the types of articles that get posted here, you look bad, not the site. They owe us nothing, and we’re free to leave if we don’t like the articles posted. Has the site’s quality dropped? Perhaps. But when you’re not paying to visit it anyway…

24. Joshington- How is what I said venom ? I said it in a very respectful way.

This just isn’t my cup of tea. I’ve seen enough parodies to last me a life time.
Some are funny some aren’t Why do we need another parody of ST ? I just find this in bad taste. Not that I think ST is so holy that it can’t be made fun of. I’m sure you have seen parodies of things you thought were in bad taste. why should have to defend myself for something feel. If think you this is so great go see it than. I however, will put it on my must miss list.

Have a good one !

I gotta say, for something done in such bad taste there were a lot of Trekkies there enjoying themselves, including ILM’s Bill George, the designer of the Excelsior and Klingon BOP. He didn’t seem offended at all. Quite the opposite. It might not be your thing, but I don’t see what about it qualifies as bad taste.

Giver of pain and delight

@23

Not a “brilliant retort” but a simple question. Just doesn’t make sense to take the time to complain about another site being better when you could be there instead.

You do seem pretty frustrated though, maybe time take a break from this site for a while?

I think the show sounds like a lot of fun, and not disrespectful of TOS at all. If I happened to live in the Bay Area I’d almost certainly take it in.

As for “Mudd’s Women” itself, while I can’t disagree with the criticisms of its sexism and misogyny I hope I can be forgiven for still regarding it as a not-so-guilty pleasure. For all its warts it does feature a great comic performance by the late Roger Carmel (the only thing I find worthwhile about the sequel “I, Mudd”); a wonderful original score that was even better-utilized in episodes like “The Menagerie;” and a guest-star turn by Karen Steele as Eve that was more dignified and nuanced than the script deserved. Take away the “Venus Drug” fantasy element and you have a tale about “wiving settlers” that could have taken place in 1860 instead of 2266, the purest distillation of the “Wagon Train to the Stars” idea that TOS ever put on film.

“Have you ever SEEN Mudd’s Women? That episode is in bad taste and kind of embarrasses fandom at large. Some people have the oddest sacred cows.”

Amen.

I’ve been laughing for five minutes over that photo of the women after the drug wears off — because it reminded me how insanely absurd that episode is.

To Star Trek Family: It’s a comedy show. It’s campy entertainment.These are performances.

I don’t see how it’s ruining Star Trek. Nor does it sound particularly mean-spirited — it’s the kind of thing you cant do well, or enjoy watching, if you don’t love the source material.

If it’s not your cup of tea, don’t fly to San Fran to go see it.

And this section proves that any Internet comment that starts with “I have nothing against (gay, transgendered, Muslim, Irish) people…” is going to sound sort of negative toward those groups…

And, as far as I know, the people writing here are working for free — so they’re pitching and contributing things that interest them. This show exists, so why not review it? There’s nothing journalistically questionable in this review.

I just watched Mudd’s Women on Netflix. It doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as I remember. It’s silly — and the message is hokey, but this still got me a little choked up:

Kirk: There’s only one kind of woman…
Harry Mudd: Or man, for that matter.
Kirk: You either believe in yourself or you don’t.

@15 (Son of Jello): Three words: FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The poster has it, you have it, I have it.

@17 (Miranda Jones): Then me say it: trans people rub most people the wrong way. I don’t agree with it, you don’t agree with it, but respect for a person’s right to say it is always paramount. Otherwise, YOU run the risk of YOU losing your right to speak your mind, or simply dismissing it out of hand. That’s the beauty of free speech, which does not include the right to not be offended by an opinion, which is just as valid as yours. Deal with it.

Hate to tell you, dswynne, but criticizing someone for saying something ridiculous, hurtful, or ignorant isn’t curtailing their “freedom of speech”. No one has the right to speak unchallenged. You might want to retake that civics 101 class.

“#11 – Have you ever SEEN Mudd’s Women? That episode is in bad taste and kind of embarrasses fandom at large. Some people have the oddest sacred cows.”

While I don’t regard “Mudd’s Women” as “sacred” in any way (nor, for that matter, any TOS episode; they’re all flawed to one degree or other), I would expect that it be judged in the context of the time in which it was produced. MW In fact offers a fascinating glimpse into rapidly evolving American attitudes towards gender and personal autonomy: conceived in 1965 and filmed in 1966, it bears the heavy hand of the Rat Pack/Mad Men era far more than you would expect of a series that has become so associated with the counterculture that ended the decade. Just two short years later, Ms. Jones, your namesake suffered the well-meaning advice of Kirk and McCoy that she trade on her looks by finding a nice, conventional guy instead of an alien monster to settle down with–and she politely but firmly told them both to stuff it. That’s progress for freedom over patriarchy by any standard, but there’s no use denying that TOS was always both of those things.

As for embarrassment, as a fan I’m much more put off by Kirk’s embrace of Realpolitik in “A Private Little War,” or by the sheer godawfullness of “And the Children Shall Lead,” than I am by a well-produced piece of fluff like “Mudd’s Women.”

I found out from a fan that they use our song “Mudd’s Women” during their curtain call. Totally honored.

I long ago recovered from the shock of finding so much homophobia and, nowadays, trans-phobia within TREK-fandom. I mostly hold Roddenberry himself to blame, for his own misogynistic-inability to press forward with episodes which addressed LGBT-issues. And there’s Paramount’s decision, made long ago, that TREK was to remain a family-friendly franchise. Thus, social-issues could be touched-upon. But any continuation of TREK along the lines of it’s radical, ground-breaking 60’s social-commentary (1st interracial-kiss, and stuff like that), was jettisoned a long, long time ago. It’s been decades since TREK offered relevant entertainment which addressed cutting-edge issues.

For instance, one isn’t likely to hear from too many racists on TREK-sites. I didn’t read a single objection to JJA’s Spock-Uhura romance which complained of having to watch a white actor kissing a black actress. However, TREK’s own timidity toward addressing sexual-forms of discrimination and hatred, has permitted that element of fandom to feel quite at home in the world of Star Trek. And if, through it’s past messages of inclusion, TREK really has helped fostered greater unity and understanding between generations of peoples, its EXclusion of LGBT-characters, has obviously come back to haunt it’s legacy.

Giver of pain and delight

#39

Well said. The lacking of LGBT characters in ST truly is embarrassing for the fandom. It would be so easy for them to show two unnamed same sex crew members in the background holding hands. Heck, even a throwaway line could do too.

The amount of K/S slash fiction out there surely shows that a gay or bisexual character would be welcomed by the fans.

40 Giver

It’s not that people are against LGBT characters. It’s that the characters’ sexual preference is irrelevant, and having it be ostensibly displayed would just seem forced and contrived. It would be like Trek going out of their way just to say “Look how opened-minded and tolerant we are and here are a few LGBT characters to prove it!”. Why do we need to know they’re LGBT? This is a personal issue to the characters. Does Star Wars have LGBT characters holding hands or kissing?

Giver of pain and delight

#41

Have you seen RedLetterMedia’s review of Star Trek 2009? He points out that nearly every character is established as being straight in the movie. It just seems odd, like they are purposely avoiding LGBT. Yes, they could leave it ambiguous but it still seems like the are avoiding the topic.

As for Star Wars, 3 of the movies were made in the late 70s-80s and can’t really be expected to be forward thinking. The prequels were made in the early 2000s I believe, still not quite as open as we are now (try watching an episode of Friends and not cringe at the homophobia).

However, in the new SW book Aftermath which ties in with the new movies, apparently the main character is gay. One has to wonder if this is a hint for the new movies.

42 Giver

“Have you seen RedLetterMedia’s review of Star Trek 2009? He points out that nearly every character is established as being straight in the movie.”

I have not seen the review, so I may not be understanding correctly, but how exactly is it established that the characters are straight? There is no reason to believe that none of the characters in ST2009 are LGBT. It’s not like it would be written in fluorescent ink on their foreheads…

It comes down to this. I would have no problem with LGBT characters, as long as it’s done transparently and in a way that flows with the movie’s plot, and not something that seems forced. Since the sexual preference of the characters is obviously an intimate subject, there’s no reason why it should be broached in the first place… So to include LGBT characters and show that they are indeed LGBT (otherwise what’s the point), can only be done in a contrived, forced way, and this is what I’m opposed to.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe knowing about a character’s intimacy can be part of character development… and we all want to have characters that are multidimensional.

Giver of pain and delight

43

“Since the sexual preference of the characters is obviously an intimate subject, there’s no reason why it should be broached in the first place…”

So you don’t want any more romantic subplots? Being straight is sexual choice too y’know.

44

Actually no, I don’t want any more romantic subplots! I thought the Uhura-Spock thing was useless and unnecessary and served no other purpose than getting more women interested in Star Trek.

This being said, that’s just my opinion and my personal taste. I know for a fact that a lot of people like the romance between Spock and Uhura. So yes, your point is valid. There’s no reason why a romantic relationship couldn’t be between LGBT characters, as long as the relationship adds something to the plot (unlike the sex scenes in Game of Thrones, which is the perfect example of a useless plot device).

Giver of pain and delight

45

I’m female and I hated the Spock/Uhura subplot!

I do agree though that unless there is a good reason for a romantic plot, then leave it out, straight or otherwise. But if there is a valid reason, I hope they are willing to consider something new.

@ Michael Hall @ Jack

I know “bad taste” when I see it, and this just look embarrasing. Nothing you can say is going to change the “cringe factor” for me on this.

And I had the exact same reaction to Shatner’s embarrasing Academy Awards rendition of Captain Kirk.

35. dswynne – October 17, 2015

I am going to guess and say that your from the USA, and you have pressed the old “freedom of speech” button. Yes you are free to say what you want but you really need a filter for what comes out of your mouth to stop “freedom of speech” sounding like a bunch of uninformed ranting. I don’t think freedom of speech means “say what you like” It means your free to speak your mind and its ideas. But randomly wrapping your fears and fobias in a statement and calling it a genuine comment that you are free to make Is utter bs.

“I am going to guess and say that your from the USA”

Using “broad generalizations” like this to be critical of others who you see as using “broad generalizations” is kind of lame. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

For my part, I just think this whole show looks moronic and embarrasing. That’s my issue with it.

49. Prodigal Son – October 26, 2015

It was a guess and not a generalisation. A lot of people who live on the planet also believe in freedom of speech not all live in America or are American and this is a USA centric site so I took a guess with the information provided. Also it was a direct criticism of 35. dswynne – October 17, 2015.

also – But randomly wrapping your fears and fobias in a statement and calling it a genuine comment that you are free to make Is utter bs.

the “From my part etc” was something you tacked on to the end of your statement to make what you said sound startrekky

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