Los Angeles gets a double dose of Miami this August, when an intrepid troupe of queens step, twice, into shoes of four women whose penchant for cheesecake, wicker, wicked banter and multiple suitors are the stuff of sitcom legend—and repeat viewing by gay men of good taste.
Set to take place at Aug. 2-11 at the Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, “The Golden Girlz Live!” is the long-running stage show created by drag legends Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine, who play respectively, Dorothy and Blanche. Internet sensation Drew Droege is dim-but-sweet Rose, and comedic character actor Sam Pancake is feisty Sophia.
Together, with special guest Jonny McGovern (aka The Gay Pimp and host of “Hey Qween!”), they lovingly present two episodes of the 1985-1992 TV show about four female roommates of a certain age who, when not nailing memorable punchlines, manage to address HIV, gay marriage, body image issues, undocumented immigrants, homelessness, suicide, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
You’ll see none of that sobering stuff on stage this particular time around, but that doesn’t mean the cast isn’t serious about the business of delivering a solid evening of classic comedy. The Blade spoke with Jackie, Sherry, and Jonny about what makes their show, and the original, tick.
Los Angeles Blade: The two episodes you’re doing, “Joust Between Friends” and “The Artist,” find the Girls in a competitive mode. Why pair these particularly combative episodes?
Jackie Beat: They are both just great episodes, but I guess in today’s reality TV world, everyone seems to get off on negativity. Let’s be honest, there is nothing more entertaining than a good catfight.
Sherry Vine: I actually didn’t even notice that until you pointed it out, lol. There are quite a few episodes where there’s some form of competition, usually romantic. It’s a great way to have conflict that can be easily resolved, because the man of interest usually turns out to be the one not worth keeping, and the girls can be like, “Oh, I was so silly,” and all is forgiven.
Blade: Has your appreciation of the show changed in any way over the years?
JB: Sometimes I’m watching and I am literally blown away at the comic timing or a choice one of the actresses made. Bea Arthur is my spirit animal, and she is a genius with her dryness and scalding double takes.
SV: I have watched certain episodes hundreds of times, and still laugh my butt off. And 35 years later, kids to seniors (Jackie) love the show. We have had people come to our show who have never seen the TV show! And they fall in love.
Jonny McGovern: As a teenager, I had not pictures of rock stars, but pictures of “The Golden Girls” on my wall. I loved it, but I loved it for different reasons than now. It’s like watching master class in comedy… I’m not sure [young] people know it as much, today. There was a time, if you put the gay gene under a microscope, you’d see cheesecake.
Blade: Talk about the cast: who plays who, and how.
JB: Well, I simply AM Dorothy Zbornak: fierce, intelligent, manly. Sherry is a huge slut, so playing Blanche comes naturally to her. Not much of a stretch.
SV: Well, we knew Jackie was going to be Dorothy because she IS Bea Arthur! We had worked wth Sam Pancake a lot, and I was a big fan of Drew Droege, so we kind of let them pick Sophia and Rose. The very first time we did “Golden Girlz,” it took me about two shows to let go of the “impersonation” approach and turn the volume up on the essence of Blanche, as the other actors had. Blanche is the cat on the hot tin roof, and I just keep that in my body. So she’s always moving or swaying, always “in heat,” even if she’s just standing there. It is the most delicious role I’ve ever played!
JM: I never got to go see a live taping of “The Golden Girls” when I was a kid, which was my dream. This is as close as you can come—and Jackie Beat as Bea Arthur is as close as you can get to the real thing… I play Mr. Allen, Dorothy’s boss at the museum [in “Joust”]. It’s a key character, and this episode has the classic line, “Eat dirt and die, trash!” I mean, that’s some of my favorite parts of “Golden Girls,” when they’re really battling back and forth… Jackie and Sherry are both hilarious and work incredibly well together. When I’m not on stage, I’m going to get my popcorn and watch.
Blade: Are there any dream episodes or guest star “gets” yet to be gotten?
SV: Our first production was August 2014. So this is our five-year anniversary. We bring them to life every January and August, and have done about 14 episodes, I believe, including a clips “Best Of” episode. Some of my favorite episodes have too many characters or locations, or there are hilarious scenes, but the episode as a whole just doesn’t appeal to us. But we have quite a few we have been saving for certain special guests stars!
JB: We would love to get Ginger Minj to play Nurse DeFarge and Blanche’s former fashion model daughter, who has gained a lot of weight. Bob The Drag Queen would make the perfect Marguerite, the Jamaican maid who gets fired and puts a curse on the girls. And Bianca del Rio really wants to play Dorothy’s old college BFF Trudy McMann, who has a heart attack while the two are playing tennis. Please pray to whatever you believe in that these dreams come true!
“The Golden Girlz Live!” plays the Cavern Club Celebrity Theater at Casita del Campo (1920 Hyperion Ave.) for 14 shows, Aug. 2-11. For tickets ($35), visit brownpapertickets.com. For artist info, visit sherryvine.com, missjackiebeat.com, and heyqween.tv.