Exploring Gender From the Psyche of a Visionary Trailblazer
In his sixteenth solo performance piece, Michael Kearns embraces the mutability of gender that becomes him.
PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 15 and 16
HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE
8:30 PM • Tickets $25
Highways Performance Space presents the world premiere of Michael Kearns’ sixteenth solo show, It Must Be Him: A Genderful Musical Memoir, on Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 8:30pm. The iconic artist-activist extends his unerring commitment to self-discovery that is delicately placed within the expansive LGBTQI+ experience. Kearns’ latest memoir follows a tradition of expressing that which provokes, reveals, and questions while capturing the zeitgeist of his generation with a unique voice defined by hope, reality, desire, tragedy, and promise.
ABOUT “IT MUST BE HIM”
It Must Be Him explores the role of gender from the consciousness of a community elder whose story began in 1968. Kearns and many of his peers could admit out loud—in song—that which was forbidden by expressing themselves through the lyrics and performances of emotionally-charged female singers/songwriters.
“We didn’t have a Sam Smith,” Kearns says, “so we changed the pronouns, substituted male names for female ones or—if you dared—sang the song straight. The songs of longing and broken-heartedness provided a soundtrack for the hidden feelings that were waiting to come out; the exterior theatricality of Judy, Dusty or Barbra mirrored the interior emotional life of our secretive awakenings. But what It Must Be Him posits is that the stance many young gay men of my generation adopted has followed us into adulthood.”
It Must Be Him: A Genderful Musical Memoir resonates with the Kearns’ sensibility that was birthed at Highways thirty-four years ago. Reacting to the tragic AIDS crisis, Kearns wrote and performed intimacies, presented by Highways on its opening weekend, in which he played a panoply of characters rarely depicted in the media in 1989; among them, Big Red, a Black female street hooker; Patrick, a narcissistic gay boy in denial; and Phoenix, a homeless Hispanic drug addict who lives under the Hollywood Freeway. intimacies marked the beginning of a lauded solo career that found the performer touring America and abroad.
Lineage Performing Arts Center