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Set in the tawdry world of the prostitutes of the Meatpacking District, new musical tells the back stories of these tragic, yet colorful characters.

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Antyon LeMonte, Honey Davenport, Jay Knowles and Kevin Aviance in a scene from “Trinkets” (Photo credit: Lola Flash)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

In an era where RuPaul has turned drag/cross-dressing into everyday home entertainment and where the rights of the Trans community have been in the news, Trinkets, Paul E. Alexander’s play may appear unnecessarily dark. To be sure, the darkness is modified by Alexander’s inability to avoid campy prancing and vulgarity. Delivered with zest, if not professional acting technique, by a large cast, zinger lines and swishing hips overwhelm any deeper messages. Alexander can’t seem to decide whether to emphasize the emotional toll of these hookers or their ability to amuse.

Set in the tawdry world of the drag/trans prostitutes of the 1990’s, Trinkets tries very hard to tell the back stories of these tragic, yet colorful characters who gave the Meatpacking District in the West Village an iffy, that is to say unsavory ambiance.

Comparing the colorfully despairing ladies of the evening of Trinkets to the RuPaul troupe of oddball beauties is very telling. Alexander clearly wants it both ways: to romanticize the plights of his characters, yet wring out all the laughs from their sassy and colorful prancing.

Trinkets becomes yet another camp entertainment, this one centered around the hedonistic club of the title run by, yes, a trans lady and ex-hooker named Trinket (Kita Updike who manages to eke out some hard-edged maternal advice). Lucky Trinket married well—the 1990’s Meatpacking District version of Cinderella.

A major plotline involves a very young, inexperienced hooker named Strawberry (Mercedes Torres, awkward) who, on her very first day of sex for pay meets a dreamy upper-crust celebrity type, Diego (a suave, if one-note, Michael Joseph Robinson) who sweeps her off her feet, to the chagrin of two bitchy fashionistas who hang out with him: Bev Every and Binky (Jasmine De Ellis and Isabel Lodge, interchangeably bitchy).

The second plotline concerns the characters’ coming together to raise funds to bury one of their community. This provides an excuse for a show given at Trinkets and a great deal of soul-baring of characters like: Diva, the leader of the hooker pack (Davenport); Blondie, a hooker (LeMonte); an acerbic bartender (Celso Satori); two drug dealers (Vincent Miller and Tyler Waage-Roxie); a john (Tony Stinkmetal); and a mother played by Gail Thacker, the hard-working artistic director of the Gene Frankel Theatre.

Watching this cast of characters bitch at each other might have had at least some fascination had the entire level of the production not been so unprofessional. It is difficult to rate the songs, also by Alexander and others, because only two members of the cast sing well enough. Either the singers are inaudible or totally off-key. Only Kevin Aviance as a divinely colorful club entertainer, Mr. Pea, and Burgandy Williams as feisty doorman Kitten Control sing with any power or sense of what they were singing. The others were under-rehearsed, or worse.

The scenery by Zachary A. Serafin was catch as catch can, but evocative enough with its emphasis on gold lame. The wigs by Steven Perfidia Kirkham were fine as was the lighting design by Joe D’Emilio which makes the most of the small performing space.

Trinkets (through August 16, 2017)
Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-777-1767 or visit
Running time: two hours including one intermission

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Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (528 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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