By 2017 ONSTAGE semi-finalist, Allison Fradkin
Lipstick on your teeth means you’re messy.
Lipstick on your collar means you’ve messed around.
Lipstick on your stage means you’re a hot mess, a circuitous compliment that also applies to the characters appearing in my play, “Lesbian Lipstick.”
The Very Gay Cosmetics company not only takes pride in their products; they put pride in them. But what happens when their products become contaminated? Chick Van Dyke, a Very Gay beauty consultant, is about to find out. When a customer crashes her product demonstration party, Chick is disappointed to discover that ever since the woman began wearing Very Gay’s cosmetics, she’s been, well, keeping a straight face. Can Chick and company solve the mystery of the disappearing dykedom?
I set the story in the 1980s, a time when society was at once progressive and regressive. In our quest to go back to the future, specifically the clean-cut white-bread conservatism of the nifty fifties, we revived the sexism, heterosexism, and consumerism exuberant in that era.
“Lesbian Lipstick” enables five women to deconstruct these timeless institutions. They do so with the help of something seemingly superficial but conspicuously compulsory: make-up. For these women, wearing cosmetics is not a means of concealing their true selves. It is a way of signifying their desire to shatter stereotypes, subvert gender norms, and reject and resist all the insidious “isms.” Thanks to Very Gay Cosmetics, the ladies are able to lay the foundation for a revolution in which women of all sexual orientations can beautify (and beaut-defy) societal roles and expectations.
Parity is part and parcel of prosperity, and the characters that make up “Lesbian Lipstick” inhabit an alternate universe in which being gay and lesbian is acceptable. But anything that deviates from that inflexible either/or binary is initially cause for suspicion and censure. The lesbians have fought long and hard to attain the same rights as their gay male counterparts, so what will happen when they encounter someone whose sexuality is queer-cut but not clear-cut?
Let’s hope there’s a pot of lip gloss at the end of the rainbow.