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‘TransMasculine Cabaret’ creating ‘intersectional allies’


Over the weekend, Fringe Fort Myers audiences had the opportunity to participate in Vulva Va-Voom’s TransMasculine Cabaret. Whether people attended out of a sense of liberal guilt or plain old curiosity, Va-Voom’s overarching goal was to convert viewers into “intersectional allies.”

Vulva claims the pronouns they/they/their. But in reality, the thrust of this autobiographical tome is to change viewers’ atty from “them” to “we.” It’s the very same transformation that enabled the LBGTQ community gain a modicum of mainstream acceptance beginning with Ellen Degeneres coming out in 1997 followed by the debut of Will and Grace the ensuing year.

It’s far easier to fear, mistrust and, yes, hate someone you’ve never met, don’t know and with whom you think you have nothing in common. It’s only by getting to know “the other” and walking a proverbial mile in their shoes that we finally realize that while we may not be the same, we’re really not all that different under the skin.

Or as the groundbreaking Variety Magazine poll found more than a decade ago, the number one reason that Americans opened their minds to same-sex rights, including marriage, was not Ellen Degeneres, Will and Grace or even Modern Family. It was knowing someone who was gay.

The trans community has lagged in this long-overdue journey of transformation. And therein lies brilliance of a show like TransMasculine Cabaret. In it, Va-Voom evinces the vulnerability and courage to let their audience walk a mile in their shoes – be they two-and-a-half-inch tan heels or black men’s dress shoes.

Triple V is smart and intuitive.

Va-Voom is well aware that most people coming to see TransMasculine Cabaret don’t know a single trans person … or at least a single person who is outwardly trans. So VVV immediately confronts the immense Pachyderm in the room through song – a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” aptly retitled “We Can’t Warn for Triggers.” Appropriately desensitized, the audience is freed up to follow Va-Voom’s uncomfortable and often painful depiction of what their life has been like through the lens of the persona VVV has played onstage for eighteen years.

That cultured persona is brassy and flippant, an outrageous combination of drag and burlesque-style obscenity and absurdism. Triple V’s emotionally-intimate script is replete with frank social critiques, rude sexual jokes, musical numbers, striptease, and absurdist world-building. What emerges, however, is the artist’s truly heartbreaking recollections about growing up in a 1990s ultra-conservative agricultural Southern small town in constant fear of ostracism and violence.

A recurring motif in the show is Il Pagliacci, a sad, mentally-ill clown who functions as a metaphor for the ways marginalized individuals lean on unhealthy coping mechanisms—in this case, incessant joke-making—to be accepted by mainstream society. (It’s also an homage to VVV’s longtime voice professor, Noelle Rogers, who played the lead female role in Il Pagliacci opposite Luciano Pavarotti.)

The show’s narrative flows around a live, onstage “female to male drag” makeup/costuming transition as the performer shares intensely personal mental health struggles, offset with dark humor. VVV’s real-life experiences are similarly portrayed through stand-up bits, guitar, opera, and other elements from the Vaudeville tradition. While these theatrical and performative devices render the show’s message more palatable, it is nevertheless impossible to escape personal indictment. Who among the audience hasn’t said something cold, callous and hurtful to or about a trans-identifying person?

Seeing TransMasculine Cabaret isn’t going to change the current hostile political climate in Florida, or elsewhere, for the trans community – whether individually or in the aggregate. But a show like TransMasculine Cabaret is a step in the direction of understanding and acceptance in the same tradition of shows like Will and Grace, Modern Family and even Ru Paul.

So brava Vulva Va-Voom for a well-conceived and beautifully structured offering.

At least one intersectional ally has resulted from your appearance in Fringe Fort Myers.


  • Vulva Va-Voom performed most recently at Orlando Fringe Festival in May.
  • Before that, TransMasculine Cabaret was performed in New York City’s East Village, where it won an “Audience Choice” Award from NYC Fringe.
  • Other honors for the show include “Venue Choice” and “The Social Good Award” from Tampa Fringe and “Artist Who Pushed Boundaries Between Art Forms” from Asheville Fringe.
  • In all, the writer/performer has won a total of nine Fringe Festival awards, in addition to other honors.
  • Va-Voom’s previous International Fringe Festival honors for scriptwriting/production include one “Social Good” Award, two “Venue Choice,” three “Edge” Awards, two juried winter festival selections at Orlando Fringe, a shared award for community building, and a shared “Best of the Bay” Staff Pick award for “Best D!ck Joke.”
  • They served as head script writer and—in male makeup—the film actor in their creative partner’s Stroke of Genius: Pantomime Masturbation Throughout Performing Arts History, which was at also Orlando Fringe this year.
  • The 2024 touring season will stage Va-Voom’s scripts in thirteen different Fringe Festival theaters, including gay bar SAVOY Orlando’s Starlight Room.
  • Vulva Va-Voom is a bi/pansexual who also identifies as transmasculine/non-binary.
  • The artist’s website describes Va-Voom as “a ‘legit,’ classically-trained song-and-dance comedian gone bad. Very, very bad.”
  • Their output as a playwright has consistent themes of “high-brow culture meets low-brow humor,” and their most G-rated tagline is, “Picture Frasier and Niles Crane, but they’re drunken, singing, dancing strippers.”
  • Of her “We Can’t Avoid the Triggers” filk, VVV says “It’s kind of a time-honored tradition of nerd culture to create parody lyrics.”
  • The production company’s de facto director, C. Aulby Cornette, said this: “Transgender identity is a complex topic to address, especially under the political climate in our home state of Florida. Non-binary people have a difficult time getting others to perceive our identities as ‘valid,’ outside—and even within—our queer communities. Non-binary expression has been a lifelong struggle…but theater is a space that turns tragedy into art. The trick is to do so in a way that is also highly entertaining! Fortunately, our production team has a lot of experience turning dark, depressing sh!t into very funny, edgy comedy.”
  • For more, please visit or follow Vulva Va-Voom on Instagram at or Facebooks at

June 2, 2024.

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