Sunday, March 3, 2013

I Took My Kids To See Martha Graham Cracker And They Survived

The program: The biggest complaint I heard was that
Martha did not actually ride a zebra in the show
Today jb and I took Leo (2.5 yrs) and Zoe (8 mos) to a show featuring Miss Martha Graham Cracker, a beloved local drag performer.   This show was a response to a rescinded invitation from a child care center in Haddonfield, NJ.  They had initially invited Ms. Graham Cracker to read to the kids for National Read Across America Day, but then retracted the invitation when it was deemed "inappropriate."  jb and I were disappointed to hear she had been disinvited, but thrilled at the opportunity to bring our kids to see her perform.

We weren't the only ones - the Christ Church Neighborhood House was packed with other parents who thought their kids would enjoy watching a drag queen read stories and sing songs.  And we were right. The kids (and adults) had a blast.  Martha captivated them from the first moment and had them singing, dancing and giggling throughout the show.  It was delightful.  It was silly.  It was campy.  It was musical.  It was drag cabaret.  And the kids, loved it.   

The line to get into the theater

A packed house awaits

The stage is set

A welcome from the hosts

Ms. Martha Graham Cracker takes the stage

Riveted two year old

Martha reads aloud

A song with Johnny Showcase

This was the first drag performance that our kids have attended - it was not the first for either jb or me.  Have we been to performances that were raunchy?  Sure.  I blush at the mere memory of some of the shows we've been to.  Were we worried that today's show would be inappropriate for our kids?  Not at all.  Drag is not inherently obscene any more so than movies are all rated R.  Artists perform for their audience.  We got our kids John Lithgow's children's CD - and they love it.  Does that mean I would let them watch his depiction of a serial killer on Dexter?  No.  That's ridiculous.  We also wouldn't take them to a bar to watch an 11 PM drag show geared towards adults.  Taking them to see a drag queen read kids' books and sing kids' songs?  Of course!

Gender performance is many things.  It's complex.  It's political.  It's subversive.  It was enough for me to write many a mediocre analysis on as a Women's Studies major during my collegiate years.  Most kids aren't really going to tap into these layers, though.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against kids examining the politics of gender through satire and parody - I just think it's more likely that they will simply enjoy a vibrant show by a dynamic performer.  Because, after all, gender performance is also pretty simple.  It's fun.  It's absurd.  It's entertaining.

It sounds to me like drag shows and kids go together like rama-lama-ding-dong.

Here is a tiny sampling of what the show offered - including a snippet of Martha's AMAZING jazzy Green Eggs and Ham rendition:

Sad you missed out?  Want to see more shows like this?  Well, you can check her out at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on May 3rd at 5 pm.  This will also be a family friendly show!  Hope to see you there!


  1. This is the most awesome thing I've heard of in a long time. I'm about to perform in drag for only the 2nd time in my life, and people ask if I'll let my son see me. He's 3 for chrissakes. And I think he'll get a kick out of it. The 1st time I did drag was as the Sugar Plum Fairy in our chorus' Holiday show. A man came up to me afterwards and said "My son doesn't believe in Santa, but he believes in you! Can he get a picture with you?" Awesome-sauce. Here's a pic of me as SPF.
    I should totally start a second career doing kids' shows in drag... whaddaya think? :)

  2. That is a fantastic picture! I think the appeal of drag performance transcends age for sure ;)

  3. I'm sad we don't have something like this for our location! Looks like a blast!

  4. What an eye opening experience! Performers are performers, plain and simple. It's the performance that counts, right? Glad everyone loved it :)

  5. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles3/08/2013

    Pure awesomeness.

  6. I agree that most kids aren't going to care about the "layers" that some adults might worry about. Personally, I think this looks like a hilarious and fun show!

  7. Melanie3/08/2013

    Sounds like a great show! I shared it on G+ b/c I loved the performance.

  8. I think this is fabulous. You are raising your kids to not think twice about things - thats exactly what tolerance is all about.

  9. Hillary Chybinski3/08/2013

    What fun! Looks like Leo loved it!! And I must say, I'm a little in love with Martha Graham Cracker's name =)

  10. elizabethnorton3/08/2013

    Didnt theater start out with Shakespeare having young men play the femaie roles? Looks like a family day with memories that will last forever. :)

  11. How great! I'm such a firm believer in exposing kids to theater performance at a young age! I took my daughter to Mamma Mia and while I was a little concerned about questions regarding the plot, I figured it would spark a mature discussion about a topic that might not come up otherwise but in the end, she just really loved singing along to all the Abba tunes she knew!

  12. Rajean Blomquist3/09/2013

    I haven't heard the Rainbow Connection song in far too long and Martha Graham Cracker's version might be a new favorite rendition. I always applaud sharing the arts with our children!

    Visiting the Baton Club in Chicago with friends is a fave memory of mine.

  13. Catherine3/09/2013

    This sounds like an entertaining day for everyone.

  14. It sounds like you all had a great time!

  15. It sounds like a real fun experience . Great to expose your children to all diffrent people

  16. Shana Dieli3/10/2013!

  17. lifewithkaishon3/11/2013

    Now, don't hate me, but I think it is OK that the Day Care rescinded their invitation. Were they fully informed that this was a drag queen performing before they invited her? If not, I can completely understand how they would not want to offend any parents. Just because you are OK with something doesn't mean everyone else is. And it also doesn't mean they are bad people. The Day Care might have loved Martha Graham Cracker, but in wanting to not offend they made a decision for the whole center. I personally would love to see the show : ) I think. I like any person that makes the world a better and more happy place.