“Confessions of a Vintage Black Queen!” is a powerful one-man play written by and staring Billie Hall and skillfully directed by Paul Storiale. It is a painful look at his childhood filled with child abuse, rape, molestation, church abuse, homophobia and racism, and how he has survived, partly by escaping into his dream world populated by the glamour girls he adores.
When Billie puts on a fancy hat and uses a different voice, he is Miss Koko (his angry side) spouting course language, or Miss Champagne (his flamboyant side) with plenty of furs, or Miss Fannie (his spiritual side). In all these guises, Billie explodes with high energy and passion. As Miss Champagne, he plays the piano, in turn, bluesy and gospel, and sings with raw emotion.
Horrific scenes are with his mother and father, who cannot and will not accept his being gay, and they try to beat it out of him. With chilling effect, Billie becomes his violent father and his crazy mother. Similar abuse is depicted at the Santa Barbara church he attends. He and friend Eddie are the only gays in the choir and they experience rampant prejudice and name-calling.
More entertaining are Billie’s expert lip synching to Diana Ross, wearing a flouncy red dress and black wig, and his imitation of Moms Mabley, using some of her comic routine. His scene at the death bed of his friend Eddie tears at the emotions and Billie’s heart-rending performance of “My Life” is electrifying.
“Confessions of a Vintage Black Queen” plays at The Avery Schreiber Theatre (11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA) every Friday and Saturday in February at 8pm. Tickets are $20. For reservations or more information, please call (818) 762-0057.