The gender-bending drag-king ensemble Boys R Us and its production arm, Fluxx Productions, have had a permanent home since March, in a former art studio at 414 E. Ninth St. Executive director Dante Celeiro says the Fluxx Studio and Gallery space will help the group expand into more projects that explore gender. At that space, on Sunday, June 26, from 2 to 5 p.m., Fluxx, Wingspan and Tucson Pride will present "Coming Out Stories: Stonewall to Tucson," featuring a panel of speakers who will share stories about coming out and the gay-rights movement. For more information, find Fluxx Productions on Facebook, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has Boys R Us performed in this new space yet?
Not yet. In the fall of last year, we did Boys R Us Presents Creep Show, and it was done at the Temple of Music and Art. We decided it is going to be an annual event with a different theme. So this year (in our new space), we will be doing Boys R Us Presents Creep Show: The Nine Layers of Hell. We're going to transform the entire space.
Into an inferno?
Pretty much. And we're going to run Creep Show for two weeks. Going into the Temple—it was a great space, the Cabaret (Theater)—but there was so much we couldn't do, and it's gotten to a point that after nine years ... we need our own space.
I imagine it can be scary taking the next leap.
There are some freak-out moments. I think the big true test was (hosting) the International Drag King (Community) Extravaganza in 2009. That was big for us. I think it was finally showing the community that we're not playing dress-up here; we're really providing something for this community. So for five days, we ran downtown. We kind of feel like, "OK, can you take us seriously now. Look how long we've been around. Look at what we're doing. Take us seriously."
Has it been important to make sure that anyone who uses the space or shows at the space is gender-queer friendly?
Yeah, they definitely have to be. You have Wingspan, but there's no space in town where it is (all) about gender-queer art. There's a missing component, but the ultimate goal is getting a huge warehouse and opening a performing-arts center. It's something that's needed, so why not? Our community is such a big arts community, but there's nothing in particular that says queer, and we want to make sure this space is accessible to everyone, no matter where you are financially. Where else are our people going to go? There's a need. We're opening up the doors, not denying anyone access, regardless of their ability to pay.
How do you feel about the "Coming Out Stories" project you're hosting?
It feels really good. What better place to have it than a place called Fluxx? It's about change. There will be a timeline to go back and then look at where we are at today. We'll have a panel come in and talk. Everybody has different stories. I think some people, especially the younger generation, they have no clue, and they say, "Why are they celebrating Pride?" They don't know (the history).
Do you think of leaving Tucson after being here for 11 years?
Trust me, I've had my moments. I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want (in New York) ... but this is a place I get to be really creative and start something, and potentially make some sort of change. In New York, you have everything that is so established, and unless you have the money, it is going to be hard to go in there and start something. I remember in Boys R Us, at first, there were only females in the audience, and now you don't know who's who. We've done something right. Every time we've gotten on the stage, we've created history. Someone might say, "You were in a bar dressing up onstage and entertaining." I say to that, "You don't get it. This goes beyond that. There's something more to this."
Are these lessons on gender?
Yes—and why does it matter? That's been the whole point of Boys R Us: Why does gender matter? It shouldn't matter. From my point of view, love is genderless. I was asked once, "How do you identify?" I said, "Dante. Why does it matter to you? Because it shouldn't." It shouldn't matter who I go home with or who I am holding hands with in the street, because, again, love is genderless.