The Mercury News
Council meeting opens with drag performance
The opening of Tuesday's San Jose City Council meeting was anything but drab thanks to the drag performer WooWoo Monroe.
Adorned in a multicolored dress with cropped pink hair and stunning eye makeup, WooWoo sang Gloria Gaynor's “I Am What
I Am” — receiving a standing ovation — and delivered a timely message as drag queen story hours are being protested in some communities.
“We are lucky enough to live in a place that is open, diverse and affirming but there are many other parts of the country that do not share the same values as we do here in California,” said WooWoo, also known as George Downes. “It is therefore important for those of us who can stand up and speak to do so. We need to let the world know that anti-trans and antidrag legislation and movements are not only wrong but harmful to so many.”
San Jose City Councilmember Omar Torres, the council's only openly gay member, partnered with the nonprofit Project MORE and the BAYMEC Foundation to showcase the drag performer as part of a council meeting for the first time. WooWoo Monroe, who started performing in 2012 in Santa Clara, hosts drag shows at Renegades bar in San Jose and also has appeared in New Ballet's “San Jose Nutcracker” as Casa de Fruta (the Mother Ginger character in other versions).
“Performing drag allows our LGBTQ folks to be their authentic selves,” Torres said. “We shouldn't be making it illegal, we should embrace it.”
Ken Yeager, the San Jose city council's first openly gay member and now executive director of the BAYMEC Foundation, said inviting a drag queen to perform at a meeting would never have crossed his mind during his six years on the council during the early 2000s. “But now it's been so politicized it makes sense to send that message,” he said. “That's the beauty of having a diverse council.”
EVERYTHING'S NEW FOR S.J. SYMPHONY >> As parents, we're always challenging our kids to
try new things. And Symphony San Jose General Director Robert Massey is doing just that with the orchestra, as the upcoming season that was just announced is made up entirely of pieces that Symphony San Jose never has performed.
“As I looked through our programs over the last 21 years, I started jotting down some iconic pieces we have yet to perform,” Massey said. “As the list grew, I thought what better way to signal the start of a brand new chapter in the symphony's history than to create an entire season filled with pieces being performed for the first time on our stage.”
That includes Aaron Copland's “Rodeo,” Richard Strauss' “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” Gustav Mahler's “Symphony No. 1” and Paul Dukas' “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” among others in themed programs with titles like “From Screen to Stage,” “American Portraits” and “Bachtoberfest!” There are also two new movies in the popular Movies in Concert series: “Psycho,” with a classic score by Bernard Hermann, arrives Oct. 28 in time for Halloween and “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” with high-flying music by John Williams, swoops in March 9-10, 2024.
You can check out the new
season — as well as the remaining programs this season — at www.symphonysanjose.org.
CLEANING UP >> I wrote about the Trash Punx heading to Kenya last week to launch the San
Jose nonprofit's global innovator program, and founder and president Justin Imamura emailed me over the weekend with an update on the cleanup efforts at Ewaso Ngiro, a small town outside Nairobi.
Imamura and Conservation Manager Vanessa Rogier led a group of 250 volunteers — including 107 students — who filled up 600 bags of trash. That's 5 tons of garbage off the streets of the town.
They've also been giving presentations at schools about the environment and had a positive meeting with the government in Narok, Kenya, about starting a trash removal program in Ewaso Ngiro.