Trixie Mattel has certainly been a busy queen this year! From releasing her second studio album in the spring (purposefully a greater smash than ‘Two Birds’, ‘One Stone’ clearly was created to kill ‘Two Birds’ and propel Miss Mattel into the country music stratosphere!), to winning the third season of Rupaul’s Drag Race All-Stars in early 2018, to releasing her own makeup products in collaboration with LA based home-grown company; Sugarpill, to the return of UNHhhh with partner in crime, Katya Zamolodchikova, this ambitious Barbie girl has undoubtedly built her own dream empire!
One thing, however, has remained constant throughout this season of Trixie’s lavish career: Now With Moving Parts.
(Ok, so little disclaimer before we go on. Very little really qualifies me to write this article: I only saw the show twice. I know twice seems like a lot to an outsider, and sure, twice was enough for the message of the show to emotionally impact and help me keep my sh*t together throughout the entirety of 2018…but if you’re a Trixie Mattel stan, it usually is a normal thing to see her show at least four times. Luckily, I have enlisted the help of some very wonderful individuals to help me get a full picture of the lasting legacy of Now With Moving Parts.).
Trixie superfan Arielle (@_MermaidArielle on twitter) remembers well the intimacy of the shows at the Provincetown debut of Now With Moving Parts in summer 2017. The first time she saw the show, she states, was on Trixie’s birthday, during that first summer run in P-town.
According to Arielle, it was during this initial set of performances that Trixie was fleshing out the bare bones of the show by ‘testing’ out her treasury of jokes on the audiences to see which ones landed, which ones didn’t, and to see how exactly they could be incorporated into the show as permanent fixtures for when the time came for the production to tour.
It was during this time that Arielle accidentally co-wrote a joke that Trixie ended up keeping in the show throughout its international run:
“[In Provincetown} she struggled with her guitar and I said loudly “somebody help her”, not realizing she could hear me a few rows back. She responded and the audience laughed. The following nights she began telling the audience that some girl yelled “someone help her” at her and she received great responses.”
The stage production was still in its infancy when the legend-icon-star packed her bags and set out to compete in the perpetual Hunger Games of drag (All Stars 3), which was airing internationally by the time Miss Mattel began touring her second one-woman show in the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2018.
The show of course followed her first very successful show, Ages 3 and Up, and while it is difficult to compare the two shows, I do have to say that seeing Now With Moving Parts having also attended Ages 3 and Up was like coming home. Now With Moving Parts, as a sequel to Ages 3 and Up, is millions of times more successful in its quality and execution than Means Girls 2 is to Mean Girls. It truly is like the difference between Season 7 and All Stars 3: A LEGENDARY GLO-UP extravaganza.
I mainly think this is to do with the fact that Ages 3 and Up had been centred around Trixie’s struggles getting into the business and as an artist, and also probably owing to the fact that she basically GREW UP COMPLETELY on that tour. Her drag had improved exponentially by the time I saw Ages 3 and Up in Manchester in Spring 2017, and the video-tapes she used as part of the show clearly showed that.
Meanwhile, Now With Moving Parts featured a new sense confidence, bigger costumes, bigger wigs, bigger hip-pads and boobies (I remember my friend Robin (@remichanga) telling me, following their experience seeing Trixie’s show, how ‘big and sparkly’ she was in real life!) and a much heavier feature of original music of course.
Probably one of the most memorable moments of the entire show for me is the infamous ‘God Warrior’ lipsync medley. I remember my friend and longest-stanning Trixie stan I know Shannon (@babyybatt) telling me about a wonderful moment during a show on New Year’s Eve 2017 she attended with now-girlfriend and fellow fanatic Christina (@C__Orlando) when Trixie came into the audience during the God Warrior number and held both the girls’ hands.
I marvelled myself as before my eyes Trixie ‘blessed’ Slam (@HipsandPaads) during the Belfast performance of Now With Moving Parts. It was a moment from Heaven: literally!
From what I personally experienced, Trixie has a fantastic aptitude for cradling her audience in the womb-like warmth of her musicianship, lulling us into not exactly a false sense of security (because the music she writes comes genuinely from her heart and her own personal life experiences and struggles), but rather setting the mood of a family gathering in which she is the disarming host, ready to offend ever so slightly and to poke fun using her shiny winner’s sceptre and her cleverly crafted arsenal of jokes and anecdotes.
This creates a comforting and uplifting environment rather than one where you might feel unsafe or made fun of. In fact, super-stan Erin (@itserinpeden) shared quite movingly the following personal sentiment regarding what her time following Trixie on her U.K leg of the tour meant to her:
The show was particularly special for me because when I got home from my first show of the tour, I had a phone call from my mum to tell me my gran had died. I was extremely close with my gran. I was planning on selling all my tickets but I knew if I did I would be sitting at home miserable […] there wasn’t a show I went to where I didn’t leave with my face hurting from smiling so much. She made me laugh even though I’d heard the jokes 5 times already and knew all the punch lines. That tour was very important to me as it gave me happiness when I had none elsewhere.’Slam (@HipsandPaads), Tanya (@thanksliving) and I (@loodapoo) literally could have said the whole show along with Trixie the night we saw it in Belfast we had already watched so many clips of it online, and yet seeing her perform her literal baby live was so much better. Trying to compare watching clips online to watching the real thing would be like telling yourself you had tasted Gordon Ramsey’s cooking just by watching him making a fillet steak open sandwich on the telly. Experiencing the real thing, in particular Trixie’s musicianship, is extremely special.
Em (@Emilydurrant_xo) remembers how wonderful her first time seeing Trixie was last year: she was thrilled to be able to hear one of her favourite songs, Moving Parts (for which the show is named) performed live.
The song Moving Parts exemplifies the message of the whole show, and the feeling of togetherness we all felt during our time experiencing this show. Not only that, but it sort of just suddenly hits you how ground-breaking it is to be looking up at a big, pink, fabulously gay lady-man, singing country music written by himself about the same-sex relationships he (Brian) has had, the same-sex breakups he has had.
In some ways, there is a sadness that comes not only from the topics of the music, but the fact that this princess we see in front of us makes a statement of palatability: those outside the fanbase of a more homophobic or discriminatory nature may be able to overcome the fact these are gay love songs only by the fact the vision they see in front of them is so hyper-feminine.
As Trixie herself has said, there is a truth to people having to wear disguises to be accepted: Dolly Parton had to do so to be taken seriously inside a male dominated industry, and now Trixie has to do so, again because of the nature of masculinity in the country music industry being largely, if not totally, heteronormative. I think this is why we have seen the connection this year between Trixie and her fans.
In particular, there has been prominent interaction between Miss Mattel and her young (and mostly lesbian/bisexual/pansexual/queer) female fanbase (by the admission of Trixie herself), made apparent throughout the time Now With Moving Parts has been toured. Amy (@Amyowst) stated that on one of the many occasions she attended the show (the Boston show, to be precise) Trixie repeatedly referenced having a lot of young, queer women as fans, and stated her appreciation for them:
‘[Trixie admitted] that she felt more connected to her lesbian fans because she listened to [queer women] artists (e.g. Melissa Etheridge) while coming to terms with her own sexuality in her youth.
I felt like that show, as a whole, unveiled a previously unseen layer of vulnerability for her and it was just really GOOD to see her trusting herself and allowing it to happen. I’ve only see this side of her continue to grow, and her fan base and legacy grows with it.’
Furthermore, throughout the year this show has run, there have been horrendously trying times for the marginalised communities following the instatement of Donald Trump as president of the USA. For many, therefore, the show has become a welcome relief from not only the individual stresses of life, but also the anxiety caused by the challenges of change we meet in our personal world through the collective world of our minority cultures being further marginalised.
We feel seen, valued, and cradled in the warmth of the uplifting humour and familial embrace of the crowd we gather in to listen to the key messages of the show: we are combined, each of us important in a living jigsaw and support network in a scary political and social climate.
In conclusion, the fact that this tour has brought so much joy, laughter and light into fan’s lives is hard to ignore, and it’s legacy has been the connections which have been made.
To quote Albus Dumbledore, ‘the bonds of friendship we have made this year will be more important than ever…’: this is an undeniable truth. Many of us didn’t know each other before this show, and now we do know each other, we couldn’t really imagine life without each other now.
Each person I interviewed for the purposes of this article mentioned how important Trixie has been to them finding their ‘chosen family’, Now With Moving Parts the vein that has connected all these hearts to beat as one. Thank you, Trixie: we cannot wait to see what Skinny Legend has in store for us!
written by contributor Frilly
photos 1 + 2: youtube screencaps; rest of the photos provided by the people shown in them