Queer punk pioneer to deliver laughs in Philly

“There’ll be buckets and knives. We’ll be talking about fatherhood, lesbian legacies and the mystery of the purple dick — all kinds of entertaining items.”

Lynn Breedlove, describing her upcoming show June 13 at Tritone, has our complete and undivided attention.

And why wouldn’t she? The out performer has made a career of being an outspoken and creative voice for the queer and trans community, whether it was fronting one of the first dyke-punk bands, Tribe 8, writing for film projects or performing and producing comedy/spoken-word shows. S/he is also an acclaimed author whose autobiographical novel, “Godspeed,” was turned into a multi-media solo show that has toured the country.

“I’ve used comedy since I was writing songs with Tribe 8 to get people to open their heart and mind and accept crazy ideas they would not normally want to think about,” Breedlove said of her long and productive career as a performer. “Or to just rearrange how they think about stuff they’re used to thinking about in a certain way. This show, like my last show, is about gender and being transgender and not doing a medical transition — not using surgery or hormones to transition — and how it is for me, for my community and for the world.”

Anyone who has performed as a musician and a spoken-word artist can tell you they can be an exercise in extremes, especially when you’re trying to get a message across. Breedlove said both have their perks and drawbacks.

“They can understand the words better,” s/he said about the spoken-word performances. “Back in the Tribe 8 days, they had to buy the CD if they wanted to know what I was saying. I feel like audiences receive comedy and theater and spoken word in a different way because they do have that extra level of words and the other thing is more visceral. You’re onstage, you’re raging, you’re naked, there’s rubber dicks flying around and everyone is like, ‘Woo hoo!’ But this is more of an intellectual experience. Your brain is more engaged.”

Breedlove also said s/he could never pick one form of performance or expression as a favorite over another, as both had a profound impact on his/her life from an early age.

“It’s hard to choose,’ s/he said. “I’ve got to say that when I was 5, I got my first record and it was The Beatles. It was from Germany and America didn’t even know about The Beatles yet. I was doing air guitar in the mirror and I wanted to grow up and be in a band. When I was 8, I was in my first theatrical thing, but my first skit actually made people laugh and that was fuckin’ music to my ears. So when I was a kid in the early 1960s, my dad would drive around with comedians on the radio like Flip Wilson and Don Rickles. I was like, oh my God. They just say shit and then people laugh. That is so amazing. I want to do that. And then writing, when I’m done writing something that I know is good, it’s just like getting off stage and knowing that you nailed it. It’s like a good fuck. I need a cigarette. I shot my wad. Good stuff. So I can’t choose.”

There’s no doubt Breedlove’s work with Tribe 8, along with other out punk bands like Pansy Division and Team Dresch, paved the way, making success possible for out rock and punk musicians today.

“I think Peaches can charge around on stage with a rubber dick, get a blow job and chop it off like I used to do and have a whole bunch of straight people into it and make a million bucks because there is more acceptance,” s/he said. “There’s genderfuck and people of all kinds of genders and sexualities [saying], ‘OK, let’s go rock out to this hot bitch,’ or whatever those guys are thinking. I saw The Gossip in Paris and most of the audience was soccer-fan white boys who couldn’t understand what these dykes were doing in the pit. They were there to see Beth Ditto. That’s pretty fuckin’ awesome.”

Breedlove added that the press, both gay and mainstream, is more accepting of queer and trans artists than it was in the 1990s.

“At any year in our career, you could say we were hated by some group,” s/he said. “We didn’t let boys in the pit. ‘Oh, you don’t like boys. Manhaters!’ ‘No, we just don’t want you to put your elbow in some little girl’s eye because you’re moshing your ass off and weigh 200 pounds. Go in the back.’ There’s a lot more trans visibility in the music scene now, and lesbian magazines like Curve are always trying to write articles about trans relationships, art and the scene. I do feel that we as a community are making a greater effort to look at what each group under the unpronounceable-acronym-umbrella are up to.”

Lynn Breedlove performs “Confessions of a Poser” at 9:30 p.m. June 13 at Tritone Bar, 1508 South St. For more information, visit www.lynnbreedlove.com or call (215) 545-0475.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].