Taylor Mac’s ‘Holiday Sauce’ is a queer-holiday extravaganza

Taylor Mac’s “Holiday Sauce” is a giant, queer-Christmas tour de force that celebrates the holidays in their fabulous dysfunction with re-imagined renditions of 12 musty and tired songs listeners love to hate.

For example, one of Mac’s costumes includes a headpiece of green and red Medusa snakes, and the song “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is re-invented as a Wiccan Bollywood extravaganza.

Mac will perform the epic “Holiday Sauce” Friday and Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Tickets are available.

Mac, 45, who was born in Laguna Beach and raised in Stockton, is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, and drag performer who identifies as queer.

Earlier this year, Mac brought “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music” to the Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. In that theatrical extravaganza, the pioneering performer examined queer and underrepresented histories in the United States through 246 songs that covered from 1776 to the present.

In March, the groundbreaking performance artist’s next work, “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” will debut on Broadway.

In the meantime, Mac spoke with Q Voice News about the his “torturous” holiday memories, the inspiration for “Holiday Sauce,” and Mother Flawless Sabrina.

Here are some excerpts.

Taylor Mac Holiday Sauce

Taylor Mac’s “Holiday Sauce” is a giant, queer-Christmas tour de force that celebrates the holidays in their fabulous dysfunction with re-imagined renditions of 12 musty and tired songs listeners love to hate. Photo: Little Fang Photography

Horrible holidays

“Holidays have been torturous for me,” Mac says. “They were horrible. They were homophobic. Getting together with extended family was very difficult because there was a lot of tension for me. I wasn’t out, but everyone knew. They would watch movies and call out all the faggots on screen.

“We were all supposed to be happy, but it wasn’t the case,” Mac says. “It felt like a tradition with a weight on your shoulders rather than something you would enjoy doing. Many queers celebrate Christmas in loving ways. That just wasn’t my experience.”

Mother Flawless Sabrina

“ ‘Holiday Sauce’ is a tribute to my drag mother, Mother Flawless Sabrina,” Mac says. “I went to a Christmas party and a couple of holiday parties at her house. They were the best. The parties were so freeing. I didn’t have to hang out with family. I could be myself. It was a loving environment.”

‘Holiday Sauce’ origins

“As a queer person, you break away from heterosexual traditions of your families,” Mac says. “We are making an alternative that is celebrating and healing to a lot of people.

“It’s a little break from ‘The Nutcracker” and Christmas shows that have been done to death,” Mac says. “It’s for everyone. We are always invited to straight Christmas. We are inviting them to a queer Christmas.”

Queer holiday fun

“We’re making a giant queer holiday,” Mac says. “We are taking things that have harmed us and turning them into something joyous.

“The idea of caroling is something sweet with people singing. But if they’re singing a religious song and you grew up in a family where religion was used to oppress you, that song isn’t a gift. We transform that so caroling is good for everybody.”

Wiccan Bollywood Christmas

“ ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ was written in the 1830s. People were saying Christmas was under siege. They’ve been saying it since the 1830s,” Mac says. “We unearth the pagan qualities and run with it, making it a Wiccan Bollywood song.”

Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-294-5996 or [email protected]

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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