The two-part performance series Queer Cabaret was organized by Richard Meyer and David Roman of USC College. It features performances by lesbian punk folksinger Phranc and L.A.-based art/performance troupe My Barbarian on October 24 and John Kelly’s Obie-Award winning reinterpretation of Joni Mitchell on April 17. The series explores how influential queer artists have contributed to the revival and reinvention of the cabaret genre in recent years. Meyer, Roman, and Ross Scimeca of the USC Libraries have selected the following resources to help you explore the history of the cabaret and its transformation by queer performers.
The modern origins of the cabaret art form can be traced back to 1881 at a tavern called Le Chat Noir (or The Black Cat) in the Montmartre district of Paris. Afterwards, cabaret acts quickly spread to major European cities during the 1890s. Typically performed in intimate social spaces like Le Chat Noir, cabarets featured variety acts that satirized political, social, and sexual mores. The online Gale Virtual Reference Library—which you can access via the USC Libraries’ electronic resources page—features several articles about the history and cultural influence of the cabaret form.
From the beginning, gay and bisexual performers and impresarios played a vital role in the development of the art form. The well-known Bob Fosse film Cabaret—based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories—evokes this long history, which Phranc, My Barbarian, and John Kelly draw from in highly imaginative ways.
About This Guide
Visions and Voices and the USC Libraries present Explorations, a series of research guides that allow you to build on your experiences at Visions and Voices events.