Harvey Fierstein Talks Kinky Boots, and Transvestites

Harvey Fierstein, Cyndi Lauper and Jerry Mitchell are all in Chicago this month, tweaking their KINKY BOOTS play, which is headed to Broadway in the Spring.

You could say Harvey and I go way back! 1982. Harvey was performing in TORCH SONG TRILOGY with Matthew Broderick and Estelle Getty.
 I was a recently out, 21 year old from a small town in Michigan. Imagine, sitting in the 7th row, in New York City watching in awe as Harvey commanded the stage and wove a ground breaking story in 3 acts that lasted nearly 4 hours. It was amazing! And he was forever burned into my memory. It was profound.   (Photo by Chicago Tribune)
Last year I was able to sit in the front row as Harvey portrayed  Zaza in the La Cage Aux Folles revival on Broadway.  When he sang  “I Am, What I Am,” he owned it. It was so powerful, you could not help but have tears. And it was the final weeks of La Cage on Broadway, and Harvey added things, that were not in the original!

When asked about playing the same role, night after night, he says, “I like long runs. Everyday you perform a role, is another chance to get it right. To perfect it. Another audience. Another chance to really look at the part. You become the role. It’s GLORIOUS!”
Talking about Kinky Boots at the Music Box last week, Harvey revealed that in reality, about 90 of the transvestites in the world are straight men!  Only 10% are gay. Go figure. I did not know that!
So Kinky Boots is not about a drag queen who needs shoes.  (Photo by Chicago Tribune)
From Grammy® Award-winning pop icon CYNDI LAUPER and four-time Tony
Award® winner HARVEY FIERSTEIN comes the exhilarating new musical KINKY
BOOTS, directed and choreographed by Tony Award® winner JERRY
MITCHELL.

The Plot:  Charlie Price has suddenly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which
has been in his family for generations but is now on the verge of
bankruptcy. In trying to save the business, Charlie finds inspiration in
the form of Lola, a fabulous entertainer (who may or may not be gay)  in need of some sturdy
stilettos.


(Harvey says – She is so damaged. Someone that looks so
tough and has it all going on, someone that you could throw against a
brick wall and it won’t make a dent, but that is all on the outside. She
so hurt and scared on the inside….)


As they try to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair
discovers that they have more in common than they ever dreamed
possible.

Featuring a sensational new score by Cyndi Lauper, knockout dancing, and
a spectacularly uplifting story, KINKY BOOTS proves that sometimes, the
best way to fit in is to stand out!


The show is in Chicago a couple more weeks then is scheduled to open on Broadway in March.

In the meantime, Harvey is working on another book for Broadway.  Based in the Catskills in 1962, where straight men  were free to indulge their radical urges to play Scrabble in a dress, trade makeup tips or walk in heels in the light of day. ” My story, a historically accurate play, revolves around  this community, a colony up by Hunter Mountain, where every weekend heterosexual   men who dress in women’s clothes, on the weekends. Heterosexual transvestites. These were married men, and would sometimes come with their families. These were judges, lawyers, well-to-do men, who were heterosexual transvestites.

And in this particular summer of 1962, they made the decision to ban homosexuals. Which I found fascinating, and is why I wrote the play. They felt that they would never be accepted, if they accepted the disgusting homosexuals. They even said, that 50 years from now, when homosexuals are still the back alley vermin they are now, OUR  people, those transvestites living out in the open, will salute us as the visionaries, who said get rid of them, and we will be accepted.” he continues, “and now, we have gay rights, we have transgender rights, and still people think transvestites are all gay people. They are totally misunderstood as to who they are. “

The play is called Casa Valentina.  There is a role I wrote for myself in the story where I want the audience to think he is gay. He quotes Oscar Wilde a lot!”

Harvey is always looking forward. He has done so much! From Torch Song Trilogy, Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray, La Cage, Newsies, and now Kinky – and more to come. “Tomorrow. I love tomorrow. I don’t like yesterday. I understand yesterday. I know that I am product of my yesterdays. But it so disinterests me.” he explains. “I don’t have time for yesterday, I have things I want to do yet! My list is endless!”

Watch more of Harvey Fierstein with Chris Jones in Chicago