There is a new queen in town. Mostly metal, and weighing approximately 12,000 pounds, Beardmobile is the world’s first drag autobot, not only transporting Philadelphia’s beloved Bearded Ladies but also serving as a flexible performance space, allowing the group to perform on a conventional stage, out of the back of the flatbed, or by rolling down the sides like an ice cream truck, all while having space for a band. The ice cream truck setup is intriguing and fitting, as sprinkles are to ice cream as glitter is to drag—shiny, theoretically optional, but essential to the overall experience.
Riding around in my Beardmobile
Beardmobile began her life as a basic Isuzu flatbed, but reached her current level of fabulosity through a collaboration between Philadelphia Scenic Works (the box builders), scenic designer You-Shin Chen, lighting designer Cha See, sound designer Elizabeth Atkinson, and Joy Taney, the award-winning Philadelphia-based graphic designer who is responsible for the stunning custom paint job.
What significance does this hold for your life? Until the end of May, look carefully when crossing the street, as you could receive a cabaret caress (socially distanced, natch) anywhere in Philly. The show will feature a combination of old and new material, with long-term collaborators such as Cookie Diorio, Jess Conda, and Eric Joffe serving as rotating hosts. Notable additions to the hosting lineup include Sam Rise, of Girls Rock Philly, and Brett Robinson.
Jarbeaux and friends conceived this piece as a big hug for the city that has a low physical impact on the neighborhoods involved. Central to the presentation has been working with local neighborhood organizations.
“We’re copresenting with organizations who have strong ties in their communities," Cat Ramirez, line producer for the Beardmobile, says. "In many ways, they are leading the charge on curation, outreach, marketing, and the safety processes specific to each location and audience.” These notions are indispensable to an understanding of bearddom, whose art resides at the intersection of kindness, consideration, community, and fabulosity.
Speaking of safety precautions, the Bearded Ladies have taken comprehensive steps to lower any risk of Covid-19 infection. Safety protocols include either fully vaccinated or confirmed covid-negative performance and tech team, mask mandates, and temperature/symptom checks. In addition, seating will be by pod. Each pod, spaced six feet away from other pods, holds up to six people.
What, When, Where, and Accessibility:
The Bearded Ladies Cabaret presents the Beardmobile Love Tour. Throughout May 2021, the tour will perform through the streets of Philadelphia. For exact dates and locations, follow the Bearded Ladies on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The performances are free, but donations are welcome via Venmo or PayPal (both @BeardedLadiesCabaret). According to the company, “Donations will support future free performances on the Beardmobile, land acknowledgment reparations, and the work of our community partners.”
Image Description: Five drag performers pose from inside and outside a truck, it's doors open and parked in an empty outdoor lot that has graffiti on the floor and on the wall behind them. The truck is painted with what looks like flowing hair, hearts, and eyes and a mouth at the headlights and the bumper.