The Kinsey Sicks are no drag for former lawyer - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

The Kinsey Sicks are no drag for former lawyer

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Posted: Thursday, August 3, 2006 6:46 am | Updated: 3:25 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Attorney Irwin Keller was educated at the prestigious University of Chicago, and authored precedent-setting ordinances in the Windy City. Fellow lawyer Ben Schatz trained at Harvard and worked with former president Bill Clinton.

Naturally, they’re both now touring the country as singing drag queens.

The two men are founding members of San Francisco-based The Kinsey Sicks — named after “Kinsey 6,” the exclusively homosexual end of the Kinsey scale — the self-dubbed “America’s favorite dragpella beautyshop quartet.”

“Most lawyers that went up to University of Chicago do end up as singing drag queens,” jokes Keller, who performs as slightly-geeky member “Winnie.” “Just call the University of Chicago alumni office, they can confirm that.”

The group was founded by Keller and Schatz in 1993, who over the years have added singing veterans Chris Dilley and Jeff Manabat to the lineup. In 2001, the venture became a full-time occupation for Keller and the gang, who left their rather respectable day jobs behind.

“I was doing good work,” shares Keller. “It was not drudgery, it was not distasteful lawyering in any way, and I worked with wonderful people. And I don’t miss it.”

The image of four guys, especially ones with such affluent backgrounds, dressed up like ’50s beauty queens and singing a capella might sound, well, goofy. And to a large extent, it is.

“We certainly are goofy and we certainly can be accused of being campy,” Keller says.

But there’s also something more to the act — an edge of political satire and societal commentary that Keller claims makes the troupe truly unique.

“I think people are always surprised when they come to our show,” says Keller. “The reasonable expectations we exceed, the unreasonable ones we subvert.”

Although the primary goal of The Kinsey Sicks is to entertain, Keller also always tries to bring more to the table.

“In addition to dishing out a certain amount of sheer, delightful raunch, we look at issues of electoral politics, corruption, we look at greed, we look at racism — and gosh, these are all things that are just going to make people run the other way,” he teases.

This political side is seen in projects like their concert film, “I Want To Be A Republican,” but Keller says not to except that same level of commentary at the Scottsdale show, a benefit for HIV and AIDS resource center Body Positive.

“We try to still adhere to some principle of good work,” says Keller, who wrote Chicago’s gay rights ordinance and was the director of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel in San Francisco.

And if the good work happens to involve putting on a wig and makeup, all the better.

>> The Kinsey Sicks perform 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St. $25-$75. (480) 994-2787.

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