Just a Girl from Queens
“Boy, I must really think I’m something to come all the way from New York to San Francisco just to tell you about myself,” quipped lesbian actress, model and drag performer Lauren LoGuidice at the beginning of her latest one woman show, Queens Girl. And, if I were to give a straight synopsis of the show, which follows LoGuidice from awkward adolescence through her college years to the present day, you’d wonder why she thought it was special enough to script and get up on a stage to perform. But that is precisely why Queens Girl is so effective—her story is average. It’s one we’re all familiar with; it’s one every person in her audience will, in one way or another, recognize as their own.
To tell her story, LoGuidice takes on the personas of the people closest to her—her family, some of her friends, her enemies and even a character in a book that she was particularly struck by. She slips into these characters as easily as if they were jackets she’s trying on, to see how the fit. She does her grandmother, an Italian-American who is famous for her eggplant Parmesan and is constantly trying to get LoGuidice to eat more because she’s so thin she must be starving. She does the homophobic “guido” down the street who screams “Hey, fuckin’ dyke!” at her when she walks by. And, best of all, she does her older sister, whose mix of disapproval, jealousy and love is a cocktail—delivered in a thick Queens accent—that only a sister could mix up.
As LoGuidice moves through these characters, using them to tell her own story—the story of her shifting identity as she comes into her body, sexuality and gender—it becomes clear that her identity isn’t just something inside of her that she struggles to get in touch with and bring out. It’s something that is made up of, and played out in the shifting relationships in her life. She struggles, as we all do, to mediate the expectations of her family and community, as well as her own expectations of herself, and to find a space where those can converge, or at least where they can exist without making everyone miserable.
They show is funny and sad by turns but LoGuidice ends on a high note, with the conclusion that even though it’s tough, it is possible to find confidence and happiness in oneself and harmony in the world. Hers is not just another coming out story, it’s everyone’s story—the story of finding a space where you can be.
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