The Questioning of John Rykener, a new dance & theater attraction concerning a true tale of a cross-dressing male prostitute in 1395 medieval England is coming to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in NYC April 11th, 8pm. The production is dedicated to the memory of trans-activist Marsha P. Johnson and is conceived, directed & narrated by original Cockette Rumi Missabu aka James Bartlett.
“Miss Marsha” P. Johnson embodied the early Gay movement proudly and very LOUDLY.” Marsha was best known in New York City as a gay and transgender rights activist. She was a leader in the 1969 Stonewall Riots that united the LGBT communities to demand an end to police brutality. When asked what her middle initial “P” meant she replied, “Pay It No Mind” and this became her signature catchphrase. Following the 1992 Gay Pride celebration Miss Marsha was found murdered and her case was never solved.
On stage with Hibiscus’ aka George Harris III troupe Angels of Light (New York), family friend Miss Marsha would be met with standing ovations upon her entrance without ever singing a note or dancing a step. She would inevitably break the fourth wall and start talking to the audience, which whipped them into a frenzied back-and-forth banter leading to another standing ovation. Hibiscus eventually stopped assigning songs and dances to Miss Marsha, because she rarely got to them. Just being Miss Marsha P. Johnson was enough magic to electrify the audience.
The Questioning of John Rykener info: [email protected]
In 2012, actor, writer and pop culture enthusiast Michael Varrati wrote a nice piece about George Harris III aka HIbiscus on the blog of performer Peaches Christ. Michael writes regularly for her blog. In the piece, he describes HIbiscus’ role in founding the performance troupes The Cockettes and the Angels of Light
Drag Dossier #2: Hibiscus
Hibiscus, photo by Joshua Freiwald
Photo: Bernie Boston/RIT Archive Collections. Rochester Institute of Technology
On October 21, 1967 – Bernie Boston’s photo of the brave, peace-loving teenager in a turtleneck sweater putting flowers into the gun barrels of military police went far beyond being a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. This iconic moment became the origin of “Flower Power,” the most popular anti-war catchphrase of the 1960s. Mr. Boston told Alice Ashe of Curio magazine in 2005, “I saw the troops march down into the sea of people, and I was ready for it. One soldier lost his rifle. Another lost his helmet. The rest had their guns pointed out into the crowd, when all of a sudden a young hippie stepped out in front of the action with a bunch of flowers in his left hand. With his right hand he began placing the flowers into the barrels of the soldiers’ guns. ‘He came out of nowhere,’ says Boston, ‘and it took me years to find out who he was . . . his name was Harris.'”
“Harris” was George Harris III, at 18 years of age, whose life’s work was an example of Flower Power and free expression. George went on to rename himself “Hibiscus” and created powerful new forms of theater and political expression around the world. He passed away from AIDS in 1982 at the age of 32. His life story is recounted in ‘Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway,’ a memoir written by his family. www.caravantooz.com