17 – The Muppet Show – Nathan Rapport

Nathan Rapport
The Muppet Show
mixed media
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It was mid September in 2007, and I had been living in San Francisco less than two weeks. It was a Tuesday night, and I had a date with a boy with a Morrissey tattoo. He took me to the Stud for my very first Trannyshack, the theme of the evening: Fleetwood Mac “Rumours.” I remember walking into the show having no idea what to expect, and certainly having no concept of the impact this night would have on my entire creative experience in San Francisco following.

I remember watching, wide and wet eyed, as each song on this deeply crucial record was presented as its own visual moment in time by a band of creative weirdos who I immediately wanted to know. I quickly realized that this was not your standard lip sync for tips drag show, there was major thought and brains and heart behind this operation. On that first night, I felt fresh creative expression, I felt queer visibility, I felt magic in the air, but mostly, I truly felt COMMUNITY. This was a group of artists who came together week after week to create, a family rooted by a love of collaboration and performing, but even more so for music, and the opportunity to re-imagine music in a visual medium.

In my first few months frequenting Trannyshack on Tuesdays, I found The Stud so exciting. What seemed like every queer creative in the city was packed into a tiny shithole bar, all awake and sweaty at 12:30 on a Tuesday night, with nowhere else in the world they’d rather be. The energy in that room was intoxicating. As my involvement with the club grew over time, I began to spend more time backstage…a cramped, poorly lit sweatbox of a room. Trannyshack was, for me, the center of creative queer dialogue in the city at the time, and backstage was the nucleus. Queens packed in like hogs, respectfully fighting for wiggle room to put their faces on, apply their body paint, get laced up, practice their lip syncs, and prepare.

I chose to pay homage to this seemingly standard, yet quite crucial space. A simple snapshot of a crowded backstage room at a dive bar, but for me this cramped space represents my youth, my family, my art, and my San Francisco experience. This was where my family gathered, supported, created, presented, and lived our dreams together, and backstage was the heart of our house.

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Nathan Rapport attended school for painting and printmaking in Detroit where he worked heavily in music and threw several queer monthly events. In 2007, Nathan moved to San Francisco and spent the following 8 years working as an artist in the city, primarily in scenic design/painting, and performance. In 2013, Nathan co-founded The San Francisco Album Project, and acted as artistic director for a series of theatrical events at The Chapel and The Victoria Theatre. In April of last year Nathan moved to Austin where his focus has returned to creating paintings and fine art full time.