Re-discovering Judy Garland

Vancouver drag performer Delica C. helps re-discover Judy Garland for a new generation.

A relative newcomer to Vancouver’s drag scene, 27 year-old Delica C. (aka Tristan Pearson) is about to give the performance of his career as he takes on the larger-than-life Judy Garland in a fundraiser for the frank theatre company.

“I knew her from The Wizard of Oz and from seeing her sing the duet with Barbra Streisand online, but other than that I knew very little about her,” admits Pearson who will headline the Judy & Company fundraiser on January 25.

Delica Cee (aka Tristan Pearson) is about to give the performance of her career as she takes on the larger-than-life Judy Garland.

Delica C. (aka Tristan Pearson) is about to give the performance of her career as she takes on the larger-than-life Judy Garland.

Since getting the call from frank theatre company Artistic Director Chris Gatchatlian asking him to do the show, Pearson has been busy taking a crash course on everything Judy Garland.

“Discovering her has been very intensive, but every day I fall a little more in love with this amazing woman,” he says.

Part of that discovery has been in choosing the three numbers he will perform that evening, which, perhaps surprising to some, will not include Garland’s most iconic numbers.

“We won’t be doing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” because it is a little cliché,” says Pearson who is a little reluctant to reveal all of his choices although he admits to being smitten by a performance of Garland’s in “The Man Who Got Away”.

In deciding to base the evening around Garland, Gatchatlian admits that he has only just recently re-discovered Garland.

“I grew up with her music in our house, but I always thought it was such as stereotype for a gay guy to like Judy Garland,” says Gatchatlian.  “I always related her to over-dramatic queens and I didn’t want to be one.”

Finding himself with nothing to do one night recently, Gatchatlian began surfing the internet and started listening and watching Garland on YouTube.

“It didn’t take long to fall under her spell,” he confesses.  “She is really one of the great artists of the 20th century who had no emotional inhibitions as an artist.  She totally gave of herself.”

And while there have been other gay female icons like Gaga, Madonna, Cher and even Streisand who have followed, for Gatchatlian it is Garland’s vulnerability that sets her apart, something he says is missing in the gay community today.

“Judy Garland symbolizes a lot of the struggles gay men went through during the 30s, 40s and 50s and there was a vulnerability that she embodied,” he explains.  “I don’t think that kind of vulnerability is encouraged in the gay community these days.  I think we would be a healthier community if we allowed ourselves to cry and be vulnerable and be emotional, express sorrow and fear and heartbreak.”

Pearson agrees, seeing current gay icons like Lady Gaga as manufactured and disconnected at times from real life.

“[Judy] reminds us that we’re all human and the people we put on pedestals are not these perfect things,” he says.  “We don’t have any realistic role models today where we see them as real people; we see them as almost a little too perfect.  [Judy] had real pain in her life and that is something everyone can to relate to.”

Also scheduled to appear at the January 25th fundraiser include poet  Daniel Zomparelli, comedian Julia Stretch, actor Rick Tae and others.  Gatchatlian will also make his professional singing debut.

Judy & Company takes place Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 928 Beatty Street with doors at 7:00pm.  Tickets are $10 each available online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Mark Robins on Google+

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