QUEER, ILL, + OKAY (2013)
Poonie's Cabaret - Links Hall
The very first QUEER, ILL, + OKAY premiered as part of the Poonie's Cabaret series for one night at Links Hall in 2013. Poonie’s Cabaret is Links Hall’s venue for improvisation and works in progress. Featuring artists working in many different creative realms.
Poonie’s Cabaret was created by Selene Carter and is named in loving memory for Poonie Dodson, a much-loved Chicago dancer/choreographer who died of HIV/AIDS related illness in the early 1990's. Proceeds from the cabaret go to the Links Hall Duncan Erley Coming Out of the Closet Fund, which is periodically awarded to artists whose work explores the realms of healing, gay activism, and spiritual and sexual transformation.
In the first year of experimenting with this forum to discuss what it means to live with HIV and other forms of mental and chronic illness QUEER, ILL, + OKAY saw an array of deeply challenging performances to an audience that filled every seat in the house, floor space, and lined the walls. From rap and spoken word, to experimental burlesque and contemporary dance, live musical acts to new media film debuts this first show kept the audience talking well after the show was over.
It was in fact several key conversations with audience members discussing the work an hour after the show had ended amongst a stage filled with artists and community members that the idea to make QUEER, ILL, + OKAY into an annual series was planted. After a single night of such powerful impact we thought it was undeniable that the show should happen again.
TIM'M WEST | ELLIE JUNE NAVIDSON | ANGELA GRONSROSS & J'SUN HOWARD | MS MR JR | KEN J. MARTIN | JUSTUS HARRIS | KEN LIKE BARBIE
TIM'M WEST ELLIE JUNE NAVIDSON ANGELA GRONROOS
& J'SUN HOWARD
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Justus Harris is a writer and performance artists based in Chicago. He weaves together both personal and public documents to present the body within a continuum of legacies, intimacies, and desires.
KEN LIKE BARBIE
Ken Williams, the author and creator of, Ken Like Barbie, is an award winning blogger.Ken Like Barbie keeps current by addressing steeping issues in the gay community from religion to relationships to, more recently, his HIV diagnosis and stigma. Ken’s storytelling approach has engaged and educated not only the LGBT community but his truths are shared throughout the world.
KEN J. MARTIN
Singer Songwriter Ken j. Martin, a gay-identified ally and supporter of those in the queer community that live with chronic illness, has used his platform to challenge stigma and other challenges facing our diverse community. Known for fusing his acoustic melodies with his sultry vocals, Ken j’s sound is reminiscent of the stirring voice of Sam Cooke and the passionate spirit of Lauryn Hill. He has toured nationally for over 7 years featuring on BETJ's Lyric Café and The Monique Show with nationally acclaimed poets.
Tim'm T. West is a poet, scholar, rapper, and youth activist who was born in Cincinnati, OH and raised primarily in rural Arkansas. He owns the title of Renaissance man; being a featured voice in many documentaries about Hip-Hop and masculinity because of his ground-breaking work as a gay-identified Hip-Hop artist, AIDS activist, Youth advocate, among other affiliations. He is author of several books, is heavily anthologized, and has also produced and released nearly 10 Hip-Hop albums-- the first few with iconic queer rap group Deep Dickollective (DDC).
ELLIE JUNE NAVIDSON
ellie june navidson is your everyday subversive tranny faggot. She is a blogger, poet, workshop facilitator, dressmaker, and all around crafty radical. Much of her work explores gender, normativity, radical visibility, and self-awareness. She works to incorporate vulnerability and non-violence into her life while striving for social justice. She's all about empowerment, brave honesty, and growth. She is perparing to release her fabulous new zine, Spider Teeth, that encapsulates all the complicated emotionality surrounding "The Surgery." Some essays and contact information can be found at her personal blog can be found at invisiblyqueer.tumblr.com
MS MR JR
MS MR JR, Vaudezilla Productions' hairy-chested hearthrob, is a multidisciplinary movement performance artist and acclaimed burlesque entertainer based in Chicago. Trained as an art therapist, educated as a fine artist, and dedicated to inclusion, they create subversive, erotic, entertaining, reflexive, and shocking works of strip-tease and dance that reinterpret boundaries of sexuality, gender display, attraction, and glamour. vaudezilla.com || MSMRJR.com/
J'SUN HOWARD & ANGELA GRONROOS
wanderer (work in progress)
for my dad
Direction: J’Sun Howard
Collaborator/Performer: Angela Gronroos
Sound Design: Bradford Chapin, Music includes “Cosmogony” by Björk and “Supreme Satanic::I am I am” by Dominic Hodson
Animation: Sharon Rutledge
Dance artist/writer, J'Sun Howard, was recently awarded a Juried Bessie Award for his collaboration/performance for Hoo-Ha (for your eyes only) with Darrell Jones and Damon Green. J’Sun has also been recently awarded a Distinguished Scholar Merit Scholarship to complete his undergraduate degree at the School of the Art Institute Chicago beginning this fall. J’Sun’s choreography has appeared in multiple venues around Chicago including Links Hall (2009 LinkUp Residency Artist in addition), Northwestern University, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Rumble Arts (2013 IN>Time Performance Art Festival), Epiphany Church, and has been commissioned for Chicago Academy School for the Arts. J'Sun has performed for many choreographers such as Asimina Chremos, Sara Wookey, Paige Cunningham, and Selene Carter but most extensively with Darrell Jones.
Angela Gronroos is a dance artist. She took time off from Dance to travel to China and is excited to return to dance and perform for J’Sun Howard. Angela was born in Bangkok, Thailand but was raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College Chicago and received a BA in Dance. She is currently working with Linkup Artist Liana Percoco and continuing to find ways to develop her own work.
Sharon Rutledge is a Chicago Artist originally from Peoria Illinois. As an Illustrator and Musician, she has always been willing to explore the potential of any creative mode or motive, usually with an organic approach and a digital perk. Often times her work analyzes subconscious themes and the possible consequences of a life in perpetual motion. This is Sharonʼs second collaboration with J’Sun Howard. She also contributed an animated backdrop for the 2009 piece, Cry. For more information about Sharon and her work, please visit:http://sharonrutledge.carbonmade.com.
Bradford Chapin is sound designer and audio/video engineer from Grayslake, IL. His work had been heard regionally with Cal Shakes, TheatreWorks (SF), Utah Shakespeare Festival, Chautauqua Theater Company, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. He holds an MFA from The University of Illinois and has a mild addiction to steel-framed bicycles.