Love is a Drag
“My Man”, “The Man I Love”, “Bewitched”, “Mad About The Boy” …. all love songs that are generally sung by women but actually written by men. And they are among the numbers that make up the 1962 album Love is a Drag, a recording of male-to-male love songs that became a cult hit in the gay community.
There were no credits for the artists on the album and the singer’s identity wasn’t revealed until 2012. The man who gave gay desire a voice was Gene Howard (a straight, married man). It’s a fascinating story of a pioneering album - and a great idea for a Sydney Cabaret Festival show.
The actor and singer Tim Draxl, a product of the 1980s who tells a relatively uneventful coming out story, is among the country’s top cabaret performers. He’s been recording albums since signing a deal at the age of 16. His voice is beautiful, with a rich tone, and he’s a great crooner. Gershwin melodies sit perfectly in his range.
Interwoven with the songs from the album are the stories of men who professed their love to each other from the 1940s to today. The relationship between Hollywood actor Rock Hudson and Lee Garlington; a British soldier writing to his lover back home during the second world war; the advice of a father to his heartbroken son in the 2017 coming-of-age film Call Me by Your Name. Draxl recounts them all and adds some of his own tales too, reflecting on how much better things are now than they were 70 years ago.
Accompanied by a brilliant trio of jazz musicians, Draxl exudes charm, pizazz and definite likeability. This is a concept show so he only reveals limited parts of his personality, often playing characters and following the structure of the album. It will be good to see him relax as the show continues - it deserves a bigger run than this limited Sydney season. His narration is compelling - he barely misses a beat - although with such serious subject matter, it would be nice to have some more fun too.
Draxl is a great crooner and this album of American standards is a fantastic choice. He’s long been a top story-teller through songs but here we see a new maturity too.
Photographer: John McRae