Embracing Intimacy with Drag Artists’ Bambi + Molasses
February 9, 2023 @ 5:00pm
On the last Saturday night of January, intimacy was top of mind. Among the audience, prominent local nightlife talent streamed into Dance Place’s theater not to perform, but to support their peers Bambi and Molasses for their second and final performance of “An Intimate Night with Bambi and Molasses.”
As guests settled in, Molasses descended the theater’s staircase onto the stage. For the next hour, they and Bambi — who donned a slinky silver ensemble — took the audience on a journey of laughs and tears, reminiscing in memories of both joy and sorrow. Blending cabaret, dance, lip-sync and spoken word, the evening explored each drag artist’s growth and change over the years, especially post-Covid-19 lockdown.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself through isolation, about my actual boundaries and my actual needs in other people in a way that I never knew,” Molasses says about the show’s inspiration. “I really recognized my own desire for intimacy and the way that intimacy wasn’t showing up or was showing up and then wasn’t anymore. I analyzed what I valued when being close to people and how I get there.”
How Molasses and Bambi found intimacy with each other came in an unexpected way. Originally, the performance was supposed to be a duet with Molasses and performer Jen Haus, but due to a family emergency, Haus had to step back and the project was put on hold.
“I stepped in to make the duet,” Bambi recalls. “But, recognizing that as a non-nonbinary Black person, the piece with me in it was different than the piece with Jen.”
With less than three months until opening night, the show’s concept switched to an evening exploring sex, relationships and loss under the guise of a ’60s and ’70s variety show.
In order to explore sensitive topics, both Bambi and Molasses needed to fully trust the other. While they had first met while working on another performance over a year ago, and again when Bambi selected and awarded Molasses the annual HAUS AWARD in July 2022, they did not know each other beyond their professional personas.
“Jen’s departure was a month into rehearsal so we ended up merging the former show into this piece,” Molasses says. “We had to get to know each other really, really quickly for the type of piece that we wanted to make.”
“We had to work toward each other to bring down walls to present this,” Bambi adds. “There were rehearsals where we didn’t go through a single thing of music or choreography, but we just moved together.”
Despite the haste, Bambi and Molasses chemistry is magnetic and palpable. There’s a tenderness between the two, even when they poke fun at each other. When they dance, there is seamless fluidity and ease in each embrace.
“How we merged the show is very, emblematic of just life,” Molasses says.” What circumstances of tomorrow are just never guaranteed.”
Two weeks prior to the show’s opening, Molasses lost their father after a yearlong battle with dementia. It would have been understandable for Molasses to postpone or cancel the show, but instead they incorporated a candid, spoken word tribute to their father and dedicated a lip-sync of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” to him, which was the last record in their father’s record player when he died. Molasses’ show-must-go-on attitude helped them cope with their father’s death and reevaluate their approach to life.
“I just keep learning about how life doesn’t stop,” Molasses says. “It won’t stop tomorrow. I can lose three or four more people. At the end of the day, this lesson of intimacy for me is about the willingness to continue to move toward something and oftentimes toward someone.”
While “An Intimate Night with Bambi and Molasses” two-night run is over, Bambi has a residency with Dance Place until 2024 and will be performing alongside Molasses for Dance Place’s “BlackLight Summit: afterGlow” Saturday, February 11 at 8:30 p.m. The show promises to be a celebration of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities through glitter-filled, wig-pulling, lip-syncing drag.
Buy tickets and learn more about “BlackLightSummit: afterGlow” here. To learn more about Molasses follow them on Instagram at @kingmolasses and to learn more about Bambi, follow him on Instagram at @thatgorlbambi and @hausofbambi.
Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC; danceplace.org // @danceplacedc
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