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Boys R Us shows blend gender lines

Citizen Staff Writer


Tucson Citizen

At first glance, a Boys R Us show may seem no different than those
of other risqué Tucson performance groups. It’s not until you notice a
slight bulge in the underwear of the pretty girl you’ve had your eyes
on or discover the fake mustache of the hunky guy who caught your
attention. Suddenly, it dawns on you. He might be a she – or vice

“We’re a collective group of gender benders,” says Dante Celeiro,
troupe manager and performer. “Some people are gay or straight or bi or
transgender or anything in between. Our job is to push that envelope
and to entertain. By the end of the show we have you thinking or even
questioning, ‘What’s the point of gender?’ ”

Boys R Us started in Tucson in 2002 as a drag king style performance
group. It has since broadened its scope to include male and transgender
entertainers. The group primarily performs lip-synched variations of
songs both to entertain and address topics of gender stereotypes and

The burly, mustachioed Celeiro, who has been on hormone therapy for
the past five years, says many of the group’s skits are based on cast
members’ personal experiences. For example, The Veronicas song
“Untouchable” evokes memories of Catholic grade school for Celeiro, who
incorporated the incident into one of the sketches in the upcoming
“Kneel Before your King” show. In the sketch, two girls are being
reprimanded by a nun because of their attraction to each other.

“I heard the song and it just reminded me of Catholic school girls.
It reminded me of being in grade school,” Celeiro says. “I remember
going to Catholic school and having my uniform on and seeing girls and
just thinking, ‘I like you.’ ”

While Boys R Us’ subject matter is sometimes considered taboo,
Celeiro says that oftentimes people simply need to be exposed to things
they don’t understand in order for them to accept and even embrace

“People see that this (transgender) person is normal,” Celeiro says.
“The only thing that’s different from this person is the physical part.
What’s in the mind, what’s in the heart, that’s still who I am. That
doesn’t change.”

Jessica Rosenbaum, who has been a member for about a year and a
half, says that Boys R Us provides an all-inclusive forum to tear down
stereotypes and bridge connections between people regardless of their
sexual orientation or gender preference. While some people may be
skeptical about attending their first gender-bent show, Rosenbaum
assures that few are left apprehensive.

“People come in from off the street that would have never ever been
caught dead at a Boys R Us show in their lives and they walk away
saying it was the best thing that ever happened to them.”

Boys R Us has recently begun to see more people coming in from off
the street. The group has noticed a dramatic increase in their audience
as a whole as well and in the number of straight couples attending,
says Celeiro.

“About half of our audience is straight now,” he says. “At first it
was predominantly (homosexual) female based. To see that evolution
tells us that we must be doing our jobs.”

Boys R Us’ upcoming show at Club Congress will be no different than
the rest. The group will continue to cast light on prevalent topics of
gender as well as keep the audience laughing and guessing what will
come next. The only thing consistent in a Boys R Us show is that the
audience never knows what to expect.

“Is it going to be sexy, is it going to be funny, is it going to be
political, is it going to be geeky or is it going to be serious? That’s
how we do our shows,” Celeiro says. “It’s like a roller coaster ride.”


What: “Kneel Before your King” Boys R Us performance (21 and older)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

Price: $7 general, $10 limited seating

Info: 622-8848, www.hotelcongress.com

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