This show is gender-bending — and a bit mind-bending, too.
In “Andy Warhol’s DRELLA (I love you Faye Driscoll),” which premieres at the Invisible Dog in Cobble Hill on Dec. 12, dancer and choreographer Raja Feather Kelly is playing Andy Warhol who is playing a heavily made-up woman. Got that?
The show, which Kelly has dubbed a “vogue ballet,” is visually inspired by “Altered Images,” a photography series shot by Christopher Makos in the early 1980s that featured Warhol in drag. Icelandic makeup- and hair-stylist Tinna Empera will transform 10 performers, Kelly included, into the nine female characters created by Makos.
Kelly, whose dark skin will be powdered white, said he was initially hesitant about striking this particular pose.
“Currently there’s this huge uproar about white people doing blackface,” he said. “But people have to keep in mind that I’m a black male playing a white male playing a made-up white female.”
The use of cross-dressing and voguing is also a potentially loaded issue. Voguing is perhaps best known from Madonna’s 1990 song “Vogue,” but the dance style was first performed by underground LGBT communities in Harlem in the 1980s.
However, Kelly said he thinks audiences will see that the show is about more than just its style of dance and dress.
“Since the performance is done in a very glamorous way, I think people are caught by that and not necessarily the cross-dressing,” said Kelly.
The show is about more than just Warhol, too. Kelly’s multi-layered performance is also an ode to several influential women in the arts, including dancer and choreographer Faye Driscoll and writer Virginia Woolf.
“In my history, I only had women in my life,” said Kelly. “I have a mother, an adopted mother, many sisters, my grandmother, and my best friends are either women or gay. I wrote my thesis on Virginia Wolfe, Sylvia Plath, and other powerful women. They’ve been inspiring to me as muses.”
“Andy Warhol’s DRELLA (I love you Faye Driscoll)” at the Invisible Dog [51 Bergen St. between Boerum Place and Smith Street, (347) 560–3641, www.theinv