After their recent Utah premiere of Poor Bastard, London-based theatre company Riot Actis preparing to deliver to Salt Lake City yet another rebellious and evocative classic adaptation. This time, Riot Act is spicing up the Utah theatre scene with HØÜSES, a modern, LGBTQ+ version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Riot Act Artistic Director Whit Hertford aims to shake the cage of contemporary theatre while also offering a version of the classic love story that has yet to be produced in Utah.
For starters, Riot Act isn’t scared of making people uncomfortable—rather, they intend to push the boundaries of the ‘normative’ in challenging, interesting ways. “Riot Act is currently a [nomadic] group that finds found locations and found spaces to produce in,” says Hertford, “which is both hard and thrilling.” Riot Act is known for reviving classical texts in rebellious ways. “Looking at classic plays, I feel like there is not just a need to revive them, but I’m clearly—I don’t even know if passionate is the word,” he says. “I’m insane! I’m insane that these texts can’t die.” Before adapting a play, Hertford asks himself three questions: Why this play? Why now? And why Riot Act? “If I can answer all of those well, then that’s the Litmus Test,” he says.
Romeo and Juliet is more than a favorite Shakespearean text of many—it’s iconic. But Hertford believes that the play is iconic for the wrong reasons. “I chose this play because I hate it,” he says. “What I mean by that is I’ve hated every version of it I’ve seen. I feel that the play is less of a love story and more of a sex, drugs and violence story.” The sex in this play, however, won’t be the typical love-at-first-sight romance that we normally get in productions of R&J; rather, it will incorporate awkwardness, real tension and the conflict both parties have regarding their “houses.” “It’s called HØÜSES because this is not about two families at war,” says Hertford. “It’s about two ideas of thought at war. Conservatism and liberalism. People okay with [queer identities] and people from a theological standpoint that God says, ‘No.’ I thought that was a much more interesting Romeo and Juliet.’”
Having the Capulet and Montague parents out of the picture, HØÜSES will strongly focus on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, as well as the ideas that belong to their respective friend groups. Hertford’s theories and dramaturgical work on the text have also led him to make artistic changes to his script, including allowing audiences to meet the never-before-seen character Rosalind, as well as adding Benvolio into scenes where he previously didn’t exist. “In the original, Benvolio doesn’t come back because, what I think Shakespeare is trying to say is, Benvolio is the personification of truth,” says Hertford. “‘This is the truth, or let Benvolio die.’ So I thought, let’s bring Benvolio back.”
Hertford mentions that HØÜSES is a play riddled with queerness, particularly lesbian queerness. From a same-sex Romeo and Juliet to a non-binary Queen Mab to instances of drag culture, HØÜSES will be a prime play to see after the previous weekend’s Pride festivities. “The Romeo, Benvolio, Mercutio gang is out and loud and proud,” Hertford says. “Juliet comes from the Capulet world, which is highly conservative. So her, Rosalind and Tybalt—who is a woman as well—they’re all super straight-laced.” Not only are Romeo and Tybalt played by women, but all the characters, save Benvolio and the Friar, will be played by women.
Among these interesting artistic moves is the choice to host the production at none other than Kilby Court. “This is a 70-minute standing experience,” says Hertford, “and it’s truly immersive. The fight and deaths will happen in the street. The beginning masquerade is within the venue. And the bedroom will be in the atrium across the way, where we will be voyeuristically watching a sex scene through glass.” Audiences should prepare to be immersed into thrilling scenes throughout the entirety of the play. “It’ll be very ’90s club mixed with a bit of BBC Skins,” says Hertford. “That’s the idea.” At the end of the day, Riot Act’s mission is to share classic stories and bring forth thought-provoking conversations. “I want to share,” says Hertford. “I want to share and show that it’s okay to mess around with these stories. It’s an extension, but I’m still honoring the original work.”
Don’t miss the opening of HØÜSES on June 12 at Kilby Court at 8 p.m. Following shows will take place on June 13, 15, 20, 23, 26, 29 and July 2 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices for the opening night on June 12 are donation-based, allowing access to anyone who wishes to see the show. The following shows are priced at $19 for regular admission and $17 for students. HØÜSES is also an 18-plus show. For more information, visit riotacttheatre.co.uk.
Douglass “Chopper” Styer is a musician who performs under the name Mañanero. His face is featured on the label for Squatters‘ Squasatch Hoppy Pils beer, and he also works in the Squasatch Cave, handling the shipping and receiving of beers for Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Pubs and Craft Beers.
Special thanks to the Utah Brewers Cooperativefor hosting the 10th Annual Beer IssueSLUG Style shoot in their giant warehouse.
Every month, SLUG Stylefeatures distinct and unique members of the community and asks them why they do what they do. Exploring more than just clothing, SLUG Style is an attempt to feature the people who give Salt Lake City flavor through personality and panache.
I don’t really know Jordan at all. My impression: He doesn’t say a lot, but rather, he lets his skating do the talking. I watched him cruise around the 9th and 9th park hitting every obstacle there. Ledges, rails, gaps, transition, all with the same effortless style. He looks like he’s having fun. No stressing out, just loving every minute. The same was true for the 16 times he jumped down this set of stairs. Always smiling, never stressing. He landed the 360 flip, rode off the curb, did a frontside flip and switch bombed the hill. Too perfect.
In their latest full-length release, Season High, Little Dragon ask you to get lost with them.
A typical day for the band consists of walking around their quiet and gray Swedish hometown of Gothenberg, dreaming of other places—both real and imagined. There’s something counterintuitive about visualizing the vivacious and colorful pop stars hunkered down in a sleepy winterscape, but the perimeters equate to ultimate creative freedom for this group. Freud asserted that life was unbearable without fantasy, and Little Dragon exemplify this concept musically. In the glimmering new track, “Celebrate,” Yukimi Nagano croons her escapist sentiments, “Let love drip / Lose your grip.” The group is heading out an extensive tour and will be bringing their freshest hits to Salt Lake City’s popular Twilight Concert Series on July 20.
With other track titles including “High,” “Push,” and “Gravity” the group is not only time-traveling in their compositions on Season High but exploring space and dimension as well. There is as much white space as there are magnetic beats throughout the course of the album. Though not written as a cohesive collection, the songs can feel like individual chapters in a sci-fi novel. “Butterfly” and “Don’t Cry” are Sade-esque soulful slow jams, while “The Pop Life” and “Strobe Light” are bass-heavy, intergalactic dance tracks. ““There is something for everyone,” says bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin.
“Relief, pride, excitement and also a little bit of nervousness,” says Wallin describing the emotions that come with a highly anticipated release. “On this album, we took a long time trying to collectively decide when it was finished.” It comes as no surprise that Little Dragon can get fully absorbed into the worlds that they create musically and have trouble knowing when to come back to Earth. To keep from fully floating away, the band hired legendary British producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Mumford & Sons). “It felt a little bit different. It was more of an up-and-down process because we worked longer on the album and brought in [James Ford] to collect ideas and try stuff out.” This was the first time the band had worked with an outside producer, though Wallin points out that it was a beneficial experience to all parties involved—including their fans and listeners.
Little Dragon have released two teaser music videos for Season High, which fans have likely already devoured. Directed by Ossian Melin, “Sweet” is a surrealist treat, with psychedelic imagery of cotton candy intertwined with everyday footage of Sweden. Nagano spoke to a BBC radio host about the track and noted, “It just started with a drumbeat and a pretty heavy bassline, that kind of spoke for itself. It was a track that everyone thought was defining for the record. It’s basically a dance track. A song about being addicted to a certain feeling of high, not necessarily drug-related, but anything that makes you feel high.” The video for “High” is a slightly more literal play on this idea, cheekily ending exactly at 4:20 and featuring a seductive clip of Nagano singing, “Roll another one for me.”
Little Dragon met in high school in the late ’90s and have been making music together ever since. Season High is their fifth studio-released album, though the group has been featured on tracks with Gorillaz, Mac Miller and De La Soul. Their music is a colorful fusion of pop, trip-hop, soul and rock that Nagano carries out with her gripping vocals, that lands somewhere between Nina Simone and Björk. Little Dragon’s albums have bled into each other over time, from their stirring self-titled debut to the explosive rhythms of Nabuma Rubberband and now the irresistible, summery tracks of Season High. The band has worked out most of the kinks that come with being both close friends and professionals on a daily basis and mention that the best way for them to respect each other is to talk about any annoyances that arise immediately. This is another way in which escape becomes important to Little Dragon, as they continually plunge into creative endeavors together, year after year.
“Music is our work in one way but it’s also our passion and our drug,” says Wallin. “It hopefully makes us forget about every day life.” The band looks forward to touring new cities such as SLC, because each venue brings an entirely different energy. Wallin says that he enjoys experiencing good scenery, good food and meeting new people everywhere they go, but the true joy is sharing their songs in a very real with fans in the crowd. They don’t find a huge lighting budget or much fancy equipment necessary to create a captivating visual and audio performance, relying instead on the addicting nature of their songwriting.
As they take the stage, Little Dragon hope to take everyone in the crowd with them on an exhilarating mental vacation. Wallin says coyly, “We all love to dance.” Come ready to move and be moved on July 20 at Pioneer Park.
Masculinity isn’t often something overtly flaunted in the drag community. It’s there but mostly hides under layers of makeup and lace-front wigs. Jude Wandersis here to change that. One of the latest additions to the Salt Lake drag scene, Jude considers themselves a drag king or a drag thing and uses their background in theater in their performances. Their connection to masculinity in and out of drag makes what they do both unique and powerful.
Jude Wanders’ name came from influences from The Beatles to East Romani culture, but their birth name is Lydia Shetler. That identity, Jude felt, was too feminine. Young Jude grew up in a small Wyoming town, where they were one of the only queer individuals around. They relocated to Utah in 2014, discovered the drag community and began experimenting with gender expression. After dating a trans man who introduced Jude to the Emmy Award–winning Rupaul’s Drag Race television show, “I just thought, wait, people can fucking do that?” they say. “That looks like fun!” Jude had always been an active participant in theater, since their mom was the high school theater director. “To me, it was like the Greek version of drag. I knew that men used to play every part onstage, but I didn’t realize it was a modern thing,” they say. And thus, Jude’s drag career began.
Jude’s journey to understanding and positively portraying masculinity has only started, but they are making serious waves. Initially, Jude assumed that women could only participate as a certain type of drag—kings. They’ve since adapted and now understand that that isn’t true. Jude started off doing campy male drag, and now, “it’s moved into a merging of the feminine aspects that people think men should never have,” they say. “I’m trying to bring back this idea of the male warrior and exhibit a kind of imperial, protecting, quiet form of masculinity. My drag spans so many genders, like high femme and hyper masculine. I think it’s okay to be well-rounded and do whatever you want, and that you don’t have to have a brand people recognize.”
Jude believes that people have a bad view of what masculinity can be, so their form of drag has been met with resistance and discomfort at times. “There are so many people now who believe that if you don’t have any femininity, you’re manly, and that’s really stupid,” they say. “I like to try and guide some of the over-the-top feminine aspects into male drag. I think that all of drag is playing with archetypes of what society says we should be—so taking the feminine way women are supposed to look but adding touches of facial hair and playing with that. I can tell that people don’t love that, but I’m gonna keep doing it anyway.” Jude’s attempt at bringing balance is a challenge, but one that they gladly take upon themselves. “I’ve always been more masculine and been more comfortable being masculine, but I’m figuring out that you can exist in the middle—it’s just easier in drag.”
As a drag king, sometimes issues arise that can be frustrating to deal with. “Once, I was introduced at a show as a drag queen when I was clearly not in female drag. I could feel the audience’s anger that I didn’t come in drag, but like, my tits were in my armpits, so what more do these people want from me?” It seems to me that people mostly want things to be palatable and easy to digest. But Jude’s desire to challenge that notion is truly admirable. “As a masculine woman, most people would assume I’m a butch lesbian, which I’m not. I don’t care they assume that, but that’s not me. The thing is, people are going to put you in a stereotype no matter what. So really, all I can do as a drag performer is to use my art to say that isn’t the case and hopefully reach someone who doesn’t think I belong here. Drag queens started here, too, so now we have to keep stepping forward through history.”
Jude belongs to the newly established group of Salt Lake queens call The Haven of Hues. Many of the members were originally part of the Bad Kids Collective. The Haven is attempting to bridge some of the gaps created in the drag community by bringing all gender identities together for a common cause. Jude says, “The issue is [that] the LGBTQ community is still very based on cis-gender, white, gay men. It’s very much their world still, which we need to keep fighting. Even lesbians don’t get a lot of recognition in our culture. You would think we’re all loving and accepting, but not everyone is like that. All you can do is exhibit the behavior you want others to exhibit.” Jude hopes that by putting a face to different gender identities, it can encourage positive conversations on the topic. They know it’ll take time and effort, but they remain optimistic. “We are an all-inclusive drag collective, but we are very individual people collaborating and living in harmony and bridging everything that art can be.”
Keep an eye out for upcoming performances from Jude and the rest of the beauties of The Haven of Hues, and follow their social media pages which will go live in the near future. In the meantime, follow the beautifully inspiring Jude on Instagram @wherejudewanders or Facebook @Lyxander Linea Shetler.
On a rainy, spring Salt Lake City evening, music fans of all ages gathered at The Depot for SLUG’s 28th AnniversaryParty Fashion Show. Upon first entering the venue, it seemed to be empty yet full of life. The night went on, getting closer to the time of the show, the building started to fill and the show began.
The format of the show was based on 28 years of fashion to represent the 28 years of SLUG. Starting back in the 80s and all the way to 2016. The designers created amazing interpretations of each year and style, and threw an amazing alternative vision to each design. One of my favorites was a design by Pretty Macabre, who created a very amazing rendition of Freddy Krueger, with knife hands, a bag filled with blood and a Jason mask—recreating Freddy vs. Jason for the year 2003.
Everybody throughout the show and party was having fun, enjoying each other’s company and taking in what these amazing designers created. The show was inspiring and an amazing look back on the 28 years of SLUG Magazine. They finished the show off by bringing out all of the designers and models, one by one, for one last look. All night the whole crowd basked in all the amazing designs.
SLUG Executive Editor Angela H. Brown closed out the show by thanking everyone who made the show possible and reflecting on the past years of SLUG—she also she had a pretty bad-ass outfit. Everyone left feeling inspired and excited about the future of SLUG and our ever-growing Salt Lake culture. –CJ Anderson
Relive the party with Bes Films Videography‘s video recap:
Photos by CJ Anderson, Garrett Dutcher, Jake Vivori, Madi Mekkelson,Robert Hirschi, Ryan Houston and Zach Lambros.
Thanks to DJs Typefunk, AudioTreats, Devareaux, Serge du Preea and Nightfreq, and to our sponsors, 24tix.com, The Depotand Smilebooth.
Featured designers: Andrea Black, Andrea Hansen, Ayana Ifè, Betsy Barker, Brody Ashton, Candice Pugh, Cartier Dior, Cas Reich, Cinamon Hadley, Danny Nappi, Davis Hong, DesNeiges Gregory, Gaby Okito, Heggy Gonzalez, Ingrid Kapfhammer, Jenn McGrew, Jenny Hill, Katie Waltman, Kimberly Dunn, Lisa Miller Mecham, Liz Bryson, Mary Rino, McKell Maddox, McQuiston Stoddard, Melody Noy, Rebecca Richards Fenton, Robin Uata, Snow Shepherd
Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade 54 W. 1700 S. • SLC, Utah
801.997.9220 • sweetlakeslc.com
Tuesday–Sunday: 7:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Since Sweet Lake has been a staple of mine every year that I go to the farmer’s market, I was excited to learn that owners Hasen Cone and Teri Rosquist have expanded their operation into a brick-and-mortar store and included biscuits on their menu. The result is something special, refreshing and crowded.
There are many things that make Sweet Lake ideal for a brunch outing, but the best thing about their menu is that it caters to all. Those who are looking for something a bit lighter would be very satisfied with the Biscuit Bar ($6). The Biscuit Bar comes in sweet and savory variations: two biscuits either served with homemade strawberry jam and honey or slathered in Sweet Lake’s mushroom or sausage gravy. It’s probably the best way to get a good look at the foundation of Sweet Lake’s menu. Some biscuits are fragile and flaky, but that’s not how Sweet Lake rolls—these things have to provide structural integrity to some of the most epic sandwiches that I’ve ever seen, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
The biscuits at Sweet Lake have an exterior crust that is golden brown and slightly crispy, while their interior remains soft and chewy. Even after repeat visits, the house biscuits stand on their own as sterling representatives of Sweet Lake’s culinary prowess.
For those who are looking for a more diner-inspired version of brunch, look no further than Sweet Lake’s arsenal of biscuit sandwiches. Not only do these beasts test the boundaries of physical science, but they also demonstrate an uncanny ability to combine textures and flavors into something new and exciting. Any first-timer to Sweet Lake should immediately dive into the Hoss ($10), a breakfast high-rise that manages to include pretty much everything that one wants for an early-morning meal. It consists of one biscuit stuffed with a fried chicken breast, bacon, egg and cheddar cheese. That alone would be delectable enough, but the monster comes served in a generous hot tub of sausage gravy. For an extra two bucks, they’ll add a portion of their Red Quinoa Potato Hash Browns, which completes the diner feel—though they’re by no means necessary.
The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this pretty little number come to the table was that it was a sandwich worthy of a fork and knife, which is an assessment that I don’t make lightly. The fried chicken was perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Hoss—it’s breaded and fried in the tradition of Japanese katsu chicken instead of the Southern-inspired buttermilk and flour. The chicken skin is lightly crunchy and nutty, and the breast meat remains moist and flavorful—there’s nothing dry happening here. The bacon at Sweet Lake is both firm and tender, striking a nice balance between the crispy and chewy ends of the bacon spectrum. The egg yolk and gravy are luxurious—there’s really no other word for the way all of that savory ebullience brings everything together.
Another powerful contender on Sweet Lake’s sandwich menu is called the Pokey Joe ($9), a take on the pulled pork sandwich. The Pokey Joe is also served between a buttery house biscuit, and the pulled pork comes with homemade slaw and crispy onions. As a side, it comes with a basket of tortilla chips and their limeade salsa. While not as utterly magnificent as the Hoss, the Pokey Joe remains a stalwart comrade to its gravy-slathered brother. The pulled pork is slow-roasted and tender, but it’s the slaw that remains Pokey Joe’s secret weapon—it’s got an acidity level that works with the pork and the biscuit, and its crunchy texture adds a lot to the whole package.
While it can be a bit of a risk to stray from a specialty restaurant’s claim to fame, venturing away from Sweet Lake’s biscuits remains a safe bet. The Conspiracy Cakes ($9) are the most accessible option. It’s a short stack of plate-sized pancakes that are made from home-ground organic wheat. They also come with a fried egg, some of that delicious bacon, and a piece of fried chicken for $4 more. I’m a fan of pancakes that err on the side of fluffy, but I also love it when they have a bit more body—which is exactly what Sweet Lake’s home-ground wheat flour provides.
Any of these offerings go well with Sweet Lake’s famous limeade. It’s all fresh-squeezed onsite and comes in several different variations. My personal favorite was the Habanero Limeade ($4), which spikes their original concoction with a spicy kick of capsaicin heat. All of their limeade comes with a generous helping of pure cane sugar in the bottom of the glass, which sweetens up the tart mixture and adds a nice crunch to every sip—it’s every bit as good as I remember.
Sweet Lake’s comfort-food menu and Southern aesthetic make it the kind of brunch destination that is ideal for those who have slapped brunch with a negative stereotype. It’s the kind of place that is confident in its culinary vision without being arrogant, and it’s that balance that makes it a repeat destination.
Ayana Ifè is a fashion designer who designs clothing that is edgy, modern and modest. Catch some of her designs during Utah Fashion Week‘s Urban/Streetwear Show, held at 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. on March 17 at The Falls Event Center, and at SLUG‘s 28th Anniversary Party Fashion Show, held March 25 at The Depot. Keep up to date with Ifè on Instagram (@ayanaife) and at etsy.com/shop/AyanaIfe.
Special thanks to CUAC, who hosted this month’s SLUG Style within their beautiful gallery space, and to artist Scott Malbaurn, whose exhibition Cake will be on show in CUAC‘s back gallery through March 10.
Every month, SLUG Stylefeatures distinct and unique members of the community and asks them why they do what they do. Exploring more than just clothing, SLUG Style is an attempt to feature the people who give Salt Lake City flavor through personality and panache.
The Workers Cup follows men who work in camps in Doha, Qatar, for Gulf Contracting Company (GCC). This company is one of the construction businesses developing the city in anticipation of the Qatar-hosted 2022 Fifa World Cup, and the bulk of their workers traveled there to escape crippling unemployment in their home countries. They hail from countries spanning from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but despite their various backgrounds, they share a passion for football (“soccer” in the USA). One man, Kenneth Kwesi, came on the premise that he could easily join a football club, a lie that his recruiter told him in Ghana. To boost morale and to show off the purported value that they hold for their workers, a coalition of development companies participate in a football tournament, wherein each company assembles a team. It’s safe to assume that each team that participates lives and breathes football—but since GCC is our team of champions, we know that football inspirits and animates them, keeping them alive amid their demanding work-camp environs.
The company’s workers essentially become indentured servants—if not economic slaves. They sign their lives away and cannot even leave the company without its consent. Though they have workers’ rights and are entitled to one day off per week, they customarily work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Even a date with a woman arranged online raises eyebrows enough to warrant a plausible visit to a “higher-up’s” office. The opportunity to punctuate their dreary routines with this sport, however, becomes their vocation. Kwesi becomes the team captain, and they face off against another company team. They lose dismally. From there, they vie for more training, declaring that they would like to represent GCC with the utmost honor. Moving forward, they improve their performance in an upswing. With each win, their boyish excitement bubbles as we root for them. All while exuding pride for their company team, though, they lament their prison-like conditions in their worksite and camps behind the scenes of football matches. One scene features a discussion among team members about what qualifies as freedom. The Workers Cup juxtaposes their realities on and off the field, and we feel just how much this game means to them on a palpable, existential level.
When I say palpable, I mean that I am on the edge of my seat with each goal in a GCC game. Each goal that the on-field team scores causes their teammates on the sidelines to erupt in celebration. It’s infectious. Even viewers who don’t relate to football can get behind the team. Their brotherhood charms us, and we can relate to their spiritual sense of purpose in playing football and earning more training time from their General Manager. This camaraderie also accentuates the grim reality that these companies use their teams’ notoriety as a marketing ploy to draw even more intrigue from potential workers and as a way to soften their image in the way of workers’ rights. As the GCC team advances to crucial games, they grapple with their brief fates as workers-cum-athletes in a world where they can’t even shop at the same mall as rich people.
Even though The Workers Cup offers a bleak perspective about one of the world’s most celebrated events, we see “unity in diversity” in these men. We see their drive to realize their dreams in spite of an undesirable context. We watch them as football players. You’ll see it, and you’ll feel it. –Alexander Ortega