How You Doin'?

Plus: Never Been Kissed; Wanted

 How You Doin'?
At 5-foot-8 and 115 pounds, actor Joey Steakley, 23, probably won't be playing growling hulks like Stanley Kowalski anytime soon. But having a delicate build hasn't kept Steakley, a Snyder, Texas, native and '02 SMU theater grad, from landing some heavyweight stage roles. He drew rave notices and a DFW Critics Forum award last year as the tragic transvestite trapeze artist in Barbette at Kitchen Dog Theater. Now, after a year in Chicago, he's back at KDT as the lead in the area premiere of the glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch (September 6 to October 11). Playing Hedwig, a transgender East German singer dumped by her GI husband, means two hours of layering glitter and gloss before the show and almost as long scraping it off afterward. During a break in rehearsals, Steakley shared some secrets of onstage gender bending and what he's learned about women from two roles in drag.

When Dustin Hoffman did Tootsie, he said his biggest disappointment was that he wasn't a prettier woman. So, as Hedwig, are you a dish?

I think I look pretty good. It's definitely the Ziggy Stardust, glitter-rock look. But in the wig and red lipstick, I feel like the character is attractive. But it's just pounds of drag makeup, this thick blue glitter eye shadow. I wear real tomatoes for cleavage, and it's so great at the end of the show when I take them out and smash them.

Actor Joey Steakley, starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch,  says if he were a woman, he would be “the dykiest girl in the world.”
Mark Graham
Actor Joey Steakley, starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, says if he were a woman, he would be “the dykiest girl in the world.”
AP/Wide World

Is there a complicated system of waxing and shaving involved in this nightly transformation?

Hedwig is an East German girl, so I don't have to shave anything. I don't have any chest hair anyway.

A botched sex change leaves Hedwig with that "angry inch." Do you play the character as a man or a woman?

I always refer to Hedwig as "she." But at the end of the show, she's more of a man than a woman. The message of the show is so beautiful. Hedwig is always looking for her other half. At the end she realizes we're all complete already.

Even out of makeup, you look a lot like John Cameron Mitchell, co-writer (with Stephen Trask) and star of the stage and screen versions of Hedwig.

As soon as the movie came out, I was hearing that I looked like him. That's fine. It's a dream role for me. My two dream roles are Hedwig and Hamlet. Hedwig is the first time I've been cast older than my age. The character is 28.

What are the drawbacks of being 23 and still looking like a pup?

I get carded for R-rated movies. They wouldn't let me into Freddy vs. Jason. In college, I was barely 100 pounds, and I got called ma'am a lot. It never bothered me. I know I'm skinny and pale. But it bugs my parents. At my day job in Chicago (at a garden center), some of my bosses talk to me like I'm a dumb high school kid. Both the roles I got in Chicago theaters last year were troubled teens.

The next logical role for you is, what, the emcee in Cabaret?

I'd love to do that part. Look, this is how I get cast. I look good this way. When I told people in Chicago I was doing this show, this one woman made me promise I wouldn't really get a sex change.

So as good as you are at being a girl onstage, you're happy as a boy in real life?

Definitely. The stuff women have to put up with is so much worse than anything boys have to do. All the pressure and bullshitty things about makeup and fashion. I went to Vegas recently and got nauseated by all the tarted-up women everywhere. I'd be the dykiest girl in the world. I'd never want to do makeup. Believe it or not, in real life I'm just an ordinary guy. I don't shave much, and I like to watch football. I'm pretty content being a boy. I wouldn't wish being a girl on anyone. --Elaine Liner

Never Been Kissed
We are simple men with simpler tastes. It doesn't take much to make us happy. Say, two smoking singers swapping spit on national television. Doesn't happen often, but when it does--as it did on the August 28 broadcast of MTV's Video Music Awards, when Madonna mugged down with Britney Spears, then Christina Aguilera--well, suffice to say, we savor the moment.

But we are also very greedy. One time doesn't satisfy us. We need more. So during our postshow cooldown--and it took a full two hours to recover from the made-for-TV make-out session--we started fantasizing. Taking our cue from the old "think globally, act locally" bumper stickers, we imagined, in excruciating detail, what it would be like if a few Dallas-Fort Worth hotties happened to hook up. We don't need it to happen on television; we just need it to happen. Here's our list. Feel free to make your own.

Councilwoman Dr. Elba Garcia and Channel 8 Daybreak anchorwoman Alexa Conomos

Actresses Angie Harmon and Janine Turner

WB33 news anchorwoman Terri Chappell and Fox 4 news anchorwoman Heather Hays

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