"Make Me Gorgeous!": A Bold Exploration of a Forgotten LGBTQ Pioneer

“Make Me Gorgeous!”: A Bold Exploration of a Forgotten LGBTQ Pioneer

Monday marked the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, and with it came the debut of a compelling off-Broadway play, “Make Me Gorgeous!” This innovative production, housed in Playhouse 46, ventures into the extraordinary life of an often-overlooked figure in LGBTQ history.

A Gender Kaleidoscope on Stage

“Make Me Gorgeous!” is not just a play; it’s a journey through the gender spectrum. Actor Wade McCollum takes on the challenging role of Kenneth Marlowe, who transitioned to Kate in the latter part of his life. McCollum describes the play as “an exploration of a gender kaleidoscope,” emphasizing the multifaceted nature of Marlowe’s identity.

The Many Lives of Kenneth Marlowe

Marlowe’s life was nothing short of remarkable. His roles ranged from an Army private to a celebrity hairdresser, a self-proclaimed hustler, and a female impersonator. Each phase of his life brought unique experiences and challenges, culminating in his transition to Kate. This play delves deep into these varied chapters, showcasing the complexity of Marlowe’s journey.

A Deep Transformation

McCollum’s portrayal of Marlowe involves meticulous attention to the nuances of gender transition. The actor notes the profound impact of donning the costume and makeup, leading to a deep, transformative experience. McCollum immersed himself in Marlowe’s life, studying his autobiography, “Mr. Madam,” to accurately portray his journey.

Bringing Recognition to a Forgotten History

The obscurity of Kenneth Marlowe in mainstream LGBTQ history is a gap that “Make Me Gorgeous!” aims to fill. The play seeks to bring recognition to Marlowe’s life and experiences, highlighting the diversity and complexity within the LGBTQ community.

A Timely Debut

The timing of the play’s debut aligns perfectly with Transgender Awareness Week, a period dedicated to raising visibility for transgender people and addressing issues faced by the community. McCollum believes that the play’s message is particularly relevant during this week, providing insight into the possibilities that might have been available to Marlowe had he had access to more information earlier in life.

Empowerment, Celebration, and Protection

The ultimate goal of “Make Me Gorgeous!” is to serve as a source of empowerment, celebration, protection, and honor for the trans, non-binary, gender nonconforming, and queer communities. It’s a tribute to the struggles and triumphs of those who have navigated their gender identity under challenging circumstances.

A Limited Engagement

“Make Me Gorgeous!” is set to run through December 31, offering audiences a unique and profound look into the life of a fascinating individual who made significant, though often unrecognized, contributions to LGBTQ history. The play stands as a testament to the resilience and diversity of the human spirit, encouraging awareness and understanding of the rich tapestry of gender identity.