There are many accolades that describe the work of beloved San Francisco drag queen Peaches Christ. Over the years, her drag-infused takes on cinematic treasures have delivered with equal measures of brilliance and revulsion. Now she’s pushing things even further with a show that combines the 1996 Bette Midler comedy The First Wives Club with the 1999 cult-classic Fight Club.
As always, the cast features a mixture of local girls and RuPaul’s Drage Race alumni. Joining Bay Area gals like Peggy L’Eggs and April Kidwell is Drag Race Season Three winner Raja, two-time competitor (and self-described “glamour toad”) Ginger Minj, and current Season 11 contestant Brooke Lynn Hytes.
According to Christ, the casting of Hytes marks the first time she’s hired a queen who is concurrently making their Drag Race debut.umm
“I’d heard about Brooke from a number of friends and began following her on the internet,” Christ says. “I knew that she had all this incredible experience under her belt as a dancer and a pageant queen. I really wanted to have a girl be in one of our shows while she was still (hopefully) appearing on TV.”
Speaking of those dancing moves, Hytes recently demonstrated her ability to go en pointe on a Drag Race episode that saw her slay the main stage in mummy garb. Intriguingly, Hytes has yet to actually meet Christ but expresses enthusiasm for the upcoming opportunity to check that box when she performs in First Wives Fight Club at the Castro Theatre on Sunday, April 7.
“Me and Peaches have actually never met,” Hytes confirmed by email, “nor have I seen one of her shows live before! So, she’s taking a chance on me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”
As for Christ’s semi-serious concern that Hytes may sashay away before making her San Francisco debut this weekend, Drag Race viewers would likely riot if one of this season’s established frontrunners were to depart anytime soon.
For those who saw The Whining — Christ’s hilarious two-woman show with legendary queen Varla Jean Merman — the pair have reunited once more for this offering. While Merman will not be appearing on stage, she and Christ co-wrote the script. Given their last collaboration resulted in a dog puppet rolling across the stage on a motorized scooter, cheeky Stephen King references galore, and the requisite digs at Oasis club co-owner Heklina, there is every reason to expect things to get delightfully psychotic in a hurry.
“Working together was so great,” Christ says of Merman and The Whining. “We were really happy with how the show turned out so we decided to write together more often and The First Wives Fight Club is our second collaboration. I feel like we really push each other to be more ridiculous and more insane!”
This time around, Christ has also given herself the added challenge of merging the plots and dialogue from two films into one “cohesive” show. For February’s Mean Gays, she had no trouble mining popular lines and iconic moments from 2004’s Mean Girls. This time around, she concedes things were a tad more complex at the outset.
“I would say that doing a mash-up like this was perhaps a bigger challenge initially,” she notes, “but the challenge was so much fun that it didn’t feel tedious—it had us giddy when we were figuring out how it would all work.”
Naturally, Merman and Christ couldn’t restrain themselves by simply utilizing the characters from First Wives Club and Fight Club. Instead, they’ve taken the opportunity to pepper in some other cult canon characters. Given Christ’s enduring passion for 1995’s infamous sleazefest, Showgirls, it’s fitting that she and Merman have opted to simply turn actress Elizabeth Berkley’s girlfriend character in First Wives into Nomi Malone for their show.
Considering the name of their latest show, it’s also apparent that Christ and Merman are steadfastly committed to their belief that puns are worth their weight in gold.
“Our Maggie Smith character, Lady Grantham, owns a bunch of Downtown Arby’s in NYC,” Christ reveals. “Get it? Downtown Arby’s.”
First Wives Fight Club, Sunday, Apr. 7, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St. $20-$140; peacheschrist.com