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Profile: Rachel

An interview with Ben Schatz of The Kinsey Sicks

If you haven’t been to a Kinsey Sicks concert, then you haven’t lived. Or laughed, for that matter. The Kinsey Sicks, a self-described “dragapella beauty shop quartet,” is an irreverent, but harmonious, foursome known for their marvelous vocal skills, hilarious and pointed songs, colorful petticoat dresses and architecturally structured wigs. Original founding member Ben Schatz (aka Rachel) took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about The Kinsey Sicks.

Gregg Shapiro: Last year, 2017, was the 20th anniversary of the release of the first Kinsey Sicks album, “Dragapella.” Did you ever imagine that The Kinsey Sicks would still be going strong more than 20 years later?

Ben Schatz: I’ve always had some sense of optimism knowing that the United States is a large country filled with people with questionable taste and disposable income [laughs]. That has provided some hope. Just ask Britney Spears. Talent is not essential. I’ve been shocked from the moment that anyone has bought a ticket to see us to the present day. It keeps feeling like a glorious mistake. I’m delighted that it continues to happen.

GS: What’s the secret to Rachel’s longevity?

BS: [Laughs] there are things I cannot say [laughs]. Let’s just say that it involves goats and a sacrifice.

GS: What is the genesis of the “dragapella beautyshop quartet” tagline?

BS: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before. The important thing to remember about dragapella is that the term is trademarked.

GS: Good for you guys! When did you discover first your talent for singing ability?

BS: The fact that I could carry a tune was something of a miracle. I did eye the milkman frequently when I was a child to see if he could sing. I played several musical instruments and kept quitting one for another. My interests in that date back to early childhood. Whether it’s a talent is another question entirely.

GS: In terms of your brilliant parody lyrics, who are some of your influences?

BS: Honestly, I don’t have any good or bad influences. My own sort of structure of parody is a set of rules I established for myself. It’s not difficult to steal someone else’s tune and then put other words to it. The challenge, I think, is to use someone else’s tune and rhyme strTucture and subvert their intention by changing the lyrics as little as possible to change the meaning as much as possible. That’s something I started doing and then it became my own standard. No one else can be blamed or defamed as a role model.

GS: “Eight Is Enough,” The Kinsey Sicks’ most recent album, came out in 2016, before the most recent presidential election. Since that time, has the election of Trump and Pence provided you with enough material to fill a new album?

BS: No, not a new album. Because we write songs that will get performed months or years later, the latest outrage of the day is not prone to songwriting. Randy Rainbow, who is fantastic, usually goes on YouTube and does something (more immediate). We try to do song with longevity. I’ll give you an example of something I had an idea for, which I haven’t done yet, but I still could. I wanted to write a parody of “Stormy Weather” called “Stormy Daniels”. The problem is that by the time we get it into a coherent show…

GS: …she’ll just be a footnote.

BS: Exactly! There’ll be so many more outrageous things that Trump has done that the song will be out of date. We try to do stuff that picks up on broader themes. For example, our song “I Wanna Be A Republican.” We just did a TV pilot in which we did that song. That song was written in 2006. Sadly, everything in that song feels as if it was written today. I would have liked to have been forced to change the lyrics because it no longer applies.

GS: When it comes to the Trumps, is anything off-limits?

BS: Re-election.

GS: Yes. How about in terms of the current show “Things You Shouldn’t Say?”

BS: As we like to say about this show, “If you like Donald Trump, you’ll hate this show”.

GS: As a lawyer in your life outside of The Kinsey Sicks, what do you think of Robert Mueller?

BS: First of all, I have to say the sex isn’t bad. But his pillow talk leaves a lot to be desired. “I can’t talk about. No, I can’t talk about that.” I think we’re all placing a whole lot of faith in him. Apart from the fact that the entire future of democracy rests on his shoulders, he’s kind of an unimportant person.

GS: Word on the street is that Rachel will be retiring from touring with The Kinsey Sicks. Why, Rachel, why?

BS: I thought after 25 years I should give the other gals a chance to perform with someone who actualIy has talent. I’m sure the group will continue to thrive when I stop touring, as I’m going to keep writing for them and desperately need the royalties [laughs].

The Kinsey Sicks perform at Winston-Salem Pride on Oct. 13.

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