SheBrisbane had a chat with Cassie George, creator and performer of her own cabaret show, Something About Mary(s), part of the Wonderland Festival 2017. It details her life as a fag hag, which according to Urban Dictionary has the meaning of a woman who prefers the company of gay men because she recognises their effervescent and sheer brilliance when it comes to the human condition. As Cassie said, “they always seem to have the answers.”
Written by Cassie and her best friend Michael Mandalios, the cabaret show explains how Cassie managed to find the balance between being friends with a lot of gay men and handling relationships and other friendships along the way.
“Growing up, I found that when I was in high school I never met anyone who was gay for such a long time. I was very sheltered in a Christian environment and so when I did my first musical, I met so many gay men and we had a lot of the same personalities, so I happened to make a lot of gay friends during my university years,” Cassie said.
“During my final year of university we had a Liza Minnelli award which is the fag hag award, which I won. But the funny thing was that when we were voting for everybody, I turned to one of my best friends and was like ‘I don’t know who to vote for’ and everyone was looking at me and going, ‘that’s you, there’s no one else to vote for’.”
Cassie said that while in so many other places it’s a derogatory term, she’s never been offended by it. “I feel like there must be another descriptive word for it but the one’s I’ve found are like queer dear or fruit fly. So I think fag hag is the best way for the general public to understand what I’m talking about, as opposed to saying I have so many gay male friends because it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.”
Playing music since she was 5 years old, Cassie has gone through the piano, saxophone, guitar and ukulele and also started singing when she was just 12 years old. She studied musical theatre at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and watched a lot of cabarets throughout university.
“One of my first singing teachers wrote her own shows and musicals and I got to see a lot of her work which really encouraged and inspired me to create new work. I find that there’s a lot more freedom in cabarets.”
One of the stories that Cassie includes in the show is about someone she used to date. “I think when I first started writing the show I found it good to seek closure, to end that chapter of my life. So I think the first time we performed the show in full with adrenaline it was actually quite confronting to relive that memory again.”
“As I’ve gotten older and I’ve met new people and had different relationships, I realise that you come to acknowledge what has happened in the past and I’m a big believer in people having chapters in your life. With that chapter meaning something and being there for a reason and once you find what that chapter’s purpose was, I find that it’s not as confronting.”
Cassie’s show has an impressive 90’s soundtrack, with her love of strong female groups shining through. “As I got older I started listening to Salt-N- Pepa and TLC, what I love about 90’s women girl groups is that they’re not aggressive and they know what they want, they’re not polite about it.”
“They are very much I want to be with you, I want to date you, let’s make it happen, which I really appreciate and I think has even helped me to become more bold in the choices I make and not be so afraid to stand out in front of the crowd,” Cassie said.
The takeaway message that she hopes viewers get from the show is a better understanding. So that, “people can see the relationship between a woman and gay men. For men I’d like them to not feel intimidated by that relationship, I feel that both can work in magical ways.”
“But also as a general rule even if people have relationship mishaps, heartbreak and pain and things like that, there’s always great stories to tell. I think that storytelling is such an important factor in life and even though I’ve had some funny stories and some heartbreak in my life, I am definitely very entertaining at dinner parties because half the stuff that happens to me you can’t make up.”
“It’s a show to have fun, to enjoy and to listen to a local Brisbane girl talking about her love life and being okay to laugh at herself,” Cassie said.
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