The Lesson Learned from Kinky Boots

And my mom.

kinkyboots

RED is….

the color of my preschool bus matron’s lengthy Sally Hansen glue-on nails; the medium rare cowboy steak my husband eats every Wednesday night; a treasured cinematic trove of glittering “no place like home.” Red is sexy – and the bread and butter of Broadway’s dancing queen, Kinky Boots.

As soon as my mother proposed we see the show together, I accepted. There’s just something about red thigh-high stilettos, Cyndi Lauper lyrics and feisty drag queens that screamed, “Must see with mom.” After all, this was the woman who cried tears of joy when I finally conceded to trade in my Doc Martens for her 6 inch platforms. Even if it was only once, when I was 18, and my knees wobbled through the entire duration of my wear.

While I failed to see the beauty in designer heels back then, the transition signified a rare and precious moment in my life. I was desperate to grow up and into myself, and my mother was facilitating the evolution. On the night we saw Kinky Boots, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I received was validation.

The show began with the death of the main character Charlie’s father. This consequently boomeranged Charlie back to the slummy Northampton, where he was to take over his old man’s all but bankrupt shoe factory.

Pressed between the demands of frustrated employees and a whiny fiancé, Charlie is liberated by an unlikely crusader: Lola, a sassy cross-dresser with the confidence of Lindsey Vonn on a bunny slope plus a voice rampant with the power of seduction.

Lola and her sparkle-footed posse help Charlie identify a new niche target market: cross dressers looking for ostentatiously fabulous and supportive footwear, but even more so, individuals seeking the sartorial embodiment of freedom, pride and sex. The final heeled-product resembles a cross between Madame Tussaud’s interpretation of Spice Girl footwear and what I imagine Dorothy’s ruby slippers might have looked like if MGM were to do a remake featuring Ms. Gale as a cross-dresser. The boots were remarkable, misunderstood, and oozing with sex appeal.

As the ensemble on stage sang “The Sex Is In the Heel,” I danced in my seat, thrusting my arms in the sky with move I like to call “Reverse Stairway to Heaven.” The cast, meanwhile, shimmied and pirouetted across the floor in shoes that would no doubt have the average pedestrian on his or her ass in three steps flat.

For the purpose of the show, the cross-dressers were selling shoes, but behind the curtain of showbiz, the real sell was self-assurance and above all, sex. Sex that, in the words of the show, “shouldn’t be comfy”; the kind of sex that isn’t exemplified by a flawless swimsuit model, a seamless debutant, or a Dominique Ansel milk-and-cookie shot. Rather, it was sex exuded through power, vociferousness, and the unabashed embracement of wobbly knees as you walk on daggers for the very first time.

And that, you see, is the greatest lesson my mother has ever taught me.

Edited by Leandra Medine

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Thoughts?
  • Elyssa W

    Good read

  • theaterkid

    I actually dragged my parents to see this with me and they had so much fun, we all did, I think they were a little embarassed but not really because it’s so fun. I’m going to send this to my mom and say, “SEE??”

  • Missy

    My grandmother always used to say red nail polish was for sluts. So to me it always seemed like this untouchable color that as you said oozed sex appeal. Now I own plenty of red clothes and don’t really think twice about wearing them, however it is still weird to me that it seemed like such an untouchable color before.

    • Esther

      I think a lot of us can relate to that. Many of my misinformed perceptions of red came from Sandy’s transformation to a seductive red-nailed hottie in the movie Greece :) I don’t know why, but that image really stuck with me… it now has an entirely new meaning though!

  • Yvonne

    great read and play (seen with my mother as well)

  • Nycole Sariol

    Agreed. Here, here!

  • Grace c

    Great article! Cracking up from the reverse stairway to heaven move

  • Ray, L

    I guess your mom putting you in High Heels is akin to the Mother Bird pushing her Chicks out of the Nest (to fly) , those high heels are like Icarus’s wings, Great article

  • Pace

    Lmao ( or should we say laughing my shoes off), love the article, anybody who can weave an article that has a young girl a Mom, High heels, cross dressers and broadway musicals,has got it going on!!

  • http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr/ Miss J.
  • Francisc

    It was so much fun seing this, I just couldn’t have enough!
    http://fashion-soup.com/

  • http://caramellattekiss.com/ Georgina

    I love the film, so am desperate to see this show. Really hope it comes to the UK.

  • http://www.ipanemaus.com Ipanema Swimwear

    One thing is for sure: Red alone can teach a lot. Wearing it makes you feel different, up to something, although something different each time. Red heels, red dress, red lipstick, red bikini…confidence, playfulness, seduction, passion, love.
    Oh red! We love you so!
    Thanks for such an insightful review!