Puerto Vallarta resident Ben Schatz is widely known as Rachel of America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet known as “The Kinsey Sicks.” In July 2018, Ben announced that he (and his loveably unboundaried character, Rachel) would retire from the stage after the groups’ 25th Anniversary Tour. Their 25th Anniversary Show reprises their latest critically-acclaimed show, Things You Shouldn’t Say!, named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Best Theatre of 2017: Broadway and Beyond.” Its “outrageousness tinged with outrage” takes on Trumpism through a celebration of the group’s origins with their signature heart, high hair, and harmonies.” But Ben has written and will perform in one more Kinsey Sicks show: “Naked Drag Queens Singing!” The group will perform it here (along with a special encore performance of “Things You Shouldn’t Say”) in March before Ben’s retirement this summer.
We knew that we had to track him down to reflect on his controversial and cut throat journey to where he is today.
We know the decision to retire did not come easy or did it? 3 am alarm clocks and cheap sleazy hotels do not appeal to you anymore?
Ben: If cheap, sleazy hotels didn’t appeal to me, I would never have moved to Puerto Vallarta! But the decision to retire from touring has been a really difficult one. I love performing as much as I ever have, and I continue to learn new things and find new joys on stage. But the price of constantly being on the road, of getting to sleep at 2 a.m. and then having to wake up at 4 to go to the next city, is one I just no longer want to pay. Plus, I find that exuberant extroversion of performing swallows my ability to maintain meaningful contact with the introspective side of me that loves to write. I’d like to devote more energy to writing, and if I can occasionally find some way to perform, that would be a perfect balance for me.
Can you confirm the rumors that you are retiring to devote time to a presidential bid in 2020?
Ben: Yes, I intend to compete with Jill Stein to win the Green Party nomination. My first act upon winning the nomination will be to remove the party from the ballot in all fifty states
How much writing and how involved do you expect to be in KS after your retirement?
Ben: We’re still figuring that out. But my desire at the moment is to remain heavily involved. The great thing about writing is that it doesn’t require spending a lot of time on make-up. Or wearing any clothes. Of course, neither does being Rachel.
How involved will you be in choosing your replacement and will this person be the chief lyricist for the KS? If not, has any current member expressed interest in writing new material?
Ben: We already have a fabulously talented replacement — which, by definition, will be a major step up for the group. We’re just figuring out when and where to announce him.
Are there any prospects being considered for your replacement that you can mention?
Ben: Mike Pence auditioned, but she refused to give us back our dress. Remarkable pole dancer, I must say, but it doesn’t really fit in with our act.
Replacing the chief lyricist is more difficult than replacing just the performer, what qualifications is the group looking for? Does your replacement have to also be the new chief lyricist?
Ben: I’m not giving up my Kinsey Sicks writing throne just yet!
Are we to assume that the character Rachel will not be replaced by the new performer and never to be seen again?
Ben: I’m hoping to make very occasional appearances. If people want to book “Things You Shouldn’t Say,” I’ll have to perform (and will gladly do so), because it’s our one show in which I can’t really be replaced, because in this show Rachel breaks character and I emerge to talk very personally about my life. The new performer will have her own version of Rachel’s personality, poor dear, but will get her own name and identity.
Looking back over the amazing 25 years did you accomplish everything you could imagine? If not, what else would you have like to have achieved?
Ben: Anybody who has accomplished everything they can imagine is suffering from a profound lack of imagination. I haven’t gotten a single Nobel Prize in ANYTHING. Moreover, the folks who give out Genius Awards apparently have lost my phone number. I’ve never had the privilege of performing in Yiddish with Bette Midler and Sarah Silverman, or even won an Oscar for a soft-porn performance with a young Matt Damon. Not once have I been invited to go on Hannity to tell him exactly what I think of him. But most disappointingly at all, I’ve not yet found a way to lose weight by eating chocolate.
I am sure some show material has been retired over the years. Which show do you think made the most important political statement?
Ben: Definitely The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. Their powerful takedown of the patriarchy and their revolutionary steps to promote diversity make them pioneering sit-coms and role models for all who see entertainment as a vehicle for social change.
Oh, you mean: which shows of OURS? I’d have to pick three: “I Wanna Be a Republican,” “Electile Dysfunction,” and “Things You Shouldn’t Say.” all of which are on DVD and conveniently available for purchase at kinseysicks.com or after our shows.
Which show are you most proud of and why?
Ben: I’m still writing “Naked Drag Queens Singing,” the show we’re opening here in March 2019, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say: that one!
Do the group members socialize together outside of performing or are all the wicked in house cat fight rumors true?
Ben: We all live in different cities, making socializing both inconvenient and expensive (although, fortunately, cat fights can be accomplished long-distance. See: twitter). But we really enjoy our time together. We make each other laugh, what’s not to love?
Where was the most enjoyable place you performed?
Ben: Depending upon how you define “performed”, I’d have to say in the back seat of a car
And where was the least favorite place you performed?
Ben: Same as above, when the cops arrived.
If you have any time on your hands after retiring, what will you be doing? We have heard reports that you will be working in the US Supreme Court in some capacity.
Ben: I’m pleased to say that I will be using my Harvard Law degree to good use, and will be understudying for Justice Kavanaugh on the US Supreme Court. I hope he doesn’t become ill and I have to step in! By the way, does anyone know any good recipes involving botulism? Other than secretly writing his opinions, there are a lot of other things I’d like to write. However, my boyfriend has made me promise I’ll take off six months without making any commitments. As a result, upon retiring, I plan to devote myself to regretting my retirement.
Check back in February 2019 for the updates on who is replacing Ben and tickets on Ben’s final shows in Puerto Vallarta Mexico at Act 2.