Playwright Michael Gaucher on 'The Golden Girls' and their 'Dirty Secrets'

by Robert Nesti

EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Thursday October 25, 2018

What is it about "The Golden Girls" that they've endured?

For fans, the answer is obvious: The wit of the writing, the sharpness of the characterizations and the chemistry between its four stars has kept the show alive long after it went off the air some 26 years ago. (The show ran seven seasons.) There is likely a rerun on some cable network happening at the moment.

When the show was new, it wasn't unusual to go into any gay bar in the country on a Saturday night and find an impromptu viewing party. Today those same gay clubs are the homes for stage parodies of the "Girls" aimed at LGBTQ audiences with drag queens as its four leads.

One such production is "Golden Girls Dirty Secrets," which has arrived at Boston's Club Café for a run through November 18. (For more information, visit the show's website.)

The production is the brainchild of Michael Gaucher, who is no stranger to drag or parody. For more than a decade he was a founding member of the popular performance troupe Fresh Fruit, whose annual revues delighted audiences with their snarky skits, clever song parodies and inspired costumes that defined modern-day camp.

Since then the multi-talented Gaucher, who received an MA in writing from Emerson College, wrote and directed "The Menopausal Mermaid," a musical thad had a successful run at Club Café last year. He is also the author of several blogs and newspaper columns, and is a contributing writer to numerous periodicals, including Boston Spirit.

But not until now has he taken on "The Golden Girls." In the following interview he explains why, and just what is their "Dirty Secrets."

All things 'Golden'

EDGE: I don't believe you have done a "Golden Girls" parody before. Why now?

Michael Gaucher: I was late to the "Golden Girls" party. I never watched the show when it was first run or in syndication, and I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. Four old broads in Miami - big deal.

However, over the past year I've immersed myself in all things "Golden" and was impressed with the revolutionary subtext of the show. In a culture that historically marginalize any woman over 40, the writers of this show created a world where their needs and experiences were front and center - secondary to and not necessarily supporting any male character. Who wouldn't want to build on such a fantastic base?

EDGE: Why do you think they've maintained their appeal for so long?

Michael Gaucher: The characters are archetypes on the surface - the smart one, the dumb one, the man eater - and are something much more complex underneath. It is this combination of something instantly recognizable and something unknowable that has kept the girls interesting over the years - and besides, who doesn't love a wise cracking elderly lady? I'll sit next to her at any party.

Why such devotion?

EDGE: And why do gay men relate to them so strongly?

Michael Gaucher: There are a few reasons for this slavish devotion. The first comes back to the marginalized piece. You can have all the marriage equality you want, but at the end of the day the world is still built for heterosexuals. I believe gay men recognize this, and are drawn to the show because it subverts the heterosexual norms of having standard male / female relationships as the driver of any narrative.

The second is the creation of family of choice. Many gay men, for a variety of reasons, have found it more advantageous to create families then to rely on the capriciousness of biology. Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche have chosen each other as family, as the supports necessary to navigate the daily challenges of the world, and that mirrors many gay men's experiences.

And finally, the girls are camp in the tradition of drag queens throughout history. The archetypes each represent are exaggerated to show the ridiculousness of society's expectations of women, and then they subvert those expectations to give a real glimpse of the challenges of being a marginalized group. Oh, and they are funny - and what gay doesn't need a laugh.

EDGE: What is the show's dirty secret?

Michael Gaucher: Our show is about Blanche being blackmailed for a porn film she made in her youth. It's a blue movie called "Southern Belle Bottoms and Colored Tops."

EDGE: Did you write the piece with certain actors in mind?

Michael Gaucher: The only actor I had in mind was Blake Siskavich as Dorothy. Blake was the lead in "The Menopausal Mermaid," and brilliantly carried off what was essentially a one-woman show. His bearing and, let's face it, obsession with the "Golden Girls" made him a perfect fit for the show.

The three other performers came to me in a variety of ways. Brooks Reeves, a veteran actor in the Boston scene, was discovered via a standard audition and blew me away with his ability to channel vulnerable, horny Blanche in a manner both tender and humorous. Joey Lachimia is someone who has kept a foot in the theater world via various shows, but who I knew through both professional and social circles in Provincetown. He is Sophia personified on stage and off! And our ingénue, Joshua Roberts, was found in the audience of "The Menopausal Mermaid," a sweet and very talented young man who has taken Rose and made her unforgettable.

Favorite 'Girl?'

EDGE: And this is a musical?

Michael Gaucher: Writing song parodies is how I started writing for stage, and it's still something I rely on to both entertain and move a plot forward. Those who enjoyed Fresh Fruit over the years may be surprised at some of the old musical chestnuts that have been resurrected and/or reworked into this new show.

EDGE: Do you have a favorite Golden Girl?

Michael Gaucher: As a historical figure and performer, my favorite Girl is Bea Arthur. Her history as a lesbian in both theater and television is something to be admired and remembered. However, as a character, my favorite Girl is Blanche. Her unabashed vanity and sex drive make for character that continually engages and entertains.

EDGE: Are you recreating the 1980s looks from the television show?

Michael Gaucher: The costuming in this show is a love letter to '80s fashion. I have been haunting second hand shops all over the state - Taunton, Boston, Cambridge, Fall River - to find the perfect pieces to suit each Girl. When a certain outfit was not available, I enlisted the help of Rodney Vanderwarker, Fresh Fruit alum, to create what was needed. We have Sophia's handbag and glasses. Dorothy's sweeping caftans. It's one of the funniest parts of the show!

"Golden Girls Dirty Secrets" runs October 5 through November 18 on select Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and a Sunday matinee at 1 pm. Cabaret-style table service for dinner/brunch-and-a-show (20% off food with your show ticket)

For more info/tickets visit the show's website.

Tickets are available at visit>

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].

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