Some know AJ Durand as a yoga teacher (perhaps the only one to claim Johnny Weir-asana as a pose. In the realm of yoga humor, this is actually really funny.) Others may recognize him as Our Town’s first ever Crush of the Month (Because love means never having to say “Fine, I’ll stop following your every move and also I will return your underwear.”)
Lately, however, Durand has been living the dream as a gender fluid android, host of Sh*t’s and Giggles, a monthly themed variety show. S&G, which next takes place April third at The Parlour, is Chicago’s one stop shop for all things gender-bending, think “Cabaret” if Joel Grey were an alien android (and I’m not saying he isn’t.) This month, the line-up includes Sherri Stein, Marlene Biscotti (Kristen Studard), Steve Hnilicka and more. Space is limited, so arrive before the 9:30 curtain.
Our Town How did you come up with the Trandroid character?
AJ Durand In the summer of 2005 I was playing with some makeup and costume pieces and my neighbor had a camera and we created this being who appeared on the roof, curious to explore the sexual nature of humans. As a performer, I wanted to blur gender. Trandroid is ambi-gendered, all genders.
OT Trandroid has killer style. Where does zie shop?
AJ Oh, you know, all the finest boutiques, like the village discount thrift in Roscoe Village, Ragstock, my closet, my friend's closets, you know Plato, right? I try not to spend too much money on Mamsir Trandroid because I tend to hack apart and sew together most of it. Although, the sweater dress just made an appearance unaltered. Some garments are just built for bots!
OT What do you look for in a performer?
AJ Light and cheeky, over-the-top sexy, gaudy, but never mean. I don't think mean is entertaining. [We’ve had] comedians, burlesquer/boylesque, drag kings and queens, animal impersonators, jugglers, sword swallowers, belly dancers, and once we had a stripper robot. I encourage people to add a touch of queer to the mix and many do. I send out a once monthly "call to perform" email to performers. If anyone would like to be added, email me at TrandroidChronicles@gmail.com or "like" Trandroid on Facebook.
OT What aspect of the show are you particularly excited about this month?
AJ I don't just host the show, I host the event, so it's nice to see some familiar faces and meet new people and talk about gender and queerness and fun. Every month I'm excited to hang out with the audience. We have some returning artists this month and some new, so I'm excited to see what everyone comes up with. [Also], Maxx Hollywood, a former Chicago King is performing and never fails to win our hearts!
OT April’s theme is ‘Famous.’ What celebrity do you hope walks in the door on show night?
AJ Jon Pernisek is going to roast Charlie Sheen but I'm afraid if he showed up there would be no room at Parlour for both my paparazzi and his. I'd like Daryl Hannah to come. Pris from "Blade Runner" is one of Trandroids inspirations.
OT Who's your celebrity look-alike?
AJ I was once told I look like Sharon Tate and that was a bit freaky. I loved it. When I put my face in the one of those celebrity look alike meme's I got equal parts Raquel Welch and Princess Diana but personally I think I look like Steve Buscemi.
OT Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be performing?
AJ It involves a tutu, a fedora, and a tube of lipstick. That's all I'm sayin.
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez