The Pheelgood Performance of the Year
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Earlier this summer, I became a doctor. Not any old doctor but Dr. Goodpheel, a character in Kalup Linzy‘s wacky online soap opera, Melody Set Me Free. I was in this season’s first and second episodes, and the thrilling finale just went live. I met Kalup last year, at a Chanel dinner for the Tribeca Film Festival. After that we’d say hi at art parties, and next thing I knew we were shooting scenes together in his collector and socialite Stacy Engman’s art-filled Soho pad.
Melody is a hilariously tangled web of storylines, but you don’t have to follow them all that closely to enjoy it. “I try to frame the stories so people can just come in anywhere and have something to pick up on,” Kalup told me by phone the other day from California’s Headlands Center for the Arts, where he’s doing a summer residency. The subplot I’m in involves music-industry legend KK Queen, one of about a half-dozen characters expertly played (in drag) by Kalup. A jealous rival shoots KK Queen in the—well, let’s just say in a very sensitive spot—and he goes into a coma. Being a compassionate and responsible doctor, I keep a close eye on her recovery. Maybe too close an eye, in fact. And things get interesting…
As everyone on the show does, I lip-synched to dialogue written and pre-recorded by Kalup. Unfortunately, this doesn’t entirely mask the fact that my acting skills haven’t evolved since I played Scrooge in fifth grade. Nonetheless, I can now boast that I’ve shared an acting credit with Natasha Lyonne and January LaVoy of One Life to Live—and potentially even James Franco, with whom Kalup has collaborated plenty of times before. (Melody airs on Franco’s Web-TV site.)
Kalup grew up in Central Florida watching tons of Guiding Light. With his catchy tunes and love of divas, he’s been a natural fit for the fashion world. Proenza Schouler—for whom he’s made music videos starring Chloë Sevigny and Liya Kebede—and Diane von Furstenberg are among his fans. (Kalup told me Sevigny demurred when he asked her to act in Melody: “She says she don’t like to lip-synch.”) And he’s sure to make a splash with that crowd again in September, when he performs at the opening of the Met’s big Regarding Warhol exhibition.
Also in his future: Frieze in October, and convincing Cindy Sherman (an obvious inspiration) to play one of his many ingenious characters. She’d certainly be a step up from yours truly.
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