By Belinda Carroll, PQ Monthly
I came out when I was 14. It was an awkward time, partly because high school is often fraught with the kind of drama only reserved for “The Young & The Restless” and partly because when my (presumably straight or bi) girlfriends were swooning over the Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync and deciding which singer they liked better—I felt left out.
That’s when I was talking to Max Voltage, the brainchild behind the Turnback Boyz, and they mentioned that they were creating an all queer-identified boy band. I almost screamed like a girl on Total Request Live. It is a completely revolutionary idea that people like me could enjoy the best parts of being a screaming fangirl with none of the early coming-out experience. (google TRL, if you’re too young to remember).
Turnback Boyz are playing Seattle in the first of what I can imagine are many performances at Gay City Arts, May 29-30, in Seattle. The show is at 7:30pm both nights. UPDATE: A 2 pm matinee has been added on Sunday, May 31.
I know Peter Pansy (Max Voltage) through their work writing, choreographing and directing “Homomentum: The Musical!” as well as being an amazing violin player. Their way with music is unparalleled and this newest endeavor isn’t a novelty performance idea. It is rooted in musical education, a love of music, and talent.
PQ: What made you want to create a boi band?
Max Voltage: My first-ever drag king performance was to ‘N Sync’s “Dirty Pop.” So, boy band is pretty much my gender and a big part of my root as a queer performer. This project weaves together my love of pop culture, fascination with the performance of masculinity, and passion for music, fashion and queer history.
PQ: I know from Homomentum that you write music. Is this going to be all originals or can we look forward to rocking out to our boi band favorites?
Voltage: Both! We’re re-imagining a few songs from “Homomentum: The Musical,” including “Love is Cheesy,” “Narcisexual” and “Self Made Man,” putting together a few boy band covers, and also creating brand new Turnback Boyz material that we are creating together as a band, including “Tie it Up” and “Consent is Sexy.”
PQ: How would you describe your music?
Voltage: The awesome thing about being a time-traveling boy band is that we get to play around with tons of different styles and music genres. Each of our characters are from a different time, and so we’re pulling inspiration from our eras, thus there is a lot of diversity in our sound. Right now we have rock, pop, R&B, ‘90s, a cappella and even a bit of country. An important through-line is being a counterbalance to the misogyny of mainstream music. We want to step into these personas, so the audience gets to role-play along with us and live out those missed crushes of queer teen years.
PQ: What are you looking forward to doing with Turnback Boyz?
Voltage: The last couple years I’ve been focused on being a playwright and producer, so I’m really excited about stepping back onto the stage and developing my boy band persona, Peter Pansy. In terms of the big vision, I’m stoked about building this time-travel narrative that intersects with the Homomentum world, and exploring queer history.
Turnback Boyz, who feature Oliver Gold, Tommy Tugunns and Peter Pansy, are playing on May 29-30 at 517 E Pike St. in Seattle at 7:30pm, and Sunday, May 31 at 2pm. Tickets are $18 General Admission / $12 Students and Seniors and are available at www.gaycity.org/arts-season or www.pantsoffpdx.com.