Cabaret raises profile of sex-assault survivors

Cabaret raises profile of sex-assault survivors

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Smoky crooner-arranger Shannon Turner and her pianist-accompanist Lili St. Queer are the saucy-yet-tender “Glitter and Garbage” cabaret show at L’Etage — a shimmering program that seamlessly blends Broadway standards with punk eclecticism as part of their sonic reach, with additional guest drag and burlesque moments.

“I’m an entertainer,” said Turner. “I can carry a tune. I’m able to connect with audiences. I try to make them laugh, to make them feel, and to speak truth.”

      On March 24 — and in collaboration with activist Aja Beech — Turner, St. Queer and guest performer Mistor Fahrenheit will sing for the benefit of RAINN: the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN provides assistance and counseling to sexual-assault survivors.

“Over 300,000 people, ages 12 and older, experience sexual assault every year in the United States,” said Beech, who has worked with crime victims, particularly those who do not feel comfortable going directly to authorities after they’ve been attacked. “It was only since 1994 that sexual assaults, and assaults in general, against women have been a federal crime.”

     Unfortunately, Beech added, past experience has told LGBTQ individuals, people of color and those with disabilities that they likely won’t be provided the respect and dignity they deserve in the aftermath of an assault. “Organizations like RAINN provide help to these victims, whether they are in crisis and need to contact the 24-hour hotline, connect to local resources [or] find advocates.”

Meanwhile, Turner is more than the cabaret’s host and prime entertainment: She is also a survivor of sexual assault.

“I prefer the term ‘survivor’ over ‘victim,’” she said. “Often, all one can do is survive. You survive the traumatic event, the fallout, the trigger, the day, the hour, the minute. It’s something I’ve dealt with throughout my life.”

Queer and trans individuals are assaulted at a higher rate than heterosexual and cisgender people, said Turner.

“We are in the middle of a movement. I think it’s important in the midst of #MeToo for people in the LGTBQ+ community to be reminded that we are a part of the conversation.”

If you think Turner and company won’t use L’Etage’s stage for some musical testimony when it comes to assault, think again.

“Spoiler alert for you: We will be discussing and singing about the dynamics of being a survivor at our show. Some of the tunes we are doing — Joan Jett’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me’ and Rogers and Hart’s ‘You Took Advantage of Me’ — will show how anxious I am to reclaim my strength by injecting these songs with my experience and sass.”


Glitter and Garbage will be held 8-10 p.m. March 24 at L’Etage, 624 S. Sixth St.

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