“QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock”

A theatre review of Jair Bula’s solo show “QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock
A theatre review of Jair Bula’s solo show “QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock"

A theatre review of Jair Bula’s solo show “QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock,” directed by Juliette Jeffers at Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest

“QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock” is the deeply poetic and personal biopic of Jair Bula and his journey from Colombia to Los Angeles, from boy to man, from guilt to freedom.  

This solo show won the Hollywood Fringe Festival “Encore Producers Award” last year, unsurprisingly, and is a powerful intoxicating mixture of magical realism and joyful and painful memories of a gay man growing up Catholic in a Colombian barrio. 

Very recent events remind us just how treacherous life still can be for members of the LGBTQ+ community, even in this country. Or, rather, especially in this country I suppose, depending on the state you live in or the governor or the school board.  This particular and extremely moving account of one gay man’s life is told through thoughtful poems and intricate anecdotes full of the gravity of his position and the heaviness of religious guilt.

A theatre review of Jair Bula’s solo show “QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock"
A theatre review of Jair Bula’s solo show “QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock”

We really only want to find love in the end, don’t we? And, Jair Bula is just like the rest of us, looking for acceptance, peace and a place in a world he chooses.  Colombia is a very religious country, full of the diaspora of hypocritical religious dogma and fear of the other.  There has always been “the other,” which of course actually makes it not the other at all, but simply a part of the whole of life. Yet another hypocrisy. However, for Jair, growing up in a latin country where men are supposed to be just one way, the pressure was intense to fit it, so intense he even married a woman! 

Living in the US, and after many years of hiding who he was, he finally became his true self. But of course it was a process of not only accepting who he was, but of releasing years and years of forced cultural guilt. The kind that sticks to a person and is intrinsic to their understanding of themselves, their family, where they are from.  It’s abusive really, all these layers and layers of penance imposed by terrible people in positions of power, truly the least Christ like among us.  No admiration for the staggering beauty of the human diversity.  The glory of every shade, and nuance and pattern of beings.  We can admire this in nature and the animal kingdom, but not apparently in each other. 

So Jair Bula’s story is in some ways much like many others.  He wrestles with his true nature, he dabbles in drugs and transforms himself with makeup and clothing, still another layer of disguise, before he can see himself as he was born to be. 

This story is told by a true storyteller though.  An artist, a writer, an actor, a performer, and it glows brighter and pierces deeper because of it. 

I admire anyone who can work though pain like this and still find joy and love and forgiveness, much less share it with the world.  I love solo work, at its best it teaches and includes and heals.  And “Queer: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock” is one of the very best I have seen this year.  As the tick tock clock of the past couple of covid years seems to never reach its end, I can completely relate to the booming countdown, the tremulous path ahead and the sense of impending….something.  Doom? Release? Change?  I’m not sure. But, there is definitely something hanging over us all and the zeitgeist is full of furious voices.  Jair Bula’s voice has every right to be furious, and yet I feel such a sense of triumph with this story. His characters bring us all full circle, comforting us and reminding us that we are more connected to each other and the earth than we know.  The act of mercy is a reckoning for us all.

You can see this remarkable show online streaming for a few more weeks QUEER: Drag and Drugs and Tick Tock Clock”>>

And find out more about Jair Bula and his talents here: www.jairbula.com

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.