If somehow you missed that Billy Porter was coming to town on Saturday, May 27 you missed a dazzling musical career retrospective that proved why Billy Porter is one award away from an EGOT. Will he get there? Definitely.
Porter told me in our earlier conversation the key to his success was leaning into his queerness. Seeing him live, it is true, and he is also immensely talented. Period.
Porter is a Black gay man who is supremely gifted with a spectacular voice, the gift of a showman, and the ability to allow his humanness to reach through to his audience and give them a spiritual transfusion that probably saved a life or two that night.
When Porter opened the show, he was wearing a loose, black and white gown, singing “Children,” a single from his Black Mona Lisa album. The crowd shyly stood to its feet, led by an excited front section that came fans blazing, ready to dance. As Porter paused after his first song, he invited the audience to move closer. There were some open seats — due, in part, to the holiday weekend. People quickly moved closer to fill the empty spaces.
Porter led the crowd through highlights of his career with videos and the skill of a Pentecostal preacher (the church of his youth). The audience stood when it was called and relaxed when allowed.
Porter had no less than seven costume changes and gave the audience a “Kinky Boots” moment in thigh-high “kinky boots,” a sparkling black rock and roll moment, and a church sermon that left everyone, with faith or without feeling moved and inspired.
Throughout the show, Porter reminded the audience that what is happening in politics on the state and national level isn’t new. It’s necessary to be engaged and fight back. Porter reminded the audience that the ‘80s were a time very much like this. The same folks burning books and trying to equate LGBTQ+ people to negative and farcical stereotypes are picking up the torches they dropped in the ‘80s and passing them to their Gen Z children, who should know better.
You witnessed something special if you were lucky enough to be in the audience for Billy Porter’s Black Mona Lisa tour. You gained a community. If you missed it, ask someone about it. It is a blessing that for sure can be shared.
Don’t miss LEO’s gallery from the show.