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Philly queer artist explores diverse identities

Sebastian is set to debut five performances of his show in one day.
Sebastian is set to debut five performances of his show in one day.
Photo by Sharp Hall

A local performer is ready to break the boundaries of gender and sexuality through performance.

Queer performer, Sebastian, is set to debut his new show, Life on the Fringe, next Friday at the Aux Performance Space. Life on the Fringe is a multimedia concert that is based around the idea of marginalized communities and change through music, dance and theater.

Sebastian, 26, hails from South Philly and found refuge from an unhappy childhood through performance.

“I don't know a time I did not want to be a performer,” he said. “I moved so much I never really had friends for long periods of time. The only constant for me was TV and music. I had a VHS tape that I would record things on and then teach myself. I learned scenes from movies, songs, dances, anything I thought was interesting I taught myself while I was home alone for years.”

Sebastian said during his last couple of years in high school, he started to participate in talent shows and school productions.

No stranger to the Philly arts scene, he found success earlier this year when he debuted Sorry, I’m Just Human, a queer performance show that imagined a world where race, gender identity and sexual orientation weren’t seen, in February.

Sebastian said the show was received very well by the audience.

“A number of people approached me after and thanked me for talking about the things I talked about in that show,” he said. “A few people cried during certain parts. The number of people that came out really surprised me. When I learned we had to delay the start of the show to get more seats I knew it would be a good night.”

Sebastian has been working on his next piece, Life on the Fringe, for the past five months but said the project has been in his mind for years. Sebastian said the performance is a way for him to confront second-class citizenship.

“I've always had a problem with people treating me like I am a second rate human being,” he said. “We can say what we want, but what is treated as the "norm" in this country, the "base" of all things in America is heterosexual white people and since I am none of those things, I am always "other" — the gay guy or the black kid. I simply got tired of sitting back and dealing with it.”
Life on the Fringe includes two other performers: Drew Kaiser and Messapotamia Lefae.

Sebastian said he choose performance to explore a different way of communicating about different identities.

“I have something I want to say to you, I can employ some overused words to express myself or create an entire world that allows you as the viewer to passively watch and experience and think on your without feeling attacked or as though you need to respond right away,” he said. “Gender and sexuality are among many subjects that could use a new approach in terms of how we discuss them.”

Sebastian said he hopes people walk away wanting to understand and learn about different communities.

“I hope people leave wanting to understand people who are different from them, to realize that we all are on the fringe in some way and that if we try to understand each other as opposed to throwing blame, we may have a chance at succeeding in this world,” he said.

Sebastian will perform Life on the Fringe at 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. July 18 at the Aux Performance Space, 319 N. 11th St., #3, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Tickets are $10 and include one free beer. To purchase tickets, go to Brown Paper Tickets.

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