Take a Queer 'Ride on the Irish Cream'

Erin Markey's new downtown musical is a classic girl meets boat/horse story.
January 05, 2016

(Erin Markey and Becca Blackwell)

Pop a Dramamine and saddle up. Ride on the Irish Cream, a new musical created and written by downtown performer Erin Markey, begins January 13 at Abrons Arts Center, a co-presentation of American Realness Festival. Markey stars as Reagan, a young princess in love with her family’s pontoon boat/horse. Yes, you read that right.

“Basically, I’m trying to map out the dynamics of my adult intimate relationships on the landscape of my childhood memories,” explains Markey, who wrote the score with Emily Bate and Kiki and Herb’s Kenny Mellman. “I was raised in a house on a river in Michigan, and we had a pontoon boat docked at our backyard. I remember seeing the world through that ’80s little girl filter of things like My Little Pony, so I made the boat also a horse.” Think that sounds crazy? “Originally I was going to set the show inside a piece of Dentyne Ice gum.”

It goes without saying that Reagan’s relationship with Irish Cream, played by trans actor Becca Blackwell, is pretty queer. “It acknowledges the murky space of how I understand gender,” Markey says. “It dismisses a binary, because a pontoon boat is not the opposite of a horse, and a girl is not the opposite of a boy. Being both is just being both—or all of it.”

Markey says the show is “very deeply” inspired by her own romantic relationship with Blackwell. How well do they mix business and pleasure? “We’ve had to negotiate what space means,” she admits. In fact, for the sake of their art, they stopped cohabitating. “We love working together, so maybe that takes priority over sleeping together every night.”

Visit abronsartscenter.org for more info.