Taylor Mac's History of American Pop Music in 24 Hours

Interview + Performance

Friday, August 22, 2014

Taylor Mac Taylor Mac (Lucien Samaha)

When you think of drag, you probably imagine, big wigs, high heels, fake Lizas and Judys, and a kind of one-note campiness.

But a lot of performers are demonstrating that drag is much more than the narrow stereotype. One of the most inventive of those artists is Taylor Mac. From his five-hour-long masterpiece, The Lily’s Revenge, to his critically acclaimed turn in Bertolt Brecht’s Good Person of Szechwan at the Public Theater in New York, Mac has proven himself one of today's great theatrical artists, period.

For Mac, drag isn’t about hiding his identity — it’s about exposing what he looks like on the inside. “When I’m wearing my jeans and my t-shirt, that’s when I’m hiding because I’m trying to blend in with everybody else.”

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is a decade-by-decade revue of American pop music — from the 1770s to the present — in which each of the country’s 24 decades gets its own hour. Over the next year or so, he'll put all those decades together into one vast 24-hour musical extravaganza.

So how historically accurate will this 24-hour history be? “Oh, there’s liberties!” Mac laughs. “The 1770s is about how America was founded on booze, man-boy love, and dandy revenge.” Funny as that sounds, it’s not so far off. “ 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' was originally sung by the British to make fun of Americans, saying that they were dandies,” Mac explains. “The British lost a battle and the Americans forced them to dance to 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' over and over and over again. And that’s how it became an American song.”

Taylor Mac performs live in Studio 360 accompanied by Matt Ray on piano and backing vocals.

Bonus Track: "I Want To Go Back To Michigan" live in Studio 360


    Music Playlist
  1. If Your Kisses Won't Hold the Man You Love
    Artist: Taylor Mac

    Live Performance

  2. Snakeskin Cowboy
    Artist: Taylor Mac

    Live Performance

  3. Life is Just a Bowl of Cherreis
    Artist: Jack Hylton
    Album: Music of the Lost Generation
    Label: Vintage Masters
    Purchase: Amazon


Taylor Mac

Produced by:

Julia Lowrie Henderson

Comments [4]

Pam from Tacoma

Great interview, really enjoyed the whole show but especially liked Taylor Mac. When it was over I went to the computer to hear it again

Aug. 24 2014 11:15 PM
Kathryn Lookofsky from Athens, Georgia

It takes true strength of character to commit to being your true self. I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you for sharing your considerable talent with us, Taylor Mac.

Aug. 24 2014 02:50 PM
Kevin from Cleveland

What a fascinating interview….never heard of him but will certainly look for Taylor Mac now…Bravo!

Aug. 24 2014 11:23 AM
pat from Cleveland

Love, love, loved this! Phenominal artist! Outstanding interview! Both a true work of art! I smiled throughout the piece! Thank you!

Aug. 24 2014 11:01 AM

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