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Butch Femme

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Swenson turns into Priscilla's Mitzi.  

In the summer of 2009, Swenson and his girlfriend, Audra McDonald—a Broadway queen of another sort—came out themselves, as a couple. They met in 2007, performing in a Broadway production of 110 in the Shade. Their public debut sent theater geeks into a tizzy. “I guess it’s cute that we’re both working actors?” he says. “Audra’s amazing. It’s silly what girls we are—and a little obnoxious.” He smiles bashfully. “We get pedicures together. We share moisturizer. Hair was sponsored by Bumble and Bumble; she was thrilled with the free products.”

Swenson says his churchgoing family members have come to terms with his New York lifestyle, though perhaps not his choice of roles. “On the one hand, they are proud of me,” he says. “On the other, they’re like, ‘Why Hair? Why drag queens?’ ” Swenson’s two boys, however, are completely blasé concerning what Dad does; they’ve seen nearly everything he’s been in (aside from Hair’s naughtier first act). After Priscilla’s opening night in Toronto, Swenson asked what they thought of the show. “Sawyer was like, ‘You’re weird, Dad,’ ” he says. “But I came back to my dressing room after intermission one night, after Sawyer had been there, and my headdress for a particular scene had been put on the dummy backward. I totally know the kid tried it on while I was onstage!” Swenson laughs. “They’re New York kids, and you can’t really shock a New York kid.”


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