We thought R. Kelly’s “hip-hopera,” Trapped in the Closet, with its midget strippers and “spatula/nuts” rhymes, was absurd enough already. But Monday night at Williamsburg’s Galapagos Art Space, we witnessed something even crazier: The “R. Kelly Trapped in the Closet Sing-along,” in which a room full of (hopefully) drunken strangers belted out the words to all twelve chapters, karaoke style.
The Master of Ceremonies was one Henri Mazza from Austin, Texas, who conducted affairs in a white-on-white tuxedo worthy of Kelly himself. The bookish crowd — dubbed “R. Kelly scientists” by Mazza – howled with gleeful anticipation before each chapter’s painfully obvious “cliffhangers,” then shouted them in sync: The midget’s the baby’s daddy! Oh my god a rubber! Oddly, Trapped in the Closet proved to be perfect material for the interactive treatment — the bizarre events it describes force you to ask, Did I really just see that?, so hearing a room full of people voicing the same concern is oddly satisfying, and extremely engaging.
Trapped in the Closet currently ends, without any plot resolution whatsoever, after chapter twelve. Mazza is waiting, with fingers crossed, for more. “I don’t really expect it to ever end,” he told us. “[R. Kelly will] be the $8 million homeless guy on the subway, like, ‘Ladies and gentleman, I’m sorry if this is an interruption or an intrusion, but I would like to blow your fucking minds!” —Amos Barshad