Things to Do

Taylor Mac’s Glitzy, Gaudy, Glorious History of Pop Is Coming to DC

In 2016, New York performance artist Taylor Mac won accolades for an insanely ambitious 24-hour show that tracked the history of American music via old songs, original compositions, and gasp-inducing outfits. With Mac now bringing a chopped-down version to DC, we talked to him and his costume designer, known as Machine Dazzle.

Photographs by Teddy Wolff.

This costume, which incorporates clock hands and a weather vane, was meant to evoke the Underground Railroad. “I wanted to use elements of time and direction and give a nod to migration in symbolic ways,” says Dazzle. “I was really just being poetic. I was thinking about migration and freedom.”

The imagery here is more direct—especially that big peace sign. Mac’s hat is intended to call to mind suits worn by the moon-landing astronauts. “I call this a space ’fro,” says Dazzle. “A spacey-future-helmet-hairdo kind of thing.”

Most people don’t immediately associate the Civil War with hot dogs, but Dazzle decided to avoid the obvious by pairing wieners—which became popular around that time—with a barbed-wire skirt. “What I love about the costumes is that they’re metaphors,” says Mac. “They’re really art pieces that I just happen to get to hang out in.”

See Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged) at the Kennedy Center on March 6. Tickets are $39 to $119.

This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Don’t Miss DC’s Best Events: Get Our Things to Do Newsletter

Arts, culture, and things to do in DC.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Greta Jochem
Editorial Fellow
We engage readers directly in their mailboxes with topics like Health, Things to Do, Best Brunches, Design & Shopping, and Real Estate. Get the latest from our editors today.
Get The Best Of Washingtonian In Your Inbox!