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Preview: ‘Woman in the Mirror’

Devra Gregory On Michael Jackson And Drag Kings

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando meets Michael Jackson impersonator Devra Gregory to talk about her one-woman show, "Woman in the Mirror."

Yesterday was the late pop star Michael Jackson’s birthday and MJ impersonator Devra Gregory celebrated with a dance class teaching his signature moves. She continues the celebration with a revival of her one woman show “Woman in the Mirror” at White Box Live Arts at Liberty Station tonight and tomorrow night at 8:00pm.

At White Box Live Arts, Devra Gregory is sitting behind a screen and surrounded by costumes.

"I am backstage preparing for 'Woman in the Mirror: A Dancer’s Journey,' my one-woman show," Gregory said, "This is my little quick change area that the audience doesn’t get to see."

But what the audience does get to see is a transformation of Devra Gregory into Michael Jackson. The idea of transforming herself into MJ came while working as a back up dancer on a drag queen show.

"In short I thought if guys can be celebrity women why can’t a woman be a celebrity male," Gregory added, "And because Michael Jackson dances and I dance and I started to look at my bone structure and I thought, hmm, I could maybe pull that off. For awhile I called myself the drag king of pop. I learned a lot from drag queens they’re masters of makeup… and I talked to them about how do you change your body and they add I have to take away some and there’s a lot you can do with foam rubber. So costuming is a huge part of celebrity impersonation."

There’s another kind of transformation going on in the show as well.

"It’s about transformation of the human spirit," Gregory said, "My spiritual journey is also really big part of the show, that’s a huge part of my life and so I had to incorporate that into the show…The show is a one-woman show about my life. Why I got into Michael Jackson impersonation and even more so what it did for me as person… his spirit was so unique and so big and bold and so it allowed me to become a bigger me by impersonating Michael because he’s such a huge entity of energy you know that I had to really expand myself to do it so it’s not just doing a part it’s really expanding myself…. My one woman show is actually about putting all the pieces together into one production."

Last night Devra was teaching a class how to moonwalk, in October she’ll be teaching all the moves to "Thriller". But for tonight and tomorrow night you can enjoy her one woman show, “Woman in the Mirror.”

Ticket for the show are available online.

Companion viewing: "This Is It"

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