What if the already off-kilter Capitol Hill was a slightly more ridiculous version of itself, replete with soap opera histrionics and 1970’s-style sitcom hijinks? That is the world envisioned by filmmaker Wes Hurley and Juilliard-trained performer Marc Kenison, the man behind the self-described “gender-blending queer lady boylesque performance-art stripping sensation” known as Waxie Moon, in the upcoming web series “Capitol Hill.” It’s a celebration of both its namesake’s queer culture and the camp-filled glory of the 70’s and 80’s primetime soaps mixed with Mary Tyler-Moore.
“Wes and I were brainstorming what are next project would be after collaborating on a film called Waxie Moon and the Fallen Jewel, and we thought ‘wouldn’t be fun if we made a soap opera and have it be on Capitol Hill?’” said Kenison. “We brainstormed some scenarios and thought of people we wanted to work on, and over the summer Wes wrote a draft of the pilot and sent it to me, and I loved it. There’s a slew of crazy characters, some exciting plot twists, and other magic from the wonderfully-demented mind of Wes Hurley.”
The farcical alternate-reality of “Capitol Hill,” which Hurley describes as a live-action cartoon, centers on the exploits of Roses Smell, a “refugee” from the rural, cannibal-filled town of Portland as she becomes a television host of the intentionally anachronistic television show “Women in the Workplace.” In a nod to Kenison’s career as his non-gendered alter-ego, the character of Rose is presented through the persona of Waxie Moon, which infuses the series with much of its tongue-in-cheek charm, especially as the world reacts to Rose as if the mustachioed moon is in fact the most beautiful girl in the city.
“It’s a little about looking at these very narrowly defined gender roles and playing them up while acknowledging that their limiting, restrictive, and absurd,” said Kenison. “It’s depicting a multi-faceted being. A character that’s multi-gendered, or a blend of genders. No one really knows Waxie’s gender; is it a he, is it a she? Is it a him, a her, or a ‘herm?’ That, and having fun with the style of evening soap operas and the outrageousness of that format and its outrageous plotlines.”
For Kenison and Hurley, Capitol Hill’s role as the setting of the eponymous series came from the desire to incorporate the neighborhood’s queer culture and from a love of the Hill itself, and a desire to showcase the locales that help define its character.
“I live on the Hill, and I love my neighborhood,” said Kenison. “I love the diversity, and I feel like this series reflects the Hill in all its crazy fabulousness. It’s the queer capitol for Seattle, and I think the series being as queer as it is reflects that. We also wanted to support and bring visibility to local businesses and opportunities with the project. Everyone in it lives and works on Capitol Hill, and of course we use a lot of the neighborhood’s settings.”
The web series is tentatively set to debut either next Thursday or the first week of March, and while the first season will likely only include 10 episodes, Hurley already has plans for longer plots that extend out for at least another few seasons if enough people tune in.
“People may want to be involved,” said Kenison. “We want to see if there’s support out there to continue past the first season, and we’ll make a second if there’s an audience for it and people express interest. And if there are businesses that want to support, either by offering locations to film in or be inter-woven into the plot, they should contact us, because we want this to be for the community.”