“Hedwig” Creator John Cameron Mitchell Recalls David Letterman’s Transphobic Squickiness

Last night, at a Times Talk Q&A between the New York Times’ A.O. Smith and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”‘s John Cameron Mitchell, the musical’s creator dropped an interesting anecdote about “Late Night with David Letterman” and its host. According to Slade Sohmer at HyperVocal, who snagged this Instagram video, Mitchell talked about promoting the original run of the groundbreaking Broadway musical — about an East German transgender punk singer who compares herself to the Berlin Wall — on “Late Night” 15 years ago,  performing the opening number in costume. But Mitchell explains that producers told him to not remove his wig at the end of the performance — which would revealing his male-ness — because they didn’t want to “confuse” the viewers at home. “They wanted people to think I was a woman,” Mitchell said. And then: “David wouldn’t shake my hand.”

Mitchell didn’t elaborate, so we’ll have to read between the lines, but he seems to be implying that Letterman and the producers, while supportive enough of “Hedwig” to feature it on the show, were still a bit squicky about the transgender subject matter. As HyperVocal put it: “It didn’t appear as if Mitchell wanted to out Letterman as transphobic. The anecdote was more of an absent-minded endorsement of how far we’ve come in a decade and a half, that ‘Hedwig’ could go from a hot NEW YORK CITY attraction in a bastion of niche tolerance to gaining mainstream acceptance and acclaim on Broadway with its eight Tony Award nominations.” HyperVocal’s full post on the topic is well-worth a read, so click on over for more! [HyperVocal]