A Family Affair
by Matt Kalkhoff

Since the beginning of the gay party circuit, many enthusiasts have faithfully referred to the worldwide events they attend and the people they meet along the way as an extended family. It was only a matter of time, then, until an extraordinary matriarch emerged – someone the circuit boys and girls could look up to as a pillar of strength, glamour and positive energy to guide them through this often chaotic and perilous world – a sort of June Cleaver meets Alexis Carrington meets Madonna, if you will.

Matthew Harvat had already been playing that role for years, and on a fateful summer night in 1998, he took the concept to the next level when he made his stage debut as Circuit MOM at Crobar in Chicago. Stellar performances at Montreal’s Black & Blue, Toronto’s Gay Pride, Miami’s White and Winter Parties, and Washington, DC’s Cherry 6 have made Circuit MOM one of the most recognizable and sought-after entertainers on the gay party circuit, and now he brings his magic to New York City for the first time on Sunday, June 24, where he’ll perform at Ric Sena’s Alegria party at Sound Factory.

Circuit MOM, the name, was first bestowed on Harvat by a “boy on the dance floor at Hotlanta in 1996. It was 2:00 a.m. and the venue ran out of bottled water,” Harvat recalls. “I happened to discover the catering kitchen where the staff was filling pitchers of ice water to wheel out to the 3,000 people on the dance floor. I grabbed six pitchers for our Chicago gang and headed back to the dance floor. Needless to say, I didn’t make it very far [laughs]. ‘The crowd parted and there you stood with water to save us,’ said a shirtless man with dark hair and an amazing body. ‘You’re our Circuit Angel…no, you’re our Circuit MOM!’ The nickname just sort of stuck. But it also reflects me as a person. I tend to be very nurturing, reliable and I never forget…just like mom.”

While some performers focus on dark, unusual or trippy elements in their productions, Circuit MOM concentrates on “bringing a positive, uplifting, happy message to our audience.” In other words, it’s all about good, clean fun. Each show is carefully planned by choreographer and artistic director Todd Kiech with the help of Roger Evans (a/k/a Circuit DAD), Harvat’s partner of eight years. Depending on the event and venue, Circuit MOM’s elaborate performances are often complimented by a fetching ensemble of go-go boys and back-up dancers.

After the Alegria event, the troupe’s attention will focus on the second annual “Circuit MOM in Concert,” a 7-hour dance party held the first weekend of August during Chicago’s Market Days with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the city’s new Gay & Lesbian Community Center. Circuit MOM will also be appearing at Wigstock on Labor Day Weekend (which is being held in Chicago this year), Southern Decadence in New Orleans the very same weekend, a top secret Halloween extravaganza, and finally, Harvat and company will round out the year in Miami for New Year’s Eve.

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© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff
This article was featured in Next Magazine's Pride Issue New York City | June 22, 2001