Mika Johnson has been through a lot in navigating love and the gender binary. The issue was never with Johnson not knowing who they were but dealing with the weight of other people’s expectations. However, you wouldn’t know it to look at Johnson’s confidence now, bathed in the pink of Martha Godfrey’s neon lights.
Johnson’s enviable swagger and attitude makes them an empathetic and charismatic storyteller. In Pink Lemonade, part of a double bill from The Queer House at Assembly Roxy, Johnson lays out the goods regarding sexuality. Mixing slam poetry with theatre, Johnson presents their history of lust and love against a banging backing track of bashment and original beats.
Rolling lemons between their fingers, Johnson lets us into their dating world full of sour and sweet tastes, and out of reach desire. The women in their life exoticise Johnson’s brown, queer body without ever fully embracing it. Some aspects, falling in love with a straight girl, are as old as the lesbian hills. Others offer lesser-told experiences – racial fetishism outside of heterosexuality as Johnson’s white girlfriend displays them like a prize.
Johnson is a commanding yet cheeky presence – they might sweep you up in a bear hug or lay you out in one punch. Emily Aboud’s direction keeps Johnson bouncing between highs and lows.
Pink Lemonade doesn’t go as deep it could. It’s a little chaotic but then so is Johnson and reining in either would be a crying shame. Life frequently gave them lemons but goddam Johnson’s got the juice.