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David Wayne Reed harvests his rural roots for Jolly Rancher

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Local actor and writer David Wayne Reed is a dedicated urbanite, but his Midwestern roots remain very much on view. As a child of Miami County farmers, the Kansan was no stranger to rural ways.

"We raised cattle, hogs and sheep," Reed says. "I sometimes helped when the veterinarian came. I remember helping castrate bull calves and throwing their balls into a bucket. I'd carry the bucket of balls to the house, and Mom would fry them up later for dinner."

Then the city dweller emerges again. "That's fucked, right?" he adds.

Stories like this form the basis of Jolly Rancher, the autobiographical one-man show that Reed is putting on this weekend at Fishtank Performance Studio.

We couldn't wait for opening night to ask Reed more about his past.

The Pitch: What was the nightlife like in Louisburg around the time that you were growing up?

Reed: My early social calendar mostly consisted of tractor pulls, trips to the stockyards or church or the funeral home. Luckily, my parents love to dance, so on most Saturday nights, we went to the Pla-Mart, this country-western dance place over in Paola. While my parents danced, I played the Dolly Parton pinball machine or helped the bartender by making popcorn. Bartenders were my baby-sitters.

How did they encourage your creative impulses?

My parents are farmers. In fact, their CB handles were Sharecropper and Lady Sharecropper. Mine was Big Bird, and my brother's was Sugar Bear. That's what you get when you ask children to make up their own CB handles.

There were real times that I dreamed of having an overbearing stage parent that would hustle me around to dance classes and auditions. But mostly, my dad just said, "Quit dancing so damn silly and help me."

When have you known you've gone too far with a performance?

My mom was part of the Ladies Evening Circle prayer group. After I'd been sent to my room to go to bed, I decided that I wanted to perform. So I found some rags and tucked them into my tighty whities and put on a record, full volume. I broke into the middle of the prayer group and stripped to David Naughton's disco hit "Makin' It."

What did your early drag performances consist of?

I was obsessed with the movie 9 to 5. So I developed this persona named after Dolly Parton's character in the movie. Doralee Rhodes. I'd dress up in my mom's wig and heels and march out to the barn for surprise performances — little songs and dances. I only did this for our seed dealer, Bob, from Chanute. He called me his little coed cutie and even gave me a fiddle during the harvest.

Where did you dream about living back then?

I dreamed of living in Overland Park. They had malls!

How has your view of Kansas changed since you've grown up?

My view hasn't changed.

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