As autumn approaches, singer Seth Sikes hopes to remind audiences about the importance of coronavirus safety precautions by putting a topical twist on a classic Disney tune.
On Friday, Sikes unveiled his version of the song “Belle” from 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast,” albeit with parody lyrics that reflect the reality of the COVID-19 crisis. The song’s quirky video shows the Texas-born singer traversing the wooden walkways of Fire Island, New York, where he encounters a number of whimsical townsfolk ― namely drag queens and sinewy beachgoers ― who urge him to wear a face mask.
Located about 70 miles east of Manhattan, Fire Island’s Pines and Cherry Grove districts have been popular summer destinations for New York’s LGBTQ community, along with out-of-state visitors, since the 1920s. With New York City once the nation’s epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the resort region’s seasonal restaurants and nightlife venues opened weeks later than usual to limited capacity crowds this year, while most annual events were canceled.
“It was a different kind of summer on Fire Island this year,” Sikes told HuffPost. “It was gorgeous and fun as always, but the pandemic changed the rules of socializing. Interacting on the beach, on the boardwalk or at a tea dance became tricky. And if you forgot your mask, heaven help you!”
Fire Island made national headlines in July, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted his disapproval after photos and videos that appeared to show maskless revelers congregating en masse surfaced online.
Though Sikes was angered by the controversy, he said the images only represented “a small percentage” of Fire Island vacationers. In reworking “Belle,” he and lyricist Lisa Lambert wanted to acknowledge the “lighter side of the health crisis” by showcasing those who did adhere to social distancing measures.
Over the past six years, Sikes has established himself as a formidable presence on the New York cabaret scene. He’s won raves for his concert tributes to Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, among other divas.
“Belle” is the sixth video that Sikes has released since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March. Most recently, he unveiled two Garland parodies, “Fire Island Ferry” and “Howdy Neighbor,” both of which were also filmed on Fire Island’s shores.
“I can’t perform live on stage, so making these videos has been my only creative outlet,” Sikes said. “And who doesn’t need a silly distraction from all the terrible news reports we read every day?”
And while the outlook for live performances remains uncertain, he’s presently slated to return to the New York concert stage in March 2021 for “Seth Sikes Sings the ’20s!”
“I do wonder if I will be singing with a face shield on or from behind a glass partition,” he quipped. “Still, I’m hopeful.”