R. Kelly. Back by popular (?) demand.

Now that R. Kelly is set to roll out new installments of weird musical saga “Trapped in the Closet” on IFC later this year, let’s review our notes. This piece was originally published in the Boston Herald back in August of 2007 and offers a brief recap of the closet goings-on. Study up, people. Study up.

Let me out.

He’s back, and he’s been busy. R & B crooner R. Kelly returns with 10 new chapters of “Trapped in the Closet,” the so-called hip-hopera that has become a cultural phenomenon. The latest installment is due on DVD Aug. 31; until then, IFC.com is releasing one chapter on its Web site each day.

In case you missed the first 12 chapters, they’ve gone something like this: R. Kelly doubles as the singing narrator and main character Sylvester, who is involved in what appears to be a love hexagon.

There’s a lot of gun-toting, hiding and death threats against unfaithful spouses and their lovers. There is an ex-con named Twan, a pastor who turns out to be a closet homosexual, and an adulterous wife named Bridget who is secretly sleeping with (and pregnant by) an asthmatic stripping midget named Big Man.

True, the plot makes the typical soap opera look like an after-school special, but the over-the-top outrageousness seems to be part of the appeal; since the first chapters were released in mid-2005, “TITC” has spawned numerous parodies.

Episode 13 does little to advance the plot; all we know is that Sylvester and his ex-con brother-in-law, Twan, are on an errand that could be dangerous. Nosy neighbor Rosie engages in a long-winded and seemingly pointless argument with her husband, Rudolph, played by Kelly, thinly disguised with tufts of white hair and a potbelly.

Where this could lead is anybody’s guess. Kelly has already managed to turn lies and betrayal into a 22-part saga built around one melody with no chorus. He’s also made no indication that the saga will end at chapter 22.

Considering his penchant for sexual misdeeds, threats of suburban violence and musical melodrama, it’s possible that an asthmatic stripping midget sleeping with a married woman will pale in comparison to what Kelly has up his sleeve.


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