Best Album Covers of Pigmeat Markham

Posted in African American Interest, Comedians, Comedy, Stand Up with tags , , , , on December 6, 2016 by travsd

This post is apropos of nothing except that I’m in the middle of watching the HBO documentary series Hip Hop Evolution and they showed this great Pigment Markham record cover.

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And I had a look and all his record covers are so great I felt like sharing them. Learn more about Pigmeat here.

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An Early Holiday Junket on the L.E.S.

Posted in Burlesk, Christmas, Contemporary Variety, Magicians/ Mind Readers/ Quick Change, SOCIAL EVENTS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2016 by travsd

Yeah, I know it’s almost three weeks away, but we needed some Christmas early this year, know’m sayin’? So when I had the opportunity to review a holiday show at Pangea last night (see below) I enjoyed the evening abroad to the full. Riding shotgun on the adventure was documentary-maker Heather Quinlan, who took some of the better pictures you see below (the uncredited ones are mine)

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The night got off to an auspicious start the instant I got off the F train; there was a vintage subway train parked in the station. The MTA pulls a couple of them out of mothballs (actually the NY Transit Museum) every year at this time.

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Stopped by the Paulaner Brauhaus on the Bowery (site of my wedding after-party/reception) for the tree trimming.

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It was nice to see this pop-up Christmas tree market at the site of the 2015 East Village Gas Leak Explosion, a little bit of festive beauty enlivening what would otherwise be a depressing black hole.

Then it was off to Pangea to see “‘Tis the Season to be Morbid”, a charming cabaret show starring Austin Pendleton (What’s Up Doc? Catch-22 etc etc etc) and Barbara Bleier (with a cameo by Barbara Maier Gustern.) See my review in The Villager later this week.

Bleier and Pendleton in concert. The lady in the red sweater in the audience is none other than Tammy Fay Starlite. Turn around, Tammy!

Bleier and Pendleton in concert. The lady in the red sweater in the audience is none other than Tammy Fay Starlite. Turn around, Tammy! Photo by Heather Quinlan

 

Barbara Maier Gustern. Photo by Heather Quinlan

Barbara Maier Gustern. Photo by Heather Quinlan

Pendleton and Trav S.D.

Pendleton and Trav S.D., lookin’ goofy

The off to Hotel Chantelle on Ludlow Street for the First Annual Repeal Day Party (honoring the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.) We caught several performances by the likes of Trick-the-Bastard, Lewd Alfred Douglas and several burlesque performers, but the photos didn’t come out well in the dim lighting.  Anyway, we were too busy enjoying the performances! I hope it does prove to be annual tradition, as it was a lot of fun!

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Dapper Don Spiro and Delicious Dandy Dillinger, hosts!

Dapper Don Spiro and Delicious Dandy Dillinger, hosts!

 

Nelson Lugo!

Nelson Lugo!

 

Hannah Schiff and Dan Hermann!

Hannah Schiff and Dan Hermann!

 

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Merch room. Photo by Heather Quinlan

 

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Quinlan snapped this young lady on the street as we were leaving. I love what it says: the joy of Dandy’s party is spilling out into the world and spreading.

One last stop! I’d wanted to see Cardone’s New York House of Magic ever since he launched it at the Slipper Room over a year ago. The timing was perfect to see it last night. On the bill were young Apollo Riego, mentalist Patrick Terry, and the headliner Devlin. And of course Cardone. 

 

Cardone is literally tell me good places to visit in Transylvania in this picture. Photo by Heather Quinlan

Cardone is literally telling me good places to visit in Transylvania in this picture. Photo by Heather Quinlan

 

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Cardone in performance. Photo by Heather Quinlan

Cardone in performance. Photo by Heather Quinlan

 

Curtain Call

Curtain Call

 

Quinlan. We want to make a tv show together. Please give us money!

Quinlan. We want to make a tv show together. Please give us money!

Films of Fields #22: Tillie and Gus

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Hollywood (History), Movies, W.C. Fields with tags , , , , , on December 6, 2016 by travsd

 

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We’ll be blogging about comedian W.C. Fields all through November and December as part of our tribute to the comedian called Fields Fest.  For a full list upcoming live Fields Fest events go here. 

Tillie and Gus (1933) was W.C. Fields‘ second team-up with worthy foil Alison Skipworth, whom he had paired up with onscreen in If I Had a Million the previous year.

As in that film, the pair play a cantankerous married couple. Here, they somewhat resemble the couple played by Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler in Tugboat Annie, which was released around the same time. When we meet them, though married, Tillie (Skipworth) is running a saloon in China; Gus (Fields) is on trial for murder in Alaska. They get word of an inheritance and reconnoiter in Seattle, then head for the reading of the will in Danville, California. Much comedy is made of the fact that they these two sinners are initially mistaken for Christian missionaries. Some scheming relatives are making out that all that is left of the family estate is a broken down old ferry boat. Tillie is suspicious of the behavior of these people, so she hangs on to the boat, and then they settle who wins the inheritance with a big boat race, in one of those big finales that are so common in Joe E. Brown movies. Baby LeRoy is on hand as an infant relative to torture Fields.

Talkin’ W.C. Fields on the “Classic Movies & More” Show

Posted in Broadway, Comedians, Comedy, ME, Movies (Contemporary), My Shows, W.C. Fields with tags , , , , , on December 5, 2016 by travsd
Trav S.D., Rob Medaska, Kevin Fitzpatrick

Trav S.D., Rob Medaska, Kevin Fitzpatrick

Following our W.C. Fields History Walk a couple of weeks back, Kevin Fitzpatrick and I sat down at Flute Midtown with Rob Medaska of the web show Classic Movies & More to talk about W.C. Fields, Fields Fest, Lambs, and more. The historic confabulation is here:

Films of Fields #21: The Barber Shop

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Hollywood (History), W.C. Fields with tags , , , on December 5, 2016 by travsd

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We’ll be blogging about comedian W.C. Fields all through November and December as part of our tribute to the comedian called Fields Fest.  For a full list upcoming live Fields Fest events go here. 

The Barber Shop (1933) was based on a sketch Fields had performed in Earl Carroll’s Vanities, It was directed by Arthur Ripley, and is the last short Fields made for Mack Sennett .

As in The Dentist and The Pharmacist, and many later films, in The Barber Shop Fields plays a hen-pecked small town burger. As in The Pharmacist, his shrewish, vegetarian wife is played by Elise Cavanna (perhaps better known as the long-legged patient lady from The Dentist). He spends a lot of time loafing around gossiping about passers-by,encouraging his son’s corny riddles, flirting with the manicure lady, playing his bass fiddle (he beats it like a drum), and occasionally waiting on a customer. As in The Dentist, his character’s ineptitude results in several sadistic, if hilarious gags. A dog patiently waits for him to cut an ear off a man he’s shaving (it’s been known to happen). An enormous man walks into his new steam room, gets left in too long, and emerges 300 pounds smaller. All through the film, Fields boasts about what he’ll do if he ever catches the escaped bank robber who’s said to be nearby. At the climax to the film, he gets his chance to prove his heroism, when the robber bursts in seeking a make-over at gunpoint. You can guess how that goes. The whole thing ends on a surprisingly risque visual gag about Field’s bass fiddle mating with another one that’s been left there and producing a little of small fiddle pups!

By the time of The Barber Shop, Fields had proved his mettle in talking features in the successful Paramount romp International House, so he was able to move on from shorts. And it was just as well. Sennett would only be producing for another few months anyway, and most of the other studios (except for Columbia) would cease producing them in the mid ’30s, as well.

This Weekend: Don’t Miss the Koney Island Krampus Krawl

Posted in BROOKLYN, Christmas, Coney Island, FOOD & DRINK CULTURE, PLUGS, SOCIAL EVENTS with tags , on December 5, 2016 by travsd

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Tomorrow on TCM: 24 Hours of Vitaphones!

Posted in Hollywood (History), Movies, PLUGS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , on December 4, 2016 by travsd

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Tomorrow, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Vitaphone, Warner Brothers’ revolutionary sound-on-disc system that finally meant the breakthrough of talking pictures, Turner Classic Movies will be showing over four dozen of these early talkies, produced from 1926 through the 1930s. The fun starts at 6am (that’s why I’m telling you about it now) and continues through the wee hours of the next day. In the prime time slot, starting at 8pm, my old pal Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project will guest host with Ben Mankiewicz, and give us his take on many of these old jewels, which he has been so instrumental in preserving and sharing with the world. Ron was extremely helpful to me in my research for my book No Applause circa 2003, and also took part in our 100th anniversary tribute to the Palace Theatre at the Players Club in 2013. 

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This was a highly experimental time; in this line-up you will find a surprising diversity of approaches to combining sound and picture. Some, like The Better ‘Ole (1926) starring Sydney Chaplin and Don Juan (1926) with John Barrymore are essentially silents, with a soundtrack of music and special effects. The groundbreaking The Jazz Singer (1927) with Al Jolson is about half “silent”, with only the musical numbers featuring sync sound. Some, like Art Trouble (1934) are straightforward narrative comedy shorts of the sort we associate with Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges (Art Trouble happens to star Harry Gribbon, Shemp Howard, Marjorie Main, and a very young Jimmy Stewart). And many of them — probably the bulk of them, given the crudity of the technology in the early days — are just straightforward records of vaudeville acts, the kind of thing Jim Moore and myself paid tribute to with our “Vaudephone” series. Needless to say, I should hope, some of these old Vitaphones are often the best (and sometimes the only) place to see actual vaudevillians do their thing. This is why, for vaudeville fans, this program is not to be missed. Record them all now — watch them at your leisure!

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Burns and Allen at their peak, and fresh as a daisy, in their sketch “Lambchops”

If you aren’t up for 24 hours of film watching (wimp!) here are some special things to watch out for:

  • Not surprisingly, Ron will be presenting some of everybody’s favorites during his prime time slot. These are ones he frequently shows at his live screenings, and consequently some of the first ones I ever watched, and have watched the most. They include Rose Marie the Child Wonder (1929), starring Rose Marie (who’s still with us!) when she was a precocious, jaw-dropping child star; Lambchops (1929, my favorite of them all, starring the young, heartstring-pulling, PERFECT Burns and Allen); and the hilarious The Happy Hottentots (1930) starring the one and only Joe Frisco.
  • The musical Show Girl in Hollywood (1930). The Mad Marchioness blogged about that film here when she was still bloggin’
  • Some other key vaudevillians in the wee hours: Blossom Seeley and Bennie Fields (1928), Harry Fox and His Six American Beauties (1929); Ben Bernie and His Orchestra (1930); and a most interesting artifact, Butler and Brennan in You Don’t Know the Half of It (1929). This latter one is cool because it is one of our only ways to experience the seminal team of Savoy and Brennan, though it is only by proxy. Drag queen Bert Savoy was dead at this point, so his old partner Jay Brennan performs it with a woman named Ann Butler!
  • How to Break 90 #3 Hip Action (1933) will be a thrill for W.C. Fields fans — it’s a rare bit of arcana most of us have never seen, where a bunch of golf pros show their stuff and Fields cuts up for the camera
  • Ups and Downs (1937) features a very young Phil Silvers; Paree Paree (1934), a very young Bob Hope; Seeing Red (1939), a very young Red Skelton
  • The very first Ripley’s Believe It Or Not film (1931)
  • The Ingenues, The Band Beautiful (1928) is a very early recording of the all-girl band I wrote about here.

And this is only SOME of them! For playing times for the various film, and more information go here. I couldn’t be more excited.

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