The Countess and I had a rather a pleasant run of good experiences on Saturday.
It all started with (wait for it) Nosedive Productions‘ production of the Blood Brothers Present Freaks from the Morgue in Endtimes Productions’ Vignettes for the Apocalypse V. You got all that? Good, because I ain’t typing it again. I’ve lost count…this is either the third or fourth “Blood Brothers” show I’ve seen and reported on — and by far the best. The caliber of scripts was very high. Mac Rogers’ “Final Girl” — about a serial killer who feeds live, paralyzed meth whores to the starving stock on his pig farm — was my favorite. I also enjoyed Brian Silliman’s two entries (which were illuminating about how much can be accomplished in a play with little or no dialogue), as well as those of Nose Dive stalwarts Stephanie “Queen of Gore” Cox-Williams and James Comtois. More than the other playwrights on the bill, the latter two seemed to be writing specifically for the Guignol, the scripts devised specifically for their unsettling effects (not surprising, since Cox-Williams is the lady who devises them and Comtois’s been at this genre a while now). The horror effects are the best the group has ever done, and they are present in greater abundance than ever before — a much welcome development. Cox-Williams starts the show off with a bang with “Bad Samaritan”, treating us to arterial spurts, severed limbs and decapitation before we even have our coats off. Then it’s off to the races through the whole show, each of the tales bearing close resemblance to stories we have read about in tabloids…but never thought we’d see. As always, the show is hilariously hosted by Pete Boisvert and Patrick Shearer, who chew the scenery along with the flesh of their victims.
After this, we swung by nearby Gallery 151, where we witnessed horrors of another sort…paintings by rapper Fab 5 Freddie. The show can roughly be broken down in thirds: one third, paintings of boxing matches, with the boxers’ trunks covered in rhinestones; one third, paintings of pole dancing ho’s; and one third paintings of graffiti tags. I call them “paintings” because the artist and the curators do: in reality they are photographic prints onto canvas. If you happen to already be directly in front of the gallery (as we were), you can step inside and be in and out in two minutes. Otherwise, don’t trouble yourself.
Of much more interest is a window exhibition at NYU’s Jack H. Skirball Center curated by my friend David Leopold. Its a series of blow-ups of caricatures by Al Hirschfeld, drawn from the many productions of Eugene O’Neill plays he’d attended over — get this — 70+ years. (The first are from the mid 1920s, the last from the late 1990s.) How is that possible? Well, I got to meet Mr. Hirschfeld in the early 90s when he inscribed a bunch of books for an event I was working on, and I’m here to tell you, he was still drawing and he was still sharp as a tack into his 90s. And he started young. So that’s how! At any rate, the pictures are charming, and you get to see his impressions of historic plays like Anna Christie, Ah, Wilderness, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Iceman Cometh, etc etc, with Hirschfeld’s witty eye capturing the likes of Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst and dozens of others, in his patented economic style.
From here, we zipped over to the Duplex for another incredible show by the terrific Tammy Faye Starlite. In Chelsea Madchen, the character comedienne portrays the late bohemian chanteuse Nico, having her cake and eating it too by doing serious, accurate covers of her tunes, then doing a broader comic take in mock interview sections with MTV rock journalist and former Rolling Stone editor Kurt Loder. To add to the magic of the evening, she bantered with Danny Fields, who happened to be in the audience. Fields was a regular of Warhol’s Factory, an early supporter of the Velvet Undergound, a publicist for the Doors, and the guy who discovered the MC5, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and the Ramones. It must have been a weird experience for him to watch this ribald impression of Nico, whom he actually knew.
The band was quite incredible — they did the rather tricky feat of approximating the Velvet Underground’s sound (any musician will tell you how hard that is), and then playing in more conventional later styles. Of course, it wasn’t perfect — this band was more in tune than the Velvets ever were, and Tammy’s voice is not quite as masculine and definitely not as shaky as the real Nico’s. It was cool to actually be able to hear and understand the lyrics of many of the songs from the notoriously murky Banana Album. The show included Nico’s three songs off that record, three off Chelsea Girl (the title track, an early song by Jackson Browne, and Dylan’s “I’ll Keep it With Mine.”) She also did the Door’s “The End”, Bowie’s “Heroes”, and a version of “My Funny Valentine”. The latter is off her last record from the mid-80s, Camera Obscura. At any rate, it was a pleasure to catch this perfect set by the versatile Starlite, who also does Mick Jagger in a Stones cover group called the Mike Hunt Band, as well as her famous stints as a potty mouthed Christian country singer from Nashville. Somewhere underneath the layers, I believe, is a real girl from the Upper West Side, but I dare you to try and find her!
Well, as I said at the beginning this was Saturday and the news about the gay marriage law had just broke…and we were at the Duplex and about ten feet away from Stonewall so, as you can imagine, a festive atmosphere prevailed out on the streets when we got back outside. To cap it all off, Michael Musto walked by. We’d only just seen him the other night at the Emperor’s New Codpiece. Proof enough that the Countess and I do know how to be in the right place at the right time.