R.I.P. Kenwyn

Kenwyn Dapo in the American Vaudeville Theatre, Todo Con Nada, August 1996

I was so sad to learn from Adam Realman that my old friend Kenwyn Dapo has died. The news shook me into unreality — you know that feeling when words seem unfamiliar? That was how it felt. Kenwyn was one of my oldest friends in New York City. We’d met in 1988 as members of the Manhattan Punchline’s Comedy Corps — a kind of internship at an off-Broadway house on Theatre Row which specialized in comedy. In 1989 or thereabouts we were extras together in the premiere of a one act play by Howard Korder. The critic for The New York Post mentioned her in his review, but incorrectly identified her as “a transvestite” — for she was gorgeous, had a classy poise not unlike that of a pageant queen, and was extremely tall and big boned. Kenwyn was in my very FIRST vaudeville show at Todo Con Nada in August 1996 (pictured above), she and her-then husband Peter Daniel Straus, whom I last worked with just a few years ago, in our Weber and Fields revival. Over the decades, Kenwyn and I remained in touch, for we both took part in the vaudeville/burlesque revival on separate, parallel tracks. She became best known as “Mistress B”, a kinky comedy dominatrix who made dirty balloon sculptures — a fact I found hilarious, because offstage she was possessed of a most becoming shyness and sweetness.

I am especially sad because Kenwyn had agreed to be in my next vaudeville show. We last communicated about it back in June, and I was so excited to be presenting her for the first time in about 25 years. This was why I was so taken aback by the news. I had no inkling that she was sick…and this feels like such a cheat. I’m devastated. Let there be no doubt about it: this one’s soul is in heaven.