Drag star Jeffery Robersons alter ego Varla Jean Merman (spawn of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman) regales us with her insanely banal reflections on traveling abroad opinions weighted toward the joys of finding easy sex and a MacDonalds in the middle of Rome. This new show, which includes appearances by opera tenor Mark Cortale, features about 70 minutes of stereotypical international costumes (red taffeta, lederhosen and a particularly obscene banana skirt), sleazy double entendre songs, bawdy videos and a running commentary that reveals Varlas presumption to be the center of the universe. Her observations are blithely condescending (Foreign people arent like us), while Varlas conversations with audience members prove to be exquisitely crass. (How do you say, This sore is not contagious?) After she draws a shrug from an audience member when asked how to say bacon in Spanish, Varla helpfully prompts, Well whats the word for dog? The familiar Varla Jean personality traits are all here: jawdropping shallowness, abject professional failure and incurable nymphomania. But Robesons character also turns a neat trick that makes the evening slightly political in the moments when Varla Jeans lack of curiosity about other cultures equates gay self-absorption with Heartland cluelessness about the world beyond Americas borders. Its a hilarious performance that you never want to end and that reminds us again of its auteurs wicked imagination.
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 28. Continues through March 27, 2008