View more photos in Lina Lecaro's “Nightranger: Twist and Shag” slideshow.
Look out, L.A., Joey Arias is in town and for the next few weeks, s/he’s out to pull your strings — and maybe even taunt your dreams. The drag-chanteuse debuted a mind-blowing collaboration with marionette master Basil Twist, fittingly titled “Arias With a Twist,” for audiences Wednesday night at REDCAT. Nightranger for one is still having fantastical flashbacks. The puppet-packed presentation, which was a huge hit in New York, follows the cross-dressing singer/performer through a series of vignettes including an alien space probe (during which Arias screeches Led Zep’s “Kashmir” while suspended on a rotating contraption), a Garden of Eden frolic, and a mushroom trip straight to hell (complete with dancing, conspicuously endowed demons), all the while looking fierce in a Thierry “Manfred” Mugler–designed corseted bodysuit and signature black bangs and ponytail. Arias might be best known as mistress of ceremonies for the sultry, long-running Sin City stage show Zumanity (tied with The Beatles Love as our all-time favorite Vegas Cirque du Soleil creation) but the singer has been taking voracious bites out of the Big Apple for eons. Cavorting with Klaus Nomi and working the counter at Fiorucci in the ’70s, melding drag performance and torch-song seduction in the club and theater worlds years after. We have a fuzzy recollection of hanging with Arias after one particularly unbridled night at L.A.’s Club Cherry back in the late ’90s after a performance with fellow fem-bot Sherry Vine, and let’s just say both queens knew how to party their eyebrows off. Not coincidentally, Cherry creator Bryan Rabin hosted the Twist debut and after-party, along with pals Ann Magnuson, Lisa Edelstein and Rosanna Arquette, making it a most coveted eve to attend — especially with mingling tunes provided by DJ Howie Pyro. The haute crowd included makeup artist Sutan, designer Michael Schmidt, Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn and androgynous glam dame Constance — the last two of whom we ran into (where else?) primping in the ladies’ room.
We hear many of the same stylish set came out to the club Shits & Giggles for its tribute to Arias last Friday, and that Joey will grace some other dance orgies the next few weeks, most notably Full Frontal Disco on Dec. 6, which might also see Twist and some wooden pals pop up (the latter is not a reference to host Mario Diaz’s ever-tight trousers). The show’s puppeteer cast is confirmed to make an appearance at Wildness at the Silver Platter on Dec. 1, and while Pinocchio might have wanted to be a real boy, at this artsy tranny haven, it’s hard to tell who wants to be what, which is half the fun. The above are sure to be a ball(s), but we can’t stress enough what a must-see the REDCAT show itself is. It’s visually and aurally stunning, whimsical yet thought-provoking, intimate yet grandiose. You don’t need another reason to go, but we’ve got one: Each night is being hosted by a who’s who of L.A. scene queens (Phyliss Navidad, Jean Spinoza, Selene Luna, Lenora Claire, Miss Barbie Q, Tammie Brown, Austin Young, Jackie Beat and Alexis Arquette), who not only attend in their glitziest getups, but encourage friends and fans to come on their night. An extravagant, all-encompassing experience is guaranteed.
Papa’s Got a Brand New Shag
His recognizable retro-styled renderings of swanky, cocktail-infused lifestyles and landscapes complete with spiffy Rat Pack–like fellas and buxom, bouffant-sporting babes might make Josh Agle — better known as Shag — the ultimate painter/purveyor of midcentury modern–inspired hedonism. (In this week’s column coincidence, a stage show that brought his art to life in Vegas a couple years ago was called “Shag With a Twist”!) But the freaky ’50s and swingin’ ’60s aren’t so boozy or blissful these days, it seems. At the opening of his latest exhibit, Autumn’s Come Undone, at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City, the images, while as gorgeous, zesty and color-drenched cartoonish as always, took on a deeper, darker feel. Some of his subjects appear in peril from nature’s creatures or in subtly somber, possibly menacing environs, and the show overall suggests an even more than usual surrealist approach. Sure was kinda surreal viewing the huge, wall-spanning pieces at the opening night under bright lights with a mixed crowd of feather- and tat-sporting femmes, familiar faces such as comedian Greg Behrendt and the Brat Store’s Nancy Kaufman with her man, Spencer, and dancing children (Agle’s bro brought his, we brought ours). One thing’s for sure, Shag’s come a long way since his Tiki-rific debut show at La Luz de Jesus over a decade ago. The Helford show — another must-see — runs through Dec. 9.
The American Music Awards hit town last week, and so did the requisite rush of corporate-sponsored ragers, as always eager to take advantage of the celebutard surplus. We’ve got fete-hopping down to a science at this point, but it was impossible to hit up all the ho-downs in Hollywood last week. GQ’s shindig at Chateau Marmont, Angeleno mag’s masquerade mash Petit Ermitage, Samsung’s Behold II launch with Katy Perry at Blvd. 3 and US Weekly’s Young Hot Hollywood wing-ding at Voyeur. We opted for the last two both on hump-night, but after the Samsung soiree all that remained at Voyeur’s velvet ropes was a pack of Sharpie-wielding autograph hounds and paparazzi milling about outside. Guess we’ll actually have to join the sequined masses at one of the dance clubs there to see what the new owners — from Vegas — have done to the once beloved Peanuts/7969, where we did door duty (English Acid in ’89) and frequented (Sin-a-matic, Velvet, Grandville in the ’90s) before it closed. Partying with Perry was ultimately worth missing the other mobs. Russell Brand’s new squeeze was rocking an ultrashort red Brian Lichtenberg minidress, but that didn’t stop Perry from spazzing about, spewing full-throttle vox or getting on all fours to “kiss a girl” by the stage. With literally gallons of confetti punctuating the vivacious set, this one didn’t feel like another half-assed play-for-pay marketing gig. The AMA broadcast Sunday, however (with the exception of Glambert), was another story.