By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Another historic near-miss is revealed in the newish book by pop songwriters Leiber and Stoller about their chart-topping union. In 1969, the composers pitched Marlene Dietrich the song "Is That All There Is?"—the existential ditty about a woman's lifelong attachment to soigné emptiness—but the sultry siren rejected it because "It's who I am, not what I do." Fortunately, Peggy Lee felt it was what she did and had a career-reviving smash with it.
Contempo hits are reworked in the Lee Chappell–promoted Foreign Affairs Cabaret, an insouciantly zingy Wednesday-night revue (resuming September 16) on "the tiniest, sparkliest stage in New York," past the lobby of the Night Hotel. The show is co-hosted by the talented Lady Rizo, who combines glamour, wit, and real vocal chops as she slows down and pumps up "Fame"—I mean, "Toxic"—and croons a bilingual anti-love song that concludes, "Estoy creepo. Estoy weirdo. Yo no belong here."
Co-host Daniel Isengart, a naughty wood nymph in spangly hot pants, sings "Holiday" and other hits with a high-pitched twinkle and a real tan. And there are guest stars, from trannie jazz singers to exotic dancers and beyond. Yo belong here.
Next up for Chappell is Gutterball, a Tuesday-night bash at Lucky Strike Lanes, and four of my fingers are throbbing just thinking about it.
With great balls of fire, I went to the Chrystie Street hangout the Box for Patrick Duffy's mixed Tuesday night, which gets the too-cool-for-school crowd more than the Beige twink and muscle queen set, though it's so dark that they don't really get to show off their hairdos. The door scene itself was an act of s/m, with a little guy wielding a metal poker and barking, "How many?" as if I'd just arrived off the bus from Oshkosh.
Once in—plus one—I thrilled to the stage show of a trannie, with a giant attached hard-on, lying on her back as a sinewy acrobat put his finger in the hole of her penis (sorry if you're eating) and raised his body upright to cheers from the crowd. When did Lars von Trier start directing shows on Chrystie Street?
And finally, there was a real circus—the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Boom-a-Ring in Coney Island, where an elephant was paraded around the stage during the national anthem (an unwitting but welcome partisan touch) and a French clown rode a unicycle between an audience member's legs while announcing, "I did this with my brother. He's now my sister." And I still didn't shriek and cross myself.