There’s nothing tentative about Justin Bond when he’s rolling, either as cracked chanteuse Kiki DuRane or here in Lustre, a bumpy grabbag of a queer variety show in which he plies his drag trade minus a moniker. In this new dispensation, Bond’s hair is sleeker and costumes skimpier, but his bottomless deadpan and omnivorous pop stylings remain as sharp as his stilettos. His voice dipping confidently toward baritone, he artfully splices a gospel tune to Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes,” turns Traffic’s “High Heel Boys” into an exuberant parade of butch-femme eye candy, and, with glitter saint Nathan Carrera on guitar, beautifully assays a pair of folksy elegies by San Francisco trannie icon Bambi Lake.
The show’s musical high point is Lucille Bogan’s smashingly filthy boogie-woogie “Shave ‘Em Dry,” a sort of anthem for sex addicts, which Bond brings home with exhilarating bacchanalian force. It doesn’t hurt that he sings it wearing a fishnet dress that looks like it just trawled a post-party floor.
As an evening, though, Lustre is a shaky proposition. Rather than creating the show he jokes about wanting to write—a Didion-inspired picaresque called White Woman Down—Bond has used P.S. 122’s Ethyl Eichelberger Award commission to pepper his own act with gender-bending guests: M. Lamar’s thundering countertenor, Glenn Marla’s transgender body-issue shtick, plus other rotating acts. But none come close to Bond’s own mix of spiked punch and self-aware provocation—I can’t think of another performer who would rhyme “JonBenét” with “Jean Genet,” then add: “Well, they were both little prisoners.” Alas, that’s close to how we feel at Lustre when Bond’s not onstage.