With her hysterical YouTube videos and this ever-evolving (some might say she re-invents herself) one-woman show, Ginsburg skewers Madonna and our perceptions of her, both positive and negative, fearlessly. Sometimes it's so funny it hurts, but it's always funny because she's a true student of Madonna, not a lazy hater. The foibles she holds up for mockery apply not only to Madonna, but to our culture, and to us all.
Well, maybe the joke about banging Rocco's friends is a little ... specific.
Gypsys, tramps & tweets (Photo by Matthew Rettenmund)
Along with Madonna, Ginsburg nails Cher (perhaps even more perfectly???) and Winona Ryder, plus tries out a character best described as someone an Amy Sedaris creation would find weird.
Your friendly guide (Photo by Matthew Rettenmund)
The show's highlights would have to be her pitch-perfect recitations of Cher's otherworldly tweets and the finale, an extended peek at Madonna's creative proh-cess while in the recording studio.
Madonna's Hilary-Duff-in-a-bad-mood phase (Photo by Matthew Rettenmund)
Ginsburg ended her well-received show (which was packed with many of the same faces I've been seeing at this week's Rebel Heart Tour shows) with a short speech about how Madonna can't win, and how her fun-poking is not meant to draw blood.
I totally relate to Nadya, who has the ability to be mean ... but worries about it. (Photo by Matthew Rettenmund)
That, we already knew.
Catch her anytime you can—her sugar is raw.
P.S. The performance was given an unfunnily great rendition of Madonna's “Devil Pray” by recording artist Coby Koehl (pictured at left).
Bitch could sing.
Keep reading for some shots from after the show ...
I am the last person in the world who has not seen Jersey Boys, the wildly popular jukebox musical from 2005 that's based on the tumultuous story behind Franki Valli & The Four Seasons.
I was the last person, that is—I got around to seeing it last night.
The occasion was Rory Max Kaplan stepping into the role he usually understudies, that of founding group member Tommy DeVito. I was blown away by Kaplan last year in Nothing But Trash, so I wasn't about to miss his Broadway debut.
Kaplan didn't disappoint. A fine actor and swoon-worthy singer as it is (and the role allows him to show off both talents), he's even more remarkable for his physicality, which informs his performance and gives it a bristling intensity appropriate for a local hood made good who couldn't help pissing away nearly a million bucks in 1960s dollars. When Kaplan delivered sardonic one-liners, they always found their mark, as did the notes in his impressive range, but whenever he slipped into dance, he was even more in his element. The boy doesn't just have moves, he understands and has outstanding control of movement.
Kaplan, Matt Bogart, Domenic Scaglione Jr. & Quinn VanAntwerp
The only criticism I have is that when his character was described as not taking pride in his appearance and wearing underwear three days in a row, it was hard to reconcile that charge while looking at the immaculate triple threat commanding the stage.
After 10 years, things are well-oiled to a fault in Jersey Boys, but the company is on-point, so if you are into the tunes, you will be doing what the people in the front mezzanine were doing—bopping along. I do have to say I was particularly blown away by Quinn VanAntwerp as Bob Gaudio—his vocals were out of this world, and firmly in the one in which the sounds of The Four Seasons were burning up the charts.
At show's end, Kaplan warmly invited me backstage to chat. There, I got to say hello to Frankie J. Galasso, who had stepped into various roles that night ... and who I knew from when I was a teen-mag editor and he was in the boy band Dream Street. Great memories of those boys (who sold very close to a million copies of their album, back when people paid for music), and he was as sweet as ever.
Flashback pic of Frankie, dead center, with Dream Street, cradling the magazine I founded and edited
I was privileged to be in the third row tonight for the 8 p.m. performance of Hamilton, this season's hottest ticket. It was easy to figure out why the show has become a celebrity magnet and cash cow, and the answer had nothing to do with it being simply trendy.
The short answer is that it's fucking brilliant. The longer answer, with spoilers, follows ...
A reader contacted me on Grindr on Sunday morning to say:
I skipped Broadway Bares last year after getting reamed for taking photos at a Solo Strips, but returned Sunday for Broadway Bares 25: Top Bottoms of Burlesque, the silver-anniversary installment of Jerry Mitchell's unfortunately-still-necessary AIDS charity show that rounds up as many hot and talented chorus boys and girls from Broadway and Broadway-adjacent (and a few who just have roommates on Broadway) to put on a one-night only, two-times only, razzle-dazzle-'em-at-any-cost show.
I decided to go back because I missed the good time and knew the dancers always seem to like having photos to share, people affiliated with the show “like” them on Instagram, etc. Where we stood, everyone around us had their phones out. I think the rule about photos is a misguided fear that it will bite into the show's revenues. In reality, since it's a show that happens once a year, seeing photos from it just encourages people to come the following year, and/or to seek out the merch. I have had a lot of readers say they now travel in for the show thanks to the photos I've posted. So hopefully it helps.
You would think this year's title would mean it was going to be 100% up my alley (I am the original ASSMAN), but I found it to have no more or less tail than past editions, save for its hilariously sexy opening—the curtain lifted to just above waist-level to reveal a bevy of dimpled booties peeking out at the crowd. It was not unlike waving a turkey at a bunch of starving bums on Thanksgiving and saucily asking, “White meat or dark?”
I swear Nick Adams's ass and this tableau could be a Mel Odom illustration.
Directed by Jerry Mitchell and Nick Kenkel, who choreographed it with Laya Barak, Jim Cooney, Armando Farfan Jr., Peter Gregus, Ryan Lyons, Brice Mousset, Rachelle Rak, Michael Lee Scott, Kellen Stancil and Sidney Erik Wright, the show loosely followed the travails of a wannabe played by Nick Adams, he of the Mario Lopez-threatening biceps.
Orange is the new black corset!
Adams starts out too shy to be a stripper, but luckily falls in with the wrong crowd and everything works (and comes) out in the end.
Along the way, the show included 11 tight numbers (it felt super fast this go-round, and I hated the Hammerstein venue as compared to the more spacious and now vanished Roseland), often takes on classic show tunes, always ending with a little more nudity than you might encounter in a locker room.
Baby, if Callan's the bottom, I'm the top.
“Take It from the Top” was a sterling opener starring Harvey Fierstein and Callan Bergmann, a one-time Mr. Broadway, the latter of which as a great opener. Bergmann's were choice cheeks to inaugurate a buns-hun show, and he was one of the performers who really shone this year.
Before Pam Ann's latest show Flight 72 (Stage 72 at the Triad), my sexy companion warned me not to try to be funny if she asked me any questions. It hadn't dawned on me that Pam Ann, a blowzy flight attendant character invented by stand-up comic (and writer) Caroline Reid, was likely going to lean heavily on audience participation, my worst fear in life, right ahead of terrorism and getting to the point where a crane has to remove me from my home.
As the show unfolded, I narrowly dodged being singled out (she put my friend to work serving drinks and said his fake Izod's crocodile had probably crawled off in shame) but began to miss the abuse that others received. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a 70-year-old retiree and be asked if your wife were your bitch? Thing is, as pointed as Pam can be, she rarely gets truly mean so much as she gets deeper into a character so ridiculous she becomes more surreal than she becomes a garden-variety Donna Rickles; the insults don't stick.
A video posted by Pam Ann (@pamannwantsagram) on Jun 6, 2015 at 3:36pm PDT
Pam's like an Australian Joan Rivers with a barf bag—she's loud, she's crass (she wistfully hoped Kim Kardashian's baby would have Down syndrome), she puts on her face with a paintbrush. But in spite of her overbearing schtick, she has an unlikely sexiness (she's as in heat as Lisa Lampanelli) that oozes out of her carefully constructed costume. She's like a good-looking Patti Stanger, and she's also—almost forgot!—one of the most gifted stand-ups I've ever seen.
Pam's brilliance is in making truly awful comments (I wouldn't recommend her act to sensitive types, like fragile trans teens or French lesbians unwilling to cede the spotlight) truly funny and somehow makes them okay. But what's truly impressive is how effortlessly she mixes scripted stories with spontaneous responses to her rowdy audience. The night we went, she had two separate drunkards heckling her, and she handled them easily enough that she couldn't help bragging, “I could do this all night.”
A video posted by Pam Ann (@pamannwantsagram) on Jun 12, 2015 at 10:41pm PDT
The fact that her air-travel humor is sometimes so specific never made it any less instantly funny, even to those of us whose travel histories involve Google-mapping Dunkin Donuts locations. She was particularly on when razzing Air France hostesses, the ones so chic and thin they disappear when they turn sideways. “Air France! You are NOT cleared for take-off!” she barked, imitating an air-traffic controller at JFK, to which Air France replied, in a blasé accent, “We are going.”
She filled two hours, resting only during two hysterically funny short movies, including one that inserted her into The Sound of Music.
There's no easy way to do justice to how funny Pam Ann is, so just fasten your seat belts and ... you know the rest.
Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales are back with The Vaudevillians II: Bringing Up Baby, a drag show that continues their tradition of mining the past to make fun of the present. The twist this time is that Jinkx's character is preggers, but don't expect me to give away the third trimester of the show—you'll have to check that out yourself.