Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Floating Kabarette, Bastard Keith and Me

"Facebook is for for friends who are now strangers.  Twitter is for strangers who should be your friends." - Unknown

i seriously love twitter.  i have chatted up, argued creatively, exchanged ideas, learned from, virtually hung out with and (yes!) met more strangers than i care to admit.  from the #kccm natural hair challenges to get fit incentives like #sexyshred, it is quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.

facebook, on the other hand, is something to avoid.

i picked up on a remark that burlesque emcee bastard keith made to someone in my timeline about strong, domineering women, realized that we knew a lot of the same performers on the neo-vaudeville scene and all of a sudden, we were off to the races. i was curious: was bastard keith any good at what he did? what did he do exactly, anyway? i had to see him in action.  we made a date to meet properly over a drink -- but not before i suggested a duet we could do. we could perform togther... yikes! wait a minute. can he even sing? hmmm...

as luck would have it, this bastard was doing his thing every saturday at galapagos art space in a show called the floating kabarette. i pushed and shoved some things around in my schedule and made my way to DUMBO -- fashionably late but somehow right on time.  the weather was lousy, the place was packed and sitting in rapturous silence. someone was swinging from the ceiling by what looked like long silk white handkerchiefs, dangling this way and that.  i thought, oh boy -- the circus!  more and more, downtown cabaret in new york city is turning into a one ring sideshow of epic proportions. just as every circus has a ringleader, every cabaret act has an emcee.  the unfortunate truth is, everyone that calls themselves an emcee isn't necessarily a ringleader in the truest sense of what that word means. it takes a lot to pull it off: performance skills; the non-abrasive good humor of an old school catskills stand-up comedian; and of course, showmanship. narcissism -- not stage presence --  seems to be the factor that compels anyone to get onstage and do something, whether they can actually do anything or not.

this is the part where i tell you that bastard keith was, in a word, wonderful. as an emcee he was pitch-perfect -- a straight man with a straight face and a filthy mouth, wrapped up in an elegant, understated demeanor.  he was understated and he was over the top.  he was self-deprecating, he was cloying, he was hilarious.  remarkably, he made what he did look effortless which is only a testament to its difficulty.

here's a bit of bastard keith in action as a host.

relaxed, self-assured and smooth, he glided onto the stage inbetween each act, soothed any feathers that may have been ruffled, upped the ante and kept the ball rolling.  and as if all of that weren't enough, he really can sing.

here he is singing a little ellington along with some live music and a burlesque act.

the highlights?

juggler michael karas stripped all the way down to his adult sized superman undies while keeping all kinds of things up in the air and dancing. pretty hot stuff. here's a video of him winning over the audience and then some at the apollo theater in harlem.

i had heard of beautiful boylesque boy-toy go-go harder but i had never seen him in action. it was a one-off one time thing for st. patrick's day weekend -- he was a prancing, preening, glittering leprechaun. pretty hilarious stuff.  here's him doing some colorful and interesting things to the van halen song hot for teacher.

oh, and yeah -- the audience.

the real element of surprise rested with the very nearly sold out house, who needed very little encouragement to bring the filth to the fore. (usually it's a sold out situation.) occasionally bastard keith would read missives that the audience had sent to him via twitter. (ah, twitter -- too, too perfect for audience participation in performance.)  after going on here and there about strap ons and especially violent sex and such, he asked for a few nasty twits from his listeners. my personal favorite was from a lesbian, of course.

  Fuck your wife. I am going to blast you in your gaping hole until you shit out of your dick.

good times. 

somewhere in there, we met at the bar in the back over that drink. (for the record, he's way better looking in person -- and taller, too.)  we talked about performance in new york city and mutual acquaintances like war veterans.  when i heard him sing, something clicked and i started to put together ideas.  who knows where this will end up.  it's definitely the start of something explosively cool. and at the end of the day, isn't that really where you want to begin?

thanks, twitter!

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