Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Uptown with Justin Bond
I went out tonight to West 95th Street, afraid I'd develop nosebleed from venturing so far uptown. The motivation behind my mission: to see An Evening with Justin Vivian Bond starring Justin Vivian Bond, perhaps best known as Kiki of Kiki & Herb fame, at Symphony Space. They truly have done an amazing job of creating a whole new, chic environment for the arts there, let me say. I recall going to that location when it was the grungy Thalia movie house. It was the only cinematheque in Manhattan that had rows of seats facing the screen in an ascending fashion, like watching films inside a rocket ready for blast-off. And I blasted off to many a great film there. On my last visit, to see a film noir double-feature, I recall there were about six people in the audience. A broad-shouldered giant of a man (must have been 7-feet-tall, seriously) came in and, after scoping out the ample array of empty seats, perversely decided to sit right in front of 5'5" me. Even seated, he eclipsed my view of the screen, forcing me to move to another filthy chair.
Earlier this week, my public relations friend, Bernadette Quigley, generously comped me into the Bond Show and, tonight, I decided to sit in the VIP section at the back where I could make a quick exit to a cab at end. This time, the theater seats were in the normal descending fashion toward the stage. And clean.
Who introduced the act but actor B.D. (Bette Davis?) Wong! Wong and I share a brief connection as, some years ago, he was dashing from his cab to Crunch gym on Lafayette. (Can't he afford Equinox?) His wallet dropped from a trouser pocket and hit the cement as I passed by and he obliviously marched toward his upcoming workout.
"Hey! B.D.!" I cried out, picking up his wallet. I was tempted to open it to see how much cash he kept on hand but, before that was possible, he swung around and plucked the wallet from my hand with a curt "thank you." (No tip offered.)
Justin emerged, giving B.D. an onstage smooch. He was looking quite smart in a becoming coif, frock and red stilettos, chomping at the bit to read from his new memoir, Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels. (Ironically, I am currently copy editing the memoir of another gay public figure and New York icon but am currently not at liberty to say much about it. Just wait!)
Bond -- Justin Bond -- began with a hilarious account of his ADD (as my mind drifted off) and continued with his offbeat view of Americana, concentrating on childhood memories (as the book's title indicates), totally selling me on his memoirs and instilling in me a craving for more.
In a positively furious outburst of artistic creativity, the performance artist/cult star also discussed his upcoming stage-musical collaboration with Sandra Bernhard, which has me salivating at the very thought.
The always sexy comic/writer Mike Albo then interviewed Justin, though that portion of the night briefly devolved into a bit of psychobabble. Finally, Bond sang to guitar accompaniment, plugging a new album yet, for a pleasing end to a generally entertaining evening of monolog, dialog, discussion and music.
Tango is published by The Feminist Press at CUNY (!) while Bond's recent album, Dendrophile, is available on cd and download from Whimsy Music.