Sunday, April 13, 2008
I had the pleasure of seeing the legendary Lavinia Co-Op at Rapture Cafe this evening. It was a full house and I felt just a little poignant over Rapture's impending demise. Lavinia performed "Installations in Stilettos", although I don't think she wore stillies at all during the show. There were some lovely white brogues, and some flashy neon platform sandals but still, I did feel a little short changed. I kid.
The show was an uproarious compilation of material from throughout Ms Co-Op's career, spanning her time with seminal British performance troupe Bloo-Lips, drag rockers Hot Peaches, and beyond. There were turnips singing cheerfully of the dubious successes of genetic engineering, a one woman version of Salome in which the audience are invited to imagine a set full of campy extras, and a string of other vaudeville follies, all herded on and off-stage by a diligent stage manager (Lavinia herself, of course) whilst waiting for Lavinia to turn up.
The jokes are so groansomely pun heavy that suspension of disbelief, and all of that sort of silliness, is entirely unnecessary. Why not just go with the flow as Lavinia shuffles on and off-stage in her trademark radical drag and cockney slang, firing twenty gags a minute before she bursts out as her final creation, herself? In her last guise, Lavinia performs a tour de force permeation of identity; it's practically identity theft as she steals her own persona from herself onstage. It's a hilarious act of schizophrenic revelation, no less compelling because you see it coming from the opening line.
Yes with Ms Co-Op it isn't all froth, there's a solid heartbeat as she tells of her nights spent with the very queens who kick-started the Stonewall riots and who later found themselves sidelined by the gay *ahem* community in all of it's mono glory. As the singing turnips say; "It's a mono-universe. Mono-theism, mono-culture, monotony." She staggers down the bar singing the anthemic, borderline burlesque number, "Call Me Drag Queen". The song, interpsed with classic Hollywood quotes, revels in Lavinia's small stage stardom, as a flaming icon of a life dedicated to that underworld of queens, artists and strippers she has been a part of for so long. Part pantomime, part cockney Cockette, part primetime 'Seventies comedy special, Lavinia had the crowd with her every step of the way.
And what's more worth it, she'll be at the Pope Bash on April 19th at Rapture with Linda Simpson, Murray Hill, Dirty Martini, Darlinda Just Darlinda and myself. What a line up, really I spoil you.