Los Angeles Theater Preview: MORE! MORE! MORE! (An Evening with Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond & Taylor Mac at the Hammer)

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by Tony Frankel on October 1, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


When I saw the trio of headliners who will be performing for one night only at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, I had to do a Little Rascals double-take. I have considered myself lucky to have seen each one separately, but to have all three together is a confluence of divine intervention. Counted amongst New York City’s most treasured entertainers, Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond, and Taylor Mac have all harvested well-deserved praise as masterful, surprising, and ever-evolving investigators of the magical potential of the stage. These brave, irreverent, satirical, flamboyant, distinctive, hilarious, gender-bending, chameleonic drag performance artists aren’t just cabaret singers, they’re cabaret legends.

Joey Arias The GoddessGrit meets glamour on Tuesday, October 14 in a cabaret of boisterous rock-n-roll, intimate storytelling, and beguiling siren songs delivered by three individual performers who will expand and explode your perception of both gender and theater.

The evening is in celebration of the Hammer’s newest exhibition: Featuring some 75 pieces produced from 1987 through the present, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take brings together photography, drawing, works on paper, and objects rendered in mirror, lightbulbs, silk flowers, and glass alongside several major room-size installations. Hodges’ art is an evocative reminder of longing and loss and the formation of queer identity in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis. The exhibit, on display October 3 through January 18, 2015, is open until 8 pm on the day of the show.

For those who don’t know, Arias, Bond, and Mac haven’t been limited to cabaret.

Justin Vivian Bond had teamed up with Kenny Mellman as an American drag cabaret duo, with Bond portraying Kiki DuRane, an aging, alcoholic, female lounge singer. After years of touring, recording and smaller theater stints (winning an Obie), the duo moved to the Great White Way with Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway (I’m still upset that they lost a 2007 Tony for Best Special Theatrical Event to Jay Johnson: The Two and Only).

Justin Vivian Bond, Snow Angel. Photo by David KimelmanLast month, I caught the trans-sensational Mx. Bond at the first annual Luscious Queer Music Festival. A scintillating combination of chanteuse and comedienne, part Weimar era and part Greenwich Village, the wickedly droll superstar gave one of the most remarkable and inimitable performances I have ever seen.

Joey Arias starred in the phantasmagoric Arias with a Twist, reviewed by Stage and Cinema both in New York and here in L.A. Harvey Perr wrote, “If the sole performer, Joey Arias, is a drag performer in the exalted tradition of Justin Bond and the late great Ethyl Eichelberger, and the man behind the performer, Basil Twist, is a genius in the world of puppetry, and together, they are working at the peak of their talents and creating what can only be described as magic, that is art.”

Taylor Mac recently gave a multifaceted performance in Brecht’s Good Person of Szechwan at La MaMa and The Public as both a male and female, Shen Tei and Shui Ta. Mac flipped fluidly between a flashy red dress and a structured suit, and effortlessly shifted between an authoritative swagger and a sultry glide across the stage in gold pumps.

Taylor Mac in THE BE(A)ST OF TAYLOR MAC. Photo by Drew Geraci.

Mac once wrote, “I believe the more personal risk I take in the work the more the audience will relate and see the whole of their humanity reflected back at them. So, through art, I try to be as masculine, feminine, ugly, beautiful, intelligent, base, chaotic, graceful, joyful, sorrowful, perfect, and flawed as I am in real life.”

He sums up his I Believe: A Theater Manifesto—written for an Under the Radar Festival symposium last year—with this: “I believe in surprise… if you want to remind your audiences of the things they have dismissed, forgotten, or buried, then you need to surprise them. I believe, in the theater, something surprising should happen every ten seconds… that surprise does not have to be big; it can be a breath.”

Jim Hodges Exhibit

In keeping with the museum’s policy that all exhibits and performances should be available to anyone, tickets are free. That’s right, folks. Free. Tickets are required, but they are only available at the Box Office one hour before the program. Early arrival isn’t just recommended for this fabulicious happening, I would say it’s mandatory. Tickets are available one per person on a first come, first served basis. If you would like Priority entry for two at this or any other Hammer public programs, it’s as simple as becoming a member—this, in turn, keeps the programs free for others.

photos courtesy of the Hammer

More! More! More!
An Evening with Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond & Taylor Mac
Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take
on view October 3, 2014 – January 18, 2015
for more info and membership opportunities, call (310) 443-7000
or visit www.hammer.ucla.edu

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