Last Thursday, May 21st, I clanked down the metal stairs of Jimmy’s 43 and into the subterranean bar completely and thoroughly confused. I had been invited by Christine Elmo to come to a benefit for a dance production she has choreographed and hopes to produce. Christine is a New York dance artist who has performed in the city and Europe extensively for the last two years. (Check out the video of dancing in Central Turkey and her CV here. Beautiful!) She’s a mover and a shaker in every sense of the phrase. So I guess I expected the benefit would be in a black box theater south of Houston, someplace that reeks of fresh paint and sawdust.
I’ve been to Jimmy’s before. I love the beer selection (a rotating list of delicious artisanal beers that Jimmy changes every couple of weeks) and the Germany-between-the-wars atmosphere. But I had no idea at the back, behind the bar and around a corner, behind a wooden door, is a dark little room with cabaret seating and a stage! It is very charming — the perfect place to get your Sally Bowles on. And cabaret was exactly what Christine delivered.
The first act was a drama starring Paige Colette and Tatiana Pavela doing a scene from their new work titled “Buttercream n’ Scotch.” It was heavy on the scotch — and the casserole — as Colette and Pavela presented a middle-aged, female odd couple drowning their Christmastime sorrows in booze, boys, dating platitudes, and something that smelled like tuna fish and Ritz crackers. The Felix Unger of the two is obsessed with The Rules, that time tested target of feminist anger. She hopes that following them slavishly will land her a man. The Oscar of the pair is (naturally) a mess and a “man-izer” or whatever the opposite of a womanizer is. She is sleeping with the super of their building, whom, she assures her friend, is a very handy handyman, something on the lines of Schneider from “One Day at a Time” but with more juice.
Though the conceit is a little played, the ladies did a good job with the dialogue (written by themselves), and ultimately it was an enjoyable ten minutes. I could ask for a smidge more nuance, but who am I to be picky?
The next act was singer/songwriter Gelsey Bell. She started the set off with an acapella version of Summertime by Gershwin and Heyward, and in the process showed off an impressive set of pipes. The woman can sing. (Kind of wish I’d seen Broadway Brassy do her rendition the other night at the Janis Joplin tribute — just for comparison’s sake.) Then the multi-talented Ms. Bell sat down at her electronic klavier tasteninstrument to pound and tickle it for our listening pleasure. Her songs are catchy and original. You own a computer. Go to her web page and download a few. If you like ’em, support the arts and buy an album.
During the intermission I went to the bar to get another tasty beer, and my phone buzzed. It was a text from the notorious night hawk and bon vivant DKNY. (A man — not the designer.) It read: “Mark Kostabi is having an event in chelsea – do you wanna?” I’ve seen pictures of Mark Kostabi with Andy Warhol and Pope Benedict. He’s also the guy who did the album cover for Guns ‘N’ Roses’s Use Your Illusion. Not that either of those is necessarily a friend recommendation, but I thought it would be fun to drink this guy’s booze for free, and who knows? maybe get a picture of him for you, my readers, to enjoy.
I poked my head back into the cabaret and saw, or rather heard, five minutes of Dillion De Give’s very entertaining electronic sound scape. The lights were off, and in a hypnotic voice worthy of Mesmer himself, Mr. De Give took us to outerspace, the inside of a human womb, and a place where all cell phones are intelligent creatures that can talk to each other. Then I split.
I hope I haven’t committed copyright infringement. I mean, this painting might be owned by someone very rich and very powerful who does not want it put into cyberspace for the entire universe to drool over. Though I ain’t no art critic, I know what looks played, and this to me is a throwback to the 80s, trying to be a throwback to Dali. “There’s no accounting for taste!” an old lady once said while kissing a pig. “Bring on the bacon!”
On the other hand, the party itself was very entertaining, at least until they ran out of free wine. My favorite moment was this overheard conversation between two men and a woman:
Man 1: But you’re both married!
(To different people I presume.)
Woman: I’m only married on the West Coast.
Man 2: I’m only married on the East Side!
I didn’t get to see what the outcome of that conversation was, but I hope it was salacious. Nothing says big money aesthetic production like libertinage. I tried to get a picture of Mark Kostabi for you, but neither my point-and-shoot Canon, nor my camera phone were up to the task. (The gray headed blur in the background of the shot is him.) And the official photog, the guy with a lens bigger than my leg, looked like a tough customer, so I wasn’t about to whip out a professional snapper. (Though I was later told there were a couple in the crowd.)
OK, I’m done with the gratuitous double entendres. Check out Christine’s show, and pray for me to stay out of copyright trouble.
YOUR UNISON USES UNICORNS
by Christine Elmo
Jun 5 – 6 at 7:30pm
Friday Night Toast Jun 5
Post-Show Talk Jun 6 with Biba Bell