Life is a gay cabaret during Pride Month
by Richard Dodds
Don't let it out, but all cabaret is a little bit gay. It's a commercially fragile art-form, and so we mustn't scare off any dudes and dudettes who can muster up the two-drink-minimum and enjoy a showtune or two. But, hey, it's June in San Francisco, and the Rrazz Room, the city's premier lounge, has sprinkled its traditional schedule with acts both louche and proud throughout the month.
Where to begin? The artist known as Our Lady J is a postmodern, gospel-flavored, singer-songwriter-pianist transsexual. An agitating presence in the New York and London underground musical scenes, Our Lady J will make a rare SF appearance at the Rrazz Room on June 3. The self-described Glamazon has this to add to her curriculum vitae: "I also happen to be a very powerful witch, so don't fuck with me, fellas!"
Since it wasn't so very long ago that a kitten spinning happily on a turntable qualified for the designation of "YouTube sensation," a chaff-from-the-wheat filter remains on alert when the phrase is invoked. But Ryan O'Connor really does seem to be on the high end of the YouTube sensation phenomenon with his self-titled chat show. Its popularity has set him out on a national tour that brings Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings to the Rrazz Room on June 7. The pop-culture maven likens himself to a "big, gay, singing Kathy Griffin," and his musical repertoire ranges from William Finn to Ani DiFranco, with confessional stand-up riffs including personal epiphanies and wicked celebrity observations.
The familiar face, brassy voice, and ballsy personality of Bay Area favorite Sharon McNight will celebrate Betty, Betty, and Bette on June 20 and 21. Those three "B's" are Betty Grable, Betty Hutton, and Bette Davis, and McNight will salute these Hollywood legends in stories and songs.
And how could we ever raise our rainbow flag without a salute to Judy Garland, and who better to hoist the colors than Connie Champagne? The exquisite channeler of the Garland voice and spirit makes her Pride appearance at the Rrazz Room on June 22.
It was his soulfully over-the-top interpretation of "Over the Rainbow" that helped put Sam Harris into the winner's circle on the original Star Search in the early 1980s. Since then, the out-gay performer has appeared on Broadway and television, released numerous CDs, and is now being considered for the role of Al Jolson in a new musical. He'll be at the Rrazz Room on June 23-27, when we'll find out if he still has that big "Rainbow" on up his sleeve.
And for something completely different, Karel Stands Up! offers the politically charged gay standup comedy of Charles Karel Bouley on June 28.
The June schedule at the Rrazz Room also canters down other roads, including a return by actress-chanteuse Sally Kellerman (June 4 & 5), veteran satirists Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory (June 8-13 & 15-20), Jim Van Slyke's homage to Neil Sedaka (June 13), and KT Sullivan's tribute to Broadway songwriters Dietz and Schwartz (June 25-27). A full schedule is at www.therrazzroom.com.
The Off-Market Theatre's City Solo program that features rotating casts of solo performers will give over three Sundays in June to a quartet of very different lesbian voices in anticipation of Pride 2010.
In My Diary, No Grownups Allowed!, Janine Brito shares stories from the tumultuous (for her) mid-1990s. Julia Jackson rides the rollercoaster world of adoption in I Didn't Sign Up for This! Gayer than a rainbow-farting unicorn, Thao P. Nguyen can't quite get her parents' attention in I Am Sooooo Gay. Martha Rynberg's Lady Parts is not really a vagina monologue, but rather a circuitous look at hair removal, bullet wounds, tiny breasts, and her mom's thighs.
This bill of four short pieces will be performed at 7 p.m. on June 6, 13, and 20. Ticket info is at (800) 838-3006 or www.cafearts.com/offmarket.php.
Richard Dodds can be reached at BARstage@comcast.net.