Celebrate the Grunge Years with Katya Smirnoff-Skyy

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Sunday October 2, 2016
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Katya Smirnoff Skyy has been an influential and world famous celebrity (in her own mind) ever since she played the Tuesday 3AM show at the Continental Baths in New York City. Skyy taught Bette Midler everything she knows.

Now clawing her way back to the top after a period during which she lived in exile in Seattle, on October 6, Skyy returns to Feinstein's at the Nikko with her new show "Katya: A Bittersweet 90s Symphony."

"The show is about the period of my life, from 1990-1999, when I lived in Seattle," Skyy said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "I was busy raising my daughter in Seattle. I lived next door to Kurt Cobain, and was influenced by the grunge movement. I had weekly salons in my living room during which many people in the music industry talked about music and philosophy."

We were also able to speak to the celebrated Bay Area stage actor J. Conrad Frank, a "close friend" of Skyy's. The two are so close that Frank has been known, on occasion, to wear Skyy's stunning outfits.

"She's the mistress of her own grand illusions," Frank said of Skyy. He also notes the huge rebirth which drag is currently enjoying.

"It's because of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' " Frank explained. "We lost a lot of drag and leather bars in the '80s and '90s, but now they're coming back. And drag isn't just for gay folks anymore. I do a lot of character drag and cabaret."

Frank tells us that he's a trained opera singer. "I did a lot of classical singing for awhile," he recalls. "But I don't do opera anymore. I get more kicks out of making people laugh. Music is all about passion, which Katya knows a lot about."

Frank explained what Skyy's new show will entail.

"There's nothing like hearing a mezzo soprano sing Nirvana, Courtney Love, the Backstreet Boys and the Indigo Girls," he said. "In most of my shows I pick music that's before my time. This is the first time I'm doing music that I grew up with, with a full band."

Joe Wicht serves as Skyy's musical director for the current show. The two performers are old friends, having co-starred in last year's acclaimed production of Charles Busch's "Die Mommie, Die!" at New Conservatory Theater Center.

Frank assures us that "Bittersweet 90's Symphony" is a show that Skyy's fans have never seen before. "It's all one hundred percent new material," Frank promises. "I never sang these songs before or told these stories."

The show promises to reveal the truth, the whole truth, about Skyy's adventures during those mysterious Seattle years. Added Frank, "She'll be telling all her tales in between gulps of vodka."

It's a show that will, according to Feinstein's, "take you back to a time when groove was in the heart, streets were paved in plaid flannel, and no one ever dared to destroy your sweater."

Katya Smirnoff-Skyy performs 'A Bittersweet '90s Symphony,' Thursday, October 6, 8pm. $30-$50. Feinstein's at the Nikko, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St. (866) 663-1063. www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com