Skanks in Pearls
Downtown drag diva MargOH! Channing returned to the lounge at Dixon Place Saturday night to present the opening performance of what is to be a monthly variety show, "Skanks in Pearls."
With the world’s spotlight focused tightly on London for the current Olympic Games, and with the recent hubbub over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrating her 60th year on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II made for an appropriate honoree (or punchline) for the inaugural edition of "Skanks in Pearls."
Ms. Channing kicked off the evening in an ornate royal blue kaftan and matching eye shadow, lip-synching camp anthem "I’ve Never Been to Me" while two young men (one in a tuxedo, the other in a pearl-studded jock strap) sprayed her with hand-held bubble machines. This opening number set a tone of silly, bubble-gum glamour that would continue throughout most of the show’s performances.
MAN-ee Champagne then joined MargOH! onstage to emcee the affair. Trading barbs and wise-cracks in the tradition of both Sonny & Cher and Mame & Vera, the pair explained exactly what it means to be a skank while predictably and frequently referencing the proverbial "pearl necklace."
The first performer in the line-up was burlesque artist Legs Malone. The long-gammed beauty danced a routine that told the story of a girl who happens upon a genie’s lamp. Having received her first two wishes for money and diamonds with relative ease, the genie demanded a wish of his own before bestowing her with her third wish: the girl had to perform a sex act on the lamp in order to receive her string of pearls. Ms. Malone’s familiarity with the medium and mastery of pantomime elevated the striptease to something hilarious, ironic and sexy that spoke to the skank in all of us.
Other highlights of the revue included a reading by Brandon B. He shared an absurdist essay detailing a gay leather bareback orgy hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and attended by some of the world’s most famous men while referencing (we assume) his own personal experiences and "Fifty Shades of Grey." Chock full of humor, sensitivity and double entendres, his writing is everything you want in a smart piece of filthy erotica.
But it could have been Rica Shay and the Royal Ass Hoes who stole the entire evening. A trio of dancers dressed all in white, they performed chanted songs over electronic beats in the tradition of LA’s electroclash club band Hi Fashion. They were so styled and so choreographed, they could have been dancing backup for Nicki Minaj.
The best moments of "Skanks in Pearls" were borne of its casual, under-rehearsed simplicity. For instance, after Rica Shay et. al. shot confetti (presumably without permission) all over Dixon Place’s lounge, MargOH! quipped, almost to herself, "Well, it looks like MargOH’s going to be staying late to clean up," and garnered one of the best laughs of the night.
The show ended with a comedic rendition of Sonny & Cher’s "I Got You Babe" performed by MargOH! and MAN-ee (deftly navigating the soaring Cher parts) that brought the house down.
The formula for the show is simple: curate a hodgepodge of eclectic acts around a universally appealing topic, raffle off some sex toys to ramp up the excitement and adult energy and keep it loose and uncalculated to hold the audience genuinely enthralled the whole time. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next time. One thing is for certain: expect good, dirty fun.
"Skanks in Pearls" ran on July 28 at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street. For more info, call 212-219-0736 or visit www.dixonplace.org/