“Being a cabaret singer is all I wanted out of life. And it’s all I’ve gotten out of life! So, yay me!” So says Justin Vivian Bond. This ambition was hatched at a very young age when her parents took her to see glamorous swing singer Helen O’Connell. Seeing the sequined chanteuse jazzily croon on the stage of the Contemporary Hotel in Orlando, she quite straightforwardly thought “That’s what I want to do!”
This trans legend is among the most unique interpreters of song: she can go from tender vulnerability to smirking irony to howling rage, sometimes in the same song. Her taste is impeccable, and she approaches her selections with the touch of a very careful curator. A curator, that is, who finds what is most explosive in the art they’re presenting, and then promptly detonates it. Justin Vivian Bond is a tower of song – mysterious, imposing, beautiful, powerful.
The title of JVB’s current show “Nose Gays” is apropos of nothing, except maybe of the majestic profile photo above. It’s a bit mellower than usual. She says “I’m just singing songs I want to sing. Just imagine that I’m singing in a foreign language, and attach to them…whatever you want!” The show finds Viv reprising songs from various points in her career, Joni Mitchell’s “Woman of Heart and Mind” from early San Francisco days, Kate Bush’s “Under the Ivy” from her most recent Christmas show, and several more. Her encore is a Patti Smith song (I won’t say which one) which she delivers in a full lioness roar.
One of the best features of all of Bond’s shows is her acidly funny, stream of consciousness, between-song patter. As always Bond is hilariously entertaining, wildly imaginative and vividly expressive. Highly recommended.
For tickets, click here.
For more more about Jonathan Warman’s directing works, see jonathanwarman.wordpress.com.