Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kick Me! Spank Me! Jackie Beat Me!

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer and many of NYC's gays celebrate by making the season's inaugural exodus to Fire Island to show off their new spray tans and catch their first batch of crabs in the Meatrack. But for this gay man Memorial Day weekend means only one thing: Jackie Beat.

Ms. Beat makes an annual pilgrimage to Gotham from LA for this holiday weekend. She's merely moved the venue uptown a bit from the hole formerly known as Fez, to it's smaller, just as delightfully trashy little sister, The Cutting Room on West 24th. The show, entitled "Rehab," brought us a Jackie fresh from a seven-week Las Vegas gig opening for Roseanne Barr at the New York, New York Casino, who is now forced to face the consequences of the many addictions she discovered in Sin City -- everything from drugs, sex and gambling to the 24-hour all-you-can-eat dinner buffets for which Vegas is famous.

As she mounted the stage (there's no other way to describe it, that's what she does) she was the epitome of goth girl, all grown up. Clad head-to-toe in black, she was rocking an Ann Wilson 80's style wig, teased mile-high, a front and back bumper hugging knit sweater top that grabbed her in all the right places, a shredded skirt (à la Stevie Nicks) and knee-high, don't-fuck-with-me leather boots with heels. Always the last word in subtle elegance, Ms. Beat was accessorized in high Dynasty style, with several of what appeared to be the very first pickings from the soon-to-be-readily-accessible Tammy Faye Baker Messner's personal costume jewelry collection. It only took one bat of those false eyelashes (top and bottom, mind you), for the eternally understated Jackie to remind us that flawless is just a step away from lawless and we better fasten our seat belts.

My friend and I had arrived early enough to not have to sit in the back, but not early enough to avoid the front. In fact, we were front and center. So, what would normally have been time spent relaxing, scoping out the crowd and a little pre-show flirting with the muscles at the next table turned into 45 minutes of dreading the inevitable; we were too close for one of us not to get hit. My money was on my friend: taller, tanner, better looking; as far as I was concerned, he had a target painted on his forehead.

And then it happened. Just as Jackie finished her second song -- her latest paean to poo -- she asked (uhm, directed) me to fix the steps, then she slowly descended (literally and figuratively) into the crowd, zeroed in on my friend and shoved the mike in his face. She landed on her first prey and there was a collective sigh of relief as people edged forward to hear. Thank God he took my advice and kept smiling and played sweet and dumb. I've seen her in action when she smells "smart ass" and it ain't pretty. He survived and actually loved it.

The rest of the show was exactly what you'd expect from Jackie -- genius irreverant lyrics, telling the starkest, darkest truths, insinuated in innocuous melodies from long-gone days of relative innocence. And the bitch can sing. I mean really, really sing. She's a drag triple threat -- incredible glamour, razor sharp wit and undeniable pipes.

I had two favorites. The first, a reworking of "Fever," presented as "Beaver," warning about gender assignment surgery remorse. And the second, her finale, which was a rendition of "And I'm Telling You," that put both Jennifers to shame. Jackie's version emphatically tells a horse-hung suitor what he ain't putting where.

Jackie was brought out for her encore by surprise guest, Mistress Formika (where the fuck has she been?), who looked unbelievable. After the show, both manned (ladied?) the Jackie Beat merchandising table, selling and signing CDs.

As my friend bought two CDs and got his new favorite drag queen's autograph, Mistress Formika gamely elbowed my shorts. Who needs the Meatrack anyway?

Thanks for an incredible night Jackie. You rule!

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