Drag Cabaret at Club Pendulum, Sunday July 30

Who would ever guess that on a quiet Sunday night in sleepy little Coeur d’Alene, two gorgeous “ladies” from New York City could transform a dead bar into a riotous, fabulous cabaret? It actually happens several times over the course of the summer, this year at Club Pendulum at 2nd and Indiana. Two male cast members of the CDA Summer Theatre troupe transform into Ms. Vera and Black Diamond and put on one hell of an entertaining drag show.

I was able to attend their performance at the Brix several years ago and was completely staggered by these two girls, along with the rest of the capacity crowd. I’ve seen drag queens perform all over the place, one of the highlights being the “Night of 1,000 Wynonnas” in Seattle, in which every queen in Seattle showed up dressed as the “female Elvis” herself, Wynonna Judd, and spent the evening drunkenly lipsyncing her hits. Needless to say that was a pretty wild night, but Vera and Black Diamond’s performances are above and beyond. When these boys decide to retire from Summer Theatre, they need to take their drag cabaret on the road: they’ll surely be famous!

Quincy and I had heard the show was supposed to get off the ground at 9pm, which in drag queen time means the show starts around 10:30pm. Regardless, we decided to get there a little early to get a good table, and when we walked in at 9 on the dot, the place was literally empty. I hadn’t ever ventured into the Pendulum since its opening earlier this year, and I was impressed by the décor choices of black visqueen, red velvet and lesbian erotica. The stage area was lit by black lights and large pieces of dayglo confetti covered the floor. The sound system was so good it made even the most tiresome hip-hop crap sound somehow experimental and fresh. My Seattle friend Kitty was in town so I text-messaged her and she came down to join us. Amazingly, despite living in Seattle for 16 years, she was a drag show virgin. I told her she better hang on for what promised to be wild ride.

It was around 9:15 when we finally heard the stompitty-stomp of high heels and turned around to see Ms. Vera arriving with her entourage, and Black Diamond with hers. As they ducked into the dressing room, the place quickly began filling up with folks, mainly actors and other theatre mavens, gay men, a few local semi-celebs and a girl with a Mohawk haircut. The place was full by the time Vera sashayed onstage to perform her opening number. She was resplendent in a sequined gold lame cocktail dress (with cocktail in hand, of course), and blonde Carol Brady wig. After letting us know the evening’s theme was Hawaiian (as if just a drag show wasn’t enough so they had to come up with a theme) she did a hilarious monologue that had everyone nearly rolling on the floor. Black Diamond took the stage looking soooo 1987 in skintight electric blue spandex and performed a hard-rockin’ Lita Ford (I think) number with wild abandon. Next, Vera hosted a contest, for which she brought up 3 boys on to the stage and announced she hadn’t made up the rules yet, just wanted to get some boys up there to ogle. She improvised a “Hawaiian Dance contest” in which the wildest dancer (and they certainly all were) won tickets to a performance of “The King and I.” It ended in a three-way tie.

For the rest of the show, the girls took turns performing while the other hit the dressing room and gave herself a totally new, different look. Performance highlights included the wildly shrieky "Tipping Song” in which they worked the crowd for currency while attempting to lipsync to the craziest Ricky-Ricardo-on-Acid music ever recorded. Ms. Vera never strayed too far from tradition, giving passionate renderings of Ethel Merman’s “I’ve Gotta Be Me’ and Barbara Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” Black Diamond wasn’t afraid to perform some edgier material, including “The Stuff” from Reefer Madness: The Musical, which had me laughing so hard, loss of bladder control nearly occurred. She wore a torn negligee and a fried black wig, messed up make up and a few token bruises. She came out puffing on a funny little ciggie as she mouthed the lyrics: “He throws me down the stairs / But deep inside he cares / He buys me lingerie / …and the Stuff.” It was high camp at its finest. (I’ve posted a version of this insane song below for your enjoyment.) After a huge round of applause the audience demanded an encore and got its wishes when the ladies returned to perform the ever popular “Popular.” The show was over and most of the theatre crowd immediately disappeared, although Vera and Black Diamond did mingle for a few minutes before sneaking down to the Shore Lounge for karaoke and to wreak havoc at the CDA Resort. The dance music kicked back in and the rest of the evening was a bit of a blur, to be honest. Overall, I was again impressed at the serious talent of these two drag queens. They were able to bring the house down make and the whole audience laugh with just a facial expression or a one-liner. They are spectacular entertainers and we are very lucky to have them perform in our town. Apparently, they are doing one more show at The Pendulum this month before returning to the Big Apple for the winter, and I will post here when I find out the date…

The Stuff (Reefer Madness OST) MP3 2.72MB 128kbps

This sounds like so much fun.. amazingly enough there isn't much drag in LA - at least not that I've noticed. There is one big show in WeHo on Tuesdays or Wednesdays but last time I went it was like 3 people.. personally I like the cabaret feel better than endless Cher impersonators.. I'm going on a lookout for some cabaret divas with penises
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