New Yorks Most Subversive Christmas Show: Review of Justin Vivian Bond: The Bipolar Express

New Yorks Most Subversive Christmas Show: Review of Justin Vivian Bond: The Bipolar Express

Justin Vivian Bond’s’ The Bipolar Express’ at Joe’s Pub in New York begins as a sly celebration of dysfunction, and objective as a cleverly heartwarming Christmas pageant.”>

The latest installment of Justin Vivian Bonds two-decades-plus cabaret act, currently at Joes Pub in New York City, is true to the spirit of its mischievous title.

A cult figure with crossover appeal, Bond is a Tony-nominated musician who rose to acclaim as Kiki of the Kiki and Herb cabaret duo, which ran from the 90 s up until 2007 and enjoyed a revival series of indicates earlier this year.

Screen roles such as in the film Shortbus and the HBO web-turned-television series High Maintenance have followed. Bond has furthermore been a vocal and visible transgender activist. But the intimate stage is where Bond returns with regularity for expression and entertainment, as with the current run of The Bipolar Express .

A tale of two halves, the indicate begins as a sly and rollicking gala of dysfunction and coping abilities, and wraps up as a cleverly heartwarming Christmas pageantry of sorts.Through it all, Bonds engaging personality and quirky-yet-dignified stage presence infuse an eclectic set list of cover-ups, vacation standards and original compositions with signature charm.

The self-styled trans-genre musician awards the prove its unifying slogan early on by gamely announced today that glamour is resistance. For somebody who has specified a preferred honorific( Mx. in place of Mr. or Ms .), as well as an alternative pronoun( v in place of his or her) you might also say grammar is resistanceand who has thrown off the straitjacket of customary gender designations, Mx. Bond would seem to know a thing or two about bucking authority.( This review is written according to Mx. Bonds choice of honorifics .)

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In particular, it is in recounting vs response to this friends suicide attemptIf you try that again, I will KILL you! and the friends marveling that anybody would care so much so as to react that way that exposes a lesson in the sense of isolation that can bring about such tragedies, and the need for solidarity as prevention.

Bond switchings gears from personal and political to straightforward nostalgia, exposing a fondness for the 70 s movie-of-the-week motif of the Girl in Trouble, quoting such titles as Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway and Maybe Ill Come Home in the Spring.

Recalling Sally Fields turn in the latter, and cleverly reenacting the freeze-framed final shot from the television movie, Bond covers the title way, originally performed by none other than Linda Ronstadt, with coy aplomb.

Finally, admonishing vself for having overlooked Christmas itself for much of an ostensibly winter- and holiday-themed performance, Bond enters the homestretch with a string of holiday tunes, including the self-penned Christmas Spells, which seeks to reconcile a spirit of tolerance and affection with the Christian vacation, as opposed to religion-justified bigotry.

Rickie Lee Joness Christmas in New Orleans and The Carpenters Merry Christmas Darling, follow. Pianist Matt Ray, violinist Claudia Chopek, and guitarist Nath Ann Carrera offer low-key and affable accompaniment throughout, and the latter joined Bond for two other holiday highlightings, Little Drummer Boy and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It is this Little Drummer Boy duo that perhaps best captured the essence of The Bipolar Express.Carrera was along for the ride when Bond, in 2010, fully embraced vs trans identity, and in similarly genderqueer fashion was bedecked in a dramatic but simple black sleeveless dress at vs side as they sought to reenact, by their account, the dynamic between country legends Tammy Wynette and George Jones.

But, Bond pointed out, it didnt matter which of us is Tammy and which of us is George so long as they paid tribute. Living life to the beat of your own drumyour inner drummer person, be it boy or girl or both or neitherwould be the key.

Justin Vivian Bond: The Bipolar Express is at Joes Pub, New York City, Dec 19 -2 3. Book tickets here .

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