Now, these two shouldn't be on our shit list. K&H are both gay, and after performing for 15 years together they are considered legendary. About to hit P-town as one of the hot tickets at PICA's TBA Festival, it's rather telling that these two will perform their gig Monday, Sept. 11. That's because K&H are nothing short of NYC royalty, at least in Big Apple art circles. These queens are so cool they had to reschedule their first, last and (until now) only Portland show so they could perform at Elton John's bachelor party. To paraphrase a Hollywood pariah, "That's hot."
Truthfully, Kiki and Herb (a.k.a. Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman) are just a pair of art-school snobs posing as a pseudo-ironic, drag-cabaret act. Think Catskill-lounge-act-meets-cracked-out-meth-addicts with just a tad of self-importance thrown in to make it all feel so, well, important. In '04 these two claimed to hang it all up during their "farewell tour." But for the past month these bellicose banterers have performed to rave reviews on Broadway (they will race from their Sunday show at the Helen Hayes Theater to make it in time for their 9/11 Newmark Theatre show). New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley nearly shat himself, stating, "Kiki and Herb onstage are Alive with a capital A."
What the hell are Linah and I missing?
Maybe it has to do with the time they were in P-town. Linah blabbed on her blog that K&H's January Wonder Ballroom show was "boring and uninspired." I just thought it was indulgent, a bit awkward and mean.
Which, according to former Gawker god Choire Sicha in a recent piece he did on them in The New York Observer, is a big part of the whole Kiki and Herb shtick.
Kiki's most memorable mantra is "Don't get too comfortable!" At the Wonder she lived up to it. Screeching into her mike like a banshee as Herb banged away at the piano to songs as diverse as "Sex Bomb" and "The Rainbow Connection," the show hit the fan toward the end of the evening. That's when, frustrated with the poor guy who was running lights for their show, they walked offstage in a big huff. Maybe it was part of their "show," but it felt more like a brief moment in hell's waiting room.
Now I like leftist diatribe masquerading as a lounge act as much as the next person, but coming from these two it feels more like a sermon from a couple of fucked-up fanatics and less like a performance from true artists. If I want to learn a lesson I will stick to Linah and the rest of the Sissyboys (who will, incidentally, also perform at TBA).
At least those girly boys shed their clothes. Now that's performance art.
Kiki and Herb, Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 224-7422. 8 pm Monday, Sept. 11. $25, $20 PICA members.
Sissyboys, The Works at AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison St. 10 pm. Tuesday, Sept. 12. $15, $10 PICA members. 21+ .