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BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub

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Justin Vivian Bond is Outrageous and Wise.

BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub

Justin Vivian Bond has been turning the cabaret world on its head for nearly three decades now. They fought battles with Rudy Giuliani in the '90s over the former mayor's crackdown on queer clubs. Mx. Bond created the character, Kiki duRane, the self-described "alcoholic battle-axe with a throat full of razors" with an equally disturbed accompanist, Herb. They performed as Kiki and Herb, gaining much acclaim until they retired the character in 2007. Mx. Bond is the recipient of an Obie, GLAAD, Bessie, Ethyl, and a Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists awards as well as being nominated for a Tony. In addition to being a groundbreaking performance artist, Mx. Bond is a tireless activist on behalf of trans artists.

(Justin Vivian Bond uses the inclusive honorific, Mx. and the pronouns v/vself, which will be used in this review.)

Justin Vivian Bond brought v new show STORMING THE GLAMPARTS to Joe's Pub inside the beautiful Public Theatre this week. I was lucky enough to catch Thursday night's performance and was dazzled by the brilliance of Bond's talent, brains, and beauty. V is a true one-of-a-kind entertainer. V is outrageous while being grounded in very traditional entertainment forms. V presents vself as a chanteuse with a good deal of diva energy. V arrangements by musical director, Matt Ray are all firmly rooted in the cabaret vernacular. But Justin Vivian Bond goes to a level beyond simply cabaret. V show is a good-natured exposé of everything that's important in 2021. And even though Bond claims to rate low on the empathy scale, v show is the perfect picture of inclusion, empathy, and love.

BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub

The evening had an opening act. THE ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS were discovered as the audience took their seats, holding a passionate kiss for about half an hour. They describe their style as Neo Afro Futuristic Psychedelic Surrealist Hippy. The concept is they are two intergalactic kings ruling over different planets that eventually collided, changing the universe forever. The kings, Manchildblack and Monstah Black, let loose with a half-hour of beats in which they looked at the problems and joys of planet earth through the eyes of an alien intelligence. It is an interesting, beautifully costumed act that somewhat wore out its welcome before wrapping up.

BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub But then Justin Vivian Bond entered, sweeping through every inch of the house to the strains of Shirley Bassey's "Get The Party Started. V entertained with the theme song to "Bewitched." (Who knew it had lyrics?) In "Could've Been," V made us hold our breath, walking the apron rail of the stage like a tightrope in 5-inch heels. It was a daring feat of agility. I was particularly fond of v performance of Tom Wait's "Surely," although only the band played. Bond read a passage of Jack Kerouac over the song.

My favorite moment of the evening was a song Mx. Bond explained they did in a streaming concert from last Christmas at Joe's Pub. But since they didn't have a live audience then, v was doing the song again, even though it's not seasonally appropriate. The song, "Good Morning, Midnight, It's Christmas" was a comically dark look at yuletide in which v accompanied herself with two wicked-looking butter knives. V took us on a melancholy journey with "6:30 Sunday Morning." V dispensed some amazing wisdom in this song. BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub

Dispensing wisdom is actually one of Mx. Bond's special skills. One of my favorite bon mots of the evening; "If you're smart, you know when to play dumb." My very favorite moment came just at the end of the concert before several encores. V ended her show with Barbra Streisand's "Woman in the Moon" from A Star Is Born. It was the perfect tune for this over-the-top, down-to-earth diva.

Special mention should be made of Justin Vivian Bond's amazing band, led by Matt Ray. Nath Ann Carrera on guitar and Claudia Chopek on violin did fantastic work. Bond mentioned this was v 15th show in 17 days, having just completed a very successful run of shows with Anthony Roth Constanza at St. Ann's Warehouse. No one can argue with that kind of success. Justin Vivian Bond deserves all the acclaim. It was a hysterical, touching, wonderful evening that I won't soon forget. BWW Review: Justin Vivian Bond Is Magnificent IN STORMING THE GLAMPARTS at Joe's Pub

For more information on Justin Vivian Bond, visit justinvivianbond.com or follow v @mxjustinVbond on Twitter or @mxviv on Instagram. For upcoming acts at Joe's Pub, go to publictheater.org.


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