Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anything Goes

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  No Traffic Lights, No Rules!
This film clip is purported to have been shot on April 14th, 1906, just four days before the Great California Earthquake which devastated much of coastal California and flattened San Francisco. However the scene could have been shot at any time prior to the quake. Apparently, the celluloid survived only because it had been shipped by train to New York for processing. 

It’s also refreshing to see kids were just as foolish and obnoxious back then as they are today! In old photographs, they always look so well-behaved and proper. This is a rare opportunity to see them behaving like – well – kids!

A camera was mounted on the front of a street car in San Francisco and is perhaps the oldest "home movie" you will ever see! The film shows wet streets from obviously recent heavy rainfall and the position of shadows indicate the time of year so it is possible to generally pinpoint the scene in time by referring to weather conditions in the historical record. Another interesting thing is the clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero Wharf is still there. 

The number of automobiles is quite staggering for 1906. It looks like everybody had the right of way and it was a case of survival of the quickest. You’ll notice some of the flivvers have the steering wheel on the right-hand side. I wonder when the wheel’s location was standardized on the left – in much of the world. There were still a lot of horse drawn vehicles still in use and mass transit certainly seemed like the best way to get around. Wonder if they had street crews to clean up the horse puckey? 

Fast Forward to 2011
I Just Learned How to Text, Talk on My Phone 
and Set My Sat-Nav While Driving!
Seems like very little has changed since 1906!

Absolutely no sense of style!  Just look at that tie!!
The Doo Bee Boobies – back with a bang
Director – Mark Hawkins               Reviewer – Neal McKenna
(L-R) Stanimir Stoykor, Tony Bentel, Robert Whitehead, Mark Hawkins, Ebrahim Medell & Stephen van Niekerk

The Doo Bee Boobies are back again! Considered outrageously controversial back in 1993, the show was revived in 2010 and is still going strong. Back at the Joburg Theatre, it still retains every bit of its slice 'n' dice edge. Staid South African audiences be warned, this is entertainment not intended for the faint of heart, maiden aunts or regular church-goers! Truly, it is burlesque not musical revue. By that, I mean this “extravaganza” is utterly bawdy with lots of innuendo and did I mention nudity? Well there is nudity – plenty of it! The Doo Bee Boobies is all about – well I'm not supposed to plainly say what it really is all about – but it's all about COCK! It is billed as a “true-blue comedy revue,” and I definitely can say blue pretty-much sums up the show.

The Doo Bee Boobies is headlined by the original cast, Robert WhiteheadMark Hawkins and Tony Bentel. Rounding out the dramatis personae are dancer Ebrahim Medell, actor/singer Stephen van Niekerk and newcomer, Stanimar Stoykov. Unfortunately, it is not these young and well put together examples of the male form who expose the most skin. No, dear lawd, no, no, no! Instead, it is the more seasoned cast members, those matronly belles, who shed their chiffon and feather boas at the drop of a hat. Les girls performed ballet, a balloon dance, several skitters across the stage approximating terpsichore as well as numerous leaps and tumbles which totally defied description. And, oh yes, Tony Bentel proved he is still not only a nimble dancer but a rather notorious stripper as well – even when the audience begged him to keep his ersatz designer gown where it was!

It is an all-singing, all-dancing, all-male revue, meaning there is no storyline as such. Instead the audience is led from one vignette to the next – sometimes smoothly, sometimes not so much. It also means there are no women in the show but trust me there are plenty of girls, ladies, dowagers, vamps, princesses and queens to go around. Musical sketches range from zany to bizarre to oh-my-gawd-they-can’t really-be-doing-that! You definitely have to see the show to truly appreciate what I mean. They are a ballsy lot and I do mean that quite literally!

Everything is over the top – the clothes, the jewellry, the makeup and the guys themselves. The result is funny – not pretty – but oh-so disturbingly funny! I suppose tacky is the best way to describe them but they do tacky very, very well. Hey, they’re guys in dresses! To be honest, Bentel, Hawkins and Whitehead look more like three ugly stepsisters than divine divas as each one battles to keep the centre of the spotlight in ensemble numbers. Although two or three ditties are lip-synched, the lion’s share of songs are performed live and done surprisingly well. Who knew Isidingo’s Barker Haines could sing? Okay, so Whitehead didn’t, in actual fact, display much singing talent but he tried hard and in this show, giving it your all really counts. He gave it his all and he showed nearly it all in the bargain! And, I think he must have been channeling Tallulah Bankhead on opening night as his deadpan deliveries were hilariously spot-on.

Tony Bentel very aptly provided music for most of the show on a slippery electric piano which seemed to want to high kick with the rest of the cast and like them, did a pratfall.

Many songs were featured from old and new musicals. Stephen van Niekerk did an outstanding parody of “Memory” from Cats, complete with coughing up an obligatory fur ball. He also performed an excellent rendition of “Oh, Danny Boy” and he can pole dance with the best of ‘em!

Stanimar Stoykov, dressed as a butch construction worker, à la the Village People, made “Where the Boys Are” all his own. But throughout the remainder of the show, following his one featured spot, he appeared as the nurse who occupied much the same role as Madge Allsop, the bridesmaid, on The Dame Edna Experience TV shows.

And yes my dears, there was even a helping of “kulcha” in the form of the Dying Swan dance from Swan Lake. In this fractured fairytale scenario, the swan has bird flu and is molting like crazy as she spirals ever downward into her malaise. In spite of it being a lampoon of a classic ballet everyone recognises, Ebrahim Medell’s dancing was nothing short of exquisite. It’s not every guy who can slide into a prima ballerina’s toe slippers and do the job well! This was followed by Medell, van Niekerk, Bentel and Mark Hawkins performing the Pas-de-Quatre. It was less exquisite but good for a lot of belly laughs.

Finally, director Mark Hawkins, after doing numerous ensemble bits, moved into the spotlight with his vampish lip-synch solo. I think the title was “I'm Not That Kind of Girl,” but since there were no programs handed out, I can’t be sure. Anyway, he proceeded to do a rather bland striptease from under a tatty trench coat but the action grew decidedly tawdry at the end when he revealed much more than anyone in the audience wanted to see.

Even though The Doo Bee Boobies is a homegrown drag show, the show is never a drag. Done well, toilet humour can be extremely funny and here, most of the time it is. Again, I honestly cannot stress this enough – as shows go, it is more than outrageous – it will leave you shell-shocked. It is shocking merely for the sake of being shocking! Finally, if the show has a message – and it’s really quite a stretch trying to find one – it would have to be: whoever you think you are, get over itThe Doo Bee Boobies play at the Joburg Theatre’s Fringe venue starting June 1, 2011.

“The Boobies are a lot of things but they are not your usual drag queens.” (Adrienne Sichel – 10 August 2010 Tonight)

“There are images in this cabaret-style revue that no amount of scrubbing will ever erase from your brain… a monumentally rude show that confuses your face: your eyes don’t always want to look, but you can’t help smiling.”
(Bruce Dennill - 10 August 2010 The Citizen)

“Old, Fat, Tired & Talented!....Boeps bourrée. Bare buttocks wobble. Waistlines sag…..No question: Doo Bee Boobies is the trashiest, tackiest, funniest show in town. Gotta love it.”
(Adrienne Sichel – 11 August 2010 The Star)

“Doo Bee Boobies is considerably more than the sum of its parts… you will see in this mixed bag of spoofs, a generosity of collaborative energy, an understanding of performance culture from the inside out and a playfulness and irreverence that never slips into untidy thinking.”
(Robyn Sassen – 13 August 2010 SA Jewish Report)

“It’s outrageously rude, but it’s also as funny as it gets and clean of moralising and message-bearing; it takes itself seriously and attests to the sheer skill of performance brilliance blended with roll-on-the-floor laughter.”
(Robyn Sassen – 13 August 2010 SA Jewish Report)

“Musical sketches range from zany to bizarre, to oh-my-gawd-they-can’t really-be-doing that….Everything is over the top, and they do tacky very, very well……The show is never a drag….Done well, toilet humour can be extremely funny.”
(Neal McKenna – 15 August 2010 Sunday Independent)

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– Nealbo


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