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14 August 2017

“As a friend, I hate when she gets into trouble.  As a comic, I’m next in line
whenever she gets fired.  I’m blowing up Anderson Cooper‘s phone. 
‘Girl, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?'” 
– 
Margaret Cho talks about her good friend and colleague, Kathy Griffin.

Since it’s Carnival Week in Provincetown, you know where I am.  When I’m not having more sex than you can shake a stick at (or whatever they were shaking at me), I’m seeing tons of great shows.  Even if you aren’t anywhere near Cape Cod, these people regularly tour the country and will likely hit your locale sometime soon.

On the way to Ptown, I stopped at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis.  This is one of my favorite venues because it’s a real old summer stock theatre in a barn.  It’s been running since 1927 so, by comparison, I’m a veritable spring chicken!  Currently playing is the beloved musical Gypsy, and it’s well worth the trip.  Leading the cast is the incredible Julia Murney, who is on her way to making Mama Rose her own.  More than just a great singer, Julia is an amazing actress and mines the material for all it’s worth.  The whole cast is great, but I must give special attention to the trio of strippers who all but steal the show.  Jen Cody plays Tessie to dazzling perfection.  Jane Blass is a broken-down Mazeppa (I saw her play the same role opposite Patti LuPone in Chicago) and eerily resembles Bea Arthur in MameAmy Bodnar is an Electra who is really electrifying – much to her dismay.  The production did one of the best transitions of annoying kids to dull teens I’ve ever seen.  My only complaint is I didn’t wanna sleep with Tulsa or any of the newsboys – not even Yonkers (well, OK, if I had to).  After Gypsy closes on August 19th, Murder For Two ends the season from August 22nd through Labor Day.  You can get tickets and more information at CapePlayhouse.com.

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I made it to the tip of the Cape just in time for Marilyn Maye at the Provincetown Art House.  To say she’s better than ever is an understatement.  Yes, she’s my dear friend, but this woman’s voice cannot be equaled by people half her age.  While I’m always amazed at her power and range, this year it was the quieter moments which struck me as incredibly delicate and yet totally controlled.  She definitely fills the stage – and the entire room.

Sexy Steve Grand is also at the Art House all season.  While his rippling physique is probably better known to most of my fans than his voice, they will be pleasantly surprised if they buy a ticket for his show.  His vocals are secure, and his self-written material is enjoyable if not somewhat repetitive.  What makes his show work is how well he connects with his audience.  It’s intimate.  You kinda feel like you’re in his living room – we should all be so lucky!  You can see a clip from his show on BillyMasters.com.

Every year, I think Varla Jean Merman can’t top herself – try and get that picture out of your head.  But every year, the material is fresh, incisive, sharp, and on target.  Bad Heroine (also at the Ptown Art House) focuses on female role models throughout history, and it’s hysterically funny.  It’s even educational – I came out learning something.  Take that, PBS!  The costumes are outrageous, the vocals are spot-on, and the entire show is a massive delight for all the senses.

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If there is a female illusionist who is a greater singer than Randy Roberts, I have not met him (or her).  But more than Randy’s voice, it’s his entire presence.  The makeup, the hair, the dress, the choreography – the illusion is perfection from top to bottom.  His Cher is more convincing than the real Cher.  OK, so his Bette Midler is a bit like Mae West – but so is Bette’s!  Where he shines most is as himself…er, herself.  Whatever – go see him/her.

The cherry on the cake at the Ptown Art House is this season’s Ryan Landry play.  5 To 9 is a spoof on 9 To 5 set in the Trump White House, and it works extremely well.  The cast is also sublime.  Landry channels Lily Tomlin‘s tightly wound Violet to a T, Varla Jean Merman goes places Dolly Parton never dreamt of, and Peaches Christ makes Jane Fonda look like a schoolgirl.  Larry Coen is a lascivious and clueless Trump.  And in many ways, Penny Champayne steals the show as Kellyanne Conway, Melania, Ivanka, and even Roz.  Atta girl!  Tix for all these shows can be found at PtownArtHouse.com.

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As always, there are special events at Town Hall.  The venue hosted Broadway diva (and Younger star) Sutton Foster.  Her voice is beyond gorgeous and pure, but also has enough body to connect with a lyric like few of her contemporaries.  She regaled the audience with an assay of her extraordinary career, accompanied by Michael Rafter.  As with the shows at the Art House, this concert was presented by Mark Cortale with his usual aplomb.

The day before, Margaret Cho zipped in for a special show and had the capacity crowd in the palm of her hand.   She previewed material from her new show, Fresh Off The Bloat, which will be touring the country in the fall.  Very sharp, incisive, and funny material – Margaret always kills.  Her piece about explaining poppers to lesbians is hysterical!  Kudos to producers Adam Weinstock and Rick Murray for turning in another fantastic sold-out show.

If you follow this column, you’re probably sick to death of all the mentions of the hunky Rick Murray and the Crown and Anchor.  But one upcoming show deserves some mention.  Billy Porter is returning for two shows August 19 and 20.  Having seen his previous Ptown outing, I can tell you not to miss the chance to see this phenomenal artist in such an intimate setting.  You can get tix at OnlyAtTheCrown.com.  And if you miss him in Ptown, here’s an exciting announcement –  Billy and his original castmate Stark Sands are returning to the Broadway production of Kinky Boots on September 26th.  This will be a strictly limited return through January 7th.  I guess you can go home again!

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All of you who have been waiting with bated breath for ABC‘s live production of The Little Mermaid on October 3rd will have to keep waiting – it’s been “postponed”.  And I would not recommend holding your breath.  I think “postponed” is code for “cancelled”.  “The project is so unique that we are making best efforts to do it next year and want to give it all the attention it deserves.”  Like mermaids, I’ll believe it when I see it.

On the other hand, FOX will bring us A Christmas Story on December 17th.  You may know that the beloved holiday film (which, believe it or not, I have never seen), was made into a Tony-nominated musical.  This live TV presentation will be of the musical, with a twist – it will feature some new songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, composers of Dear Evan Hansen.  They’ve even wrangled the great Maya Rudolph to play the mother.

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The upcoming London production of Hair is offering a clothing-optional performance.  The audience members will get the opportunity to strip during the Act 1 finale.  Note to self – bring a paper seat cover to this show!

Someone who usually shocks by shedding her clothes has actually shed her hair!  Kathy Griffin just shaved her head.  No, it isn’t some misguided homage to Sinéad O’Connor.  She did it in solidarity with her sister who is undergoing chemotherapy to fight a tumor.  Mama Maggie Tweeted a photo and wrote, “My daughter Kathleen Mary is a wonderful human being”.  Well, now we know who is actually writing Kathy’s mother’s Tweets!

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I dunno how I missed this, but Charlie Sheen sleeps with men.  At least that’s the implication of a few lawsuits.  When Sheen went public about being HIV-positive in 2015, he settled out of court with a man who claimed Charlie gave him herpes.  Now a new person is threatening to sue Charlie for giving him HIV during gay sex.  This is being filed in California where it is illegal for an HIV-positive person to have sex without a condom “if there is intent to transmit the virus”.  Personally, I don’t believe Sheen has ever been sober long enough to have ANY intent!

Sheen may wanna have a chat with Usher.  Three people just filed a suit against the singer claiming that he gave them herpes through sex.  What caught my eye is that one of the three people is a guy.  While some media outlets call this a “frivolous lawsuit”, I’m not so sure.  The plaintiffs even engaged the services of celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom – who recently repped Kathy Griffin during her fatwa.  And once again I tied this whole column together.

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Our Ask Billy question comes from Darren in Las Vegas: “Friends of mine tell me Tyson Beckford had a wardrobe malfunction at The Chippendales at the Rio.  True?  Are there any photos?”

Well, we’ve featured every inch of Tyson Beckford before, so why not do it again?  After all, it’s time for summer reruns.  As to the slip at the Chips, well, you can see something swinging around on BillyMasters.com.

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When we’re bringing you a “dick slip”, it’s definitely time to end yet another column.  Even though I’m technically on vacation, you can still find the freshest dish on www.BillyMasters.com – the site that never goes down.  If you’re here and wanna hook up (or if you just have a question), drop a note to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Tyson shakes his stick at me!  Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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