Bash Compactor: Drag Magic At Bar d’O at Indochine
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Imagine the tart-tongued, bleached-headed Raven O, resident MC at The Box, belting out “I Don’t Get Around Any More.” Puhlease! She don’t get around anymore? If you believe that, Dorothy, you’re still in Kansas! This week and next, Bar d’O, the notorious live cabaret act, is celebrating its fifth reunion, with the original cast of drag queen divas: Joey Arias, Sherry Vine, Raven O and Sade Pendavis, and no, these dishy bitches ain’t lipsynching, they’re belting it out for real.
The show ran for 10 years out of Jean-Marc Houmard’s lounge on Bedford Street, but closed when the lease ran out and rents skyrocketed. For the annual reunion, the crew has moved to Houmard’s swanky Indochine, a grande dame in its own right, currently celebrating a 25th anniversary. Bar d’O is named after Houmard’s favorite flick, The Story of O , and while I didn’t see any flagellation, Arias did get a dude to strip down to his BVDs.
I’m a Bar d’O virgin: My first time was Sunday night, and I had to squeeze in to find a spot at a table.The fashionistas and well-heeled queer set were out in droves. Dandy Patrick McDonald was sitting up front, tilting his hat toward the stage. Kim Hastreiter, Paper magazine’s editor, was ensconced in a banquette.
Back in the old days, Bar d’O was so crowded, people used to sit on top of each other or sit on the floor and Sherry Vine camped out in the ladies room, or so I’m told.
The elegant Pendavis was quite the vocalist, with a tinge of gospel blues. Vine, the slender blonde leading the blonde, was breathtaking in her blue-striped ensemble. Then Arias sang some of those smoky Billie Holiday numbers. I first met Arias back in the late ’70s on the Oyster Bay set of Woody Allen’s film, Stardust Memories . She and friend Klaus Nomi were playing space invaders in a moon-age daydream and they were so freaky, they didn’t even need costumes. “Hey Joey, remember that?” I reminded her after the show. Joey’s eyes softened for a moment, but she was ready for her next set.
Veterans of Bar d’O tend to reminisce fondly, like they’re remembering a favorite battle from World War II. Arias’ boyfriend, Max Antonio LaSalle, recalled meeting Arias at the old Bar d’O. “That was quite a place,” he laughed.
And, for one last show, it still is; the gang will recreate its magic one final time on Dec. 27 at 10 at Indochine.
By Gerry Visco