It’s a freezing Saturday night on the Lower East Side, and it’s the last Saturday of the year. I arrive just in time to catch the grace of Jason Mejias, rope-wrapped and dangerdangling.
Bastard Keith is the host for the early set, does a roll call for birthdays, and leads the two halves of the Slipper Room into a harmony for “Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! And now you get a hand job!” The crowd happily obliges.
“Congratulations for being shat out all those many years ago into an incomprehensible world.” says the Bastard. “But I didn’t get a hand job!” complains an audience member. “… Yet!” is the immediate comeback.
And then things go slightly off the rails. BK says something about Jewish people, and someone in the crowd boos at the wrong time, causing Bastard Keith to put together his search party of one for the possibly antisemetic boo-er, who turns out to be a shit-faced bro, of which there are sadly too many on some nights. It could have turned ugly, but Bastard Keith deftly teetotters on the brink between comedy and ostracizing, commenting on the beauty of the phone flash lights behind him as he turns around and makes his way back to the stage.
“Our next performer is going to wash the taste of creeping fascism right out of your mouth!” It’s a guest star, Roxy Stardust, from Scotland, and while unsurprisingly the bagpipes are present in the music, the butt tassels are a nice surprise. Or, as BK puts it: “she puts the tart in tartan!”
Bastard Keith declares that a key was left in the tip bucket, but nobody claims it, leaving him excited to try the key on every lock in New York he can find. He left the rest of the tip bucket alone though: “I don’t need it I have money buried all over the world on strategic locations.”
Sean Blue is next, juggling up to steven balls in the air, undressing himself while keeping his juggle going, taking a tour of the audience sitting on people’s laps and ending with a riveting finale where he pulls his pants down to finish naked.
Bastard Keith, not wanting to be outdone, gives the audience a choice between left and right, busts out a nut, and ends up agreeing with everyone that the left testicle is indeed the better choice.
Lilin Lace comes out dressed like Michael to the tune of Dirty Diana, and bends her way through every chorus and guitar solo, peeling off her glove with her foot.
Peekaboo Pointe treats us to a one month old act, with a minimalist approach to movement, starting with a pink boxer jacket and some poses, and ending on a chair playing guitar solos on her upright legs to The Final Countdown – as a vague prelude to her other tired stripper act.
The first set ends with Roxy and Lilin on the go-go… and then we’re in for an unexpected and unannounced surprise in the second set.
Out comes, in her golden dress, Boo Bess, who hosts shows for Wasabassco, putting a clear stake in the ground by singing “I want to know what love is”.
After the song, she proceeds to make herself comfortable, taking a seat on the edge of the stage, telling us this is her first time ever hosting at The Slipper Room, and acknowledging this momentous occasion by promising us she’ll be grinding her cherry on us all night, at the start of this very last day of the year 2017.
She introduces The Maine Attraction, pantomiming her way through Rick James with phone calls and chatterhands.
As Boo Bess outros her, Maine slips through the curtain and hugs her from behind, trying to pick up the glove she threw just before. I use all of my will power to restrain myself from shouting out, “no glove, no love”.
Next is Nina La Voix, with a blue wig and in a leather pussycat outfit.
After a few asides and a costume change inbetween acts, Boo goes: “I went on a tangent. I was supposed to introduce the next performer.”
Which is Miss Ekaterina, making butterflies out of bodies and sheets.
After that, Penny Wren treats us to a new act with blue boa’s and pained – or ecstatic – facial expressions.
Boo does a quick impromptu demographics poll of the audience.
“Any other people from the eighties? Congratulations, it’s almost too late to have kids!
Anyone born in the nineties? I’ve probably rubbed one of your assholes clean!
Anyone from the seventies? Just keep blaming us for everything.”
After that, she instructs us to show approval of acts by making the sound of a pussy with our mouth, which the audience isn’t quite ready for yet.
Having a woman host in the Slipper Room is definitely a breath of fresh air in an otherwise testosterone-dominated microphone bubble.
Jelly Boy the Clown shocks the crowd as per usual, putting lit-up daggers in his nose, and drinking a whole glass of wine through a straw running into and out of his nose.
Madame Rosebud performs to a coldwave Cassette number, challenging the audience less than usual.
Time for the break, with The Maine Attraction and Rosebud on the gogo, prompting some marital adoration from Bastard Keith.
Boo comes out in the third dress of the night, with her back to the crowd, doing her own intro in a low voice, then turning around and drawing approval from the crowd, prompting her to respond: “That was a really easy way to validate my ego.”
She proceeds to share a story that I won’t go into details on, but you can make up your own version by using the words “tampon” and “press-on nails.”. She punctuates the story by giving the balcony a really good view of her, uhm, balcony.
Like I said, a breath of fresh air. And that is what Penny brought as well, waddling across the stage as a penguin. Even in an outfit like that she still manages to exude some semblance of grace.
Ekaterina comes out to Dr. House’s visit to the St. James Infirmary, twisting her body through several contortions that would put anyone else under the good doctor’s care, sucking on her own toes, and eating a whole rose, then spitting it out on the audience.
“There’s people kissing in the back. Ugh, that’s the worst. I can SEE you. It’s not THAT dark!”
The Maine Attraction comes back to set fire to her hands, her boobs, and finally the room.
Rosebud brings a new act, and after it finishes ends up naked and hugs Boo too, while Boo gives us all a pronoun lesson, which maybe only Bastard Keith has ever done on this stage.
Jellyboy finishes the night, spitting fire across the stage that makes us feel the heat even several rows away.
Uncle Earl comes out for the traditional Saturday ending, leading us in a sing-along while performers – including an off-duty Jenny C’est Quoi – cavort behind him in all stages of undress.
The Slipper Room managing to snag Boo Bess as a host is a great move. The roster is extremely male-dominated, with to the best of my knowledge only Fancy Feast and Julie Atlas Muz hosting once in a while at irregular intervals.
New York is brimming with great women producers and hosts: Calamity Chang, Sapphire Jones, Fancy Feast, Broadway Brassy, Perle Noire, Shelly Watson, Ula Uberbusen, Sydni Deveraux, Nasty Canasta, and Anja Keister, just to name a few. It almost seems like willful on the part of the Slipper Room that their roster is so white-male-dominated.
Here’s hoping they realize they could use a little bit more of the non-white-male perspective at the mic to switch it up and keep things interesting for the audience as well as stay relevant in an increasingly female and non-binary world. If they’re smart, they lock in Boo Bess now for a weekly slot.