It’s a busy thursday night at Nurse Bettie – the bar is packed and it’s tough making your way to the front.
Tonight I have a special role – I’m a… show runner… best boy grip? In short, I get to provide food for use in an act! I take my job seriously and go to the McDonalds on Delancey, only to find out that they’ve decided to renovate and the closest alternative is on Sixth Avenue. Uh, no. I try out a local old school burger place called Mikey’s instead, and add a second set of fries by request for the backstage to share.
The go-go starts at 10 past 10, and Coco Ono, visiting NYC from Los Angeles this weekend, climbs on the window ledge for six songs and a few fistfuls of dollars. It’s worth it pushing through the crowd from my pretty decent third row position by the stage and go all the way to the back and back again. Luckily my spot is still there when I get back – or maybe that’s just the result of the steady air conditioning leak dripping on me? I almost wonder if the show’s producer, Calamity Chang, is gently ribbing Coco by putting on “Going Back to Cali” as the last go-go song, but if it is it’s meant in good fun.
Calamity kicks off the show at 10.30pm, mentioning that this show has been going for eight years. “When I talk to my Chinese mother, and I tell her that, the first thing she asks me is: how much money are you making? And when I tell her, she answers, you could have gotten two PhD’s in that time!”
Calamity introduces the first act, and I like that we head straight away into slaying the patriarchy. Petite Renard comes out as a suffragette, showing off the big guns, and donning sunglasses for the second half where she switches gears and demonstrates they’ll be just fine without us men.
Lady Mabuhay is new to me, but the way she deftly invites the audience to ride her pony with her suggests that that was mostly my mistake.
Nina La Voix turns Ariana Grande into a decidedly more grown-up experience, ending with a glove-fueled hint of asphyxiation.
Time for the break, and Petite Renard takes the gogo position in the window while Nina LaVoix goes around with the tip bucket.
Calamity opens the second half of the show with an old-fashioned dance-off, which not surprisingly is handily won by the woman in the pair.
And then it’s the act I ran show for – Coco Ono takes a big bite out of the Lower East Side – or at least that part of the LES that gets served at Mikey’s. I had never heard Tina Turner’s version of Whole Lotta Love, but I think it is now actually my favorite. She starts off with a box in hand, peeks into it, and then opens it to empty it of its contents. And Coco certainly wins over the crowd tonight, feeding fries to the first two rows, and striking poses with burger and shake.
Aphrodite Rose came out in a full-body kaleidoscopic tiger suit (words I’d never imagine being in such close proximity to each other, like, ever). Her shoe came off (or started off off) quickly and made its way to her face, as a telephone – yet another sign that the nineties called and wanted their act back. It was a confusing experience, like all the best Burlesque acts. Calamity agreed, I think, quipping “Now I know if I ever commit murder, I want do it with you!”
Nina took over the mic to introduce the host of the show who’s also doing the final act: Calamity Chang, coming out in a many-tasseled outfit, getting some help from Nina in the front, and showing off some intricate lacing work in the back!
And with that final act, the night at Nurse Bettie is over, and I get a chance to debrief the show with Wang Newton.