I’m not a Christmas person. Maybe it’s because I’m a non-religious Jewish anticapitalist who dislikes forced frivolity, but all this holiday business is just not my thing. That said, I never felt the spirit of the season as much as I did when I got to watch and perform in the Big Mess Christmas Cabaret.
The Big Mess Christmas Cabaret was a glorious (mostly) annual tradition that began in the early 1990s and ended in 2019. Held at the Trocadero (RIP), an old art deco opera house and burlesque hall in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, they were bawdy, sloppy, silly, and seriously fun. With a fabulous orchestra led by arranger Andy Bresnan, a troupe of vaudeville-style actors corralled by theatrical deviant Greg Giovanni, and hosting duties wielded by drag icon and AIDS activist Carlotta Ttendant, enthusiastic audiences were entertained each December by a revolving band of singers, fire-eaters, storytellers, ukulele players, contortionists, puppeteers, and other Philly freaks. Many a Christmas classic turned torch song or punk anthem would be followed by the singer performing a striptease while the orchestra vamped behind them, auctioning off their outfit to benefit local AIDS service organizations as audience members hooted, hollered, and waved handfuls of cash.
Here’s a link to their Christmas album, “Have Yourself”:
It’s a good time!
And here’s a kind of shoddy but still fun video of Big Mess regular Butterfly Fairweather (aka Joe Genaro from the Dead Milkmen) singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
So happy almost Christmas if that’s your thing! Have a wonderful Night Thread, everyone.