There was and article in TimeOut
about this starting on June 12th.
We're so excited that Joey is performing his song with the Propellerheads, we've been wondering if that would ever see the light of day. We've been dying to see both Basil and Arias perform... Maybe we'll need to make another quick trip up.
Time Out New York / Issue 662 : Jun 4–10, 2008
Leaving Las Vegas
After years in the desert, downtown legend Joey Arias comes home.
By Adam Feldman
IRREGULAR JOE Arias strikes a pose.
Photograph: Tom Ackerman
HERE is still under construction. Rows of lights hang like bats from the ceiling, and set pieces from the refurbished Soho arts complex's inaugural production, Arias with a Twist, litter the stage: a foam-board skyline, a gynecological exam table, a kick line of nude puppets. Joey Arias, dressed in black sweats, easily navigates the chaos. The notorious singer and drag artiste"”a fixture of Gotham's demimonde for most of the past three decades"”has been away since 2002. But now he's back, and HERE is where he belongs.
Leaving town to join the circus is not, as a general rule, considered a move toward respectability. But when the corporate megalith Cirque du Soleil lured Arias to Las Vegas to host its X-rated extravaganza, Zumanity, the decision raised painted eyebrows all over town. "People didn't think I was going to be able to make it," Arias recalls with pride. "They knew about my past, in bathrooms all over the world. But I blew their minds."
Performing ten shows a week for five years at the New York–New York Hotel & Casino, however, eventually grew old. "I started losing my grip on what I was doing," he says. "And my art clock started ticking." Hence the return to New York, and hence, too, the ambitious Arias with a Twist: a collaboration with the brilliant puppeteer Basil Twist, in which Arias sings roughly a dozen numbers in a wild variety of settings, from an alien spaceship to the depths of Hell. The show is the latest chapter in a book notable for crazy shifts of character. "Everything has been a mistake in my life," Arias notes. "I never plan things. But sometimes a left turn becomes the right turn."
There have been many such moves. As a teenager in Los Angeles, Arias was briefly signed by Capitol Records as part of a teen-pop band called the Purlies. After moving to New York in 1976, he fell in with the new-wave pioneer Klaus Nomi, with whom he backed David Bowie on Saturday Night Live. In the 1980s Arias performed with the troupe Mermaids on Heroin at Danceteria; in the '90s, along with fellow drag stars Raven O and Sherry Vine, he sang for packed crowds at the West Village dive Bar d'O. Along the way, his persona has continually evolved, from petrified alien to devil and beyond; recently, he has tended toward Bettie Page fetish gear and a geometric hairstyle, with Aztec bangs that square off the top of his face. (He describes himself as "a polymorph, a shape-shifter.")
Musically, a major shift came in the 1980s. In England, while recording an album with Iggy and the Stooges, Arias began what he calls "channeling Billie Holiday" while doing a mike check. The recording crew was stunned, and soon he started modeling his singing after Lady Day's. "Something about her voice just transcended," he observes. "You go in, you go out, you dream of love and of something that you've lost." He began performing in drag at the 1991 Wigstock festival. "I was at a standstill with the male thing," he says. "But the moment I put that dress on, my life changed."
In Arias with a Twist, he plans to explore his own variety, via songs that range from the Holiday standard "You've Changed" to tunes by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, as well as originals by Propellerheads' Alex Gifford and several that Arias has cowritten. The musical numbers are built into a wild scenic adventure that Twist is designing. "When Basil and I talked about this show, I had some ideas," Arias says. "I knew I wanted to be abducted by aliens. I knew I wanted to be on acid. And I knew I wanted a Busby Berkeley something, with a cake and a million legs and chorus girls." The puppet master has admired Arias for years. "Joey is like a sorcerer," Twist says. "He conjures or connects with this completely other world and makes everything else melt away."Arias, for his part, is ready to cast his spell over New York again. "When I was in Vegas, I kept hearing that Manhattan was dead," he says. "But the magic is still here and will always be here. If you feel the magic is gone, you need to go"”because your magic is gone. New York is always changing. You've got to go with the change."
Arias with a Twist begins previews at HERE on Jun 12. Call 212-352-3101 for tickets.