Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Better Than Santa: The 12 Acts of Christmas

Take a dash of burlesque, a scoop of modern dance mixed with classic ballet, plenty of candy cane-colored costumes, some sultry cabaret lighting, a rocking score stuffed with updated versions of holiday standards, sprinkle generously with vaudeville, then toss it all up in midair and you’ve got “The 12 Acts of Christmas” presented by Suspended Cirque, the sexiest troupe of aerial performers on the other side of the Hudson. I trekked through a blizzard to get to the warm intimate setting of the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO for the only evening performance of their winter spectacular this year. (The weather outside was frightful but that dominatrix Santa sure was delightful!)

The entire show was one euphoric toy train ride, from its opening winking catfight routine and Santa riding a unicycle on the ground, to “Michelle on Fabric Skating in the Air” and “Angela and her Rope on a Silent Night” high above. There’s a touching, old-fashioned sensibility to this troupe, a reverence for burlesque and vaudeville, for slapstick and flappers. (“Michelle Drunk at a Party” could be a Chaplin routine – if Chaplin were a yogi.) Suspended Cirque combined the bawdy fun of the holiday season with the true beauty in its meaning via ropes, trapezes, sturdy fabric and hoops – not to mention the Peter Pan aerialists whose own bodies manage to defy both gravity and the human form itself. And the childlike thrill these talented folks take in performance is both exhilarating and downright contagious. For them the sheer joy of flying is a calling, and we as the audience are merely being allowed to live vicariously through them, to feel a part of their fantasy made real for a couple of hours. This is nothing less than transcendental performance art. Laced with Viagra.

For there’s a deep rooted sexiness that lies in the mingling of physicality and spirituality, allowing a transcendence of the self. With the dexterity of jungle animals and the enthusiasm of kids climbing trees the company uses each other’s bodies, even their own limbs as ropes, utilizing flesh on flesh to create. As they seamlessly move from floor to ceiling, as if walking on air is the most natural thing in the world, the need to be air born becomes a palpable hunger, an orgasmic drive. There’s a lust for life that encompasses the room. Indeed, watching “The Ladies of Suspended Cirque on the Triangle Trapeze” camp it up in miniskirts and glitter, mock pushing then catching one another from on high to a club mix of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” it’s hard to believe that any dream wouldn’t come true.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

20 Fave Films of The Decade

A Most Subjective Eclectic List of Films That Made Me Shamelessly Evangelize (in no particular order)

Forever (Heddy Honigmann)
Flame & Citron (Ole Christian Madsen)
Melody for a Street Organ (Kira Muratova)
Hunger (Steve McQueen)
Man on Wire (James Marsh)
The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin)
2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
Water (Deepa Mehta)
Cold Souls (Sophie Barthes)
Casino Royale (Martin Campbell)
Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
This Is England (Shane Meadows)
Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke)
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier)
Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
The Pianist (Roman Polanski)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So Cold He's Hot

“Race,” the latest David Mamet play to open on Broadway, stars the effortlessly brazen James Spader. Spader, of course, has fashioned an entire career playing slick, sexy scoundrels whose looks allow them to get away with behavior a lesser nebbish like Woody Allen would get locked up for. For nearly three decades(!), and in a feat incomparable to any other actor of his generation, Spader has repeatedly and subversively performed his own form of jujitsu on Hollywood typecasting. Consistently he's cashed in on his leading man, pretty boy looks while simultaneously embodying character actor assholes—in the process exposing the very essence of sex appeal. In contrast, a star like Tom Cruise is a good guy at heart, forever excusing his high wattage looks in an "Aw shucks, don't hate me because I'm beautiful" appeal. Spader is Cruise's polar opposite, both refusing to apologize for the genes life dealt him and not caring one iota whether we like him or not. Frankly, my dear, he doesn't give a damn. Spader's sexiness—as opposed to mere physical attributes—lies in his flaunting of genuine self-confidence through his characters.

To read the rest visit my “Sex Beat” column at Carnal Nation.