Your Record Collection Just Got a Little Saltier
This Friday night, FringeArts’ monthly series of sexy, satirical, queer, and tantalizing cabaret returns to the La Peg stage to kick off it’s fall season. Hosted by Bearded Ladies Cabaret artistic director John Jarboe and co-presented by the William Way LGBT Community Center, this season of Get Pegged features some powerhouse performers from Philadelphia and New York.
October’s featured performers include a “stripped down” assemblage—if that means acoustic or naked is being left unanswered—of Philly’s favorite musical misfits ILL DOOTS, performing two tight sets of original tunes and covers around the notion of “Passion.” Where that will take them is anyone’s guess, all they’ll say is, “We’ll experience several forms of passion together that culminates into what we can only hope is a sweet release.”
This month’s other featured performer, the out-of-towner of the bunch, is New York cabaret artist Salty Brine. Astute Fringe attendees may recognize him as the boisterous but wise host from the 2016 Festival hit The Elementary Spacetime Show, but the talented actor and playwright has made his name as an inventive cabaret artist as well for his own ongoing series, Salty Brine’s Spectacular Living Record Collection, which he’ll be performing an excerpt from at Get Pegged. Journeying into the heart of popular music and consciousness, Salty takes classic albums from legendary artists and twists them in style and form, building spectacular and unexpected theatrical worlds for these well known works to inhabit. These are places where they can be appreciated in an entirely new light and he can weave his own personal, historical, and fantastical narratives into our shared musical history.
The first installment of the series, Abbey Straße, took the music of The Beatles’ Abbey Road and reimagined it as a scandalous German cabaret styled in the spirit of Brecht and Weill, Marlene Dietrich, Ute Lemper, and others like them.
Salty has used many albums as a jumping off point to explore queer narratives, including his take on Cyndi Lauper’s debut She’s So Unusual, retitled He’s So Unusual. Told from the perspective of a “1930s pansy,” the charming, well-coifed gentleman takes audience members on a leisurely stroll through Prohibition-era New York’s bustling underbelly.
More recently, Salty has pulled more contemporary albums* into his repertoire. Last summer he sculpted Neutral Milk Hotel’s melancholic epic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea into a fittingly whimsical and devastating voyage through time and space and embarrassing journal entries, all of it haunted by ghosts of WWII.
His most recent installment took Harry Nilsson’s sublime hit album Nilsson Schmilsson and dropped it into the wild world of Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which itself is repositioned within the bucolic forestry of New Hampshire. It remains a mystery which show in the series he’ll be pulling from this Friday, but whatever he chooses is sure to delight cabaret and music fans alike, regardless of whether they’ve heard these albums one too many times. It’s amazing what a sprinkle of salt can do.
*Actually, not very contemporary at all, I’m just getting older.