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Photo Credit :: MRNY
Arts & Entertainment
Arias With A Twist
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
September 19, 2008 
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One of our favorite sightings of chanteuse diva extraordinaire Joey Arias took place on a summer afternoon—not the hour one usually associates with the transgressive nocturnal nightingale. But it was Wigstock Sunday, and as we walked beneath the High Line, heading for the piers along the Hudson, a yellow cab pulled up in front of us—and from the back of the cab emerged two long legs sheathed in black nylons, the feet shod in impossibly stacked black patent leather stilettos. We stopped where we were—and watched as the black-clad Ms. Arias emerged from the yellow cab, looking like some femme fatale from a New York film noir. With unflappable calm, she made her way across the cobblestoned street—and onto the West Side Highway, where she could’ve stopped traffic herself had there been no traffic lights. Presence—that’s what Arias possesses; the kind of presence that can make any street corner a stage.

The square footage of the stage at the downtown venue HERE is close to that of a king-sized bed—and yet Arias commands that bit of real estate as if she were working the entire expanse of Radio City Music Hall. Proportion is everything in this show, and with Basil Twist’s ingeniously designed puppetry and dexterous direction, Arias offers the audience the equivalent of a magic mushroom ride through the outer galaxies and deep into the bowels of hell. With a leer and a delivery that would make Mae West proud, and a body built by costumer Thierry Mugler, Arias resembles a Vargas girl booted from the pages of Playboy for smoking too much wacky weed.

At one point, Arias becomes the protagonist of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, stomping her way through Manhattan in those killer pumps, swallowing subway cars and biting off skyscraper spires—all while delivering acid commentary on the denizens of each nabe and recalling the days when she used to take the number 6 train to work at Fiorucci’s and Bloomingdales.

The point being, Arias is a New York institution—and after seven years in Vegas where she headlined Cirque de Soleil’s Zumanity, it’s good to have her home again. Well-loved for her ability to channel Billie Holiday, Arias sings the Holiday canon with such conviction that it’s easy enough to feel we’re hearing Holiday in a downtown boite. And when Twist’s marionette supper-club combo joins in behind her, albeit in two-foot form, the illusion is akin to a funhouse mirror, where reality is distorted into the most hypnotizing shapes.

Recently extended through December 31st, Arias With A Twist has a manic energy similar to your favorite New Year’s Eve party, the one where everyone’s a little crazy and plenty bombed and dying to get laid before the year ends. With Arias in charge, accompanied by Twist’s highly suggestive and over-sexed puppets, Arias With A Twist insures that no one goes home unfulfilled.