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Photo Credit :: MRNY
Arts & Entertainment
SINsational: Joey Arias and Sherry Vine
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
January 20, 2008   photo-album 
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The night was stormy and unseasonably cool for Miami Beach. But then, why not? That Mistress of Seduction, Joey Arias, was in town, starring with her salaciously delicious partner in crime, Sherry Vine, in SINsational, their globetrotting cabaret show. The wind whipped the palms, as well as the flaps of the Spiegeltent. Inside the mirror-slathered Salon Perdu, the audience was a veritable composite of Miami Beach café society: Mr. Miami Beach George Neary, Octavio Campos, Dale Stine, Edison Farrow, Nestor Paz—all of us soaking up the torchy ambiance in a spiegeltent where the likes of Marlene Dietrich had once performed.

Oh, weren’t we all so smart to have let that largest gay cruise in history sail away without us? For while the gay cruise was away, two of New York’s best had come down to the Beach to play. And suddenly, there they were, in all their Kit Kat Club finery, in front of a bank of absinthe green lights: Joey Arias and Sherry Vine, as Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, singing “All That Jazz.” Or “all that jizz”—as Joey had it, making certain that we understood the kind of night we were in for. Nothing was too raunchy for these girls: they’ve been around. Or as Sherry explained early on, “I’m just a dirty cheap Jewish blonde whore from New York.”

Legends in their own time, stars of Broadway and Cirque de Soleil, as well as the dearly loved Bar d’O, these two had performed SINsational in Sydney and Berlin, but it had been years since they’d last performed together, in Miami—and as Vine said with a wink and a smile, “Thanks for the warm hand on our opening.” Mistresses of deadpan delivery, both of them.

Lest one imagine, however, that this was your run-of-the-mill dq show, with snappy dq repartee, there’s the matter of That Voice. And when Arias took his verse of that Johnny Mercer chestnut, “Day In Day Out,” the mood was set. Beloved for his channeling of Billie Holiday, Arias possesses an instrument that rewinds time, back to the days when 52nd Street was Swing Alley, “the street that never sleeps.”

But first, it was Sherry Vine’s show—while Arias took a powder. No timid nightingale herself, Vine ripped into “When You’re Good To Mama,” like she was auditioning for Kander and Ebb—followed by a tune of her own, a raucous mash-up of all those “Milkshake” derivatives called “So Delicious.” And if that weren’t enough, she had the audience in hysterics with her riff on Madonna’s “Jump,” renamed “Bump,” and which included the lyric, “Just one little bump. I’m ready to bump.”

With her hourglass figure and Balanchine legs, Vine’s the kind of statuesque bombshell who might well have been the model for Jessica Rabbit, but it was her ability to wring laughter from a line as mundane as “Ernie, it’s DELICIOUS” that made comparisons to Lucille Ball almost inevitable. Possessed of the same gift for physical comedy, and every bit as gorgeous, Vine made the audience hers merely by saying, “I’m having a Tyra moment” or “When you’re ready, baby, stick it in.” And ever gracious, she knew when to cede the spotlight—to THAT VOICE.

A vision in black satin, there she was: Joey Arias in the room’s center. One blue spot, mike in hand, singing “You’ve Changed.” No, not just singing it—living it, and making those lyrics personal, evoking not only Billie Holiday, and all of Holiday’s disappointments, but our own heartbreaks as well: "I can't understand/You've changed/You've forgotten the words/‘I love you’” That sensual voice, tortured by love—before she was off again, regaling us with tales of Cole Porter’s sexploits with sailors, which provided fresh illumination into her version of Porter’s “Love For Sale.”

Not to be outdone by Vine’s spontaneity with the audience, Arias, too, reached into the front row—and pulled up Paul from Miami. A straight man, whose girlfriend had conveniently disappeared into the bathroom, Paul proved the perfect foil for Arias’s antics, which included the insertion of her microphone deep into the nether regions of Paul’s pants, whereupon Arias sang to Paul’s crotch, that rough and breathy voice circling around Spiegeltent. Oh, Billie, oh, Marlene—surely the girls above were shrieking with laughter as loud as the rest of us.

And when Vine returned to sing “That Old Black Magic” with Arias, it was indeed magical. For their finale, the two of them ripped into “All of Me,” trading epithets and sobriquets like tennis pros acing each other, singing with barely-contained laughter “Mistress of the Dark” and “Queen of the Internet,” “Blond Jewish Whore” and “Aztec Goddess”—until the two of them were prostrate on the circular stage, singing cheek to cheek, their obvious affection and respect for each other undeniable and generous.

To see these two sharing a stage was to be grateful for the legends that have preceded them—whose gifts Vine and Arias have received, revived and transformed into their own sui generis entertainment. SINsational could hardly be more apt—although the real sin would be in missing this audacious show.