Art & Artists
Art Basel 07
Art Basel 08
Art of Life
Basil Twist's Petrushka
Betty Tompkins
Diane Keaton Tribute
Edward Steichen
Gertrude Stein
Les Nubians
New Museum
Peek-A-Boo Revue
Pill Awards
Photogs to the Stars
Erotic Art Museum

A History of Violence

An Inconvenient Truth
Angels in America
Brokeback Mountain
Chris and Don
Little Children
Liza with a Z
Man on Wire
Notes on a Scandal
That Man: Peter Berlin
The History Boys
The Queen
The Savages
Woodstock Uncut
Morgan James
Joey Arias in Concert
Arias & Vine
Arias with a Twist
Brilliant Mistake
Candi Stanton
Diana Ross
Fight the People
Fish Circus
Fish Circus V2
Gavin Creel
Joe G's Winter Party
John Bucchino
Kevin Aviance
Lisa Shaw
Maximus 3000
Meow Meow
Paul Winter
Ute Lemper
A Chorus Line
ABT's Romeo & Juliet
August: Osage County
Avenue Q
Boeing Boeing
Coram Boy
Faith Healer
Getting Home
Grey Gardens
Heartbreak House
Joan Rivers
Journey's End
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Light in the Piazza
Marga Gomez
Mary Stuart
Movin’ Out
New York City Ballet
Rainy Days & Mondays
Rent 10
Some Men
Spelling Bee
Spring Awakening
Sunday in the Park
Sweeney Todd
The Little Dog Laughed
The Seagull
The Vertical Hour
Threepenny Opera
Times They Are A-Changin
Trailer Park
Wall to Wall Broadway
Photo Credit :: radiorq
Arts & Entertainment
The Highline Festival: Meow Meow
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
May 18, 2007 
Share |

As passive-aggressive as her namesake, equal parts snarl and purr, Meow Meow channels the spirits of Lotte Lenya and Sid Vicious as she performs the songs of Weill, Piaf and Ramone. Pawing through her suitcase full of props and costumes, the Australian Sally Bowles purr-sonifies purr-fectly the concept of weltschmerz. She’s a world-weary songstress in the process of public disintegration.

An antipodal sister to Kiki, another flaneur on the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Meow Meow prowled through a two-hour deconstruction of show business and the human condition on Friday night at the sold-out Hiro Ballroom. With its myriad Chinese lanterns and low candlelight, the Hiro resembles nothing so much as a 1930s Shanghai opium den, making it the purr-fect litter box for Meow to kick up her heels.

One moment purring, before snarling the next, Meow exhorted the audience to cater to her every whim. First appearing curled up in a red leather banquette amidst her audience, she cajoled men and boys to carry her cocktails and her suitcase, and to unzip and undress her—and that was just to get her onstage. Before long, she had males lying at her feet and wrapping themselves around her middle, and forming a sort of chaise longue for her elegantly tapered legs (think Cyd Charisse), legs which appeared to have a life of their own, often swinging wide open, spread-eagle—at which point Meow would demand the paparazzi to fire away in a flurry of flashes.

Before long, like a contortionist Iggy Pop, Meow was transported over the crowd, as the audience sent her roaming around the room, passed from one group to another, over their heads—until an ungenerous martini landed in her eye, causing temporary blindness and an unceremonious drop back onto the stage. Whereupon the audience went quiet—suddenly fearful and anxious, wondering if all the fun was now off, for it was no longer possible to determine the line between spontaneity and scripted performance.

Not to worry, however, Meow was soon back on her feet, if a little shaky—and in need of another supporting man from the audience.

Like most domesticated felines, Meow couldn’t do much for herself—save for sing. And when she did, in a voice haunting and clear, the audience was rapt. Singing in French, Italian and German, she sometimes sought a native speaker from the audience to translate the lyrics—sharing with us how it would be in another culture, another city, another life. “You can imagine,” she purred—her signature aphorism. She sang “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and “Je N’Oublierai Jamais” as if Piaf were still pining for Marcel Cerdan. And she ended with her version of “Surabaya Johnny,” resigned to loss, draped over a Meow Meow mannequin, an empty shell of her former self.

Yet Meow Meow is nothing if not a survivor, a true feline with nine lives—and many of them on display during the course of one evening. She sheds personae with alacrity, adopting postures and changing moods, from seductress to victim, first wailing in despair, then whispering with awe. She’ll be back in New York, maybe as soon as this summer—and if you catch her, be sure and hold her tight.