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Sunday
Sep112011

TANGO - JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND

Justin Vivian Bond is one of those unique creative forces that makes NYC what it is.  A staple in the downtown performance art scene, V (as JVB is known) is a versatile artist.   A singer, songwriter, and painter, V has been writing, starring in, and producing- theatrical, cabaret, and art events internationally for over 20 years.   What sets the work apart for me is the sense of comedy that runs through every piece.   There is an angst and a bitterness that just makes certain performers sparkle and stand out, and V has enough to blind you!

In the early 90's, the East Village of NYC was a still a wonderfully funky place.   It was possible to see shows any night of the week that you couldn't find uptown.  It was in this environment that Bond built a following.   One half of the duo -Kiki & Herb (Kenny Mellman) - fictional over the hill cabaret performers that had stayed too long at the party, Bond was lightning in a bottle on stage.  What was originally billed as "a little dowtown drag cabaret show" would come full circle.   The duo set the world on fire and performed everywhere from downstairs at Fez in Greenwich Village to uptown at the world famous Carnegie Hall.  Not to mention all the  international hotspots they would take Kiki & Herb!  Bond was nominated for a Tony in 2007 for "Kiki & Herb Alive on Broadway".  Not many cabaret acts can say that, but Justin Vivian Bond is not your average cabaret performer.  I've seen V perform countless times over the years, in all incarnations, and it is the ability Bond has to seduce the audience in any venue that really deserves accolades.  JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND - IN CHARACTER - OR NOT

To be clear, it's not that Bond goes out of the way to please each audience.   It's that the performance is so true and powerful, that it can reach any audience listening.

"TANGO -My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels" marks V's first foray as an author.   Published by The Feminist Press, the memoir is as laugh out loud funny as it is touching and poignant.   A coming of age story about a little boy dealing with the confusing feelings about being different from other boys.  Combined with all those complicated issues that every child deals with about gender, identity, and a sense of sexuality.   Little Justin Bond might not have been your average boy next door, but anyone reading TANGO can relate to the feelings of being "different" growing up.   As adults we know there are reasons for peoples actions and reactions,  but as kids, we think we are the only person in the world feeling strange or alone.   The book sheds a light on the struggle that trans gender kids feel from a very young age.    Bond's affinity for his mothers lipstick and why she thought it was not appropriate for a little boy to wear it to school is just the beginning..

JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND - LIGHTING UP THE ROOMFans of David Sedaris will LOVE this book.   Both have a tremendous sense of humor.  Of course the stories are very different, but both authors tell them from outside the box.   I think if Justin Bond and David Sedaris had grown up on the same block, who knows what amazing things would have happened?  The world might have seen some incredible invention like a Gay Google or Microsoft on some cosmic level!  They at least would have had each other to commiserate with - that is if they would have talked to each other.  I'm not so sure.

I hope in addition to all the hipsters, readers, and glitterati that will read this book, that any young mother will also pick it up.   (great gift for any pregnant friend- she could use a laugh right now).    Mothers should remember and take heart in the fact that children are these amazing little independent spirits that come into our lives.   Parents often don't get the child they thought they would, but that is the magic of the experience.   Every child is perfect.   Loving them, guiding them, and keeping them safe until they can take care of themselves is the job of every parent and family member. 

I can't recommend TANGO enough.  But don't take my word for it.  The book jacket is covered with recommendations from MAJOR artists like Yoko Ono, Sandra Bernhard, & Rufus Wainwright to name a few! The New York Times Book Review also gave it accolades.  Buy it now in one of the options below.   Also, buy Justin Vivien Bonds albums.   They are unique and creative, and there isn't much music out today that you can say that about!  click Dendrophile to preview the latest album.

**  For anyone who doesn't know Bond's amazing incarnation as Kiki DuRane .   You should do yourself a favor and buy Kiki & Herb - WILL DIE FOR YOU taped live at Carnegie Hall**

TO BUY TANGO - CLICK -   iBOOK      Nook Book    Paperback

Thursday
Nov252010

GLORIA VANDERBILT BY WENDY GOODMAN

THE WORLD OF GLORIA VANDERBILT by WENDY GOODMANGloria Vanderbilt has been famous since birth.   Born into one the richest families in American history, her life was chronicled in every newspaper and tabloid of the day.   Much of the attention at that time was due to the wicked custody battle (1934) surrounding her life, as relatives were determined to remove her from a mother deemed "not suitable".   The general public was fascinated to read the decadent details of the rich and famous at a time when most were living through economic hardship.   While the details of her childhood are as rich as any novel, it is the life that Gloria created for herself some 80 years on, that is far more interesting.

A bohemian and artist at heart, Vanderbilt would evolve into one of the most celebrated and connected socialites in the world.   There was fame and infamy from her various ventures that included creating designer jeans before any other celebrity had branded themselves.   The Gloria Vanderbilt signature logo and white swan symbol was as famous as any fashion brand and would eventually be taken from her due to unsavory contractual situations.   Vanderbilts life story is a true roller coaster ride of fantastic highs and debilitating lows.GLORIA VANDERBILT AND SON ANDERSON COOPER

This year Wendy Goodman, a true arbiter of style in her own right and New York design world legend has published a tribute to Gloria and all her style.   The World of Gloria Vanderbilt is an incredible collection of photographs and stories of this blue-blood beauty and her one of a kind life.  To this day, Vanderbilt remains true to her spirit as a bit of a shift shaper.   She embraces change and keeps moving.

The foreword is a touching tribute to Gloria written by her son, world famous news anchor Anderson Cooper.  Cooper pays tribute to his mother with great affection, also with a sense of objectivity that one must when describing someone surrounded by fame.  Coopers writing displays a great understanding of his mothers need to be her own person.  

One of the most gorgeous books in print, The World ofDELUXE EDITION AT RALPH LAUREN HOME Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman is one to buy for yourself and one to gift to anyone with a great sense of style.   The book is an inspiration for anyone passionate about interiors, fashion, and will give any reader a boost of independence and zest for life.  Ralph Lauren hosted Vanderbilt and Goodman for a book signing in his brand new store on 72nd & Madison Avenue.   This gorgeous mansion was the most appropriate setting to host on of New York's most famous citizens.   Lauren has created a deluxe version of the book packaged beautifully in a purple showcase.   The set also includes an 8x10 print of Vanderbilt.   Click Ralph Lauren Home to purchase the deluxe edition.   A traditional copy can be purchased at fine gift store - William Wayne & Co on Lexington Avenue.  The store is known for amazing customer service and as a destination for finding the perfect housewarming or hostess gift. Click on store name for website info.    To purchase the traditional edition on-line Click GV at AMAZON.



 

Sunday
Oct032010

SQUIRREL SEEKS CHIPMUNK

Just when I thought it was safe to read on a plane without disturbing the cabin, David Sedaris is back with another collection of short stories - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.   Sedaris is known the world over for his stories that poke fun at outrageous family members and neighbors,  who are all too often familiar to readers.    Books like- Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays On Ice, & Naked have been translated into twenty six languages, proving that millions of people relate to the off beat and unflattering references cooked up by the mind of Sedaris.  These stories actually make me that guy that laughs out loud while reading on a plane. (I normally hate that guy!).

This time around the stories are told through various members of the animal kingdom, in the form of demented fables that are classic David Sedaris.   If possible, using animals as characters has made the racist, bigoted, & plain unsociable behavior that is so fun to cringe at, even more deplorable - in the most hilarious manner.  In addition, the book is so perfectly illustrated by Ian Falconer of Olivia the Piglet fame.   The animal illustrations give the book a strange bedside table quality.   This makes the stories read like little gems to savour one at a time, night after night.

Sedaris is a regular guest on NPR Radio and hearing him read his own stories is not to be missed.   With the release of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, Sedaris has also set out on an exhausting book tour throughout North America.   To meet David Sedaris and have your copy of his latest autographed, visit DAVID SEDARIS BOOKS to find a signing near you.