As David Bowie got a lip-smacking mouthful of Ann Magnuson in the opening scenes of "The Hunger," it was only right she obliged three decades later and take a bite of the eternal icon's style and sound in marking his turning 64.
Yes, in case you missed it, dear friends, David Bowie hit that milestone last Saturday. And how better to observe the birthday than gathering a bunch of friends into the Steve Allen Theater in Los Feliz?
Clad in glittering frocks on special loan from Bob Mackie, Ann comandeered the stage and mostly the "Ziggy Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane" songbooks, plus a ditty from his pre-Bowie Mod days, with a gang of seasoned musicians—Kristian Hoffman, Joe Berardi, Jonathan Lea and Miiko Watanabe—performing under the nom de mirth, the Star Whackers From Mars. In their diabolical care, "TVC 15" became a rioutous "QVC 15, and The Beatle's "When I'm 64" transformed in the style of Brecht/Weill in a nod to Bowie's period in Berlin.
The big show was as much about the get-ups as anything else, and Ann tickled the sold-out party with one after another glam revamp—on stage. (And for this, I regret abiding by the exhortation of the stage hand to the crowd not to take photographs during the show. I learned too late—backstage after it all—that I could have! Ah well…) Much of the changes were by way of over-the-top jewels and quaint headgear courtesy of her pal at Caprice Grey in nearby Silver Lake. Ann spent several glorious songs in little more than sparkling gold stockings, a teeny weeny panty and brocade foundation from Nice Corset. It's no exaggeration to say that the multi-threat performance artist has a body—and bum—any 20-year-old woman would covet—and she just turned 55 four days before opening night.
(Sorry Ann if you don't wish to be reminded of this, but if I were you, I'd be sharing this unbelievable factoid with everyone.)
This wasn't an evening so much about lauding venerable rebels who've still got it. But suffice it to say that special guest troubador Michael Des Barres has got it in spades. A stone silver fox at 62, Michael literally shook up the place with his renditions of "Suffragette City" and a moving "All the Young Dudes."
Glam is all about excess. So despite a Bowie-brimmed program that more than satisfied all of the David/Ann friends and fans in the theater, Ann and her Star Whackers struck us silly with more: a final act brightly spotlighting that openly gay glam god that never was, Jobriath. Equal parts hysterical and heart-breaking, the musical tale about this real-life Icarus hit a palatable chord in the place, and in part because Ann's narative included Lance Loud, the artist-journalist, gay icon and friend of so many on stage and in the crowd who, like Jobriath, succumbed to AIDS in 2001.
(Scroll to the bottom for a video of Jobriath performing. While I as at it, decided to also post Ann's turn in "The Hunger." Too bad it ended so soon!)
For those who manage to make it to 64 or not, the evening was about celebrating life with all its bedazzling, beguiling, beautiful promise.
And Lady Ann Magnuson delivered.
(Note: A few more photos of the evening taken with 35mm on my new vintage Olympus O will be posted shortly. So please return.)
Still rockin' as ever, that silver fox Michael Des Barres belting out "Suffragette City"
Ann Magnuson, in her final Bob Mackie frock, introduces the audience to the ephemeral phenom that was Jobriath
Bryan Rabin (in Sprouse tie and sneakers) and me and my 1988 Olympus O-Product
Photos of Ann Magnuson on stage, Michael DesBarres and Bryan Rabin and Rose Apodaca by Mark Fox
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