Dina Martina, Queen of Pee Town
By Greg Garry
Photo by David Belisle
Ah, Provincetown. Screw the pricy and overcrowded Hamptons and Fire Island. For many a refined gentlemen this tiny sea shanty on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the perfect summer idyll. The are many things to do: biking to Race Point lighthouse; eating fish caught fresh from the sea moments before; and getting day drunk at the Boatslip’s jam-packed tea dance. My number one recommendation for visitors to P-Town this summer is to catch the comedy and vocal stylings of the indescribably deranged Dina Martina.
Miss Martina, who hails from Seattle, has spent many a summer up in what she calls “Provence-town, a lovely little spigot of land in Massa-WHO-setts,” and has become as much a local landmark as Cabot’s saltwater taffy or the infamous Dick Dock. Her reviews can be less than kind—one wag called her “Liz Taylor and Liza Minnelli hit with a brick” and another said she resembled a walrus prostitute.
I was lucky enough to catch this new best-of show recently in New York City, which included her bizarre song phrasing and mispronunciations, Benjamin Moore-esque makeup, and spastic dancing. Dina's shows are a riot. Trust me, you’ll be soggy afterwards from crying and pissing yourself laughing. Enough of my gushing, we caught up with the not-so-little lady to discuss this year's production and her favorite things to do in Provincetown during the summer.
How do you describe your act to the uninitiated?
I try not to describe my act because my mother always told me if I can't say something nice I shouldn’t say anything at all.
What can fans expect in this show? What does the BEST of Dina Martina entail?
Oh, you know: something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something else old.
You pick some obscure gems to cover by Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, Aretha. Who are your favorite singers of all time?
I know the Gay all love Dorothy Garland, but I listen to Mrs. Miller, Darlene Edwards and Yma Sumac.
Speaking of Yma Sumac, you own a dress of hers and discussed her 5 octave range in last year's show. How many octaves do you have?
I always lose count. Do you have an abacus?
John Waters and I rhapsodized over your many talents. Who are some other of your celebrity fans?
South Park's Matt Stone, Alan Cumming, Fred Schneider, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Stipe, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, and Fatty Arbuckle
You re-enact famous American speeches in the new show. Are you very patriotic?
Yes, on July 4th.
You are performing in Provincetown thru mid-September. How do you keep so pale being on the beach all summer?
I prefer the term "fair" over "pale", but I don't really go to the beach a lot, unless there's food.
Do the local townies take to you, or come after you with pitchforks?
Less pitchforks, more torches.
You did a winter up there as well-tell us about that. Do you recommend it?
Winter in Provincetown is pretty noteworthy because it's so quiet and isolating and psychologically damaging. Did you ever see The Shining? It's like that, minus the black man. Talk about a white Christmas…
What are your favorite local haunts in P-town? Bars, restaurants, sites to see?
Yes, I adore Boston.
Does your daughter Phoebe come with u to Ptown? What's fun for kids up there?
Sadly, I wasn't able to bring my her because I already had two carry-ons and they wouldn't let me check her. But it's probably for the best, because if I ever lost her in an airport I'd be in so much trouble, 'cause she's adopted and, boy, they really don't like it when you lose the adopted ones. And I couldn't leave her with my mother, because she died in the '70s.
I'm hoping to bring her next summer though, because there's so much for children to do in Provincetown, between the fudge and high tide.
There are "Danger Sharks" signs all over the beaches. Have you spotted any great whites up there?
I haven’t, but in all fairness I'm usually looking down at my food.
Do you enjoy Bear Week? Are bears big fans of Dina?
I love me some bears! And Bear Week is neat because then I'm not the only one in town with a ballpark figure.
Have you ever ventured to the infamous cruise spot Dick Dock?
You know I've still never been, but I keep meaning to go. I hear they have a really fun taffy pull.
Dina Martina performs at Provincetown’s Crown and Anchor all summer through Labor Day.