Just Shut Up and Look Beautiful!


By Maria Bustillos

At Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, Carol Channing and Justin Vivian Bond strike a pose.

Channing very obviously loves Bond — partly because, as she claims, Bond downstaged her during their first performance together at the Ice Palace on Fire Island last summer. “I’ve never been downstaged by anybody!” she crows. “And you just were so unselfish!”

Bond — glowing, as Channing was, and beautiful in a pale slate-blue vintage Lanvin day dress with elegantly contrasting crimson court pumps — was indeed very solicitous and gentle with the older star.

The Fire Island show was put together by impresario Daniel Nardicio as part of his Icon series (an earlier installment had paired Alan Cumming with Liza Minnelli). The celebrity audience at the Ice Palace included Cumming, Tommy Tune, Ana Matronic, and Michael Kors. Bond opened with a set of love songs dedicated to Channing, among them a heart-searing rendition of “Love and Anger,” a Kate Bush song I never dreamed could contain such feeling. Bond’s patter between (and during) the songs was sublime, too: “For me, the ’60s ended in 1983, when Burt and Angie were divorced.”

Bond began talking playfully about Channing, by way of an introduction.

“...And then I found out that Carol drinks pinot grigio. And as an aspirational white woman of elegance myself, I too have been known to imbibe an occasional pinot grigio spritzer.” (Here, someone in the audience lifted a glass up to Bond.) “Parker Posey, ladies and gentlemen! Thanks, girl!”


The crowd went mad when Channing joined Bond onstage — beautifully dressed in a black blouse with sheer sleeves and black velvet trousers — and immediately turned on her deliciously raspy charm. Things only got fizzier from there. She sang: a Russian patter song she learned as a child, and later, a little bit of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Then Channing talked about the movie adaptation of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the show in which she starred for 740 performances on Broadway from 1949–51.