Cherry Grove Is Burning!

8.8.2012

By Joseph Alexiou

Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming's Rare Duet Performance Heats Up the Atmosphere On Fire Island.

Images by Joseph Alexiou

You know a momentous occasion is at hand when more than 500 gays, ladies, gents and queens forgo all differences to smash themselves into a shoebox perched atop a tiny strip of sand barely straddling the edge of the Atlantic.

No, it was not an exercise to recreate a dense New York City block on the pleasant, shoes-and-shirt-optional summer of Fire Island. On Saturday night these eager folks payed a small fortune to witness the greatest (and gayest) moment in all of Summer of 2012 (at least on Fire Island): a concert starring Alan Cumming and Liza Minnelli at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove.

Organized by Daniel Nardicio, the tireless entrepreneur of skin and gay culture (his weekly underwear party in Cherry Grove was called "the most amazing weekly party in the world" by Fleshbot AND today is his birthday, hey Daniel!), the whole evening featured a male burlesque opening act, followed by solo songs from Cumming and Minnelli, followed by some really fabulous duets. Even the piano player, Lance Horne, was a Grammy-winning composer.

The show opened with three burlesque acts by the Stage Door Johnnies, each especially entertaining and luscious (believe it or not, I'd never seen a boylesque dancer imitate a peacock so convincingly), followed by some great patter and singing by Cumming (save his Katy Perry references in his a-bit-too-bubblegum mashup starter).

He sang and played the piano brilliantly for "I Want to Be Your Friend Forever," an original song he wrote about an ex-lover.

In between Cumming and Minnelli had some very lively back-and-forth:

Liza: Alan I was in Montreal, met your ex!

Alan: Which one?

Liza: Ooh, throw me some names!"

The former lovers in question, in any case, had their names tattooed onto each others' arms. Cumming had his lasered off, while Raven changed his to read "Balance." Following this anecdote, the two performers launched into a rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside." The two also performed several numbers from cabaret, and Minnelli pulled in a fantastic "What Makes a Man a Man." The crowds cheered, people screamed "Liza! Liza!" and clapped their hands. Cumming cracked up at all of Liza's schtick -- her perfectly timed, decades of cabaret experience humor was a dream unto itself.

The crowd for the show was nearly as entertaining as the performers themselves: a combination of older straight folks from all over Fire Island, cute twig-like boys, handsome burly bears, otters, and other fauna, drag queens, and Other, the broad category generally met with the question of "did you get into my look? Well, get in." They're all featured in the beginning of the slideshow, but if you're not interested in the crowd, skip the first twenty photos. They're worth a gander, we think, as are the two video numbers we're featuring below -- divine acts of rare entertainment gold.

 

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