SUPER EGO I’m not one to get jealous when people I know get famous. Never. As Shakespeare once wrote, "You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat." Alas, I’m flat broke and haven’t perspired a drop since I gave up Dexatrim in ’03. But my pores are flawless, like tiny alien baby mouths. So I can only grin demurely while my Page Six homeys flash their hairless beavers from rehab. Shakespeare again: "If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you."
Hooray, especially, for Kiki and Herb, the blowsy, boozy, tune-slinging duo who exploded into Broadway history last year with their Tony-nominated extravaganza Kiki and Herb: Alive on Broadway. (They narrowly lost in the Best Theatrical Event category to a multipuppet tearjerker about a ventriloquist.) Tipsy yet full-throated chanteuse Kiki (Justin Bond) and her nimble-fingered pianist Herb (Kenny Mellman) are local club kids made good, proving that a lot of talent and a steady Scotch diet can launch a drag queen and her "gay Jew ‘tard" accompanist into the big leagues. Lemme tell ya, you haven’t heard the Wu-Tang Clan or the Cure until you’ve heard these two dust ’em up onstage.
Now, as part of their Year of Magical Drinking Tour, Kiki and Herb are bringing their big show to the American Conservatory Theater. Posh! I leaped on the opportunity to dish with them long-distance from their New York City home base.
SFBG I can barely recall, back in the blurred mid-’90s, both of you appearing at the legendary Josie’s Juice Joint and Cabaret in the Castro. But I was on a lot of crystal then and probably shouldn’t have been in the light booth …
HERB We were recently watching old videos of us and stumbled upon one of a show we did at Josie’s called Not Without My Napalm. This was preKiki and Herb Justin led me in on a leash, and I was wearing lederhosen! Jesus, we were young. Gay Pride of that year, we were booked at Cafe du Nord and knew we were going to be exhausted. Justin had been doing Kiki at parties, so we decided we’d just perform our material as Kiki and Herb. We got a standing ovation. We began performing every weekend at Eichelberger’s, across from Theater Artaud, and it all developed there.
KIKI The funny thing about us performing at the gorgeous ACT is that when I lived in San Francisco I never got to go there. For one, I couldn’t afford it, and then the ’89 earthquake knocked the whole thing down! So our show will be the first one I’ve ever seen there.
SFBG And now you’re Broadway luminaries. What are some of the things you miss about San Francisco and the life you led before the slavering tumult of paparazzi overtook you?
HERB San Francisco burritos. And Cafe Flore. And the Hole in the Wall. I remember spending a Thanksgiving there, and they had a suckling pig on the pool table. At some point an older leather daddy ripped the ear off and just started gnawing on it. That’s what I miss.
KIKI I miss my friends there terribly the creative excitement and community. I can’t wait to get back, and I hope all you queens can forgive a drunk who can’t remember anyone’s name.
SFBG I wept when the dummy won the Tony. Yet both of you seemed so gracious when the camera zoomed in on you immediately after the award was announced. What were your thoughts at that moment?
KIKI I told myself beforehand, "Whatever happens, just look happy to be there." So my thought right then was "Hold face." But being there was so amazing, I just left my body through the whole thing.
HERB My thoughts were that we really needed to get out of there and get a drink! Which we did!
SFBG What’s next?
KIKI After this tour, we’re off to perform at the Sydney Opera House for three weeks. Then a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall, and then we’ll be putting on a show in Shepherd’s Bush, London, called this is so stupid, but it makes me hysterical Kiki and Herb Put the Yule Log in Shepherd’s Bush. Next year I’m doing a Carpenters tribute but without any anorexia jokes.
HERB My other show, At Least It’s Pink, which I wrote the music and lyrics to, will be getting an off-Broadway run this fall. Also, my friend Neal Medlyn and I are going to resurrect our show Kenny Mellman Plus Neal Medlyn Equals R. Kelly. Busy, busy …
BONUS KIKI Join immortal club kids Javier Natureboy and DJ Junkyard and the gang from ’90s rock ‘n’ roll queer club Litterbox for a special Kiki and Herb look-alike contest, judged by Justin Bond himself, at the fab new monthly Glitterbox on July 20. It’s a reunion, baby! Go to www.myspace.com/glitterboxtheparty for the low lowdown. *
KIKI AND HERB: ALIVE FROM BROADWAY
July 1829 (previews Fri/13Tues/17), $20$60
See Web site for times
American Conservatory Theater
415 Geary, SF