I had an almost disturbing amount of fun at Dina Martina's last (for now), sold-out, triumphant performance at the Laurie Beechman last night, thanks to an invite from my friend Chip Duckett—I can't imagine my life being complete without having sampled this one-...person show.
The creation of Grady West (pictured), Martina is a character I'll never forget, one whose beauty rivals that of those creatures that jump out at you from prank YouTube uploads.
I got there just before the show started and Chip escorted me to a table made up of people who mostly hadn't met. It was all very Island of Misfit Toys. (Or Between Two Worlds, but we were all alive.) I got to meet Melody Jo (a friend of Chip's since high school and someone who should be paid to laugh at shows she has such a great one), her gorgeous friend Raphael (a dancer who recently worked with Cazwell in South Detroit, if you can imagine), Andrea (aka Molly "Equality" Dykeman) and renowned perfomer Lea DeLaria...I don't think I've shared a table with someone I've seen on Broadway before.
We had good group chemistry and DeLaria DeLighted with stories about a reading she just did for a work called Flutterbies (with Peter Scolari). Asked if she was doing any singing lately, she said she was about to do a European tour but otherwise, "I'm doing TV now." Which is a good thing! Californication is lucky to get her. (After the show, a drunken neighbor tried to help us out with a picture, but since taking it upside down and with no flash wasn't working out well, we were lucky when another one was taken at the door, where Dina hawked her merch.)
Dina Martina's show was beyond the beyond. How to describe Dina? She might be the creature that Leigh Bowery once gave birth to on stage; she could be Little Edie's secret, separated-at-birth Siamese sister; or maybe she's just what you get when you mix Carol Channing, Ann Miller, Richard Kind, Casey Kasem and "lipshtick" laced with radioactive iodine (why let nuclear waste go to waste?).
It's best just to say: She's Dina Martina and you aren't.
Dina's show is a whirlwind of singing and dancing so bad it ascends into surrealism and side-splitting stand-up you'll need to sit down for—everything must be scripted, yet everything feels improvised, especially her extremely eclectic songbook, filled as it is with malapropisms and wholly unique mispronunciations. She's the only person I know who can sing a medley using only one song. And she may be from Seattle (she says "Seetle"), but that doesn't explain why all of her "g"s sound like "j"s—or why that gag summons your gag reflex from laughter no matter how many times she hits it.
And who else could get one of her biggest laughs from referencing Vikki Carr?
Including some loopy repurposed TV ads, amazing gifts for audience members brave enough to try to share her spotlight (gummy fetuses, Cheetos-flavored lip balm) and music as diverse as Modern English and The Sound of Music, this was 90 minutes of watching someone do something truly original and inspired.
The good news is that she'll be back in the "shity" at the Beechman in November for an early Christmas show. Don't "mish" it.