I dragged José to see Dina Martina's Dina Martina: Ample Wattage tonight—dragged because he's not always the biggest fan of anything that's too out-there. But Dina—whose show I caught recently in the way one catches a social disease, but one you enjoy having and can't wait to spread—is not simply "out-there," she's stupid-brilliant! She's like Andy Kaufman (she even had Michael Stipe in her audience), Little Edie and Big Elizabeth Taylor all roled into one hairy-backed, golden-throated performance artist, and one whose show has been extended for several dates next week!
Dina Martina: Ample Wattage shows that Dina is not a one-trick pony (she might be a pony of some kind, I'm not sure), but an ever-evolving and always-expanding genius of stand-up, musical abortion and the kind of audience participation that will make you sweat but that will always end well.
The Dina character has a remarkable fragility that rises above typical drag acts, plus she has the most eccentric musical taste since an elevator. She seems to specialize in '60s and '70s classiques like a tragicomically slurred "History Repeating", the most declarative "I Am...I Said" ever sung and the theme song from Green Acres, but she can tear up Tom Tom Club with the worst of them. As Dina herself already knows, she nails all of these "to the cross!" When she shrieked the theme from Love Boat into my face (she's big on entering her audience, as all performers should be), I was fully alive for the first time since my imaginary bout with polio.
Whether she's "singing" or attempting to sum up the Occupy movement or camel-toeing the line, Dina Martina—the creation of what I can only assume is a very troubed Grady West—is a true original. Check out the show if you're in NYC, or see her in her native "Seetle" aka Seattle.