Judy & Bea

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006 | All Things, Arts

Tonight’s class went somewhat better than the first. And I was saved by the bell when class ended before the professor could call me up in front of the class to recite my Russian compositions.

After class, SN invited me along to meet up with his co-workers for the taping of a cabaret show in which his boss JS would be performing at Helen’s in Chelsea.

As it turned out, JS would be performing “Bea,” as in “Bea Arthur,” in the Judy & Bea: Two Dorothy’s reunited cabaret show. “Judy,” as in “Judy Garland,” was portrayed by his real-life partner, PM. The two were billed as a duo of “gender illusionists,” i.e, drag queens. JS was reprising his role from 2003’s cease-and-desist-letter-shortened run of “The Golden Girls: LIVE!“; PM first impersonated Garland in his autobiographical play “Judy and Me.”

Emceeing this evening for the live taping was Joe Franklin. When I mentioned this to DM later in the week, she balked, “He’s still alive?!” And indeed: Franklin has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as television’s ”Most durable talk show host,” appearing on his eponymous talk show for five decades, and interviewing, by some accounts, over 300,000 guests (which may or may not include Krusty the Clown on the “Bart’s Dog Gets an F” episode of The Simpsons.)

Also in attendance: Leon Hall, whom I remember from E!’s Fashion Emergency, and Jim Colucci, author of The Q Guide to The Golden Girls. Random! Though perhaps, not so.

The show was great fun, and the transformations quite remarkable. PM very ably performed many of the Garland standbys, including “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart,” “The Trolley Song,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Chicago” and “Swanee” (which had the blatantly adulterous couple at our table chiming in.) And of course: “Over the Rainbow.”

JS, who holds a doctorate in Computer-mediated Learning and is the grand-nephew and godson of the actor/television writer Richard Waring, did a scarily spot-on Dorothy Zbornak — down to the gravelly speak-singing and sarcastic deadpan zingers. Naturally he closed out his segment with The Golden Girls theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend.”

I’ve often wondered about the origin of the phrase “Friend of Dorothy” to describe gay men. I had assumed that it was a reference to gay icon Judy Garland’s “Dorothy Gale” character from The Wizard of Oz, but others point the origin to Dorothy Parker, American critic, poet and writer, and a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Parker was — and continues to be — very popular in gay circles, and appreciated for her caustic and incisive — dare we say: bitchy ? — style.

From the program (no photos permitted during the performance): PM (Dorothy) and JS (Bea) — before and after:

Before     After

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

— Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), “News Item

There are 4 Comments ... Judy & Bea

October 4, 2006

Joe Franklin is still alive?!

October 4, 2006


October 5, 2006

You should wear your Calvins everyday and prove DP wrong. God, I love DP.

October 5, 2006

Ah, Dottie… how could you not? 


Razors pain you
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.

Go for it ...