Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Life Is A Cabaret

I'll be parked in front of the t.v. tonight watching my favorite sycophant, James Lipton, interview Liza Minelli. My inner gay male is going to be in heaven!
The only drawback is that because I just had a crown put on my tooth, no popcorn.

Look, I know many of you think that Liza's ridiculous. But when you grow up a terribly sensitive, terribly anxious, terribly sad child whose only outlet is the theater, Liza is one of your patron saints. Liza makes being out of control into an art form. Liza makes a show tune into a sacrament. Liza is the child of an alcoholic and pill addict who makes the point that addiction is a disease better than any AMA report could ever do: after seeing what her mother (who had, I think, the greatest singing voice in American popular music) suffered, why and HOW could she have picked up the bottle or the pills? "Because, darling," as she'll tell Lipton (I saw the tail end of an earlier broadcast) "It's a disease." TELL 'em, Liza.

I saw her live in Chicago back in the days when Mother of PeaceBang was fresh out of rehab and we were all incredibly hurting and scared and I was in the middle of a two year period of feeling paralyzingly terrified all the time, often walking around campus weeping. Liza was also fresh out of one of her many stints at Betty Ford, and of course she sang her signature song "Cabaret" near the end of the show:

I used to have a girlfriend known as Elsie,
with whom I shared four sordid rooms in Chelsea.
She wasn't what you'd call a blushing flower.
As a matter of fact, she rented by the hour.
The day she died, the neighbors came to snicker,
Well, that's what comes from too much pills and liquor.
But when I saw her laid out like a queen...
she was the happiest corpse I'd ever seen.

I think of Elsie to this very day,
I remember how she'd turn to me and say:
'What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play!
Life is a cabaret old chum
Come to the cabaret...

And as for me,
as for me,
I made my mind up back in Chelsea...
when I go, I'm going like Elsie! (and etc

That's how it goes, and it's a song I'd known and loved for thousands of years ("Cabaret" was the first big production I was ever in -- I lied about my age and got into the ensemble when I was 14). But this time, Liza sang,

But as for me
As for me,
I made my mind up back in Chelsea,
when I go...
I'm NOT goin' like Elsie!!

The crowd went absolutely wild, and I sat there in my box seat and blubbered like an idiot, as I still do when I remember it. It meant more to me than I can ever express, and I realized two things on that night: first, that we were all going to survive the pain of Mom's getting well, and second, that no matter how cheezy or warbly or histrionic Liza would ever get, she had the magic of a true, eternal star and I would love and worship her all my life.

She's NOT goin' like Elsie, and you can see her tonight on Bravo, 8 pm EST.


Blogger boyinthebands said...

We saw it, or part of it, too. To irritate Hubby, I quipped, "Tyne Daly looks like hell . . . ."

Blogger Jason said...

She is amazingly funny in "Arrested Development".


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