As the self-proclaimed “greatest entertainer dead or alive,” Buster Poindexter knows a thing or two about timing. To prove it, he’s decided to surrender his nouveau lounge kingdom to the copyists who followed in his wake — just in time to avoid the fallout from that scene’s impending crash.
These days, Buster has moved his tack from the Stork Club to the Copa, whipping his newly configured Spanish Rocketship Band through a passel of party-perfect samba, rhumba and merengue tunes that make up in energy and affection what they may lack in authenticity.
There’s a decided New York bent to the sounds of the Spanish Rocketship, especially the wistfully raunchy “Nueva Broadway,” which laments the Times Square cleanup — with the suggestion that Disney bring in “animatronic crack whores” for atmosphere. A similar sass — albeit delivered more lovingly — also imbues “Iris Chacon,” a dizzy tribute to the Latina television legend.
Thanks to the tireless pounding of three percussionists — as well as the snappy punctuations of the Uptown Horns — the 10-piece band maintained a laudable momentum that kept the musical portion of the evening at a full boil. But, as any aficionado of things Pointdexterian knows, that’s only a portion of the entertainment.
He’s still got the Borscht Belt shtick down pat, dropping bon mots about buddies like Tallulah Bankhead and Morey Amsterdam (who, in Poindexter lore, was responsible for “turning the Andrews sisters on to ‘Rum & Coca-Cola’… and Rosie Clooney on to Tuinol”). Even with the shift in style – underscored by the comb–out of that trademark pompadour — Buster hasn’t lost a beat in terms of the laid-back mugging and good-naturedly bawdy riffing that made him the Dean Martin of the ’90s.
He hasn’t lost sight of the old-school entertainer’s values, either: New look and all, Buster still ended the evening by leading a conga line around the Bottom Line to the strains of “Hot, Hot, Hot.” Heck, he even brought out a T-shirted old friend by the name of David Johansen to sing an encore version of “Heart of Gold.”
Now that’s entertainment.