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Kiki & Herb: Jesus Wept

Kiki & Herb, the lounge act sendup that's slouching from cult attraction to mainstream entertainment, could easily become a holiday tradition. Who doesn't need a strong chaser after all the cheer being served up around the holidays? The splendidly slurring nightclub chanteuse and her "gay Jew tard" accompanist at the piano, as Kiki so delicately puts it, provide a tart antidote to the season's prevailing sweetness.

Kiki & Herb, the lounge act sendup that’s slouching from cult attraction to mainstream entertainment, could easily become a holiday tradition. Who doesn’t need a strong chaser after all the cheer being served up around the holidays? The splendidly slurring nightclub chanteuse and her “gay Jew tard” accompanist at the piano, as Kiki so delicately puts it, provide a tart antidote to the season’s prevailing sweetness.

Their second annual holiday show, at downtown’s Fez through the end of the year, is a typical Kiki & Herb extravaganza, a booze-addled trek through an eclectic musical repertoire accompanied by diversions into autobiography and Kiki’s liberated religious philosophies.

For the uninitiated, the act is the brainchild of Justin Bond (Kiki) and Kenny Mellman (Herb). Kiki, a demented cross between Joey Heatherton and that man-eating creature from the “Alien” pictures, is a cabaret singer d’un certain age (born in 1930) who is delighted if a little bewildered at the couple’s new popularity with “the gays.” Her deranged repertoire here moves from holiday favorites like “Frosty the Snowman” to Tori Amos to Nirvana, but it has also been known to include everything from Britney Spears to Suicidal Tendencies.

Here Kiki is splendidly attired in a rhinestone-accented lime sherbet number, replete with chiffon wings that make her look like a giant praying mantis. She growls her way through the songs in her trademark vocal style, which is a brassy Vegas-style crooning occasionally inflected by a scary punk snarl. Highlights this time around include a moody, emotive version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The show is disappointingly light on the meandering banter that is even more entertaining — and easier on the ears — than the musical interludes. Asides did, however, include a sweetly bitter reference to the recent “judicial coup d’etat.”

Gleefully “sacri-religious” holiday ramblings also happily occasioned reference to the three kings of yore; such is the mesmerizing force of her persona that Kiki’s pronunciation of the word “myrrh” in itself set the room rocking with merry laughter.

Kiki & Herb: Jesus Wept

Fez; 200 capacity; $15

  • Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed Dec. 13, 2000.
  • Cast: <B>With:</B> Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman.