by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
I'm going to come clean: I didn't set out to review 'Mimosas With Mama' for this week's SGN. Some friends and I stopped by to support DJ Disco Vinnie, who, obviously, DJ's the show. But that's just it. Neither he, nor anyone else in the show, just 'does' one thing. Something happened when the cast (who is also the crew) moved from now-closed The Grill on Broadway to Unicorn/Narwhal (1118 East Pike St). The brunch that jumped out of nowhere and sucker-punched Gays nursing their almost-always Sunday afternoon hangovers at the Grill has turned into a genuine show. And while they haven't gone all Sunday-morning Church Lady on us (there are still jokes like 'Sweatin' like a tweaker writing a check' and the word 'fuck' is still heard frequently) the truth is if you thought you knew what 'Mimosas With Mama' looked and sounded like before, you're in for a surprise.
The cast of DJ Disco Vinnie, Mama Tits, Tipsy Rose Lee, Isabella Extynn St. James, and Bukkake London earned a review from this writer June 9. In fact, the employees at Unicorn equally earned my business, the future patronage of my friends, and this review, just as much as the cast of the show did. It is rare to be able to write this as a reviewer, but everything was perfect.
It feels good to write that. Because it is true.
THE UNICORN EXPERIENCE
Let's start with the menu and staff at Unicorn/Narwhal (the showroom downstairs, complete with carousel stage and dressing room). Upon entering the acid trip that is Unicorn, you are greeted with a smile, directed where to purchase or pick-up your will-call ticket, and then given instructions on what to do if you would like to order breakfast (there's also a delicious breakfast buffet), and receive your complimentary mimosa. The one (tiny) thing I would change is that during the show, they do not have a cocktailer or server. Instead, you are asked to go to the bar and order your food/drinks that way (possibly missing a key moment of the high-energy show). However, the likely reason for this is because the show literally uses all of the space, and a server would almost certainly get in the way. So I, like everyone else in the dining-room-turned-showroom, gladly got up to order at the bar. Simply put, the staff is fun (and sexy!), the food is above-average breakfast fare, and the service is prompt but not pushy. Unicorn/Narwhal is doing it right, at least where Sunday brunch is concerned.
The show is not spectacularly different - in fact, the cast is still performing the 30-minute(ish) Hairspray. Mama Tits is still, well, Mama Tits. Tipsy Rose Lee can still dance you right out of your dollars (and pants), and newcomers Isabella St. James and Bukkake London are continually showing audiences why they earned a spot on the showbill. But something is different: They are having fun again.
Now, let me say right here and now that that statement has nothing to say about Matthew Walsh and The Grill on Broadway. We, meaning almost anyone who visited the joint over the past two decades, had fun at the Grill. What I do mean to say is that the cast is clearly reinvigorated by the change of scenery, and that is a good - not a bad - thing.
The first noticeable difference (other than the mounted animal heads and pinball machines everywhere) is the stage. It is a legit stage with an adjacent dressing room large enough for the whole cast. We took a peek after the show and it looked like a drag queen had exploded, with glitter over here and clothes over there, and & well, you get the picture. All joking aside, it is a professional setup they've got going at the Unicorn, and it has clearly inspired everyone involved.
The musical numbers were mostly upbeat, the costuming appropriate, and there is a (pleasant) surprise around every corner. The game show is still a part of the program and I counted it making nearly $60 in five minutes. It's genius! I don't dare spoil the theme or what you must do to play for those who have yet to play it, but let's just say that it was a hit last Sunday, as I imagine it always will be.
Mama Tits is one of those drag queens everyone loves to hate. She says what she means, but nobody ever really can tell if she means what she says. Confused? So are the rest of us. But that's the way she likes it, I think. This queen has done a lot over the past two years (she obviously has been entertaining audiences for years, but the last two have been a doozy). From starring in her own one-person show to hosting Le Faux at Julia's on Broadway and the then-once weekly, Thursday night Elektro Pop at the Baltic Room, people have seen Mama's tits all over the place.
Mama Tits has built a strong following (both Gay and straight!) through blitzkrieg Facebook posting and constant in-your-face self-promotion. But she's good. She is really, really good. And when you are as good as Mama Tits and the rest of the cast of 'Mimosas With Mama,' you can toot your own horn because in today's eat-your-own-children world of competitive drag and drag shows, only the strong survive.
And Mama Tits ain't nothin' to shake a stick at! She comes out swinging, throwing jokes like knockout punches and sweating like George Foreman fighting Muhammad Ali. In fact, they all do. DJ Disco Vinnie is like the Mad Hatter of DJs; he is dressed to match his outrageous fun-loving personality (Vinnie is always 'on' when entertaining). The banter between Vinnie and Tits is hysterical. We've all been to a show where the two co-hosts, or host and DJ, can't get along, cut each other down (and mean it), and whatever else dumbass childish thing they come up with to irritate the audience. Well, these two are not that. When Vinnie truly surprises Mama Tits with a sound effect or witticism on the mic, it is not only slap-your-knee funny, it is appropriate and his timing is impeccable. Plus, there is no doubt about it - DJ Disco Vinnie is a Gay man, who happens to be a fabulously Gay DJ, who plays Gay music. And there is nothing wrong with that, hunty!
Mama's co-host throughout the show is the amazing and always-delightful Tipsy Rose Lee. Audiences love her, although most have never seen her. Somebody ought to get to the bottom of that because this drag queen is one talented cookie. In all honesty, it works to her advantage. Many virgins of the show, and first-time brunch eaters on the Hill, are in for a pleasant surprise when she saunters onto the stage. They think, 'Oh my, what a pretty drag queen.' Because she is. And then they might think, 'I wonder what she will do? I've never seen her before.' Because they haven't. And then BAM! She is dancing and dollar bills are flying and she is swaying and the audience is cheering and & oh God, I need a cigarette.
You see, Tipsy Rose Lee is a choreographer in real life. And entertaining audiences is what she does for a career, so, in Mama's house, Tipsy is right at home. She is so good, and her dancing is so professional, that I would go so far as to say the show would not be the hit it is without her. She can shimmy and shake until the sun goes down and then some. Tipsy Rose Lee is a star.
I always enjoy seeing new queens perform. Now, mind you, I have no clue how long Isabella St. James and Bukkake London have been performing drag entertainment. Point is, they're new to me. More often than not, new queens fall flat. The makeup is bad, the costuming is not yet put together well, and they lack a certain finesse that's needed to know the difference between cunty and camp. Isabella and Bukkake have got what it takes. Both queens' stage presence is on point and, although all I can speak on is last Sunday, they painted the house down! Funny, high-energy, and on the ball, these two queens are an act you're going to want to keep your eye on because they are going places.
HAIRSPRAY STILL KILLS
I was both anticipating and dreading the 30-minute Hairspray. It was one of those, 'Will it live up to the hype?' moments. Well, suffice to say, it did! Everyone single person in the joint loved it. And I like the fact that, during that segment of the show (which is worth the $15 ticket alone) you can't hand the tip to the drag queen - instead you ball it up and throw it to the middle of the floor. At the June 9 show, it was raining dollar bills.
Each cast member plays more than one character, at least, and unless I'm counting wrong, Disco Vinnie plays five!
According to the show's advertisement, 'Our team has taken the original John Waters film, the movie musical, and the Broadway production of Hairspray and deconstructed all three shows to them weave together our own 30(ish)-minute version. There are 14 characters in our production and only five cast members - you have to see it to believe it!'
You really do have to see it to believe it! But once you do, you'll be glad you did and, just as I am doing now, you will find yourself telling people to buy a ticket and catch this show. This is not a drag show - this is a production. And as far as I am concerned, 'Mimosas With Mama' is the place to be Sunday afternoons in Seattle.
'Mimosas With Mama' is performed every Sunday at Unicorn/Narwhal, with music at 1 p.m. and show promptly at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance (www.brownpapertickets.com/event/388136) or $15 at the door. 'Mimosas With Mama' invites anyone who is celebrating anything, to celebrate it with them!
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!