Watch out Trevor D, my heterosexual non-sexual life partner – I think I have a new favorite Canadian!
Deven Green is a fantastic comedian who is probably best known for her hilarious YouTube videos where she records voice-over parodies on vintage videos (many featuring 1980s soap stars like Brenda Dickson – Jill from The Young and the Restless – and Deidre Hall – Marlena from Days of Our Lives) and her satirical character Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, written by Andrew Bradley. She was featured on an episode of Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and is also a featured spokesmodel for Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (I have the Deven Green nail polish – it’s to die!). When I was buying tickets for Mimosa’s Cabaret, I was surprised to see a listing for a night with Deven Green and decided to jump on board. I love her “Welcome to my Home” video and I think Betty Bowers is a hoot, so I figured it would be a night of fabulous comedy.
And it was. But what I didn’t know was that she is also a fantastic musician with mad ukulele skills and a unique voice that is deep but flexible allowing her a range of vocal options from seductive purring to ribald comedic interpretations of classic ditties to straight covers. The set was fairly short (the whole event was under 90 minutes) but opened with a cover of “Crimson and Clover” and then ping-ponged around through a variety of musical styles. She did the “Pussy Song” that any of our old crew from the I-Beam would immediately recognize (Sonja Neez must have done that one a thousand times!). One of my favorite numbers was a strange mashup of an Irish jig with Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” and Dolly Parton’s Jolene. The combination is quirky and fun, and absolute perfection. “Queer Tattoo” was another oddity making fun of bad life choices, and featured an audience member, a cute bearish guy modeling his calf tattoo of a small nondescript cartoon character saying something in a Scandinavian language. The whole show was a celebration of eccentricity and the energy from the audience was fabulous – we were all clearly in love!
One of the hallmarks of the show was the amount of audience participation. Green called audience members up on stage to take part in the shenanigans and it gave the event a fun party atmosphere. From the opening number, where a young woman from the front row was asked to provide a small “fake orgasm” sound effect at key moments, to the tatted bear coyly modeling his ink to a hipster twink Green called “Beardy” rhythmically tapping drumsticks together. Participants received a special gift from Green and the audience was enthusiastic to take part. Two men in the VIP section were celebrating their anniversary and were even treated to a spotlight slow dance where they were just tender enough to melt even my cold dead heart, and handsy enough to keep the audience laughing. And if you are into bears, the audience was a veritable buffet of attractive furry men – it looked like Bear Hump at SteamWorks cleared out and carpooled to the event!
Mama Tits, whose Skyscraper Entertainment produced the event, also took the stage to duet with Green on Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” The two sounded good together and played it mostly straight, allowing the audience to focus on the strength of the vocals instead of distracting with gimmicks or gags. Mama Tits is getting ready to take a break from the Mimosas brunch group to open a show at a resort in Puerto Vallarta and this was an opportunity for her to show off the pipes for Seattle crowds before she goes.
Another special guest opened the show: a bearded drag queen named Butch Alice who performs with the drag show Glitter Beast. She did a fun mashup of “Come On-a My House” (I’m not sure which version she used, but sounded perhaps like Della Reese?) with clips from Green’s “Welcome to My Home” video. Her outfit was a little strange; the red casual dress with leggings and a wide black belt had some echoes of a Christmas/Mrs. Claus situation that I don’t think was entirely intentional, but the lip sync was on point and the mix utilized the best bits of both the classic song and Green’s videos. I love when drag is unexpected and plays with gender in fun and interesting ways; I’ll definitely be checking for a Glitter Beast show the next time I come to Seattle!
Overall the night was fantastic, filled with lots of music and fun. Between songs, Green’s banter with the audience was engaging and genuine, and she even slipped in and out of some of her famous characters between musical numbers (my personal favorite was when a young man on the side made some sort of comment and busted out some classic Betty Bowers judgment: “I’d love to pray for you, if only I had that kind of time!”). Green joked that when she announced she would be appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she got 300 emails saying, “Good luck, I hope you win!” I went in expecting comedy and was treated to the heart of what good cabaret should be: a little of this, a little of that, and all of it fantastic! My main complaint is that it should have been longer – with the usual delay in getting a show started and the opening act, Deven’s performance was only just over an hour long. For someone with such diverse talents, she couldn’t help but leave you wanting more after the last strum on her trusty ukulele. And I did. I absolutely did.
All of the videos presented in this review are available on YouTube. If you would like to visit Deven Green’s officially official website, you can do so HERE. Green appeared at the Unicorn/Narwhal on Pike Street in Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood as part of Skyscraper Entertainment’s Icons of Drag series.
Tags: Andrew Bradley, Betty Bowers, Betty Bowers Americas Best Christian, Blades of Glory, Brenda Dickson, Butch Alice, Champagne Dreams Productions, Days of Our Lives, Deidre Hall, Deven Green, drag art, drag king, drag performance, drag queen, Drag Race, Drag Race Season 5, drag show, drag troupe, Glitter Beat, Glitterbeast, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Jill, Mama Tits, Marlena Evans, Mimosas Cabaret, Mimosas With Mama, Miss Jaye, Narwhal, Pike Street, RuPaul's Drag Race, Seattle, Seattle Drag, Skyscraper Entertainment, The Young And the Restless, Ukulele, Unicorn, Unicorn Bar, Unicorn/Narwhal, Welcome to my Home, Well Hello, World of Champagne