JOEY ARIAS IN “STILL MISBEHAVIN'”
Sunday, July 30, 2017 8pm
Internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist, fashion icon and drag artist Joey Arias premieres a new intimate show with piano and voice at MA4. Accompanied by jazz pianist Peter Smith, Arias takes you on a musical journey highlighting his own musical inspirations, from The Beatles to, of course, Billie Holiday to whom he has long been compared.
Raised in Los Angeles where he was the youngest-ever member of famed improv group The Groundlings and signed to Capitol Records at the age of 16, Joey Arias moved to New York City at 18 and quickly became a fixture of the downtown scene. With his close friend and collaborator Klaus Nomi, he famously backed up David Bowie on Saturday Night Live and starred in the cult film Mondo New York. Encouraged to perform in drag by Andy Warhol, Arias went on to become an iconic drag performer, celebrated for ‘channeling’ Billie Holiday. From outrageous performances at seminal New York nightclubs Jackie 60 and Squeezebox to the now-legendary nights at Bar d’O where he held court with Raven-O and Sherry Vine, Arias has distinguished himself with scandalous wit, sleek style and an extraordinary voice… evocative of Lady Day yet uniquely his own. He originated the role of the Mistress of Seduction in Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, performing 8 shows a week for 5 years in Cirque’s custom-built 1,800-seat theater in Vegas. More recently he celebrated Billie Holiday’s centennial with a series of lush concerts that premiered as part of Lincoln Center American Songbook and concluded with a sold-out run of shows at REDCAT in Los Angeles.
GET TO KNOW THE ARTIST
A fixture of New York City’s vibrant downtown performance scene for 30-plus years, Joey Arias is a bona fide NYC icon. In 2012, he appeared in a headlining solo concert at Central Park SummerStage and played the Southbank Centre in London as part of the Antony Hagerty-curated Meltodwn Festival. Then in October Z Chromosome, a short film starring Arias and directed by Manfred (Thierry) Mugler opened the 18th Annual Festival Chéries-Chéris in Paris. Spring 2013 saw Joey Arias in Residence at Joe’s Pub and on tour in the Western United States beginning with a Valentines Day concert at the world-famous Castro Theatre.
Arias lived and worked with legendary musician Klaus Nomi until Nomi’s death in 1983. However, he has long since stepped out of Nomi’s shadow to gain fame in his own right as a performance artist, cabaret singer and drag artist. From outrageous performances at seminal New York nightclubs Jackie 60 and Squeezebox to the now-legendary nights at Bar d’O where he held court with Raven-O and Sherry Vine, Arias has distinguished himself with scandalous wit, sleek style and an extraordinary voice… evocative of Lady Day yet uniquely his own.
It was no surprise when Arias was tapped by Cirque du Soleil to originate the role of the emcee in their Las Vegas spectacular Zumanity, for which he co-wrote 3 songs. After 6 years in that role, Arias returned to New York where he became star and co-creator of Arias With a Twist with master puppeteer Basil Twist. The show was a critical and commercial hit and extended repeatedly for a total of 8 months at HERE Arts Center. The show has been subsequently presented in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Paris and returned to New York for another critically acclaimed, encore 8-week run at Abrons Arts Center in Fall 2011. The Arias With A Twist docu-fantasy premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and had its US premiere at the 2011 TriBeca Film Festival.
In 2010 Arias returned to New York City with his first full-length concerts in over a decade. Joey Arias in Concert — featuring new jazz luminary Ben Allison and a band comprised of some of NYC’s best musicians — played to sold-out houses for two weeks at Abrons Arts Center. A scaled down version of the show opened the Spiegeltent at Bard SummerScape in 2011.
Arias has performed worldwide at venues including Carnegie Hall, The Freedom Theatre in London and on a transatlantic world tour into the cabaret clubs of Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Canada and England. On film, he has appeared in Mondo New York, Big Top Pee Wee, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Wigstock – The Movie, Flawless and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Television credits include the infamous Saturday Night Live episode with David Bowie and Klaus Nomi, Ann Magnuson’s Vandemonium (Cinemax), Elvira’s MTV Halloween Special, HBOs Dragtime, HBO’s Real Sex and Gayer Than Gay on VH1, along with numerous appearances on a wide variety of talk shows and programs. Additionally, Arias has produced several of his own recordings including Arias on Holiday, Strange Fruit, Jazzo Lozo, God Shave the Queen and live recordings of StarLust in Berlin, Arias with a Twist and Bar D’o in New York.