COURTESY PHOTOCharles Busch’s cabaret act comes to The City this week.

COURTESY PHOTOCharles Busch’s cabaret act comes to The City this week.

Drag's Charles Busch enjoying a S.F. renaissance

Don’t be perplexed by the elegant dame taking the stage of Feinstein’s at the Nikko this week for Charles Busch’s one-man cabaret. The lady in question – to crib one of the playwright-performer’s own titles – is indeed Charles Busch. Or at least one of the more glamorously sparkly facets of this multi-talented artist.

“It’s an odd act,” he says with a laugh, “but it seems to be really working well. I could sort of do it out of drag, but I think that after so many decades I’m actually better when I’m in drag. It kind of loosens me up and gets my imagination going a bit more.“

Part of the fun will be classic American Songbook selections and Busch gets his back up from accompanist Tom Judson. “It certainly adds gravitas to the act having a former porn star as your accompanist, doesn’t it? It’s like what they used to say about Astaire and Rogers, he gives me sex appeal and I give him class. It’s curious but sometimes drag performers can be oddly de-sexed on stage. We’ve got a good chemistry.”

Busch made his San Francisco debut back in the 1980s in boy clothes. “My dream for a long time had been to come to San Francisco. I had read the first couple of ‘Tales of the City’ books and it just all seemed so romantic. It’s where I really got my first taste of any kind of real encouragement that I was doing something right.”

It was a very different act then. “I was a performance artist dressed very simply in black shirt and pants and I was doing these rather elaborate solo pieces. They weren’t exactly monologues. They were kind of solo plays where I played all the characters, male and female, and told all these rather complicated narratives with these characters.”

Though the productions became more populated, the narratives remained adventurous. He’s been the darling of Off-Broadway (and regional theater) with titles like “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” “Red Scare on Sunset,” “The Lady in Question” and “The Divine Sister.” He’s also scored on Broadway with his Tony-nominated “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” and the book to the Boy George musical “Taboo.”

In addition to the Nikko engagement, Busch’s fan’s can also enjoy the upcoming production of his play “Die! Mommie, Die!” which opens Oct. 3 at New Conservatory Theatre Center. “I’m very happy just from the photos I’ve seen of Katya [Smirnoff-Skyy],” he says referring to actor J. Conrad Frank, who will be playing the role Busch originated. “It’s like we’re cut from the same line.”

IF YOU GO

Charles Busch

Where: Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 220 Mason St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday

Tickets: $35 to $50</p>

Contact: (866) 663-1063, www.ticketweb.com

artsCharles BuschFeinstein’s at the NikkoTom Judson

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The J Church train could begin running again later this month on at least part of its surface route. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
First Muni trains will return to service Dec. 19

Three additional bus routes coming back online in January

Smoking cannabis. (Shutterstock)
Supes ban tobacco smoking in apartments but exempt cannabis

San Francisco banned smoking and vaping of tobacco in apartments Tuesday night,… Continue reading

Dr. Grant Colfax and Mayor London Breed said new restrictions could come this week due to rising COVID-19 cases.<ins> (Examiner screenshot)</ins>
Breed: ‘More restrictive action’ needed to slow spread of COVID-19

San Francisco officials said Tuesday tougher restrictions will soon be imposed to… Continue reading

Many landlords fought the proposal requiring them to register properties, calling it an invasion of privacy. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
Housing inventory wins unanimous approval from supervisors

Legislation will require landlords to register properties, report vacancies and rents

Harlan Kelly, head of the SFPUC and husband to City Administrator Naomi Kelly (right), faces federal charges for allegedly trading inside information on a city contract in return for a paid family vacation. (Courtesy photo)
Harlan Kelly, head of SFPUC, charged with fraud in widening Nuru scandal

Kelly accused of engaging in corrupt partnership with permit expediter

Most Read