Category Archive for: ‘Lynn Ruth Miller’

Glitz, glitter and song at The Hypnodrome

Lynn Ruth Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

The Thrill Peddlers present….
Music and lyrics: Scrumbly Koldewyn
Book: Sweet Pam” Tent
Directed by Russell Blackwood

“The Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy
Which is always a good thing.
John Waters

“The Cockettes were the first hippie drag queens,” said filmmaker John Waters,  “Insane hippie drag queens on and off the stage.”  And that sentence sums up that outrageous and delightful group of wild, flamboyant hippies, transsexuals, gays and rebels that managed to destroy all our sacred cows on and off the stage.  They created a series of drug infused ostentatious musical shows so camp only the sub-culture in San Francisco could understand them.  Their musicals were disorganized and wild, filled with glitter and nudity, mad and maddening yet irresistible to anyone ready to accept the unacceptable.

When they brought the original production of “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma” to New York In 1971, the establishment simply could not handle their “in your face” exuberance. It was critic Lillian Roxon who realized that, inexperienced, chaotic and rough as they were, the group blazed a trail for a cultural evolution we are experiencing today “Their influence will be felt years from now,” she said. “Every time you see too much glitter or a rhinestone out-of-place, you (will) know it’s because of the Cockettes.”

Russell Blackwood, director of the Thrill Peddlers fell in love with the Cockette spirit and in 2009 he re-invented the Cockette production Pearls Over Shanghai  and followed it with Vice Palace.  Now, we have his re-imagining of  Tinsel Tarts In A Hot Coma the 1971 musical originally performed by The Cockettes at The Palace Theatre in San Francisco.

Blackwood’s interpretation of that production is on stage now at the Hypnodrome theatre and if you like splashy costume, great energy and not much plot, this production is your cup of tea.  Three of the original Cockettes are in this version of the musical that blossomed in San Francisco and died in New York.   Two of them, Scrumbly Koldewyn and Pam Tent also rewrote the book and added 18 songs from the original four-page outline used in that first production.  For this reviewer, Scrumbly Koldewyn is worth hearing and seeing anytime he takes to the stage.  His musical talent is beyond words, so original and exciting are his compositions; so thrilling his keyboard technique. Pam Tent steals the show in a parody of Hedda Hopper and no one can resist her.

The energy and enthusiasm of the cast is infectious and everyone who sees the show cannot help but have a wonderful time.  This production is so much more than a musical,  It is a happening and great fun from the opening number Ain’t We Deluxe to the spirited finale loaded with flashing breasts, swinging dicks, glittering gams and feathers, Hades Lowdown.

The question is: Are we so jaded by all that has gone before that the Cockette spirit is just a bit too over the top for today’s audiences?  “It’s nothing but a high school musical,” said one member of the audience. “All the performers put out lots of effort and enthusiasm, and the songs were clever….but  I didn’t see any reason for the nudity in the finale. I’m hardly a prude but it just seemed out of place.”

The truth is naked bodies aren’t that shocking anymore and too much glitter and glitz is boring.  We have all been there, done that and seen it so many times before.  That said; if you want a fun evening that does nothing to enrich you but everything to tickle your funny bone, don’t miss this fast-moving, melodic farce.  Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma is a production you’ll not soon forget: more colorful than a rainbow, and as delightful as a surfeit of ice cream and cake.

The sixties are gone; dope will never be as cheap
Sex never as free and rock & roll never as great.
Abbie Hoffman

TINSEL TARTS continues through June 1, 2012
Thursday-Saturday @ 8pm
The Hypnodrome Theatre 575 Tenth Street, SF
Tickets: or 800 838 3006
Info: 415 377 4204

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