I love when unexpected opportunities throw themselves into my lap.
The other day my old buddy Amanda called me at work to ask if I'd be interested in seeing Lucy Lawless live in concert, for free as a guest of the SciFi Channel, and of course I jumped at the opportunity.
For those not in the know, I was a religious devotee to XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS during its run on TV, especially falling in love with Lucy Lawless' performance as perhaps the most balls-out badassed woman ever to grace the idiot box. Hey, if you give me a TV show that features ancient heroes, mythology, barbarians, wall-to-wall ass-whuppin' and violence, an undeniable lesbian subtext, capped off with an endless array of hot chicks and sense of humor about itself, how could I not love it? Lawless' brunette slayer held me captivated — especially in my nominee for the best episode in the entire series, "The Price," an ultra-violent and humorless installment that would have made Robert E. Howard happy —
and on the rare occasions when the series shifted gears and did a musical episode, I was shocked to discover that Lawless could sing her ass off, the end result of years forging her voice in a musical comedy background. So when it came to a live show, I just had to witness her vocal chops for myself.
The show was at a venue called Canalroom on West Broadway, and when Amanda and her common-law man, Jimmy, showed up I once more felt the satisfaction of being able to say "I'm on the guest list," something I'd sorely missed during my time at the barbecue joint. Once stamped for drinks, we made our way into the performance area and found Lucy onstage, rocking the place in a silver catsuit, her hair returned to its natural blonde hue.
As was totally expected, the place was packed to the gills with practically every dyke on the East Coast, most of whom looked like more butch versions of the Spider-Man baddie the Rhino, and many of them sported a wide range of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS t-shirts. Yes, it was a true geek/love-fest.
Lucy's show is the epitome of a lounge act that plays to its fans, being primarily a catalog of covers of oldie rock numbers interrupted by wacky banter with the audience, and even a couple of Melissa Etheridge favorites that really got the Sisterhood going. Lawless also took the time out to praise and thank her fans, detailing the humanitarian efforts many of them donate in order to make the world a better place. The band was pretty tight, and of special note were a guitarist who was totally in love with himself and whose every moment to solo was milked for every cock-rocker cliche move in the book, and a drummer who resembled cartoonist Adam Kubert to a shocking degree and did not stop grinning for the entire show. I figured he was high as a fucking kite, but Amanda put it into perspective by stating, "If I were sitting behind Lucy Lawless in a silver catsuit for a couple of hours, I'd probably be smiling too."
After about a half hour, Lawless left for a costume change and turned over the mic to one of her backup singers, a former AMERICAN IDOL contestant named Charlotte Gibson who proceeded — intentionally or not — to blow Lucy off the stage like a weak fart, and since Lucy can sing, that's really saying something.
After a couple of solo numbers, Charlotte yielded the mic back to Lucy, now decked out in one of those numbers with the tassles that fly about when the wearer shakes her stuff to the music.
Yup, the Kiwi goddess rocked the fuck out as digital cameras flashed all around.
Then came a cover of Ray Charles' classic "Tell Me What I Say," and as the tassles flew to and fro, who should take the stage in a red version of Lucy's outfit? Renee O'Connor, better known as Gabrielle, the Bard of Podidea, Xena's sidekick/lover from the TV series, that's who, and the mostly-Sapphic crowd went absolutely bugfuck crazy. It was like what I'd imagine happening at Eidelweiss if a youthful Judy Garland suddenly erupted from the grave, belting out "The Trolley Song."
After she finished shimmying like a madwoman, O'Connor took off and the show continued for another forty minutes or so, all to the delight of the crowd and much to the dismay of the bartenders, a surly bunch who weren't making much on the insanely overpriced drinks (one bottle of Bud and a tiny shot of Jose Quervo cost me sixteen bucks, excluding tip, for fuck's sake!!!).
Eventually the show ended, and Lucy made her exit while Charlotte wandered among the fans, stoping me to comment on how she saw me from the stage thanks to my ludicrous Viking helmet.
When I told her that even though I was a Lucy groupie I still felt she kicked Lucy's ass, she sheepishly smiled and bowed, thanking me profusely. No bullshit, when her CD becomes available I will pick it up in a heartbeat. Personable, funny, and talented, trust me when I say that Charlotte Gibson is a name worth paying attention to.