Mark Russell said something at his public chat yesterday about the nature of performance, about the power of the live event to reverberate in your consciousness for years after. I don’t want to sound overwrought, but I was there last night for Kiki & Herb, and I think it may have changed my life. It was a mind binding, soul wrenching performance, so brilliant I don’t really want to cheapen it with words (though in the spirit of Kiki, I will now proceed to do exactly that.) I don’t know how to describe what Justin Bond is doing, and I don’t even want to talk about Justin Bond: he embodied Kiki so fully, so completely, that I believed in her, Christ-like, and by the end of the show was watching with rapt adoration as she sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which I have probably heard sung drunkenly at karaoke about 400 times, and damn if that bitch didn’t make me CRY with that song. I wanted to get on my feet and wave a lighter in the air, I wanted to shout, “I love you, Kiki” and lay down at her feet. She embodied kitsch and then kicked the door open, stepped out on the other side and towered over it. There was nothing ironic about it, and yet it was the essence of irony. The best performers, the best artists, reach a level of craft so heightened that they transcend it. There is no distinguishable craft, and they become one with their purpose, with their expression. This is how I feel about Kiki and Herb. The performance was two hours. I could have stayed there all night. If they had kept coming back, I would have kept demanding encores. In one madcap sequence they broke into a bizarre dance-stumbled recitation of Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype,” which succeeded in (1) reminding me not to believe the hype, (2) pitching me headfirst into the hype, and (3) making me absolutely want to hype, hype, hype them. They are incredible. They are gods. I am a tiny mortal before them.
- Faith Helma