Theater in the City: 

Judy and a Dream of Clowns

I’ve always felt a little bit schizophrenic. As a huge fan of the golden age of movie musicals and the contemporary performance art scene, I rarely come across shows that satisfy both of my obsessions. That’s why I was so in awe of Karen Finley’s 9/11-Liza Minnelli tribute Make Love (The Cutting Room, 19 W 24th St, Sept 8-10), which ran at the now-defunct Fez back in 2003. Although to many, Liza is just a sequin-covered mess, Finley admired her indestructibility and saw her struggles and triumphs as analogous to New York City’s. So the infamous “chocolate-covered woman” (to right wingers, anyway) donned the diva’s trademark ‘do and covered herself in razzle dazzle for a cabaret act celebrating everything fabulous about this town. Let the powers that be plan more stoic remembrances. With its rotating roster of Liza impersonators and Finley’s intense take on Judy Garland’s number one daughter, Make Love is the way I plan to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Hopefully Finley will be able to find enough sparkle to do her show, because the weekend before a bevy of scantily-clad beauties are liable to buy up all the glitter in town when they descend on the Big Apple for the fourth annual New York Burlesque Festival (various venues, Sept 1-3, visit thenewyorkburlesquefestival.com). The bump-and-grind brainchild of the Pontani Sisters, a trio of dancers who manage to be sexy and hilarious at the same time, the fest features the best neo-burlesque has to offer from all over the world. In addition to gorgeous homegrown talent like World Famous *BOB*, Dirty Martini, Tigger, Bonnie Dunn and Rose Wood, prepare to be teased by titillating acts from Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, even London, Montreal and Japan — with nary a Pussycat Doll in sight.

If you prefer white faces and red noses to G-strings and pasties (hey, I have some freaky fetishes myself), head to Brooklyn for the New York Clown Theater Festival (The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave., Sept 1-24). The circus-like fun kicks off on Friday Sept. 1 at 5 pm with a Clown Subway Parade on the L train to Bedford. Anyone can participate (volunteers will be handing out red noses to those unadorned) and the march will culminate in a pie-fight free-for-all at the theater. That’s what I call interactive art.

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