DYNASTY HANDBAG @ THE CAVE

April 23rd, 2007 |

SATURDAY, APRIL 21: I always hear a lot of this New York vs. L.A. business, especially when I tell people where I’m from. You know what I’m talking about—those sad fellows who feel the need to fight you to the gutter while defending their home/adoptive city from inflammatory comments like, “California is a vapid wasteland and the movie industry is shallow!” Boo hoo. “What do you mean the smog makes you choke!? Haven’t you seen our sunsets, motherfucker!? Haven’t you been to Amoeba?!” Or “I’d only raise my kids in NY if I wanted them get cancer!” “People in LA don’t read, everyone’s tacky!” From the place that created Cats! and acrylic toenails. Oh people, people, people, as someone wise once said—myself—to myself, right now, in the window of the coffee shop I’m sitting in—both cities suck equally.

That’s right, I’m on a vacation. And after getting an earful from my east coast homies, I wont mention any names—Dad Cat Corrigan—about how L.A. just seems like “an ugly suburban non city with no center.” (Insert eye-roll here: how creative, Dad Cat!) I couldn’t have been more ready for this week’s show, the comedy performance act known as Dynasty Handbag. And keeping with the theme of my column here at Live From New York, Dynasty Handbag is a New York performer. The show was held at the opening of new art space the Cave, on Temple at the edge of Echo Park and MacArthur Park (What happened to all the crack dealers?! Where did the Cheeva peddlers on Bonnie Brae and 6th go? Not that I had any personal involvement with them way back in the early 2000s, but just because I sensed the lack of a lingering presence… gasp, is it true? Has American Apparel actually taken over Downtown LA? Are there really sushi restaurants, Ryan Gosling and dog walkers!?)

The space itself was very nice and comfy. You could smell the MFAs in progress. People were outfitted in ratty garb (my best girl Swang noted that everyone had a very NY “dirty” vibe, and indeed they did.) and there was even a mini-pinscher named Strider in attendance with an itsy bitsy English bulldog (what, no pit bull?). On the walls were the requisite pencil and ink sketches of cholos and cholas (excellent drawings of Kate Moss as a Mexican) and Polaroid photos of friends drinking Old E doing stupid things in fucked-up places and a very cool wooden totem pole carving of George Bush. I hate to say J Penry, Dash Snow, Dan Colen, Ben Cho, Patrick O’Dell, Rivington Arms and New Image Art Gallery, but… oops!

Dynasty Handbag: F U N N Y shit. Jibz, the sole member of the band, has recorded dialogue on her ‘puter so she can respond to herself, ala a conversation with her psyche. Activities such as getting dressed (she comes on stage in a tattered slip) become epic battles in which she must flip herself physically all over the floor, fighting to put on her pants and shoes. At one point she sits and launches into a ten-minute debate with herself about the merits of even needing a shirt (must be seen to be appreciated). There is something wonderful about a performer who clearly doesn’t give a shit about letting go, especially in a small space. Because nothing makes an audience more uncomfortable than a self-conscious comedian. Dynasty Handbag is more than cheap laughs though… Okay I’m barfing a little for what I’m about to write and actually I’m barfing in my mouth right now because I just wrote about to barf in my mouth but anyway, Dynasty Handbag wouldn’t be able to pull off the laughs if there wasn’t a visible emotional fragility beneath the surface threatening to break through. As evident in a piece where she takes on the persona of a Midwestern housewife, Minnesota accent and all, and places her in Dante’s inferno, where she runs into an evil girl gang. I couldn’t help but picture the teenagers in Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising. Rather than run in fear, our heroine leans slowly over, exposing her ass and privates and taunts her assailants, accent gone, with “Oh yeah? Come and get it, come and get it.” Smacking her leg in a taunt challenging not only our conventional ideas of femininity—yes, I did just go there, this is performance art after all—but tells the story of a character who’s probably been waiting for this moment since the first time a dude stuck his wiener in her hole.

Speaking of stuffing it, that’s sort of how I’m going to end this thing. There’s a reason Jet Blue has non-stop flights from NY to LA and back. Deep down we’re all the same stoopid yoga mats. So, in the words of another wise man: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Reporting Live from the Sunset Strip,
I’m Nikki Darling and You’re Not!