Deranged cabaret

Posted on 21 Jun 2007 at 5:34pm

Dresden Dolls’ theatrical-punk songstress says Cyndi Lauper busted her cherry



VALLEY OF THE DRESDEN DOLLS: Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione provide a safe haven for freaks to unite. (PixieVisionProductions.com)

Champions of sexual freedom and activists for the culturally dispossessed, The Dresden Dolls bring their weirdly wonderful act to Dallas. As they hit the stage at Smirnoff Music Center on Saturday, the True Colors audience might have a hard time pinning down their dramatic sound: The Dolls craft a hybrid of punk, cabaret, Broadway and glam. Some go out of their way, describing them as “Brechtian.”

Comprised of singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione, the Boston-based duo refuse to pander to any specific audience. They’re gay, straight and everything in between. In fact, Palmer is bisexual, and Viglione is a straight dude who’s passionate about cross-dressing.

Creating their fan base one eccentric soul at a time, the Dolls are fascinating and fearless. Palmer now carries the torch that True Colors headliner Cyndi Lauper set afire, lighting the way for generations of the unusually fabulous.

Who buys tickets for Dresden Dolls gigs? Our shows are like all-inclusive art party. We get a lot of trans and gay folks at our shows. We’ve become a beacon for people who are on the fringe.

Have you had to fend off attacks from freak haters all your life? I’ve never had to worry about it. I’m from Lexington, Massachusetts, a city and a music community that’s so open-minded. I’ve never had to fight for the right to live my life the way I want. I know that’s not true for everyone. I’m constantly reminded that some people live within close-minded communities and families. It really makes me appreciate where I come from.

Does everyone know that you’re bi? The fans know. But it’s not something I go around preaching about. For anyone who’s ever asked me, I tell them. I’m a heavy blogger, so that’s another way that people know. But I never discuss my actual sex life, because that would be rude to whomever I’m involved with. I’m bi and so is everyone else.

Have you always been so open about your sexuality? As long as I can remember. When I was in high school, some friends and I actually formed a group that fostered discussions on gay issues. That was in 1993 or ’94. There was nothing controversial about it at the time. We got sanctioned by the school, and we would just hang out and talk. After we graduated, people renamed the group and kept it going.

Do you think it’s easier to be openly queer in high school these days? It’s become much more acceptable to experiment with your sexuality today. When I was in high school, we wouldn’t necessarily walk around and declare it. But meeting kids today, they say, “Oh, yeah. I’m bi or gay or whatever.” They just talk about it like it’s just a matter of course. If you’re a alternative kid, experimenting with your sexuality just seems like something you do.

Was Cyndi Lauper your first oddball role model? She was huge in my life. One of my first records was “She’s So Unusual,” and hers was the first concert I ever went to Cyndi broke my concert cherry. I had terrible seats, and she was like a flea onstage, but I didn’t care. She made such a big impression on me. If you had told me when I was 10 that I was going to meet her, let alone go on tour with her, I would have laid down and died right there.

Is your too-cute percussion hottie Brian just as freaky-cool as you? Brian is fearless about expressing himself completely authentically onstage. He’s not afraid to wear high heels and a dress even though he’s basically this heavy metal drummer. He’s not afraid to do anything. He’s a total freak. It’s such a powerful message, to be that in touch and that unafraid to express who you are especially in the music business, which is so incredibly sexist and macho.

GO TO THE SHOW

Dresden Dolls, Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Debbie Harry, Margaret Cho and Rosie O’Donnell perform at the Dallas stop of the True Colors tour. Smirnoff Music Center, 1818 First Ave. June 23 at 6 p.m. $21-$76. 214-421-1111.



WORLD’S GREATEST HAIR BAND

Campy and unabashedly flamboyant, The B-52s meld kitsch, punk and new wave. And they can make white people dance their butts off.

They starred off as an ’80s college band. Then in the ’90s, they had a superstar rebirth with the mega-hit album “Cosmic Thing.” Since then they’ve been a perennial summer band whose musicianship has never been panned. And after 15 years (God, has it really been that long?) they’re back with a new album. With a voice like Ethel Merman’s gay son, 52s-member Fred Schneider says the band is going for an electronica vibe on the new 11-track disc, which is undergoing post-production and is still searching for a record label. On Wednesday, Dallasites can sample the new sound as The B-52s play House of Blues.

Daniel A. Kusner

House of Blues Dallas, 2200 N Lamar St. June 27. Doors at 7 p.m. $50.50. 214-373-8000.



OUR DUKES

Local drag troupe the Dukes of Dallas have undergone some membership changes. Ian Patrik, pictured, says they’re still the hottest lip synchers in town. On Friday, their holding “Duke Idol,” a drag king contest. And whomever wins gets to perform in one of their shows.

Buddies II, 4025 Maple Ave. June 22 after 10 p.m. $3. 214-526-0887.

OAK LAWN BAND STRIKES UP

On Saturday, the Oak Lawn Band performs “Journey to the New World. Under the artistic direction of Chris Bronson, the concert will feature European and American compositions.

Northaven Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road (between Forest and Royal Lanes). June 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets $8, $4 for students and seniors. available at the door. OakLawnBand.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 22, 2007.

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