July 28, 2014



July 27, 2014



July 26, 2014


July 25, 2014



I traveled somewhere for a gig and when the club picked me up from the airport, they asked me if I wanted to grab something to eat. How could they possibly have guessed that I did? Anyhoo, I asked them what kind of restaurants were around and they replied "Everything." What they meant was a strip mall where "everything" from Olive Garden to Taco Bell to McD's were located. A snooty NYC eye roll followed. Chain restaurants are all they had nearby. Well, the same thing is happening here in NYC. I walked for blocks to find a non-chain restaurant in midtown recently. And they're closing up all over Manhattan, giving the borough a very tired shopping mall feeling. As I say in Clowns Syndrome, both parties pretend to support mom & pop businesses and claim they are the backbone of the American economy. Yet neither party actively supports this ailing backbone.

"There is a loss of pride, a loss of belonging, to be a New Yorker."

This article was sent to me by Nicky Perry, a neighbor and friend who owns Tea & Sympathy, which serves english fare. English food isn't exactly known for being tasty, but when Nicky makes it, it is. Within a few years, she'd opened two more tiny stores: Tea & Sympathy to go and fish & chips shop called A Salt And Battery. But when St. Vincent's hospital closed, much of her lunch clientele vanished with it. And she's struggling, as are mostl small businesses, to pay high rents. Rents which aren't as high for national chains. That are turning NYC into McHattan with no interesting, unique choices like Tea & Sympathy. And we are hemorrhaging jobs as small businesses close.

Mayor Deblasio claimed to support small businesses while campaigning, but he's doing little to address the crisis after he got into office. I don't know if you will read this entire long article or call your council member to see if s/he supports a bill before the City Council. But I would like to share a few excerpts so you can see how dire this crisis is. We pay a lot of rent in NYC--one of the reasons why is that our city is unique. Small businesses have always defined that uniqueness.

GOTHAMGAZETTE.COM: City's Small Business Crisis Continues

Umberto's Clam House. Gray's Papaya. Union Square Cafe. These famous, long-established New York City businesses and many more are victims of circumstances advocates say come down to a lack of protections for commercial tenants. Given the recent focus on residential tenants and affordable housing, many don't realize the bitter plight of the city's small businesses, especially low-profile mom-and-pop type stores and restaurants.

And these establishments - the city's small businesses - are desperately looking for help.

Few New Yorkers can't name a favorite local business or neighborhood staple forced to close over the last several years. Bodegas, Korean markets, and Irish Pubs are now considered to be part of a dying breed - endangered species poached by high rents, corporate competitors, and real estate development deals. Large swaths of commercial areas have all but disappeared from Little Italy, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. Empty storefronts litter the five boroughs, sometimes for weeks, months, even years.

Ramon Murphy, president of the Bodega Association of the United States, told the Daily News the main reason for all the small business closings "is the one-sided process of lease renewal...Landlords either do not renew them or want to raise the rent four or five times. Often, you have to give money under the table for the lease to be extended."

The crisis Barrison describes has been building for decades: from 2002-2012, during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure, the city's Landlord and Tenant Courts issued 83,211 warrants to evict commercial tenants, according to SBC data. SBC believes for every business that fights in court, two walk away, and estimates that at least 240,000 businesses closed and between 2.5 and 2.8 million jobs were lost (gross, not net) over the combined years of the Giuliani and Bloomberg mayoralties.

Landlords evict commercial tenants for a variety of reasons. Often, tenants fall behind paying escalating rents, but don't want to walk away from their life's work. Activists say they see a growing trend by which owners move faster to evict because they want to make space available for a corporate franchise or a bank, which can and do pay substantially higher rents.

Even though thousands of new small businesses also open every year, the odds are against their success and many close within the same year they open. Sung Soo Kim, who is president of the Korean-American Small Business Service Center (KASBSC) and has been called the godfather of New York's small business community, explains the significant obstacles against success, chief among them being high rents and operating costs. With the city's small businesses providing the large majority of jobs for New Yorkers - and establishing a gateway to the middle class, especially for immigrants and in ethnic communities - many, including Kim, wonder why little has been done by city government in the last twenty years to stem the tide of business closings, particularly of long-standing, neighborhood establishments.

"It's a crisis," agreed Ron Shiffman, founder of the Pratt Center for Community Development. "There's a dramatic impact on neighborhoods, especially on lower income folks [who rely on] inexpensive stores and culture, who get priced out," Shiffman said, referring to gentrification. Shiffman says the importance of neighborhood small businesses is that they "hire locally, they contract out services, their purchases are local. A dollar recovered in the local community [means] far more than it does [from] corporations."

The city's small business community is looking to its local government to act before entrepreneurship is further stifled and every mom-and-pop store is replaced by a corporate chain, making "family business" an oxymoron.

Please read on to see how Deblasio has appointed a former Bloomberg staffer to head up the SBS, which deals with this. Deblasio has focused on reducing fines, not absurd rents. And the Bloomberg staffer has partnered with Citibank to get loans for small businesses. But unless sky-high rents are address, expect lots more loans. (Which is probably the only reason Citi would partner with anyone.) This is very sad to read.

But Kim, who is also co-founder and president of the SBC, explained his members ask daily for assistance because the City only views them as "cash cows." He discussed the psychological damage and disenfranchisement that's been festering as a result, "There is a loss of pride, a loss of belonging, to be a New Yorker." In 2013 alone, 24 percent of Korean-owned businesses closed, Kim said.

And Kim doesn't buy the myriad of services and initiatives SBS promotes. "SBS programs are ridiculous and worthless to the majority of NYC hard-working immigrant owners," Kim said. "There is nothing more absurd," he added, "than a loan program to [businesses] who can't pay their rent."

With an "absurd" strategy, things aren't looking good for small businesses in NYC. Deblasio doesn't appear to be getting his promises right. So if you appreciate them as I do and I suspect you do, I hope you'll consider reading this article in full and then phoning your council member to encourage their support the upcoming SBJSA bill. Ifthis doesn't concern you, enjoy your hot dogs from 7/11. You ain't gonna get none from the recently closed Gray's Papaya!


July 24, 2014


July 22, 2014




Gawker: "It would be difficult to come with a more on-the-nose metaphor for New York City's income inequality problem than the new high-rise apartment building coming to 40 Riverside Boulevard, which will feature separate doors for regular, wealthy humans and whatever you call the scum that rents affordable housing."




From Martha Wash: "Darlins just got word that the upcoming season of TV One’s hit music docu-series Unsung will be a good one! My feature airs WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 8PM/ET – Martha Wash #unsung"


I haven't really followed the Basement Jaxx but I did love their hit 2001 Do Your Thing. I like their new track Never Say Never, but the video is raising eyebrows. Maybe it'll create enough curiosity within the dying music industry to help launch what's actually a pretty song with hooks--it's refreshing to hear pretty piano chords in a dance song. But I'm wondering if people will view this latest offering as:

 a) just another dance video from European producers which objectifies women, as so many do. Even though this is not a woman, but a robot woman without a head. Does the fact that the robot has no head further demean women as turning them literally into a piece of @ss with no face to talk back to a man as she shakes her money-maker solely for his pleasure?

b) There are so many dance videos where models wearing next to nothing cavort to the beat--the formula was worn out 15 years ago, if selling sex ever wears out. So is this twerkbot derivative, reductive or whatever buzz word we are currently using to let the Basement Jaxx know that they've failed to reinvent anything in an attempt to reinvent themselves? Or have they ripped someone else off? We love to make that accusation. Robot drag worked last summer for Daft Punk. And the hookiest part of the song has chords similar to the frequently revived/remixed/covered Womack & Womack jam Teardrops. Hmmm...

c) Is Basement Jaxx is not aware of the twerking controversy or are they trying to cash in on it? I don't know if the producers are gay or not, but will someone claim that they're appropriating black women's culture by twerking? And is it ok for straight men to appropriate black women's culture?

d) A woman of color seems to be teaching the robot to twerk as they formulate it. They only show her backside, but isn't that what twerking is all about? And the robot's @ss, while rubber, is decidedly caucasian. Miley Cyrus was criticized for twerking with black women with big butts. Can a robot sprayed white get away with it?

e) Are these synthetic butts recyclable? Or will they eventually join that massive island of plastic bags and soda bottles which can't biodegrade that's the size of that island the size of Belgium floating in the Pacific?

f) e) In this video, scientists have manufactured something roughly female. So is this transphobic?

g) Is this racist towards asians by painting them as clinical, calculating and working in a scientific field? Is this perpetuating the notion that asians push their children too hard or does it offend whites, blacks and latinos who don't push as hard?

h) Do the Basement Jaxx, in the intro, dare to critique their main audience of clubbers, many of whom have stopped dancing in favor of taking selfies and even dancing to songs about selfies? Maybe these guys are old and out of touch.

i) Should the big bucks used in this expensive video have been sent to kids without water in Detroit, kidnapped Nigerian girls, victims of the recent typhoon or the feature film Hurricane Bianca instead?

j) Can we just enjoy a decent song without worrying so much about everything?

What do you think?

July 21, 2014


I'm headed to Provincetown from 8/3-Labor Day so my last two performances of Clowns Syndrome are July 22nd and July 29th at 8PM. LadyBunnyTix.com for tickets.




July 20, 2014


I'll be performing at the A House on Thurs, Fri, Sat all of August. And then djing a retro night of disco, 80s, 90s, current stuff that's good--which is increasingly rare. So if you're on the cape, don't miss:



Hey all! I'm headed to Ptown for the month of August, so I'm wrapping up my show Clowns Syndrome which has been running strong with 2 extensions and standing ovations since April. I know summer schedules are busy with vacations and such, but if you're around I'd love for you to see what I feel is my best one woman show to date. Of course there are song parodies and demented pouch lines, but I've also developed my comic voice and address a few subjects like gentrification, cell phone abuse and "Trannygate." For the first time in my life, I teamed up with a comedy writer, Beryl Mendelbaum, who is excellent at softening my rants with a punchline. So if you're around either this Tuesday July 22nd or July 29th, I would love for you to see it at La Escuelita!

Musically, it's a very diverse mix with nods to Adele, Prince, Daft Punk, Frank Sinatra, Bobbie Gentry, Dame Shirley Bassey and recently departed Frankie Knuckles. And the word is that singing-wise, I sound better than ever. Here's my favorite review:

IrishCentral.com: A downtown drag fixture for over two and a half decades, in her new show Clowns Syndrome the self professed “pig in a wig” has crafted the funniest, most engagingly thoughtful and by far the most entertaining drag show I have ever seen.

Micheal Musto called it "the funniest show in town." And we know how jaded Miss Musto is!

Hope you can make it! The ticket price is as cheap as my humor!  And it's all new material! --B