The Sly and Seductive Kim David Smith Creates A Weimar Kabarett in an East Village Alternative Supper Club
By Myra Chanin
My favorite androgynous Australian sylph paused at the rear entrance of Pangea, before gliding along the narrow spaces between the packed tables toward an elevated blue satin stage, sensuously caressing, fondling, patting, brushing any parts of anyone’s anatomy that came into contact with his fingertips while his music director Tracy Stark and Skip Ward on double bass played Mischa Spoliansky’s Valse Tristey “Morphium.” What a delicious prelude to a delicious performance!
The exquisite, epicene Kim David Smith is back in town in his exquisite flesh and, as always, arrives on stage attired in both an amusing as well as enticing ensemble. He faces the audience, looking oh so prim and proper with a pristine white bowtie leaning against the formal wingtip collar of his (I can’t believe he’ll put anything next to his sculpted flesh but the finest grade of) pima cotton shirt, topped by a distinctive enough to have been custom-crafted, sturdy, belted, Hitler Youthish harness of oak bark leather. Achtung! When he turns to face the musicians, OMG! there’s an exquisite strip of bare flesh running down the center of his back with the pieces of the shirt framing the skin that’s showing, connected by kinky gold metal clips, an gilded upscale version of the ones that normally securing long ugly tan stretch bandages.
“Morphium Kabarett” is a neo-Weimar fantasy Plus, hosted by and starring the Kim David Smith, the Australian born alt-cabaret phenomenon who juxtaposes authentic pre-Hitler Germany songs with arresting, stylistically compatible, contemporary art and pop hits that sound like they should have been written in Berlin in the 1920’s. He captures the glitter, gloom and decadence of Berlin then with a repertoire morphing Friedrich Hollander, who composed “Falling In Love Again,” which made Marlene Dietrich a star, Kurt Weill, who composed “Pirate Jenny,” which made Lotte Lenya a star, with “Padam,” a French pre-WWII minor key, lively but moody waltz that helped make Edith Piaf a star, and “The Song of Black Max,” which sounds like it was cut from “Threepenny Opera,” but was actually the work of an American Grammy-winning classical composer, William Bolcom.
The Bistro Award-winning Smith has been described as “the David Bowie of cabaret.” His New York appearances at Joe’s Pub, Café Sabarsky, Poisson Rouge and the Laurie Beechman Theater, have earned him adoring praise from music critics including The New York Times’ Stephen Holden who, in his review of “Morphium Kabarett” called Smith a living artwork with a sculpted body … … who instead of selling fantasies like Marlene Dietrich … cheerfully and cynically acknowledges that … romantic dreams come to naught,” but you might as well go after them anyway.
On the performance I attended, Smith shared the stage with Jazz Singer Danielle Grabiniowski, who sang one of my favorite blues, “Judge, Send Me to the Lectric Chair,” and Jack Ferver, who, like Smith, a genre defying performer and sang two songs by Tori Amos.
Talk is cheap! You really have to experience Kim David Smith and in the flesh. He’s a really special once in a lifetime performer. And he’s only appearing at Pangea in New York on Friday July 22 at 8 PM before scooting off to star as the Emcee in Cape Cod’s Cape Playhouse production of “Cabaret” from August 9 to the 20th, where I’m sure he’ll be a less animated but a much more sexy proud to be gay man than Joel Grey was when he played it.
One postscript, the food is nicely prepared, served and quite tasty
Pangea Restaurant and Bar
178 Second Avenue 10003
For Reservations call 212-995-0900 www.pangeanyc.com