BY Alonso Duralde
November 17 2009 9:45 AM ET
It’s a marriage made in performance-art heaven: take Joey Arias (pictured), New York City club legend and the original Mistress of Seduction for Zumanity, Cirque du Soleil’s adults-only show in Vegas, and add brilliantly eccentric third-generation puppeteer Basil Twist, known for staging puppet shows everywhere from tiny New York theaters to under water.
Stir in costumes designed by Thierry Mugler and executed by Project Runway fave Chris March, and you’ve got Arias With a Twist, a one-of-a-kind multimedia extravaganza that takes the talents of its titular stars and combines them into a soaring work of music, dance, puppetry, and much more.
Arias With a Twist makes its Los Angeles debut at the REDCAT Theater in an engagement running November 18 through December 13, so we got Arias (in New York) and Twist (in Chicago, where’s he’s working on previews for the upcoming Broadway musical The Addams Family) on the phone to talk about their collaboration.
Advocate.com: You’ve already performed this show not just in New York but also in Belgium, France, and Sweden. Do you sing in other languages or do it as is?
Joey Arias: People want to hear you sing in your natural tongue. It’s not a real complicated script, although when we were in Paris we had subtitles, like a European film. And basically most of the people there understood English, and those that didn’t, they could get it. In Stockholm they speak perfect English, so they get every little innuendo. It was great.
So what was the genesis of this project?
Basil Twist: Joey and I had been talking about doing something for a while, but I didn’t know if it was really going to happen. We performed at a party together about two years before the show, where I used my grandfather’s puppets, and it was such a rousing success that we used that as the base. And then there was a cancellation at a little theater where I run the puppetry program, and it was coming up on the 10th anniversary of the theater, and I thought Gosh, I have to pull something together really special really quick. And Joey had just come back from Las Vegas, and it just seemed like the time to make something really special on many fronts — for me, and I think for Joey, for his return after being gone for so long. We just sat down and started talking about songs we wanted to do.