BY Alonso Duralde
November 17 2009 8:45 AM ET
JA: Yeah. I think the first song that we were really considering was the [Led] Zeppelin song “Kashmir.” And I took that to Basil, and Basil and I talked, and he asked me what I imagined, and I just said, “Alien abduction, acid trip, big Busby Berkeley number, and a big cape with a million lights on it!” And Basil very happily said, “I can do that, no problem!” [Laughs] Yeah, right. And of course, it went beyond all expectations — the most beautiful baby was being born.
BT: The ideas that came out in the first few days of talking about it, the first ideas that we threw out, they all made it in the show. That was the show, that was all that took — a little dreaming and throwing it out there.
At one point did you feel like you were really on to something?
JA: Just the idea of working with Basil, every idea was just magical, and a challenge, and just seeing it come to fruition was amazing. I can’t pick a favorite part of the show, because I love everything in it. The work and the dreaming that came together, that was the most exciting.
BT: You’ve said in the past, Joey, you would come and see some of my shows and you wished you could climb into them. And it takes a certain kind of performer who can exist in a completely artificial puppet world, and Joey is that performer. And I had seen Joey and admired for years his transportive qualities, where he could take the most mundane place and make it feel like you were entering another world. So I don’t know, it just seemed like a perfect marriage of this sort of fantasy that I make and the kind that Joey conjures up onstage, just being together.
So how did you guys meet?
JA: Uh, probably in a sex bar. [Both laugh]
BT: I don’t know, in a couple of different ways. My old boyfriend knew Joey long before I did, and then I used to work a lot with Sherry Vine in making puppets for her drag theater extravaganzas, and Joey saw a lot of those.
JA: And over time we just grew closer and friendlier. Like Basil said, every time I’d see one of his productions, I would just think, God, I want to be in the middle of all that!
BT: I still live around the corner from where Bar d’O used to be, the lounge that Joey ruled in the ’90s, and I would go all the time to hear Joey sing. And we were both part of this downtown world, and I don’t know, there’s a lot of cross-pollination of that world. It’s very incestuous.
Over the course of doing this show in various cities, has it progressed, or did you pretty much lock it up right away?
BT: I was just astounded that we were able to get it up at all in another city, because it was like an installation in the space where it was in New York City. It was very, very intimate. So I was afraid that we would never even be able to re-create it, and just that we were able to feels like a huge accomplishment. But I think there’s naturally something that shifts when you’re in front of a different audience — and they’ve been larger audiences too — and those are mostly things that Joey is a master of, reading an audience. So when he’s in Paris, I don’t know, there’s a slightly different twist he puts on things, as opposed to Stockholm. It’s what the audiences bring to it that changes it.
JA: I just channel that energy from the audience.