INTERVIEW | Joey Arias – Love Bites

Legendary New York queen of the demi-monde, cabaret and performance artist Joey Arias is coming to London to play the insanely stylish Crazy Coqs nightclub at Zedel in Piccadilly.

CREDIT: Sean Menendez

It’s a rare treat and Joey has a staggering back catalogue with decades of experience performing both in New York and internationally. During his many collaborations with Klaus Nomi he sung with David Bowie on Saturday Night Live in 1979, he’s played Joan Crawford, featured in Wigstock, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Flawless. He featured in George Michael’s Too Funky video and sold out runs in Las Vegas with Cirque Du Soleil. He’s also a style icon in his own right, transcending drag and he has a unique and haunting singing style that has echoes of Billie Holiday’s rich tones.

Hi and welcome back to London. How does it feel to be here again?
I love London very much, I’ve been coming since the punk days and I’ve seen the changes going on. Some places I don’t recognise but I always look forward to seeing my friends, old and new. Facebook has brought new faces and this is exciting. I love meeting the new always but I always have my pals from the past. That is what London means to me. The people, ‘We The People’.

Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from ‘Love Bites’?
Well ‘Love Bites’ is a Metaphor for what’s going on in the world! It goes hand in hand. You could love someone or something or just an idea and once in a while you snapped at it or it just didn’t work out the way you thought it was going. I think it’s a great concept for Valentine’s Week.

Looking at your previous sets, your music choices and influences seem wide and varied. Who’s inspiring you at the moment?
I love all music, but I love listening to Jazz a lot, Ornette Coleman and Billie Holiday. Then I go back to 60s Rock with The Ronettes, Beach Boys and I also love music from the British Invasion like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Cilla Black. I also love Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and more! Then we move onto Madonna, Boy George and Sex Pistols. Every so often I put the Radio on and see what’s out there. These days it just comes and goes, it’s all happening too fast. So I would say, maybe some of the great singers like Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye have been in my ear these days. I want to work with my great friend Ben Allison who will re-write some of these tunes to make them my own. I have been working on lots of original tunes. I want to get a new album out soon!

How do the London and New York cabaret and drag scenes compare?
The cabaret and drag scenes are a bit different. It has to do with the venues and the vibe of these two cities. We used to have Leigh Bowery who really pushed the envelope. Susanne Bartsch had Leigh in NYC once a month, so that was a blend of two cultures. Then in NYC you also have Earl Dax presenting ‘Pussy Fagot’ with many other great NYC performers and guests from around the world that happen to be in town. I also love Wet Chiffon that’s in Hackney. Brilliant! I have to say NYC has things going on 24/7, anything goes, and I know London does also. I’ve been to wild parties there… coming home with the sun on my face!

Do you have any favourite places in London?
I used to Love Freedom Cafe! That was amazing! You’re going to laugh but I love Marks & Spencer’s and Boots! I have to go to those places all the time. I love when friends take me to clubs, trashy and chic. I can’t remember the names, and then there are those wild sex parties, Oh my! But I gave them up or they gave me up! Fun, but always be safe!
Really looking forward to playing at Live At Zédel!


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‘Love Bites’ runs from 11th to the 14th of February 2017 at The Crazy Coqs at Zedel Buy tickets here: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/joey-arias/74236136

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