In the 1950s and 60s, TV variety shows like The Hollywood Palace and The Ed Sullivan Show brought pop singers, standup comedians, comedy sketch artists, and other assorted talents into living rooms across the country. Co-hosts Dennis Hensley and Michael Anthony have updated this format to the 21st Century and given it a decidedly gay twist in their popular twice-a-month variety show, The Village Variety Pack, delighting audiences of every sexual persuasion on alternate Mondays at The Davidson/Valentini Blackbox Theatre @ The Village.

StageSceneLA was there for their November 23 offering, and if the evening was any example, then future audiences are going to be in for a treat. Here’s an example of what kind of treats to expect on future Mondays.

The evening started out with an appropriately Thanksgiving-themed sketch by the zanies who call themselves The Village Idiots. Garbed in Pilgrim hats, shirts, and  short black trousers, John Smith (Justin Porter, who wrote the sketch with The Village Idiots) and “Creative” Cliff (Vance Reyes) were out enjoying the great outdoors when who should arrive but the blonde and beauteous Pocahontas (Whitney Welch).  “We’re your greatest fans!” squealed the Pilgrim twosome, explaining to Poca that “we made these outfits out of yonder deer and buffalo.”  The sketch featured clever bits such as a Twitter update (done 16th Century style with via whistle) and a fourth character, platinum blond twink designer Thomas (John Paul Karliak), who agreed to concoct a new wardrobe for John, Cliff, and Pocahontas.  (Speaking of wardrobe, Cliff’s shorts were short shorts indeed, and a treat for the eyes.)

Next up was “our first ever Emmy winner,” the fabulous Leslie Jordan, of Sordid Lives and Will And Grace fame, who offered a snippet of what fans can look forward to in his December 10-20 one-man show, Full of Gin and Regret: An Evening with Leslie Jordan, in the Village’s larger Renberg Theatre. Jordan revealed his fascination with straight porn (the men are tougher and hairier), seguewaying into his most noteworthy experience with a vagina, one which took place at the closing night performance of the initial Sordid Lives run. Costar Rosemary Alexander as Dr. Eve surprised Leslie’s character with a “Look, Brother Boy, no panties” moment Jordan has never forgotten.  (“With all due respect, it looked like an ugly little animal.”)

There’s no more talented out singer-songwriter than Matt Zarley, who performed a pair of songs from his terrific latest CD. “Had I Known” has a killer melody and lyric, and Zarley performed it live, in perfect sync with its music video, projected on the big screen behind him.  He followed that with “Here I Am,” both songs accompanied on guitar by the handsome and talented Nick Perez.

Village Idiot Nino Alicea was next up as “Fugly Nettie,” hostess of her own advice program, and every bit as fugly as her name would indicate, though once she gets her braces off…  Nettie’s advice on how to keep from gaining weight on Turkey Day:  sell a kidney.  That’s worth a good five pounds.  (The sketch was written by Alicea and The Village Idiots.)

Newcomer LawLa performed her dance single “I’m On Ya,” featuring backup dancers “John Smith” and “Cliff.”  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the next-up quirky cutie who related a first-date experience.  

A regular feature of the The Village Variety Pack is a live interview of interest to the LGBT community.  Last night, it was Jim Anzide, found of Out And About Tours, a see-gay-LA tour, one of several prizes raffled off. Anzide recounted a fascinating anecdote about the so-called “Masquerade Laws,” which forbade men to dress as women, and vice versa, and whose protest rally preceded Stonewall.

“Calendar Girl” Willem Belli looked gorgeous as always in dim blonde drag, helping Hensley announce upcoming events of interest to the community and conducting the prize drawing in charmingly clueless fashion.

The multi-talented Todd Heughens and Molly O’Leary next appeared in the first of two sketches from their popular variety show, reviewed previously on StageSceneLA.  Appearing in the guise of British spinsters Diedre and Moira, Heughens and O’Leary got laughs aplenty for the risqué (and stick-figure illustrated) song treat, “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Penis” (for without it, where would we be).

Following a discussion of Adam Lambert’s much twittered-about appearance on the American Music Awards show, Hensley and Anthony introduced five members of the LA Gay Men’s Chorus known as NPYNK, a quintet of singers who could turn any a cappella hater into an a cappella lover.  (They did me!)  The comely fivesome (Chris Etscheid, Zach Herries, Markus Honaker, Tod Macofsky, and Norge Yip) performed a medley of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Hooray For Hollywood,” followed by the golden oldie “Afternoon Delight,” with only a pitch pipe to get them off … on key.

The multitalented boy-next-door Karliak returned almost unrecognizable as French Chef Julia Child (boobs sagging down to her waist, poor thing) for a Homo Holiday celebration. written by Vance Reyes and The Village Idiots. Assisted by the lovely Charlene (Welch), Julia offered advice on how to serve Thankgiving dinner to the gays.  (Also featured: Alicea as Gay Guest, Sarah Mozal as Lesbian Guest, and Reyes as Helping Hands.)

A regular “Can You Believe This Shit?” segment asked the question, “Why on earth is Twilight so popular?” and was followed by Pocahontas And The Supersquaws’ latest music video, “Pocahontas,” conceived, directed and edited by Village Idiot Porter. The LOGO-ready video featured the cast of the first sketch of the evening, plus Jason O’Malley as “Straight John Smith” and was choreographed by Monica Hovatter.

From the Eating Out trilogy, the lovely and potty-mouthed Rebekah Kochan performed a bit of her standup routine.  (It was her first time ever on stage “without the donkey,” she revealed.) Besides the three Eating Out flicks, Kochan has appeared in a number of horror movies “so bad that they come out on DVD while they’re still filming.”

Heughens and O’Leary returned with another Todd And Molly Show treat, the Borscht Belt duo, married couple Saul and Mickie Bupkiss of The Saul And Mickie Show doing geriatric rap with the best of the Boca Raton retirees.

To close the evening, Zarley and Perez returned for an unplugged version of Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic “Miss You Most (At Christmas Time).”

The Village Variety Pack returns on December 7 and 21 for their year-end shows.  Monday’s was a sell out, so be sure to reserve ahead of time.  If upcoming shows are as entertaining as the one reviewed here, a good time is likely to be had by all!

Davidson/Valentini Theatre, the Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Los Angeles.

–Steven Stanley
November 24, 2009

For more information, tickets, or reservations for Leslie Jordan’s one-man show, visit:

Comments are closed.