TV fans of a certain age will recall TV variety shows like The Hollywood Palace and The Ed Sullivan Show, programs that 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 The Village Variety Pack, which has been entertaining audiences of every sexual persuasion at The Davidson/Valentini Blackbox Theatre @ The Village for some time now.

Monday’s offering began with preshow entertainment by Mona Chatterjee and her funky brand of Indian fusion, mixing upbeat dance tunes with sensuous ballads.

Then came a comedy skit featured a particularly hirsute “Hillary Swank” (Anthony in baby doll drag) hosting America’s Next Hotdog On A Stick Employee, which had as its first prize a minimum wage-paying job at the Westside Pavilion HDOAS. “Ann Coulter” (comedian Penelope Lombard) and “Tila Tequila” (actor/singer Charles Romaine) served as judges, with actors Ron Morehouse and Heath Daniels portraying night-and-day different contestants.

Hensley and Anthony then caught up on recent events in their lives, followed by guest appearances by three of the very talented stars of the current Celebration Theatre hit [title of show].  Micah McCain performed Jason Robert Brown’s “Stars & The Moon” from Songs From A New World, Jeffrey Landman sang David Cassidy’s “I Think I Love You” from The Partridge Family TV sitcom, and Jennifer R. Blake entertained with a little-known Stephen Sondheim gem, “The Boy From Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipas Zatatecas La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz.” 

Del Shores, whose latest play Yellow is getting standing ovations at the Coast Playhouse, showed off his talents as a standup comedian with true stories about a gay drunken midget, his Southern Baptist mom and her gay son, a midget paraplegic who turned out to be neither midget nor parapalegic, and a one-legged Barbi Shores met at the gym. The Calendar Girl segment starred a delectably dim “Jessica Simpson” (dead ringer Willam Belli) announcing upcoming events of interest to the LGBT community and conducting a prize drawing in charmingly clueless fashion. Debbie Praver then got more laughs doing a standup routine about her unplanned (stage) motherhood.

Next up was writer/actor Scott Hinson and a reading of his delightful children’s story about Hermione, a truly blue-blooded glamour-dog—and a heroine in spite of herself.  Hermione’s rhyming tale was narrated by David Dean Bottrell and starred a hilariously bitchy (but undeniably cute) Chris Sams, with Matt Austin, Jason Boegh, Cory Schneider, Mike Shapiro filling in the other parts.

The Can You Believe This Shit segment spotlighted two popular websites,,  and the charismatic Daniels returning to screen the trailer of his award-winning new LGBT short Go Go Reject.  In the Fruit Toons segment, the handsome Romaine (backed by accompanist Mandel Ilagan) performed “Larger Than Life” from Broadway’s My Favorite Year. Lombard followed with a third laugh-getting standup segment, with Chatterjee wrapping things up with her latest single (from the soon-to-be-released Not Just A Princess CD).

If upcoming Village Variety Packs are as entertaining as the two reviewed on this site, a good time is likely to continue being had by all!

–Steven Stanley
August 9, 2010

Stay tuned in to the latest Village Variety Pack (and other events at the Los Angeles Gay And Lesbian Center) by visiting

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