An Audience with ‘Kitty von Wigglefinger’ – Joe Black (Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 06/11/16)

I was sent to review Joe Black’s Meet Me at the El Dorado show by Portsmouth News. show at Wedgewood Rooms. A few months earlier, in conversation with a friend, I had mentioned Joe and how I knew him from college, and upon recognising the man on the photo that I sent her, was very excited when she realised that she had walked past him in Southsea. We had wanted to go to his Kings Theatre show earlier in the year (House of Burlesque), but couldn’t make it. Now with a spare ticket, I offered it to the aforementioned friend. She was chuffed to bits.

The show itself was great, though it was very difficult to write a short review, as when it is so eccentric and unique, it’s hard to squeeze it into such a small space. In fact, I may as well put the whole thing here:

“At a piano, dark cabaret darling Joe Black alternates between an effeminate gossip and sudden growls, looking back on the start of the collapse of nightlife culture in Berlin during the early 1930s – “never bring a nihilist to a dinner party”. As if the sombre atmosphere isn’t uneasy enough, things get stranger when Black stops playing the piano, only to sarcastically argue with the wall beside him. Believe it or not, that oddball alternation of misery and humour, is exactly what Black is aiming for – and it is hilariously charming.

Black’s 2016 stage show is billed as a tribute to the controversial German cabaret club Eldorado, which closed in 1933, and one has to wonder what on earth happened in there. Whatever that was, it’s probably not quite what Black offers tonight. He might have dressed as a woman under the name of Kitty Von Wigglefinger, though he might not have kept his fake fingernails on with clothes pegs. He also wouldn’t have hosted a quiz show, referred to as “Buzzfeed-style”, and he definitely wouldn’t have ended with a tragic rendition of Marlene Dietrich’s ‘Ruins Of Berlin’, leading into a Marilyn Manson track. Either way, that is precisely what he delivers, and however ridiculous, it’s brilliantly entertaining.”

It was positive enough that after it was published, I was sent an email by Joe himself to thank me for the review. As of yet, this was the second time that has happened – the first being Lawnmower Deth sharing my review of their Download Festival performance.


joe black 2
Joe Black and I in Central Park, New York. (March 2008)

I spoke to Joe Black after the show, and was now just as worried as my +1 tonight was (and she looked terrified next to Joe). It had been so long since I had seen him that he might not even recognise me. That would have been a punch to the gut considering that Miss +1 might have been under the impression that he was a closer friend than we really were. But then: “Nick! My darling!”. Yeah, he knows.

We hugged, had a quick chat and I said that I liked his choice to sing a Marilyn Manson track (he closed on ‘Doll Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety Zag’) at the end, and we both said we love that album. I introduced him to my friend, who still looked concerned. I can’t say that I was especially surprised, considering his  imposing appearance, and the fact that she had taken a fancy to him (she seemed a bit disappointed online when I mentioned his… orientation) I realised that others wanted to meet him at the merch table, so decided to move along. Hopefully it won’t be so long before we get to chat again!

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