In Praise of Faux Castrati

Photo by Jack GouldIf there's one thing out there that sounds about as fun as a roiling case of scabies, it's four hours of Handel at the Los Angeles Opera. Truly, it doesn't sound bearable, does it? But if you had just a little more class and managed to get your uncouth fuckin' asses up to the Dorothy Chandler PavilionFriday night, you would have discovered a few things:

A) Eunuchs can be surprisingly sexy. Just think of them as big, male lesbians.

B) Dialogue like, “But everywhere there are corpses; this speaks of some disaster!” is really fun to read on the supertitles.

C) When Cleopatra's pelvis enters the room before she does and the hotty soprano playing her gets naked right there onstage and then sings from a hot tub with her legs over her head, you know you aren't in Kansas anymore.

Handel's Giulio Cesare is one of those Baroque masterpieces that has a million unnecessary notes. I doubt music was that frilly and fussy in ancient Rome and Egypt, but I've been wrong before. Almost every male part was written for the ball-less castrati who are no longer in existence. Those roles (with the exception of one sung by a gloriously strong female soprano) are now sung by countertenors, who are basically dude sopranos; it's really bizarre watching Julius Caesar sing like Mike Tyson. Arias comprised endless scales that wrung applause from the audience not because of the beauty of the music but because of the sheer force of skill necessary to navigate all those goddamn notes. But then . . . but then . . . mother and son Cornelia and Sesto would duet, their silvery voices swooping up and around each other's and then sliding back down like waterfalls. And Cleopatra would burst forth with a voice like a storm. And Caesar (who desperately needed a shave) would trade back and forth with a violin, his voice matching the instrument note for note. I have never heard glory such as that—not ever—and despite being one of the MTV generation, my nicely rounded behind stayed contentedly put for all four numbing hours. That extra layer of fat really helps make things more comfortable.

After the opera, I popped into Alex's Barfly in one of LBC's finer ghettoes expecting to see the bar's typical punk legends. Instead, the place was filled like a sack of Mexican jumping beans with little emo kids who didn't look a minute past 21 and said things like, “You're 28? Whoa! You totally don't look it!” Isn't that cute? Eventually Ras from the Dub All Stars (I've been hearing rumors they broke up, but I haven't bothered to check) came in, and I was so happy to see someone my own age I practically body-slammed him. But he likes that.

All the children were very cute and nice, by the way, though I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd called me “Ma'am.”

My homegirl Arrissia and I popped into Saturday's Artists Village opening expecting to stay for an hour. But we'd forgotten Cal State Fullerton's satellite—the Grand Central Art Center—was opening a terrific exhibit of Robert Williams' painted farts (nobody does it better), big-bosomed ladies and other classics of eternal adolescence. Various and sundry beautiful and famous folks were skulking about nefariously, including South Park creator Trey Parker; it didn't occur to us until after we'd left to whisper/scream, “Timmayyyyy!” at him. According to my friend Skeith, Parker is gay. Of course, in Skeithland, everyone is gay, including your mom and your dad and probably your little dog, too. We heard '60s LA hero Ed Ruscha was in the house, but I wouldn't know Ruscha if he bit me on the ass, so I can't confirm that the guy who bit me on the ass was in fact Ruscha. Juxtapoz Magazine peeps trekked down from San Francisco for the party, and Long Beach painter Sandow Birk was representing fresh from Paris or Rio or somesuch far-off and exotic place and looking as though he'd mugged George Hamilton for his tan. The after-party at Shelley's Courthouse Bistro (where all the gubmint folks from the Ronald Reagan State Building hang) was chatty and friendly and full of well-lubed people from some mysterious corner of the world where they grow 'em tall, pretty and sharply dressed, and yet no one is hateful or mean, and if they think themselves better than you, they're at least able to keep it under their hats. The Clubhouse it ain't.

As an extra-nifty birthday present pour moi (the rest of you all did a really lousy job sending in gifts: for shame!), Arrissia got us tix to the universally beloved (except maybe at IRS headquarters) Willie Nelson concert Feb. 27. Mad thanks to the fine people at Anaheim's Sun Theatrefor a show that was both touching and exhausting: Willie won't leave till people've got their dollar's worth. Even though a young, enthusiastically drunk cutie nattered on loudly and nonstop about how happy she was to be there during “Crazy” and “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind, people nearby refrained from killing her, contenting themselves instead with shooting her filthy looks. Willie fans are a mellow lot.

Willie was his usual, charming, monotonic self; his guitar work is bizarrely atonal, as though he's John Cage, and he just gets more handsome the more lined he becomes. It's nice to see someone looking healthy, especially with all the worry The Man in Black is putting us through. Come back to us, Johnny, and soon.

She wears black for the poor and beaten-down. Co**********@ho*****.com">Co**********@ho*****.com.

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