If you’ve attended the Cape Cod seashore via its very tip in prior years, the name “Thirsty Burlington” is likely to be familiar. Thirsty is an institution in these parts, having clawed her way (and never once breaking a nail) from obscure drag performer to karaoke queen to mainline star over the course of years. Throughout it all, her penchant for Cher (born of her natural resemblance to the infamous diva) has teetered between sublime and stalker; when Cher brought her farewell tour to Boston, Ptown’s version of the singer caused quite a stir when her visage was momentarily broadcast onto the projection screens.
But in Provincetown, Thirsty’s a bit of a legend herself. Perhaps that’s why I attended her new show – just Thirsty, no co-stars, in a tiny basement bar with four austere lights and low-tech production values – with such trepidation. After so many years in the trenches, could Thirsty possibly have anything new to offer?
The answer, delightfully, is yes and no. Thirsty’s new act is startlingly close – the venue is indeed small (get there early if you want to sit down), but unlike a great majority of drag queens, Ms. Burlington is quite attractive close-up. She also works the crowd, her surprisingly demure mannerisms both charming and glamorous.
More importantly, her technique might be unchallenged. Thirsty is that rare form of drag queen who both lip synchs and sings, alternating between the two artistic approaches as her show proceeds (and yes, that phrase is accurate – well-executed lip synching is a true art form). The climax of the brief show is, of course, a bevy of Cher numbers, culminating in an audience choice performance sure to have you impressed – if not by her energy and skill, then by the indisputable fact that she has memorized the entire Cher anthology to a level of detail which might be termed fanatic.
It makes for a shockingly good show, particularly if the audience is in a pliable mood. And at the bargain price of $10, it might just be the best value in town.
At the downstairs bar at Esther’s
186 Commercial Street
Friday thru Sunday nights