Earth to Kitt
CREATED ON // Sunday, 15 September 2013 Author // Garrett Bithell
SYDNEY: A traumatising dalliance with a Puerto Rican shoe salesman led cabaret artist Danielle Asciak to the songs of Eartha Kitt, writes Garrett Bithell.
According to Melbourne-based cabaret artist Danielle Asciak, the genesis of her celebrated show Just An Old Fashioned Grrl! can be traced back to a Puerto Rican shoe salesman.
“I had a fling with this shoe salesman called Enrique last year,” Asciak tells SX. “He sold me my fluoro running shoes and received the privilege of spoiling me at the local Max Brenner. It was one night of spontaneous hot bliss and four weeks of extreme chauvinism. He had mad opinions about women, and men, and would remind me that ‘a woman has her place in the cage’, always referring himself as the Lion. This guy was short, bald – by choice – and carried a spiritual quote book in his bag. No judgement.
“I’ve had many ‘bad’ men before but this one tipped me [over the edge]. Enrique rocked my world and not in a good way. I had truly started deconstructing myself – as a woman, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a performer. But something drew me to Eartha Kitt and she became my religion. She taught me how to get my sexy back, and this show is my tribute to her.”
But Asciak is quick to point out she is not impersonating Kitt – rather the show reflects on the lessons we can all learn from Kitt’s fearless approach to life and love. Performing 13 of Kitt’s songs, Asciak crafts an intelligent music-bio, drawing parallels to elements of her own past. Running for 60 minutes, Asciak is accompanied by a jazz pianist on stage and sings in English, French and Turkish.
“The show is ‘old fashioned’ cabaret,” Asciak says. “It’s cheeky, personal, unapologetic, humorous and sexy. The songs I sing are rarely heard, and very pleasurable to perform. It’s a rollicking ride.”
Indeed audiences in Asciak’s home town of Melbourne agreed, with the show selling out a season at the iconic Butterfly Club. “Most of audience were great admirers of Kitt,” she tells. “Every night I had people singing along, nodding their heads, agreeing to stories, and answering my rhetorical questions. Kitt’s catalogue is rarely performed, and they had clearly been waiting to hear her music again.
“But I also feel that the ideas in the show about women and independence and the battle of compromise in relationships resonatestrongly with my generation. The honesty of the show’s content is appealing to audiences.”
[Image] ‘Cheeky, personal, unapologetic, humorous and sexy’ … Danielle Asciak. Photo: Matt Hill
Just An Old Fashioned Grrl!, September 25 at Slide Lounge, Darlinghurst. Book: www.slide.com.au