The Magic of Jer Ber Jones
Jer Ber Jones is a wondrous creature. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite like him. He’s tall and lanky and hunches his shoulders over like so many other tall and lanky people who feel a bit too tall and lanky for the room. The host of Telekinesis: The Magic Cabaret shouldn’t feel scared to stand tall though, as he’s the glue that keeps the freewheeling, seat-of-your-pants underground theater production together.
The first of three shows this month — with more to return every month at the Cavern Club theater (located underneath a Mexican restaurant, Casita Del Campo) — the arty smorgasbord contained some serious heavy hitters: Ann Magnuson, Anna Homler, Michelle Carr, as well as relative newcomers the Lady Tigra and Prince Poppycock, among many others.
The performances ranged from campy (Poppycock’s powdered wig with a champagne cork, and a paean to drinking) to raunchy (Diamondback Annie’s drag king ode to a 50s ice cream parlor that ended with a bananas and a lot of whip cream in a jock strap) to strangely beautiful (Leila Bazzani’s delicate fan dances paired with bizarre, funny twists) to avant garde (Magnuson’s ode to candy and cavities while dressed as a Playboy bunny, and Holmes’ song using a deck of cards and an old cell phone).
Back to Jer Ber. I’m fascinated — utterly — by him. While he’s constantly changing his hairdo, the one that suits him the most is his long blonde shag; it lends him an air of 70s glam-rock goddess, which goes with sinewy voice that can soar in falsetto or drop into a guttural moan befitting of a very large black woman.
Then there are the dresses, which though may be inspired by the twisted Easter theme of this particular show, dubbed “Tales of a Wicked Hare,” fit him perfectly — they were all prim and cutesy, with tiny little flowers, and were of the sort you wore when you were five.
He performed numerous times, not including his in-between act banter joking he was moving the props backstage with his mind (show’s called telekinesis, get it?). Jer Ber would giggle and wiggle and then let his voice drop to its manly levels a few octaves lower. The best bit was with the Lady Tigra, a petite woman in the mold of Santogold and MIA, whose cutesy/fierce energy was a nice match to Jer Ber’s sweet and vicious persona. They amused everyone with a bit of repetition freestyling — bantering back and forth with a call-and-response of “shut your face,” and “shut your hole,” that became more absurd and funny the longer the jig wore on. Jer Ber made the hardest part of being a host look easy: banter. From the wit and wisdom of Jer Ber Jones:
Upon introducing the next act he said: “Close your eyes and pretend you are in Barbara Streisand’s backyard, and you’re all here for $300 or $400.”
Remarking upon the woman in the audience who had a box of pot brownies on hand for the audience, he said: “Who here doesn’t smoke pot? OK, too many. OK, raise your hand if you have a stigmata. No one?”
When Lady Tigra tried to give a sexy kiss to gay club promoter Mario Diaz, he said: “Honestly, I’m sensing some homosexual hesitation.”
And later, when he and Magnuson teamed up for a Blue Brothers’ twist on a David Bowie song, with Jer Ber turning up looking like mental-breakdown Joaquin Phoenix, he giggled that he fooled the crowd: “Oh my god, were you guys like, who’s that man?”
After the quaint 1950s-era mic refused to stop giving feedback, and after the show’s between-set-times dragged on and on, he explained patiently: “I don’t like to get stoned on the first night. If I was stoned, I’d be crying because of the microphone. You’re all going to be here for another two or three hours, is that OK?”
If Jer Ber’s onstage, then the answer is yes.