A Review of Karen Finley's Make Love

by Tony Phillips

Who better to pick through 9/11's psychic rubble than notorious performance artist Karen Finley disguised as Liza Minnelli?

Maybe This Time
She's late to the table and her breathy Liza's actually somewhere between Karen Black and Joanne Worley. But when this NEA outlaw drops down into that familiar, guttural registe — -once the sole reserve of tented Pentecostal preachers — to take on "good, dry drunk" George W. Bush, it's hard to stop yourself from testifying.

A shimmying, gold lame open and mournful, grab-the-Fendi-and-run close bookend remarkable truths surfacing from between song banter refracting and amplifying everything from a frequent flying, extinct lesbian mammal couple with a box cutter in their diaper bag to the quest for a decent cup of coffee. Eventually, the filler becomes the show and the lunatics take over the asylum.

A dozen Lizas work the room — the fedora-topped, white-nosed, Halston model (Brandon Olson) is a particular standout — while signature Finley detours like "Terry Gross in my pussy" make for a graphically scenic journey. "This is hard for us," the 20-year New York resident concludes, "We're not used to being comforted." Liza #1 (Chris Tanner) crouches with a flashlight on two discarded Mylar wine totes — this Liza brings bottles of both red and white for her hostess — while Liza #2 (Lance Cruce) picks out "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" on the piano. Finley finishes the show with two long shadows behind her in the dark: New York basic black.