By John M. Hayden
The quarantine has created something even worse than the dearth of toilet paper: the dearth of live entertainment on The Drive. Live shows are so abundant that it’s easy for us to take them for granted and let them become background noise in the rich culture our community has created. They are an integral part of that culture. To quote the iconic 80s hair band, Cinderella, you “don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”
Fortunately, the music hasn’t died, it’s just gone online! We caught up with three of our favorite performers from Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar. Even though their recently renovated showroom is dark, they’re keeping their fans entertained from afar.
Sunday Funday has turned into a bland Sunday-just-like-everyday, but LeNora Jaye is doing her best to keep Sunday as “Funday” as possible. “Right now I’m doing a weekly Sunday evening online show on Facebook Live.” The Drive diva is a Sunday staple at Alibi, doing Jazz brunch then an old-school show in the evenings. Besides entertaining her fans online, she’s also keeping the fresh creative juices flowing. “I am doing some writing and recording for a few producer friends.” So, hopefully when live shows return, Miss Jaye will return with some awesome new material. Check out her Facebook fan page at www.Facebook.com/LeNoraJayeFanPage.
Wilton Drive icon Jennifer McClain has been keeping her regular schedule. She told me it helps her keep herself sane and her fans happy. “I made the decision early on to try to keep to my regular weekly schedule and it’s been really helpful to not let myself get too lazy. I can be found online every Saturday from 7:00PM till late doing Diva OnDemand Online, Mondays at 7:30PM, and Wednesdays at 8:00PM with a different theme each week.” The virtual venue is something she’s used to. “A lot of performers have taken their acts online, and I’m no exception. I have actually been doing live videos on Facebook for a couple of years already, mostly after a show chatting while I take off my makeup, and a few times on Sundays during Broadway Brunch, so I knew there was definitely an audience for it. I hit the ground running with my first livestream from home back on March 16, 2020, and haven’t stopped, yet.”
Jen loves the clicks and comments as they help keep her going, but she says there’s no substitute for the real thing. “I really miss being right there with a live audience, so in the meantime I’ll be video chatting, message sending, and live streaming [mostly] on Facebook.” Log in and check out Jen’s shows at www.Facebook.com/Jennifer.McClain.31.
Celebrity Impersonator Michael L. Walters as Dame Edna
“I’ve been doing my shows every week online with a livestream from my dining room. My dining room is a virtual disaster area – with lights, a tinsel curtain backdrop, stacks of books to focus the camera, and lights upon and other technical stuff to make the streams as smooth as possible.” He says the effort, and the mess, are totally worth it. “We are producing the shows in order to maintain our sanity and to have some semblance of normalcy.”
Like most performers, he’s thrilled to stay in touch with the fans, but it’s still not the same. “The one thing I do miss is the interaction with the audience. It’s not quite the same reading comments during the live feed. Part of any performer’s joy is to have that kinetic, live relationship with the audience, and you can’t quite get that online. The one thing I have learned is how to go about making an online presence for myself, which is something I’ve neglected in years past.” Like everyone else, Michael/Dame Edna can’t wait to get back in front of fans. “When this is finally all over, I’ll be overjoyed to get back to normal, whatever normal is. I just know that I miss my family at [Georgie’s] Alibi, both audiences and staff, and it will be a thrill to get back ‘home’ again.” See more of Celebrity Impersonator Michael L. Walters as Dame Edna at www.DameEdnaShow.com.