The Jonny Woo Show
In the dark industrial chic interior of the City’s Xoyo arts venue, the crowd parts to make way for a strutting giantess wrapped in bondage black tapes, jock strap and a sort of floating, diaphanous red split tea-gown. Heels and blond afro wig give Jonny Woo added height, but he’s already tall. His voice is loud, camp and hectoring and what he says is very funny. Elaborate and wildly Technicolor makeup nearly covers the trim, trademark beard. Yes, you’re in tranny heaven and it’s the Jonny Woo TV Show.
Part performer, part compère, Woo moves the pace along at a frantic speed, because there’s lots of action to get through tonight including two fashion shows – one involving flying bread rolls – as well as Woo and Scottie’s Wonderwoman-Batwoman skit: “You’re wrong, aren’t you. I’m not Wonder Woman. I’ve actually come dressed as my sister… and she has more facial hair than me.”
Three bands: the wall of sound of Lois and the Love with the raucous power of Lois’ magnificent voice supported by a classy mix of various rock influences; Brendan Patrick Rodgers (good, solid acoustic folk – but a slightly incongruous addition, perhaps) and, my new absolute favourite, synthpoppin’ duo, Monarchy. Next day found my fingers irresistibly straying to download their latest; they are pure musical bliss and guaranteed to transport you to places you didn’t even know existed. Did I say three? I’m forgetting the tranny band.
The outsized Scottee (of Eat Your Heart Out fame) sings a tragic-comic Cry Me a River, wearing a black wig, white blouse and black slacks, with clunky shades craftily concealing a reservoir of mascara-stained ‘tears’; at the appropriate moment these are released and the white blouse is mascara-tear-flooded. It wasn’t subtle, nor was it Julie London, but handled nicely all the same and the crowd giggled their appreciation.
The effect on his fans may not be electric, but there’s a palpable affection among the audience, gay and straight alike. If Woo is breaking through the cult ceiling to a wider audience there is no sign of compromise tonight. The mixture of outrageous camp and audience participation as he strides between the three stages is a tough one to hold together, but he does it with the authority of a true professional.
A merciless entertainer, Woo excels is in his astonishing ability to hold the disparate (and sometimes slightly desperate) strands together and leave you with the impression that it’s the sum of the parts that matters, not the parts themselves. One way or another he leaves his stamp on everything as showman, surrealist performer, compère and well, bearded Wonder Woman, really…
The Jonny Woo Show. Xoyo, London. 12 June, 21:00. £8. www.jonnywoo.com
Photo Credits: Erotic Review