Carnival Cabaret — they are what they are |

Carnival Cabaret — they are what they are

Kathryn Reed/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Having lived and worked in San Francisco, there isn’t much that surprises me. I’ve seen just about everything and never had to pay for it.

That’s one of the things about Tahoe that is different. Sometimes it costs a little money to see something a little different.

“Carnival Cabaret” is one of those shows you want to take every male friend to — and make sure you are sitting up front. None of my male friends would admit to wanting to dress in drag, but something tells me it’s a fantasy of sorts for many of them.

Or maybe I’ve been reading too many raunchy novels and seeing too many B movies.

Nonetheless, “Carnival Cabaret” is a tasteful foray into the world of female impersonators. It’s a cabaret as the name says. It’s part comedy. It’s all entertainment. And the cast must be doing something right because it’s the longest-running show at Stateline.

Gypsy — mistress of ceremonies, fashion guru and comedienne extraordinaire — keeps the show rolling.

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“You looked up my dress three times,” (s)he told a group seated up front. “You won’t be surprised, but you’ll be jealous.”

It does not matter if you are from out of town or a local, there is no holding back.

“You’re from Lake Tahoe. How nice to get out of the cabin and get all dressed up,” (s)he snickered.

I first saw the show at the Horizon in June. This time around the cast was a bit different. Gone are Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. But it is fitting Liza Minnelli takes center stage instead with a rendition of “New York, New York.”

The real Minnelli has gone through so many incarnations that it is hard to go wrong with impersonating her.

Most of the hoots and hollers were directed at Cher. “I don’t know why I did the things I did” seem appropriate lyrics.

Much like when I saw the real Cher, this one changed looks as many times as does a teenager getting ready for a date. One extravagant all white get-up would have seemed like a fashion faux pas on anyone else.

Gypsy tried to upstage the outrageous Cher as (s)he strutted onto the stage in a blue sequined dress to the beat of “Gypsies, tramps and thieves.”

It’s a mini-concert of sorts, with the music genre all over the board. Dionne Warwick, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross — they all take a turn at dazzling the audience.

One of the best, though, is the gloved one. The younger Michael Jackson, pre-bizarre children stories, moved in ways that made me think I was back in high school watching MTV, singing along to “Billie Jean.”

I am sure many people are revolted by the idea of paying money to see men dressed as female entertainers performing well-known songs. Trust me, it’s not perverted. If nothing else, the antics of a 71-year-old grandfather playing the role of mistress of ceremonies is worth it.

And if the end of the show doesn’t make you think twice, then stick with the nickel slots.

— Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She may be reached at or (530) 541-3880, ext. 251.