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Delirious for DeLaria

Provincetown Favorite Opens New Jazz Club

by Steve Desroches

In the steely quiet of winter it takes a lot to disrupt the well-deserved slumber of Provincetown. It’s when the town and its residents recharge and reconnect with the community after welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors to this little spit of sand way out in the North Atlantic. So the hardy community rations its excitement for the real deal. It won’t be wasted on summertime gossip and a fleeting scandal or public relations spin or slick marketing. There has to be a there there to warrant a reaction, especially in the beautiful, stark grace of January. So when news broke just after the New Year that jazz great, actor, and comedian Lea DeLaria had bought the Pied Bar and would be turning it into a jazz club…well, that’s something to get excited about.

A fixture in the cultural life of Provincetown since the 1980s, DeLaria’s new club, called appropriately and simply enough The Club, opens this weekend with the Orange is the New Black star taking the microphone for a series of inaugural concerts. News of The Club quickly attracted national attention with DeLaria most recently talking about Provincetown and her new venture on The Wendy Williams Show. The performer, who’s taken to the stage at such celebrated venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Chicago Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl, The Royal Albert Hall, and the Sydney Opera House, will now be at the helm of her very own place with her friend Frank Christopher bringing to town a variety of jazz, Broadway, and cabaret performers in a setting not previously experienced in Provincetown.

“I feel Provincetown has needed this for a very long time,” says DeLaria. “There are lots of places to dance. This is going to be an old school supper club. A place to eat, have a good meal and see a show.”

You name the Provincetown venue and DeLaria has performed there many times in her 40 years visiting the Cape tip. This is a home to her in so many ways. Portraying Carrie “Big Boo” Black on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black gave her a financial freedom she’d not known before, allowing her to fulfill her longtime dream of opening The Club in Provincetown (coincidentally enough, the crime that Orange is the New Black author Piper Kerman wrote about has its roots in Provincetown, where a Nigerian drug lord recruited smugglers like herself in town in the early 1990s). She has sung and performed all over town and directed the landmark Ten Percent Revue, a LGBT themed musical show that began in Provincetown and toured the country in 1986. Her musical comedy revues, Dos Lesbos and Girl Friday, were entertainment staples in Provincetown in the late 1980s and early 1990s, establishing DeLaria as a pioneer and a legend in town. So much of the work she created here went on to be seen, and loved, by audiences nationwide.

Come 1993, DeLaria had joined the ranks of those who got their start here, and then hit it big when she appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show. During her stand-up routine on the popular show she said, “Hello everybody, my name is Lea DeLaria, and it’s great to be here, because it’s the 1990s! It’s hip to be queer! I’m a big dyke.” She had explicitly been told by the show’s producers not to say the word “dyke.” That’s like asking a tiger not to talk about its stripes. DeLaria pulls no punches and takes no prisoners.
“I ran out of f**ks to give when Sonny was with Cher,” says DeLaria. “I always take risks wherever I am. Come along with me or f**k off. That is what I do.”

That’s the DeLaria Provincetown knows and loves. And listening to her talk about the town and what she and Christopher have planned, the affection and gratitude in her voice is palpable. With all the progress that’s been made in LGBT rights, it’s easy to forget how hard it was—and continues to be—for out actors, especially those who don’t fit into gender norms. Appearances in film and television can cast a rose-colored veneer on what it’s really like to be a working actor. Gigs can come and go, offers can dry up. And on social media, rumors and innuendo can ruin a career, or at the very least “cancel” a performer with little thought to the actual truth. But Provincetown operates outside of that world, says DeLaria. You will work hard for sure, she says, but that’s what it’s all about. The live entertainment scene here is worth supporting and nurturing for many reasons, but perhaps most so because it’s such a rare community.

“Provincetown was my bread and butter for years, for decades,” says DeLaria. “When I couldn’t find work elsewhere, I could always come home to Provincetown. What I find in general about Provincetown, it’s a place to work for entertainers. Again and again, it’s a place to find steady work. Provincetown is an important place for that reason. But Provincetown is an important place for queer culture, too. Historically, it’s so important to queer culture throughout the 20th century. I hope people realize that and don’t take it for granted. I’m thrilled I get to be a part of it in this way.”

Lea DeLaria performs Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22 at 7 and 9 p.m. and Sunday, June 23 at 2 and 7 p.m. The Club is located at 193A Commercial St.

Coming Soon to The Club

Special Limited Engagements

Rosie O’Donnell – Friday, July 5 – Sunday, July 7
Julian Fleisher – Friday, July 11 – Sunday, July 14
Justin Vivian Bond – Thursday, July 18 – Sunday, July 21
Emily Skinner – Wednesday, July 24 – Sunday, July 28
Kate McGarry – Thursday, August 1 – Sunday, August 4
Alan Cumming – Thursday, August 29 – Sunday, September 1
Hot Pants – Friday, September 13 – Sunday, September 15
The John Weber Trio featuring Lea DeLaria
Friday, September 20 – Sunday, September 22

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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