New York-based cabaret and drag artist Joey Arias will headline FUNDarte’s eighth annual Out in the Tropics LGBT arts festival, June 22 – 25 in Miami Beach.
Arias got his start more than 40 years ago, singing with rock bands, but gradually moved into the New York cabaret scene in the early 1980s. He would later spend seven years as the sexy emcee of Cirque du Soleil’s “exotic, erotic, X-rated” production, Zumanity, in Las Vegas before returning to his home in the Big Apple in 2010 to develop a new stage show and cabaret act.
“I think the cabaret world, back to Weimar and Paris and those times, was a statement of society, really, poking fun at it and pushing envelopes. It was more political in those days,” explained Arias in a phone interview from his New York home. “It was not my intention to be a cabaret performer. I was going to be a pop star, but I kept finding myself in cabaret situations.”
Arias plans to perform works by his “spiritual mother,” Billie Holiday, on Friday evening in the Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave.
“I sing her (songs) all the time, it soothes my voice,” he said.
The set list will also highlight many of the composers of the Great American Songbook of the ‘40s and ‘50s, including Johnny Mercer.
“I like their lyrics, their genius,” Arias said, noting that he also likes to put his own stamp on more contemporary music. “I like to take songs and twist them around and make them ‘Joey,’ jazzy, cabaret sounding.”
The audience at the Gleason Room on Friday night might even hear chart-topping hits from the Beatles or Madonna performed with that unique Joey Arias interpretation.
“Cabaret has slipped through many different genres, so I use the word loosely. That’s the way times go. Things are going faster, we have technology and instant access. There will be another transition,” he predicted.
In addition to the cabaret performance by Arias, Out in the Tropics will offer audiences a diverse program of music and educational events:
Spanish singer La Shica will present a provocative evening of sultry flamenco/jazz/hip-hop fusion in the Gleason Room on Thursday. The appearance is co-presented by Centro Cultural Español.
On Saturday, the feminist hip-hop sensation Krudas Cubensi, a duo of Cuban vocal rap artists that recently relocated from Havana to Austin, Tex., will take the Gleason Room stage.
Out in the Tropics concludes on Sunday at 2 p.m. with a free “Striptease Literario” literary reading featuring Miami author Antonio Orlando Rodriguez at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr. A panel discussion will follow the reading. The event is co-presented by Miami-Dade College’s Miami Book Fair International.
Out in the Tropics performances at the Gleason Room begin at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $30 at Ticketmaster.com. A festival package is also available for $65. For more information and a complete schedule, go to FUNDarte.us.