A Gay Bar Star Reborn: Janine Klein brings self-effacing cabaret madness back to Parliament House

By : Billy Manes
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Local off-off-off-Broadway (like downtown Orlando’s Broadway Avenue for purposes of context) sensation Janine Klein has popped into our living space and plopped onto our couch as the summer storms have inclined her to. She’s not running away from anything. She’s just running.

“That’s God talking,” she laughs, tugging from a drink. “He doesn’t want me to do this show again.”

Indeed, Klein – she of the bawdy laugh and tangled mane of ringlets – is returning to the Footlight Theatre on Aug. 29 to revisit her hilarious repertoire (or slightly altered international hits of the cabaret variety)for her masses of adoring fans. Why? Because she can.(Original author John Ryan will be in tow, as will pianist Tim Evanicki).

Also, Klein has recently been caught up in the red dust cloud of fame currently trailing recent RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Ginger Minj (Joshua Eads-Brown). She’s just returned from working with him on a new record and is at the peak of her glorious celebrity. Then again, God is talking. He may not agree.

Watermark: Let’s talk about what brought you to your first gay bar.
Janine Klein: Fuck, that’s a great question. I think it was the fashion.

You’re not gay though.
I am. I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body

Gay Bar Star has been sort of a phenomenon. I’ve been following your progress.
Yeah, it’s like the Constitution. It’s the gay-stitution.

When it comes to updating the repertoire…
Why are you speaking French right now? Where are the martinis? It’s John Ryan who writes them. I just riff and he writes things.

If you were a drink, what drink would you be? These are really tough questions.
I’m a Libra, so I’m not saying that I hate fruit juice.

So a greyhound, then. The greyhounds have been through enough, haven’t they?
Leave them alone. They just want to sit in the corner and just rest. I don’t know. That’s weird.

Gay Bar Star has evolved through the years (a second iteration, also written by John Ryan, Gay Bar Star: Return from the Big House, debuted in 2011). Are there things that you might have learned? Songs you wish you hadn’t sung? Things you wish were different?
I’m going to update it, and I’m going to work on updated things and updated experiences. I’ll probably put some of my Ginger experiences in there, because a lot of people want to hear about that. Which really aren’t that interesting. I mean, it was fun, it was great. (Falls on the floor).

Did you make out with Ginger?
No. Hmm-mm. But when he has his panties on and he’s in drag, it turns me on a little. He’s a big girl, so he’s not like this little waif thingy, and I’m like, this is going to turn me on a little.

You’ve had a hand in Ginger’s budding career, though, with the new single, “Oh LalaLala.”
It’s weird. It was awesome and weird and surreal and unbelievable, because you don’t realize that this is real around you when you’re not used to that being around you. You know, cameras, a good song? I think the song is great.

He seemed to involve locals, the whole “where I came from” thing.
Well, who else are you going to bring with you? I mean, I would bring all my people. You want to have your people around you, anyway. Probably.

He comes from the Sleuth’s Dinner Theater family that you occasionally populate.
Yes, he comes from the Sleuth’s family, the Hedwig and the Angry Inch family and the controversy of 2009 or whenever that was. I don’t know what year that was. I don’t know what year it is now! Where am I? Where are the Talking Heads? Play a song!

What sort of musical direction do you think you’re going to be taking at this stage in your aging career? Is it just the same?
That show isone of my favorite shows ever. It’s almost perfect to me. I’ll update with bits about me, and the little things that I’m saying here and there, you know, when I’m talking. But the lyrics that [Ryan] wrote are so funny that I just feel like I don’t want to touch that too much. People want to see it again. I want to keep it. There will be different stuff, too, so people who have seen it won’t think it’s a carbon copy.

So the chatter will change. The drinks. “I’m not drinking blue anymore. I’m drinking red,” and that sort of thing?
Yeah. At one point I throw the fan and say, “Where’s my gin? This is stale!” So, probably. My writer, whose body has got point-zero-zero-to-negative-zero body fat on it, we’re going to use him market that whorish kind of quality that people want to see and stuff. We’re trying to hit every crowd: the horny and the homosexual.

What do you have to say to your enormous gay following?
Gay men, thank you for what you have done with my hair. Oh, God, over the years you’ve helped me so much.

You’re recording this on video?
Yeah, with people who have cameras.Real ones, not phones. I mean, it might be like a GoPro, but totally professional. I was thinking about having someone stand in front of me in all black.

Speaking of dark things, what’s the dirtiest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Oh! This went to a dark place that took me to a bad childhood theater, yours and mine, all combined in this sad room.

How would you know? Do you feel like…?

Let’s make this a little more interesting, princess. Are there any things that you think people should look out for in the new Gay Bar Star?
I think we’re going to have an orgy.

I mean what songs?
Just my stables.

Your horse stables? Your whore stables?
Mmm-hmm. The ones where I was lying on a horse? Well, there wasn’t any hay.


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