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Arias With A Twist: The DocuFantasy

Runtime:
88 min.
Year of Production:
2009
Country:
USA
Director:
Cast:
Joey Arias
Basil Twist
Production Company:
Bobby Sheehan
Berlinale Section:
Panorama
Berlinale Category:
Documentary Film

Joey Arias ennobled the performance art of being a drag queen. Arias is a personage who stood for the connection between the avant-garde and pop music as well as the revival of Billie Holiday’s divine voice. Joey was Andy Warhol’s muse. Klaus Nomi, David Bowie and Iggy Pop performed with Arias, who made a name for himself in Las Vegas as the »Mistress of Seduction«. »Arias with a Twist«, his show with puppeteer Basil Twist, is the focus of this film.

Joey Arias is a New York institution. He lived and worked with legendary musician Klaus Nomi until Nomi’s death in 1983. However, he has long since stepped out of Nomi’s shadow to gain fame in his own right as a performance artist, cabaret singer and drag artist.
New York puppeteer Basil Twist is just as popular in his own genre. Ever since his life-size puppet interpretation of Hector BerliozSymphonie fantastique” – which is performed underwater to live accompaniment by renowned orchestras – he is widely regarded as the most significant proponent of his art.
Arias with a Twist” is the title of a joint project created by these two artists. Their production is a glittering stage fantasy which, since the summer of 2008, has been enchanting audiences in both New York and on the West Coast of the US. In the piece, Joey Arias brings to life fantastic adult marionettes of showbiz greats such as Billy Holiday and Joan Crawford. These puppets perform in front of a chorus line and are clad in raunchy costumes especially created for the evening by Thierry Mugler.
This documentary describes the evolution and making of Arias’ and Twist’s joint project. Original footage is flanked by a rich spectrum of archive material that points out precursors of “Arias with a Twist” such as films by and with Andy Warhol, works by Jim Henson and Keith Haring, as well as hitherto unseen film excerpts featuring David Bowie, Divine, Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi.

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