Calling his Cafe Carlyle show, "Does This Song Make Me Look Fat?" Isaac Mizrahi signals surreal leaps of fancy from music, to looks, to insecurities. Who could ask for more from an evening? Multitalented, the fashion designer/ entertainer croons cabaret standards backed by a great band, his act sprinkled with self-mocking quips recalling Joan Rivers at her most cheeky! Really, what's not to love?
For "C'est Si Bon," en francais of course, he pays tribute to Eartha Kitt, recounting that she would say, "I love a horny young hornplayer." Cue Benny Benack III, the youngest member of his band at 26, who solos on his trumpet, manipulating mutes for that wa wa sound. He can play! And Mizrahi feigns competitive chagrin, pouting and pacing in patent leather shoes showing just a bit of diamond ankle bracelet. The man, best known for fashion and costume design, as evidenced by the spectacular career exhibition at the Jewish Museum last year, knows how to accessorize.
But more: This Brooklyn yeshiva boy goes blue for Cole Porter's "It's Bad for Me," announcing, "Butt holes are the new black." Then he's soft, singing the Kander and Ebb ballad, "A Quiet Thing," to his husband. His rapport with the audience is assured as everyone sings along to the Elton John and Bernie Taupin classic, "Your Song." And a lady in the front row stands to show her jacket from a bygone season, to wit he says, "I know my label."
This being a generous performance, Mizrahi grabs a swag bag of handouts for regifting, throwing some Dead Sea salt scrub one way, and peach Bellini gumdrops another. His riff on Xanax becomes a cautionary tale. Music director Ben Waltzer may qualify as "a big fat juicy pianist," and Neal Miner a "big daddy" on bass. They are joined by Stefan Schatz' percussion and Joe Strasser on drums, and with Benack's horn, the band is jazzy perfection. Mizrahi disappears to change his jacket for one that sparkles with his encore of Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal's "Something Happens to Me" and then closes the evening with his homage to Mary Tyler Moore, singing her theme and melting every heart in the room.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.