2017 - Celebrating 105 years of Frances Faye
Sad to report the passing of Mr. Bongo Jack Costanzo in August 2018.
It’s been 20 years since Todd McKenney made his debut as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz but he is not done paying homage to his hero. In Todd McKenney Sings Peter Allen: The Piano Sessions however, he also looks at the people who influenced Allen. “To keep things fresh we’re paying tribute to his great mate Bette Midler, his mother-in-law Judy Garland, his wife Liza Minnelli and 1960s cabaret artist Frances Faye, who took Peter under her wing and taught him how to be himself on stage.”Catch Todd McKenney Sings Peter Allen: The Piano Sessions at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on October 21 and at Belmont 16s on October 27.
Ken Nintzel is taking part in a group show at LMAK Gallery entitled Papered Stories On June 18, 19, 25 & 26 from 2 - 4 pm he will be performing
Frances Faye's Folk Song Sing-A-Long , a collection of short works of puppetry and object theater.
See his earlier wild versions online at:
Stevie Philips recalls an amusing story with Judy Garland and Fran in her new book.
Interesting new photos discovered, some posted onsite. Warren keeps uncovering new gigs. Thanks!
Great new photos, a few articles surface. Both Verve LPs now on CD. Bethlehem Records Comapny was reborn!
NOV 4 2012: Happy 100th to FRANCES FAYE big concert in NYC tonight.
New discovery: Lovely snapshot of FF without make-up or wig in bed cuddling with longtime pajama clad girlfriend.
Facebook "migration" of our group dropped all our members, please re-join.
Fantastic Tribute to Frances Faye as part of JD Doyle's Jazz themed 12th Anniversary Show:
Russ Garcia died in New Zealand. http://www.jazzcorner.com/news/display.php?news=2411
Nick is back with his Frances Faye show for the Australian winter.
Heavy Frances with her original nose and teeth:
My father George Mann of the comedic dance act Barto and Mann appeared with Frances Faye at Loew’s State Theatre in New York in August, 1938. I thought a photograph taken of Frances at age 25 with singer Jerry Cooper might be of interest to readers of this blog. -- Brad Smith
New recording: 30 minute concert Live at the Cameo Room NYC 1956.
On March 5, 1956, Frances Faye was featured on NBC's national radio show "All Star Parade of Bands" sponsored but the US Treasury Bonds. She bravely performed a daring 30 minute set for Eisenhower's America. It is hard for us today to grasp the courage it must have taken her to perform what was then very racy and taboo material. To put her show in context, remember that Eisenhower had signed into law an order that banned homosexuals from government service and many lost their jobs and careers. Owning artwork and literature that the government considered pornographic was a federal offense. Gay bars and gathering places were illegal, gay men could not even safely gather in groups in private. Items with homosexual content could not even pass thru the mail. Censorship was very strict. Many songs has two sets of lyrics, the original and "radio safe" versions. Back in the early 50s, one of Frances's first singles "She Looks" was banned from the radio for the simple, tame lyric "...she looks as though she is but isn't." It was in this environment that on the national airwaves Frances boldly sang "Frances and Her Friends" about the gay couplings of the many characters: "Tillie goes with Millie....Moey goes with Joey, Joey goes with Tommy, Tommy goes with Seymore..." In the song, Faye gave a solitary shout out to movie star Tab Hunter, who just a few months earlier was famously scandalized by being outed in Confidential Magazine. In just such a coded way she reached out her gay fans when really no one else publicly did. During the broadcast Faye told two different men that they were not her type, chanted "gay, gay, gay, what is there to say?" thus giving a very rare and dear shout out to a deeply repressed group in a very dark and closeted era.
Terese performed her Frances Faye Tribute again in NYC on Feb 22, 2011.
Memory of FF and heavy drug use, and Martin Short below in ONLINE BUZZ section.
FRANCES FAYE TRIBUTE in THE NEW YORK TIMES. Only sorry they didn't get Nick's great act.
10/16/09: Nick Christo has booked more shows in Perth and Adelaide for November. New Bruz Fletcher biography includes Frances and "Drunk with Love." He did addtional shows last summer.
2/2/09: New TV concert footage found from the 50s! New letters, join our Facebook group, Nick does it again:
12/22/08 Nick Christo will be in NYC on Jan 11th and 15th with his Frances Faye Tribute show. I just saw a DVD of his performance of it in Sydney this fall and it took my breath away. Even better than I hoped and I knew it would be great. The act is superb, so fast and clever. I loved loved loved the patter, which is all authentic, taken from obscure bootleg recordings, videos and dusty old reviews and Nick makes it come alive and seem fresh and spontaneous. He captures the whole spirit and energy of Frances Faye without imitating her (how could he? A handsome very young Australian man) He included many obscure choices: After You, Bea Arthur, This Is My Last Affair and made them better than the originals. Last Affair was brilliant by the way. I never liked that song, and he made it so lyrical and lively! Now I love it. It is a very different show than Terese's triumph. The material coming from a guy is a very clever twist that really works.
11/21/08, Nick Christo will open his show in NYC on Jan. 11, 2009:
Invoking the Spirit of the Raconteur
The wicked wit of Frances Faye has inspired a versatile young actor
by Bryce Hallett
Sydney Morning Herald, October 20, 2008
Nick Christo goes on stage in "My Fair Lady" at the Theatre Royal each night to
share a brief, eccentric scene with the show's star, Richard E. Grant. The
performer, who is also the film actor's understudy as Professor Higgins, plays
Zoltan Karpathy, a Hungarian phonetician hired to uncover Eliza Doolittle's
origins through her speech. He is barely recognisable in the part and relishes
playing Higgins's exotic rival.
Having appeared alongside Topol in "Fiddler On The Roof" and in the new
Australian musical "The Hatpin," Christo is emerging as an assured, adaptable
tenor and a keenly observant actor willing to take risks and get under the skin
of larger-than-life characters. These don't just include Motel in "Fiddler" or
Karpathy in "Lady" but the outlandish American cabaret legend and comedienne
Summoning the spirit of the wicked raconteur and bisexual who loved to tantalise
audiences may seem an unlikely stretch for a young, unassuming performer but the
chameleon-like Christo is undaunted.
"I love Frances Faye's style of comedy and her no-holds-barred approach," he
says. "She was a strange-looking woman who used that for comic effect... Her
music and style of delivery spoke to me as a performer and I wanted to do a show
that captured her essence and treated the music as a celebration."
His show, "The Fabulous Frances Faye," had a brief outing in July and returns
for a one-night stand in Sydney tonight. It will make its New York debut in
January at the cabaret room Don't Tell Mama.
Directed by Neil Gooding, who produced "The Hatpin," and featuring the LB Little
Big Band, it showcases many of Faye's classic choices, including "The Man I
Love," "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered," "Night And Day," "Just A Gigolo"
and her signature song, "Drunk With Love."
"We set the scene of Faye's Australian debut at Chequers nightclub in 1962 and
how she made every performance a party," Christo says.
"She never fell into the trap of conventional banter. There was always a wink
and a nod in her delivery and she appealed to audiences because she brought them
in on the joke. There was enormous innuendo. She would talk openly about her
bisexuality, and being Jewish gave her licence to mock Jews."
By the time the Faye arrived in Australia, she was an illustrious jazz figure.
She had played in various speakeasies and gin joints, and then became a
semi-permanent fixture on Manhattan's club-cabaret world. She had earned a
reputation as much for her throaty singing -- "sawdust and sandpaper with an
urban twang," noted one reviewer -- as her honesty and irreverence.
Throughout Prohibition and the big-band '40s, she stood her ground and in the
conservative '50s became more sexually ambiguous and brazen than ever.
"She must have seemed like an alien when she came to Sydney," Christo says.
"Many entertainers were influenced by her, including Bette Midler, Peter Allen,
Lana Cantrell. Her comic timing and daring opened up opportunities on the
Australian entertainment scene and I wanted to do the show because of her
influence and the difference she made in people's lives...
"The idea isn't to replicate Frances Faye but to present a musical story
embracing a variety of styles while channelling her sly wit, outrageousness and
charm. I especially hope the vitality and strength of her arrangements shines
Christo admits that taking the show to New York will compound the pressure of
revealing his own talents while not disappointing Faye's admirers. "Her fans are
called Fayenatics and they're incredibly protective of her music and legacy, but
also generous, I've found, which is something of a relief..."
9/1/08, Nick Christo writes that his show was a hit and he'll be doing it again Oct 20. Great new letters added and a fun new image from Warren on the Music Page, Out named Caught in the Act awild 69 on the list of 100 best LGTGQ albums in Oct 2008 issue.
June 18, 2008: A new Frances Faye show is opeing down under. I provided all the rare Austiralian info on Miss Faye and a stellar contact for all her rare recordings and videos:
MEDIA RELEASE JUNE 2008
You're invited to a one-man show about one hell of a woman…
The Fabulous Frances Faye
NICK CHRISTO captures the magic and music of comedienne, jazz legend and entertainment revolutionary Frances Faye in a one-man, one-night-stand on Tuesday July 29th at Slide Bar, Darlinghurst.
Outrageous recording artist and wickedly naughty band leader Frances Faye was certainly without equal. Her outlandish style, cut throat vocals and highly camp quips had seen her rise from mobster gin joints of the 1920’s to become the phenomenon of clubs across the United States, eventually smashing the record set by Peggy Lee at New York’s famous Basin Street East in the early ‘60s.
Under the direction of Neil Gooding (The Hatpin, Back to the ‘80s, Short Sweet+Song, Fast+Fresh), Nick Christo recreates the essence of Frances Faye; her explosive 1962 Australian debut at Chequers nightclub; her taboo-incinerating relationship with Australian audiences; and her unmistakable stamp (or stomp) of influence on performers like Bette Midler and Peter Allen - “Whatever comic timing I have, I got from Frances Faye.”
A wild, new show from Nick Christo, winner of the Sydney Cabaret Showcase Competition (2005). A graduate of WAAPA, Nick received a Western Australian Equity Award (A Swell Party) and won the Short Sweet+Song Festival for 2007 (Building a Wing). Currently performing as Zoltan Karpathy in My Fair Lady for Opera Australia, Nick’s recent credits include the world premiere of The Hatpin, Motel in Fiddler on the Roof (TML), Louis in Sunday in the Park with George (Q Theatre), Salvador Dali in Barber of Seville (Opera Australia), Jay Yates in Titanic (Seabiscuit Inc) and Mordred in Camelot (The Production Company). His cabaret credits include working as a co-writer and performer in Cabaret Soiree, Shopping Centre Santa with James Millar, as a writer/director on Doorknockers and in My Cabaret Comeback Tour with Phil Scott.
The Fabulous Frances Faye promises another musical jibe-fest of latin heat and jamming hip cats featuring the LB Little Big Band, under the swinging baton of Luke Byrne (The Hatpin, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Urinetown, The World’s Wife, Tick, tick…BOOM!)
Featuring all the Faye classics like… Darktown Strutter’s Ball, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Tonight You Belong to Me, Fever, Shimmy Like My Sister Kate, Frances and Her Friends, Night and Day, Just In Time, The Man I Love, All Of a Sudden My Heart Sings, Just a Gigolo, I’m Going to Kansas City, I Love You Porgy, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen and Drunk With Love.
A night not to be missed… or mistered!
THE FABULOUS FRANCES FAYE
Featuring NICK CHRISTO and the LB Little Big Band
Tues July 29, SLIDE BAR 41 Oxford Street Darlinghurst
Dinner and show from 7pm $60 Show only 9pm $20
Bookings 8915 1899 www.slide.com.au
Media: for images, interviews, review tickets, live in-studio performances or more info about Nick Christo, Frances Faye and the rest of the crew, contact Geoff Sirmai, Watchdog Communications ph: 8218 2109 mob: 0412 669 272 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 1, 2008: Heaps of new pics posted - just click on pics that are not links to find them. Terese is still playing with Jack Costanzo - they just had a gig in Hollywood.