Night Crawler

Draped in a coat of black ostrich feathers on top of flowing silk pants cinched with a large rhinestone belt, German cabaret star Tim Fischer steps onto the tiny stage at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint like a fading starlet out of a Tennessee Williams play. His heavily powdered cheeks and reddened mouth blanch in the severe spotlight before a fall of thick brown hair casts a softening shadow. The mostly German-speaking crowd leans forward in anticipation as the shorn heads of pianist Thomas Doerschel and violinist Hans Jehle bend over their sheet music. The lights dim to red filters and in the microsecond before Fischer's voice pours over the classic Viennese cabaret song "Just a Gigolo," the white-haired couple next to me hold their breath. They know.

With his eyes half-lidded, Fischer transports the tiny packed house back to a cobblestoned city filled with the dark, lurking melodies of Kurt Weill and the insolent comic drama of Georg Kreisler. This is not camp, parody, or deferential re-creation, this is the genuine article. Fischer's voice slips through the "Alabama Song" into "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire," turning for comic relief to "Chuck Out the Men" and "Piss on Me." Through it all, he is stately and exquisite, a showperson of remarkable talent and timing, transported from an era overabundant with such things. At the end of Fischer's set, before the three encores and standing ovation, he descends into "Vedrai, Vedrai," and when he's done, I am surprised to find tears staining my cheeks. I am pleased to report there are still things hidden under the sun.

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By Silke Tudor

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