Carletta Sue Kay
August 20, 2015
Better Than: Staying in and watching syndicated re-runs of Charmed.
Last night at The Chapel was an aggressively San Francisco affair. Tongue-in-cheek burlesque was trotted out during Kat Robichaud’s set, men clutched each other tenderly during Carletta Sue Kay’s, and the witchy women of the Mission crept out to watch The Sandwitches play together for the first time in three years.
[jump] With thick Princess Leia rolls on either side of her head, black spandex short shorts, black bra, and red glitter paint smeared on all of the exposed parts of her, Robichaud, the former Voice contestant, recounted how she had been voted off the TV show, after asking if anyone owns TVs still. (Probably not.) SF Weekly recently premiered her topically on point “Apple Pie and the Knife” music video, an anti-slut-shaming commentary targeted against insidious female-to-female tear-downs. “Who gives a shit about Susan B. Anthony’s fight for equality / Just look at her hair.” Her opinionated cabaret is like a more brash Amanda Palmer hopped-up on conveying a message. After moving to the city a year ago, she’s ecstatic to have found the Bay Area’s traditionally untraditional viewpoint towards sexuality and acceptance. The keyboardist looked like he potentially moonlighted as a magician with his black velour top hat, and during “Definition of Pretty” a burlesque dancer appeared wearing only a sheer body suit and tucked-in scarves to create the illusion of extra weight, which she seductively pulled out one by one. (She may have been the magician’s assistant.)
The most amusing part of the show was how the audience seemed to inexplicably change every set. When Carletta Sue Kay sauntered up to the stage with all the black slinky dress sass of a tattooed middle-aged man in drag, the crowd was a sea of swaying men in love. When The Sandwitches were on, the vast majority who pressed forward were women. Were they on timed smoke breaks? How was everyone so savvy with set times?
Carletta Sue Kay, also known as Randy Walker when not wearing pearls and a mussed wig, created Broadway sounding melodies and transformed them into Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But don’t call him a drag queen. “I think, though, with my phrasing and the way I do my songs, it comes out naturally. The queen comes out,” he said. “But I’m not a drag queen. Hello? Drag queens lip-sync.” But there was something magical about Carletta’s show that night, and I’m sure most nights. Partially due to the (now receding) social stigma that tries to hold off drag as a societal anomaly, partially because that section of Valencia is so artisanally gentrified, and also because there is something so satisfying about gender-bending.
The Sandwitches set would be the band’s first time playing together in three years: no rehearsals aside from sound check. It was a belated album release show for their newest album, Our Toast, off of which they played several songs. The trio opened up with a brief cover of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” before diving into originals, and dressed like modern witches in baseball caps and tresses. Considering the long gap in between practicing together, their communication was fluid and stage presence comfortable. They sang sweetly lilting lyrics with the occasional low grumble bite, and shot out armored stares at a dwindling, yet entranced crowd.
Critic’s Notebook #1: The Sandwitches were an integral San Francisco indie band during peak Ty Segall / Fresh and Only’s fever.
Critic’s Notebook #2: The Sandwitches audience looked like they grew up wanting to dress like The Craft , but probably watched more Sabrina.