Dina Martina is not for everyone; more performance art than performance, her one-hour act is not unlike watching a train crash in slow motion. Her singing is atonal and arrhythmic, her delivery scattered and unkempt, and as a character she comes off as a twisted, homophobic Carol Channing pursuing a career as a monk in drag with a vicious camel toe. If that description tickles you, get thee to the altar of Dina Martina.
She begins her show with an ear-grating rendition of “Coming to America” – this will set the tone, and your threshold of fear. It takes some time before you become acclimated to the event you’re witnessing; for the first ten minutes, do not be surprised if you’re looking around for a way out. She’s irreverent, completely disorganized, and perhaps more visually rumpled than any drag performer in Provincetown history. She also has a collection of the most frightening schlock you can’t believe anyone sells that she randomly dispenses to audience members during the periodic “Gift Parade” – don’t be surprised to be handed gummy lips… or even better, Dina’s signature Cheetos-flavored lip balm (I tried it, it’s hideous).
And Martina’s personality, in an ironic, addled fashion, is just as off-putting as her salient talent (or lack thereof). In between prayer sessions wherein she talks directly to God (and I would not be surprised if on occasion God talked back), she chats colloquially about the Gay lifestyle, pointing out that “diversity is a wonderful thing… on paper” and ceding that “I do celebrate the differences, just please don’t point them out.”
And slowly, over the course of the first forty-five minutes, you realize that Martina has been developed as perhaps the most scathing statement of misguided American values that you’ll find hiding behind false eyelashes. Her sarcasm is acidulous, her total incrimination of the liberal lifestyle co-existing in stark contrast to her committed disregard for her own personal appearance. She boards the locomotive to blithe intolerance with an American anthem at the top of her show, and then gleefully sends the engine careening over the cliff, punctuated by a hysterical re-imagining of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” where she rocks out with a guitar instead of a fiddle – take note, her choice of props is deliberate, a send up of America’s toned-down, lowest common denominator submission to the capitalization of truth.
You’ll find gleeful chuckles at conservative America in pockets up and down Commercial Street – it’s one method for sustaining humor in the face of adversity. But nobody else thrashes that sentiment into an ironically religious state with this level of premeditated condemnation, and for some, it may go too far. We must consider this, however, as a minority steeped in a battle for rights: to reach a point of acceptance, we might just need to prove the intolerance. Dina Martina may be unusual, even uncomfortable, and she may also just be out to make a quick buck with the strangest show on earth; but she also may be throwing herself into No-Man’s-Land as one of the bravest, most heroic soldiers we have.
Playing at the UU Meeting House and Vixen
Buy tickets online at PtownTix»