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Monday, April 25, 2016

Big Hair and Gleefully Dubious Taste in Oasis' Above and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge D'Arcy Drollinger As Chablis, Nancy French as Gewürztraminer and John Paul Gonzalez As Chardonnay - GARETH GOOCH
  • Gareth Gooch
  • D'Arcy Drollinger As Chablis, Nancy French as Gewürztraminer and John Paul Gonzalez As Chardonnay
This is my happening and it freaks me out!

So goes the most famous line in the inexplicably weird 1970 quasi-parodic non-sequel to Valley of the Dolls, Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Spoken by rock impresario Z-Man Barzett at a party in his living room, it only hints at the weirdness to come. (Z-Man later reveals that he has been a woman all along, and beheads someone who spurned his/her advances.)

This is the provenance — or part of it, anyway — to D'Arcy Drollinger's drag rock musical Above and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, now playing at Oasis through May 14. Drollinger, whose previous original works include Shit and Champagne and its sequel, Champagne White and the Temple of Poon, gleefully hoovers up references from the campiest corners of pop culture while paying homage to the '90s post-punk art band Enrique (of which Drollinger was a member.) It's gonna get weirder.

click to enlarge John Paul Gonzalez As Chardonnay - GARETH GOOCH
  • Gareth Gooch
  • John Paul Gonzalez As Chardonnay
Productions at Oasis tend to fall into two categories: line-by-line re-enactments of drag-friendly episodes from classic television (Sex and the City, Star Trek, Absolutely Fabulous) or else the kind of absurdist, neo-Borscht-Belt nuttiness that characterizes Drollinger's oeuvre. As a "dark musical comedy" riddled with moments of questionable taste, it looks like a combination of Jem and the Holograms if they opened for Strawberry Alarm Clock (and indeed, there is a live, five-piece band playing all-original songs). 

Loosely summed up, the plot of Above and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls involves an all-female rock trio called SUPER VIXEN — composed of Chablis Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer, because Drollinger loves naming protagonists after varietals — who meet one Mr. Richard Face, who woos them into the seamy underbelly of the record industry by ultimately peels off Gewürztraminer and talks her into pursuing a solo career. It's the monomyth of superstardom, with strong overtones of Nomi Malone in Showgirls. (Kindly refrain from stimulating your nipples with ice from your cocktail while sitting in the audience enjoying the cat-fights, however.)

Not since Beneath and Just Slightly to the Right of the Planet of the Apes has a piece of stagecraft gone so bananas. Having played sold-out runs in New York and here, and armed with a full complement of seductions and betrayals, Above and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls shows how little it really takes to make Neely O'Haras of us all. 

Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls, Thursdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m., through May 14, $25-$250, at Oasis, 398 11th St.,

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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