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House of Tudor 

If you think that poo isn't sexy, you haven't heard Kitten on the Keys sing about hers.

Wednesday, Jun 16 2004
Cute, kicky, irrepressible, irresistible, licentious, lewd, dizzy, delightful -- that's Kitten on the Keys. It's been a couple of years since the Lollies' utterly go-going-gone-are-her-panties piano player set out on her own with nothing but a toy piano, an accordion, two roller skates, a whip, a ukulele, a pair of stilts, a plethora of custom-made bustles and bustiers, and a steamer trunk full of feather ticklers, colored wigs, and edible pasties. And what a wild and winsome time it's been. Even with the abundance of burlesque and bally in this town, Suzanne Ramsey, as the Kitten is named, is San Francisco's finest ambassador of bada-boom. A veritable one-woman vaudevillian show, she has proven her chops as a sexy chanteuse, sassy comedienne, and gutsy mistress of ceremonies; she has enlivened Burlesquefest in Canada, MCed Tease-O-Rama in Los Angeles, fondled Liberace's ivories in Vegas, and fired imaginations throughout Europe (particularly in France, where they just can't seem to get enough of her). Yet Ramsey still finds the time and energy to perform here at home with the Lollies and San Francisco's Famous Burlesque Troupe, and with every other local artist who tickles her peculiar funny bone. Whether it's sucking bloody brains in a zombie revue or acting as a misanthropic stage mother in a semi-autobiographical noir carnival act, Ramsey shimmies a fine line between high class and low rent, imbuing every cameo with impeccable timing, unimpeachable phrasing, and an unimaginable gutter mouth. Which brings us to (It's Not) A Pretty Princess Day, the third CD release by Kitten on the Keys. Not since 1977 has the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." sounded so deviant and dangerous. A sadistically sweet interpretation of the punk anthem appears here, filled with little-girl giggles and exclamations of "Golly jeepers!," but that's not the chief disturbance on this album. In fact, it's only the beginning. Even delivered with a Broadway-caliber voice and inflection, Ramsey's originals are nothing if not aberrant. From her pony-girl rumba and her junkie tango to her Tin Pan Alley ditties about furry fetishism and profiteering grandmothers who sell little girls' soiled underwear on eBay, Ramsey is unapologetic in her honesty and her vulgarity. Among her torch songs and Basin Street ballads, she sings about pussy toupees and her oh-so-very-salable pooh-pooh. On the title track, a lament over the ultimate bad-hair-down-there day, she poses the real question on every cabaret performer's mind: Does this piano make my butt look big? It's this sort of cleverness and candor that makes Kitten on the Keys so beloved on the neo-burlesque circuit, so it's not surprising that so many of the artists Ramsey has assisted and amused over the years are coming together to celebrate the release of her new album. Included on the night's roster are pogo-stick stripper Roky Roulette, Minnie Pearl Necklace's Rodney Austin, Polkacide's Mr. Tinkler, punk rock accordionist Duckmandu, über-macabre drag-circuit performer Vinsantos, Zombie Pinups mastermind Zombique, Los Angeles burlesque sensation Penny Starr Jr., and, of course, the Lollies. Kitten on the Keys celebrates her CD release on Friday, June 18, at the Odeon at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 ($4 if you dress like a pretty princess); call 550-6994 or visit

Speaking of zombies: If you pay attention to municipal demographics, you've probably noticed a drastic increase in the number of living undead residing within our city limits. They're everywhere, shambling through grocery stores, buying headcheese and Gummi brains; sipping Mind Erasers and Zombies at the local bar; driving Muni buses. Just last month, Evil Dead: The Musical played to an overenthusiastic crowd of brain-suckers down the street from my house. Meanwhile, the S.F.-based Zombie Pinups ( continue to exploit the sex appeal of sloughing flesh in new and interesting ways. It was just a matter of time before some enterprising young film director took advantage of the limitless, and sleepless, talent pool. Dan Abbott is just the man. His upcoming movie, Fist of the Zombie, promises to combine all the chills of a zombie flick with all the thrills of a kung fu picture, with some musical numbers and hot ghoul-on-ghoul action thrown in for good measure. The project, which is being called the most ambitious "martial arts horror musical" ever launched by the formidable folks behind Geekfest, S.P.A.M. Records, and the weeklong pirate-punk festival Libertatia, is slated to begin filming in August. Of course, there's no cash, so everyone who has ever lost her virginity on the banks of the creek behind 924 Gilman is asked to come together to raise funds. Performers will include Fleshies, Experimental Dental School, Hale Zukas, Serpents (With Blood), Mormons, We March, Nommo Ogo, and International Maggot. Zombie beer wenches and living dead go-go dancers will be supplied. Prizes and the opportunity to appear in Fist of the Zombie will be awarded to the convincingly lifeless. The Fist of the Zombie benefit will be held on Saturday, June 19, at dusk in an undisclosed location; call (510) BAD-SMUT or (800) HUM-NUMB for directions.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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