HOLY SHIT! Of Cake & Vanity

HOLY SHIT! Of Cake & Vanity
Written by: Efrem Zelony-Mindell

SCENE V. Dunsinane. Within the castle.

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


Some messengers don’t deliver their message. José Rivera Jr. is a director, choreographer, dancer, actor, multi media-performing artist, and knows how to deliver his message. His story, Of Cake & Vanity, is a deeply personal exploration of self. Don’t get confused by the eloquence of the Shakespeare opening, José is an absurdist, referring to his show as a “Musical Painting.” Unusually accurate words. The first time I saw Of Cake & Vanity, an unsuspecting group of youngsters and their acting teachers had to leave, once they realized what they had gotten themselves into. Think John Waters meets Matthew Barney.

Of Cake & Vanity becomes a homogeny of body and music, imagination and sex. Actors speak, sing, and dance; their bodies strangely in sync with abstract lights and projections throughout the performance. It’s Andy Warhol and Dan Flavin’s estranged love child; meet Marshall, Of Cake & Vanity‘s protagonist. I’m not sure, but that boy need to get laid, like bad! Like so bad, like so god damn bad! Marshall’s not here to impress, he just wants to know love, inside, outside, upside down. Ok – he’s a little depraved. Insecurity and sexuality meet in such a wonderfully confusing way, crisscrossing and allowing an individual to become new. All you have to do is open that door. “Throw some glitter on it honey! Go dancing.”

Nothing’s wrong with Marshall; he’s every man. He just wants to know more about the contemporary world, fashion, technology, music. He and his wife, Shelly, are all American people led into a fairytale, trying to understand identity and orientation. As for José off stage, he is a sweet, elegant speaker who sees the forest and the trees. Passion runs through this young NYU Tisch graduate. “I’m obsessed with technology, really I’m a total nerd for the stuff.” Everything José does is done in collaboration with the contemporary moment to moment, technology, and those that he works with. The work is surreal and yet somehow familiar; it is very rooted in reality.

Of Cake & Vanity is an excellent piece, it entertains and gets you moving in your seat. The audience screams and shouts! It’s Rocky Horror and Studio 54. The room becomes a living organism, all moving and interacting. This show is not to be missed.

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