A Review of “Becoming Kinky…The World According to Kinky Friedman”

A Review of “Becoming Kinky…The World According to Kinky Friedman”

“Becoming Kinky…The World According to Kinky Friedman”, played to a sell-out crowd at the Crowley Theatre in Marfa this Labor Day weekend. The four man cast included Little Jewford, dressed in a silver-red Liberace tuxedo and the “last surviving member” of the original Kinky Freidman and the Texas Jewboys, an early 70’s Austin country and western band that propelled the Kinkster into the Texas limelight.

Ross Bautsch, Jesse Dayton and Alan Lee morphed into the Kinkster, portraying his life from the Peace Corps days in Sumatra to his bid for Governorship of Texas. Playwright Ted Swindley who has directed or produced over 200 plays, including the hit musical Always…Patsy Cline, wrote this fast quipped compendium that covered Freidman’s weltanschauung, a fireside flow that sometimes came off like a David Byrne moment but more often like a cutting Lenny Bruce night at the Apollo.

Kinky Friedman - A Review of Becoming KinkyWith Kinky characteristic black hat, boots and dangling cigars the trio of actors came off their stage stools in rat-a-tat-tat fashion delivering Kinkster one liners while Little Jewford worked the keyboards and casted his TV game host voice into the milieu. The play in many ways had the air of America’s troubadour age where folksters like Mark Twain and Will Rogers took the stage doing much the same; handing out bits of wisdom and social criticism with astute and compact ploy.

Kinky’s world is a curious culture, much the result of growing up Jewish in Texas, a juxtaposition that takes off with his self deprecating style, offering cracks like, “I’m the only Jew in Texas who doesn’t own real estate,” and “If I become governor of Texas I’ll drop the speed limit from 55 to 54.95.” Feeding his material are the parallels he finds with Jesus Christ. “We’re both Jews, both bearded and traveled about the country irritating people.” Along these religious lines, the Kinkster pondered the type of contraception used by Joseph.

He painted Texans as a group unto their own suggesting there are things Texans would never say, like: “You can’t feed that to a dog.” And “Give me a double latte soy mociatta decaf, with a sprinkle of cinnamon, please.”

He compares himself to a soldier that doesn’t kill and his biggest fear; not being able to talk about himself.

The Kinkster, who has written two novels and currently writes for Texas Monthly, has also acted in several movies, recorded 13 CD’s and has toured with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. In the play he asks Willie what marijuana does for him and the mock reply, “It makes the questions further apart.”

Willie and Kinky FriedmanIn Kinky’s 2006 bid to become governor of Texas he realized he had little support among the Christian right and momentarily considered a quick dunking to become a southern Baptist. Dayton, the actor in this skit, paused, his cigar clutched in his hand and said “But I realize now, they don’t hold’em under long enough.”

“Becoming Kinky…The World According to Kinky Friedman”, a fund raiser for Marfa Public Radio, suggests that musicians should run the politics of the state, although it was acknowledged “nothing much would get done in the mornings.” Kinky promotes a two term limit for politicians; one term in office and the other in prison and the “No Child Left Behind” program should also include “No Teachers Left Behind” and “No Lesbians Left Behind.”

In one skit, Lee re-enacted Kinky’s childhood vision of a testicle hanging out of his father’s friend, Danny Rosenthal’s bathing suit. “The vision of a suspended testicle has framed my childhood memories.” Later he suggests that you can never be a good writer with a happy childhood.

The two hour play perhaps went a bit too long. As the foursome crooned the finale, “Asshole from El Paso,” a parody of “Okie from Muscogee” at least seven women got up and left, perhaps a fitting tribute to Kinky Friedman, named the male chauvinist pig of the year by Women’s magazine in 1974.

No doubt the Kinkster has learned a lot since then and gained much material. The man who supports gay marriage (“they should have the right to be as miserable as the rest of us”), and legalization of marijuana, went on record this week supporting republican Governor Perry’s run for President, a bold endorsement by, what most thought, was a true blue democrat. Kinky, who mingled at the theatre wearing a white guayabera shirt, offered little about his re-alignment, but some say there is an appointment in the works. The man who has never won an election may get the nod from the man who has never lost an election, and what better way to develop new material than the fun-loving genius of Kinky Friedman and the back-slapping good ole boy Perry living it up in the White House.

Photo by Robotclaw666 and juliocrockett

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