Rockin Gore

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A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL spoof of spaghetti westerns? Titled [Bloodsong of Love]? Really? Yeah, those were my thoughts too, until I headed over to Ars Nova and actually saw the show, from the much buzzed about songwriter Joe Iconis—a [New York Press cover subject in July 2008](

The show, with book and songs both from Iconis, gets off to an admittedly rocky start with a big group number that does little to establish the dramatis personae or do much of anything other than prepare you for the band’s musical stylings and prove that most of the cast can really sing. The sole exception is Jason “SweetTooth” Williams, who, as the narrator, strains to hold the melody and whose eagerness feels out of place in a story about outlaws (he’s better as a one-eyed bartender). He thankfully retreats to the sidelines once he gets the plot rolling, about the undying love between The Musician (Eric William Morris) and Santa Violetta (MK Lawson), a love that is seriously tested when arch villain Lo Cocodrilo (Jeremy Morse) has The Musician imprisoned and kidnaps Violetta.

As Cocodrilo, Morse makes the most of his small frame and Iconis’ best song, “Turkey Leg.” Stamping his foot and grinding through the song while brandishing a giant drumstick and accompanying himself with a kazoo, Morse turns Cocodrilo into a bantam rooster aching for a fight with someone bigger than he is, but content until then to pick on women and lackeys. Hell, he cuts off a hooker’s feet just because he wants her boots. As he points out in “Turkey Leg,” pelvis thrusting, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the dick on the dog in the fight.”

Giving Morse a run for his money as a show stealer, Lance Rubin imbues The Musician’s simpleminded sidekick Banana with both an adorable accent and a puppylike loyalty to The Musician. The Musician could easily have been the show’s dullest character, the straight man for a bunch of kooky spaghetti western archetypes, but Morris holds the stage with laconic charm (think Keith Carradine), a powerfully low-key singing voice and a matinee idol appearance. As the footless prostitute, among other characters, Katrina Rose Dideriksen is given little to do (although she delivers as Banana’s abusive wife), while Lawson’s accent is treacherously slippery as Violetta. There’s some sentimentality in the second act that feels dangerously out of place in a spoof (especially one that features a “splatter zone” in the audience), but things rev up again in time for the final confrontation. With Bloodsong of Love, Iconis has finally proven that he’s worthy of his buzz.

Of course, both Morse and Rubin could learn a thing or two about stealing scenes from [Leslie Jordan], currently entertaining audiences with his one-man show My Trip Down the Pink Carpet. Best known as Megan Mullally’s nemesis on Will & Grace, Jordan is probably more beloved by the small but fierce cult audience of the low-budget Sordid Lives, in which he plays a Tammy Wynette impersonator who has been institutionalized.

With this show, Jordan proves why he has worked steadily despite his tiny frame and his admittedly less than butch demeanor. Delivering every story with a deep-fried topspin, Jordan combines a genuine storytelling talent with the kinds of descriptions that only Southerners seem capable of conjuring up. (My favorite: “I’m sweating like a pedophile in a Barney costume.”) Hysterically funny and unafraid to tell the unvarnished truth about the celebrities he’s worked with (Boy George gets rough treatment here) and his own checkered past as a small town gay boy, your trip down his pink carpet is guaranteed to be a scream.

>> [BLOODSONG OF LOVE] Through May 9, Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th St. (betw. 10th & 11th Aves.), 212- 352-3101; $25.

>> [MY TRIP DOWN THE PINK CARPET] Through July 3, Midtown Theater, 163 W. 46th St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.), 212-352-3101; $55.50–$79.50.

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