The Dina Martina Holiday Show 

Theater Review

The Dina Martina Holiday Show
Echo Theatre, Howie Baggadonutz Presents
Nov 24 only

Sometimes this horrible world gives birth to a phenomena almost too beautiful to explain--but god knows, I'll try. Her name is Dina Martina. And though the character of Dina is played by a wondrously talented actor named Grady West, I'm fairly certain that when Dina is around, Grady is nowhere in the building. The character is that good; that complete. And just because Dina is a man dressed in women's clothing, this is not a drag show. No self-respecting drag artist would ever be caught dead in a get-up like this.

So then, what exactly is "Dina Martina?" Simply put, Dina Martina is the greatest and simultaneously worst performer the world has ever seen. She sings, she dances, she interacts with the audience. One could classify her as a Vegas-style performer, were it not for the fact that Vegas would never hire her, or Reno, or Branson, Missouri--hell, she would be hard pressed to land a gig at a Texaco food mart. Nevertheless, she will undoubtedly put on one of the most weird and thoroughly entertaining shows you are ever likely to see.

That's not a good description, though. Okay, let's try again. Dina Martina wears a frightful wiry black wig and covers her face in pancake-white makeup, with blood-red lipstick that looks like it was applied by a retarded monkey. She dresses in painfully tight and out-of-date jumpsuits that accentuate the humongous "camel-toes" between her legs (kids, if you don't know what "camel-toes" are, ask your mom). She has a multitude of speech-impediments, sings dreadfully off-key, and is partially, if not completely, insane. But somehow... deep inside those protruding camel-toes, lies a heart of pure gold.

Oh, and she also has a manic-depressive daughter, who, by the way, is a big rag doll that hangs suspended from a stick offstage.

Is any of this making sense? No? Ohhh-kay. Well, like I said previously, she's a "Vegas-style" performer. And like Vegas-style performers, she sings songs everyone knows and loves. Like "Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller--except completely different. Or, "Jack and Diane" by John Cougar Mellencamp--except she sings only one line, "Suckin' on a chili dog, outside the Tastee-Freeze" for the ENTIRE SONG.

Dina Martina, like many entertainers before her, also enjoys interacting with the audience, asking completely nonsensical questions, and giving away prizes like Merv Griffin's autobiography or a macramé owl. So in this way, she is very much like a Las Vegas performer--but just when you think you are starting to get it, she'll yank the rug right out from under you. I can't divulge what it might be, but in one performance she got totally whacked out on some psychedelic substance and split into three Dina Martinas. Don't ask me to explain--I still have no idea how, or why, it happened.

Suffice it to say, this is Dina's first appearance in Portland, and the Dina Martina Holiday Show is playing for one night only. I'm an intelligent person, and pride myself on being able to succinctly describe any artistic event--but frankly, all I can say is you have to see it to believe it. I do promise you'll leave an eternal Dina Martina fan. Even if you're unable to explain a word of what you just saw.

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