Raised in Los Angeles, Arias moved to New York in 1976. Mixing in the art and fashion worlds, he met similarly otherworldly singer Klaus Nomi. In 1979, they sang on ‘Saturday Night Live’ with David Bowie in outré outfits.
NYC club sensation
After Warhol suggested he perform in drag, Arias became a fixture of NYC’s post-punk and queer club scene. His shows were famous for their musical wallop and satirical filth, and he hung out with Iggy Pop and Leigh Bowery.
By the mid-’90s, Arias had a weekly show channelling Billie Holiday with eerie precision, attracting Madonna, Patrick Swayze and Thierry Mugler (still a collaborator) and a rave review from the New Yorker magazine.
Freaking up Cirque du Soleil
From 2003 to 2009, Arias compered Cirque du Soleil’s adult Las Vegas Show ‘Zumanity’, leading the audience in a mass fake orgasm.
No strings attached
In 2008, Arias and puppeteer Basil Twist created the off-Broadway hit ‘Arias with a Twist’, involving jungle hallucinations, alien probing and sex in hell. Not exactly the Muppets…