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The greatest hits of Joey Arias

One of New York's most talented shapeshifters is in town. We pin down his career highlights

Joey Arias The Goddess
Heath McBride
By Ben Walters
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Seductive vamp, crazy-voiced clown, fashion muse, alien visitor – no one’s quite like Joey Arias. The black lacquered hair, pristine make-up and sharp couture suggest a femme fatale, but Arias can do sweet, scandalous or serene as easily as smoky. You never know quite what to expect – but ahead of his first London run in years, here’s a run-down of his unique track record… Joey and Bowie
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.

Holiday special
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…
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