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Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman
Photograph: Tammy ShellJustin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman

Exclusive: Kiki & Herb add shows to their sold-out reunion at Joe’s Pub

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman

Never underestimate the power of a cult. In September, Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman made downtown dreams come true when they announced that they would reunite in 2016 as one of the legendary New York acts of the past 20 years: the demented lounge-punk duo Kiki and Herb, whom they haven't played since 2007. But demand for Kiki and Herb proved overwhelming. Tickets for the pair's ten scheduled shows at Joe's Pub sold out within an hour on September 25; the mad rush of fans caused both the Joe's Pub website and its phone system to crash.

But don't despair: Time Out New York has now confirmed that Kiki and Herb are extending! Originally scheduled to play through May 6, Bond and Mellman are adding 11 shows to the run of their new show, Seeking AsylumSaturday, May 7, and Wednesdays through Sundays, May 11-22. The new block of tickets ($45–$105) will go on sale on Thursday, February 4, at 2:00PM on the Joe's Pub website and in person at the Public Theater

This is wonderful news, not just for longtime Kiki and Herb devotees—who watched them rise from boozy late-night club sets in the East Village to acclaimed shows on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall—but for those unlucky souls who have never had a chance to see them work their wild magic in person. In the guise of septuagenarian lounge singers, Bond and Mellman mix the tattered flair of showbiz barely-survivors with biting, nothing-to-lose social comment, waving wildly as they teeter on the edge of apocalypse. Simply put, there's no one like them.

After parting ways nearly a decade ago, Bond and Mellman have kept busy. Alt-cabaret star and transgender trailblazer Bond (who prefers to go by the pronoun V) is currently in a yearlong residence at Joe's Pub; Mellman has been touring with riot-grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna in the Julie Ruin. But the two have special chemistry together, and the passing of time may only make it more potent when they reunite for this short run. 

"V and I were recently at the shiva for [composer] Elizabeth Swados," Mellman recalls. "As we were saying goodbye outside, V said to me, 'It seems like memorial services really have brought us back together.' We both laughed, and that laughter in the face of sorrow is one of the keys to our relationship and to Kiki and Herb. It is humbling that so many people want to come on this new brief journey with us."

"With so much insanity and loss in the world right now, I'm really excited to lower that ratty-assed wig onto my head and slip into the bizarrely cathartic world of Kiki and Herb for a few weeks," adds Bond. "As Kiki always used to say, 'People die, ladies and gentlemen, that's all you need to know.'"

So mark your calendars for 2pm on February 4, ladies and gentlemen. The near-death cult is set to reconvene.

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