I joined the lovely Ruby Powers “At The Baths” Tuesday night. It’s quite obvious that Ruby is far too young to have ever experienced The Baths of NYC, as am I, but we really didn’t care because it’s all about the storytelling and this girl can tell it good.
Ruby opened the show with "Up The Ladder to The Roof" followed by the audience grabbing "Big Spender". She’s a drag queen that really sings. No lip synching here. And when I say sing, I mean, it’s in key, and effortless. In between numbers she gave us a little history about the Baths back in the 70’s adding a spicy sense of humor. She talked about the price of things back in the 70’s that led into a story about her parents disdain for the price of avocado toast, and her love of Bette Midler and then sang a sumptuous rendition of "Do you Wanna Dance?" Even though this was an ‘R” Rated show; there is childlike innocence about Ruby. In fact I only realized later that several of her song choices were from none other than Mr. Rogers. She has a heart of gold and a voice to go with it. It’s not a quality I see often in drag, but I find it refreshing. It makes an unexpected line like “and he’s got a big dick” all the funnier. Great songs followed. "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves", a sugar coated "My Sweetheart's The Man In The Moon" and a great medley arrangement of "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough"/"Color my world". Joni Mitchell’s "Big Yellow Taxi" followed the story of the Continental Baths, where are they now? Paved paradise, put up a parking lot. Clever. In a tender moment Ruby reflects, in solemn remembrance that bathhouses may be gone, but we are all still here, followed by a medley of "It’s Such a Good Feeling"/"Friends" with an "Over The Rainbow" twist.
Ruby’s musical accompanists Yasuhiko Fukuoka, known best as “Yaz”, played the keys and Bill Solomon on Percussion were hot and steamy, and appropriately (theme) dressed in white bathrobes. I know plenty of people who would have paid to see that alone. Together they were one delicious trio.
The encore "It’s you I like"/"Give Me Love" was the perfect ending to a wonderfully gay evening….yes, give us love, give us peace on earth, give us light give us life. Not your run of the mill drag show.
You can follow Ruby on Facebook at facebook.com/YourRubyPowers , Instagram @missrubypowers and Twitter @yourrubypowers and check out her live show schedule at Bar Thalia @ Symphony Space here