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Theater | THEATER REVIEW

Bending ears, minds and genders

October 31, 2003|F. Kathleen Foley | Special to The Times

Glitz or angst? Camp or gloom? Miss Coco Peru, now appearing at the Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre in her one-woman show, "Miss Coco Peru Is Undaunted," is a creature of many moods and mercurial temperament. A sweet solo from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" is laced with barked expletives. An account of a sentimental journey to Ireland turns suddenly acidic. Miss Coco candidly confides, "I'm sorry I write shows to work out my issues and then charge you to see it."

We're not. The fabulous Miss Coco Peru, drag queen extraordinaire, can bend our ears -- and our perceptions -- anytime.

Miss Coco Peru is the brainchild of Clinton Leupp, who over the last decade or so has amassed quite a cult following on both coasts, for obvious reasons. Simply put, Miss Coco is a heavenly hoot, a svelte diva with a belt voice and a Bronx accent who acts like a bizarre hybrid of Paul Lynde and Lola Falana. Recently, Miss Coco, who typically refers to herself in the third person, has been critically lauded for the independent film "Girls Will Be Girls." That film garnered Leupp both the best actress award at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival, and the best actor award at Outfest, L.A.'s premier gay and lesbian film festival.

If those gender-bending awards bespeak a certain duality in Miss Coco's temperament, so does this show, which details how often Miss Coco has straddled the divide between saint and sinner, ladylike sweetness and stevedore crassness. Under the direction of Michael Schiralli, Miss Coco sings, sasses and tells stories, usually about her own past. Wry and uncensored, the show is a hilarious personal exorcism, with music, no less. Hey, that's entertainment.

*

'Miss Coco Peru Is Undaunted'

Where: The Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.

Ends: Nov. 9

Price: $20-$25

Contact: (323) 860-7300

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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