The curvy and quick-witted Niki Luparelli takes the stage this Friday with “Darling Niki: A Tribute to Prince and Madonna.” Pin-up girls: check. Cabaret meets burlesque: check. One night only: check. Her inspiration and expectations below.
Are you a formally trained singer?
I started voice lessons when I was twelve and did that all the way through college. I went to the University of Rhode Island and got my music degree. I actually double majored with communications. Both are useless.
Your shows are always a spectacle. What do you have planned for this performance?
There is a lot of spectacle! Miss Fonda Feeling is going to be here hanging from the ceiling for a few songs. I believe I have nine dancers and they are going to be everywhere, running around. OBERON is a very interactive theater space. It’s not just on the stage, it’s all around you.
Do you always work with the same girls for your shows?
There is about twenty performers I tend to use and rotate around for shows. So this show I have Miss Fonda Feeling on aerial. I have the Babes in Boinkland, who you might know from “The Slutcracker.” That’s their baby. I’ve been working with them for years. And Allix Mortis and BettySioux Tailor, out of Rhode Island.
What can newbies to the burlesque/cabaret scene expect?
Well, if they like boobs they’ll love it. And it’s the kind of boobs you can take your girlfriend or wife to. It’s very innocuous, innocent, fun. It’s old fashioned, you know? If you went to a strip club in the forties you might see something like [this]. Where you couldn’t show everything, it was all about the tease. Everything burlesque is all about the tease. And if they like Prince and Madonna, they’ll love the show. Prince just played and his tickets are three-hundred bucks. You can come to my show for like twenty bucks.
I heard that the late Davey Jones of the Monkees complimented your pleasant smell. So, uh, what do you smell like?
It’s a mixture of weed and Chanel. I wanted to tell him that too but I was so starstruck. To get into that monkey’s show and to get back stage, I had made a fake press pass. Sometimes that works, you guys. So I got backstage and I got to meet them and when I saw Davey Jones…I’ve never been starstruck like that. I couldn’t even talk. I love him. When he died, I lost my mind. Cause I love my three Daves. Ya know, I love Davey Jones, I love Dave Foley from The Kids in the Hall, and I love David Bowie.
Your look is so Marilyn Monroe. Were you inspired by her growing up?
Oh no! I had a really shitty boyfriend in college. I was goth and he was obsessed with blondes. A girl could have one eye—she could be Quasimodo—but if she had blonde hair then he was like, “Oh my god that’s the hottest girl ever!” So I thought wouldn’t it be so funny if I bleached my hair and had sex with him like one more time and then dumped him. And I did. And it was.
Photo credit: Vintage Girl Studios
But you are a Monroe impersonator, right?
Once I got the bob everyone was like, “Oh my god, Marilyn!” Oh really? Boobs and blonde hair? That’s all it takes. You know, you sit on old dudes laps and you sing to them. One time I was doing this ninety year old’s birthday party and he asked me to sit on his lap. I was like, “I dunno dude, I’m heavier than I look. Dense like mercury…” And he is like, “No, it’s fine, sit on my lap.” So I sit on his lap and there is this big commotion. His wife, who I didn’t realize was there—and alive—freaked out and had to be put on oxygen because she thought I was trying to steal her man.
Was there a blonde that did inspire you?
Mae West. She paved the way for all those girls. And she’s an inspiration because she didn’t make her first movie until she was 38. Unheard of in the twenties! You were packed off to the farm before you were thirty.
Do you have any other shows coming up?
My main gig is wedding and lounge singing. I have a gig at Club Cafe the following week where it’s just me and a piano and we do all sorts of stuff. But my next big show is coming up in May. I am bringing back Jerkus Circus, which was one of the first neo-Vaudeville shows in the area. We started doing that around 2006-2007. And on May 2nd, my plan, right now the working title is Strip Zeppelin. I don’t know if that’s going to be the final title. I’ve got an all-girl band and we are going to do the softer side of Zep, and I am going to try to have as many girls hanging from the ceiling as possible.
This might seem like a strange question but you’ll understand when you see the issue. What’s your favorite winter sport?
Oh! Drinking. I don’t go outside in the winter. I hate winter. I don’t understand people who are like, “I’m going to ski.” My nose is cold. It’s running. It hurts!
2 ARROW ST.,