(Ben Brantley's article appeared in The New York Times, 2/12; also read Hilton Als's rave in The New Yorker, 2/15, currently available only to subscribers.)

Karen Finley Wears Pearls, Not Chocolate  

The prospect of Karen Finley doing dinner theater sounds as remote as her singing “God Bless America” at a memorial tribute to Senator Jesse Helms. Yet Ms. Finley — who achieved national notoriety two decades ago when she drew the wrath of Helms for her publicly financed activities as a performance artist — can now be found on Saturday nights practicing her very personal brand of drama before an audience of scallop- and steak-consuming patrons.

Ms. Finley has dressed for the occasion. None of that basic chocolate (and nothing else) on bare skin, the costume for which she is best known. The artist who gave us “The Return of the Chocolate-Smeared Woman” and “Shut Up and Love Me” (in which she substituted honey for chocolate) is going for a different notion of tastefulness in “The Jackie Look,” her rambling, emotionally charged monologue at the Laurie Beechman Theater at the West Bank Cafe in Clinton. She wears a tailored navy-blue jacket and white slacks. What’s more, she keeps them on.


(Karen Finley’s work is represented in Duo! The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)

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