Marti is Cummings to Palm Springs!
By Justin Long
Gossip columnist Michael Musto calls Marti Cummings “the love child of Liza Minnelli and Johnny Weir”.
The NYC-based comedian, singer, and nightlife host has enjoyed an expansive career that has included off-Broadway theatre, national tours, one-man shows, and a hit dance single, “Real Girl”.
Part of Marti Cummings’ shtick is drag, but not the typical diva glam you may be used to. His look leans more towards androgyny, sporting beautiful dresses and heels while still looking very much like a man.
Until now, you would have needed to travel to the Big Apple to see Marti, where he performs nightly shows at various venues: New World Stages, The Ritz, Barracuda, and Industry Bar. However, this spring, the Lady Boy is hitting the road! He brings his unique brand of song, dance and stand-up to Toucans Tiki Lounge in Palm Springs on April 19.
How would you describe your show?
A mix of Liza Minnelli and Joan Rivers with a meaty tuck.
Is it cabaret or vaudeville?
When I perform, I pull from all types of genres and styles. It all depends on the crowd, the venue, and my mood… I like to weave together different styles to make my own. So it is all of the above.
What would be your dream role to play on Broadway and why?
My top three roles would be Hedwig, The Emcee in Cabaret, and Albin in La Cage. They are all very close to who I am as a performer yet all extremely different role and roles that I feel I can play at different stages in my life. John Cameron Mitchell, Kander and Ebb, and Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein are all brilliant writers who crafted and created these incredibly intricate characters that embody both humor and comedy as well as a deep rooted need for survival and perseverance. They all want to show the world that they are somebody; that they are normal and it is wonderful. All of them have kinda been shut out by society so they rose above to become great and powerful figures that people look to.
Kinda like Marti Cummings…
You said it, not me.
Is the dream to eventually do big stage productions or have you found your niche in the one-man show?
I love the niche I have created. I am afforded a lot of creative freedom by doing my solo shows. But I think if the opportunity to do a large production came about, I would certainly consider it, depending on what it is.
Let’s talk about your show. Do you enjoy insulting people?
Insulting people is never fun and that isn’t what I do. I make jokes based on scenarios and situations. Some may call that an insult comic but it is all in good fun and I make fun of myself more than anyone in the audience. It’s comedy, people! I am not trying to cure cancer or put a man on the moon. I am here just to make people laugh.
What’s the meanest thing you’ve said about a person on stage?
Who knows what it was but I bet it got a laugh and I probably got tips for it too!
Ever make a person cry?
I make people cry all the time because they are laughing so hard.
How do you mix music with comedy?
Music and comedy go beautifully together. You can set a song up by telling a comedic story or reading someone in the audience or reading myself to set up what track will be sung next.
Do you take your music seriously?
Of course. I have a catch phrase: “lyrics don’t matter but music is there to guide and flow and tell a story”.
How would you describe your voice?
My voice is uniquely my own voice.
Is it one that people appreciate after a few cocktails?
People appreciate it because I am in on the joke. If you need a drink to enjoy it then at least the bar is making money, which means I have done my job. So drink up while I belt it out! It probably would sound better!
What one song do you love to sing?
“Cabaret”. It is my all time favorite song to sing. It is a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end. I feel so much joy and passion when I am performing it.
Will you perform the song at Toucans Tiki Lounge?
What singer most inspires you?
I have two: Freddie Mercury and Liza Minnelli because both are – or were – so invested in every performance and they know that the job is to entertain and they always give 150% to every song.
Can we discuss the dress thing?
Why wear dresses and heels but no wig?
Drag has no definition. There are no lines to color in and no box to stay in. Drag can be anything you want it to be so, like every queen, I came up with my own version of it.
Is drag a real part of who you are or is it simply a gimmick for your act?
Drag is my life. My career is my life. I breathe, sweat, bleed, and live for my craft and for what I do. I perform seven days a week so it is very much a part of who I am and I love it but when the lights go down, the curtain is closed, and the heels are off, I am simply Marti.
How does the drag add to your act?
It allows me the opportunity to be more extroverted.
What’s next for you, Marti Cummings?
That is Gods plan but I am going to follow it, wherever it goes. I have a feeling it will be a great adventure so come and take the journey with me!
Marti performs Toucans Tiki Lounge in Palm Springs on April 19. Find him on Facebook at Marti.g.cummings