Tonight: 9 to 5

Somehow SarahB wrangled some cheapie tickets for tonight's performance—I think she said for $3.50 but maybe I read that wrong, or else I dreamed it and will show up in Shubert Alley to find everyone naked. Sweet! Please self-edit the undesirables out of the picture before I get there. Anyway, New York magazine ran a lovely profile on Dolly Parton last week; here's my favorite bit:

Unlike a lot of celebrities, she seems to relish actual contact with humanity; she grew up so deep in the country that she’s “always tickled to death to see anybody!” To the strangers in the room, she offers a hand and a howdy to break the ice. The men, especially, need it. She is so small, and so large, and so unusual, that any way of reaching into her space uninvited seems like manhandling. It’s as if she were a prehistoric bird or the queen of England, with the additional concern that you might accidentally deflate something. I’ve heard of her grabbing a guy’s head and pushing it straight into her cleavage, just to put him at ease. (Can this possibly work?) Or she’ll say, “Aw, honey, don’t be nervous. I’m just a lady like everyone else.”

A lady, definitely. Like everyone else? Maybe in her unpretentious, self-mocking demeanor. But that has always been misleading, both in terms of the depth of her artistry and the artistry of her surface. First heard on the radio at age 11, she’d hardly have spent the next 52 years amplifying her outré image (and repeatedly entrusting herself to plastic surgeons) just to be ordinary. No, she is, as she says, “a poor candidate for espionage”: proudly alien-looking, beautiful and strange. She’s attired and made up, as always, to emphasize this: black tights with gold filigree; black suede stiletto boots; a black plunge-neck jacket with gold zippers, grommets, and drawstrings; bubblegum-pink acrylic nails about two inches long; and a tall white-blonde wig kept aloft by assorted trusses and diverters. Over the next few weeks, I will see her in many getups like this (she has hundreds custom-made each year, at a cost of several million)—all tight, all sparkly, all designed to focus attention on a woman who would otherwise be just a tiny 63-year-old: five foot one, with slim legs, pretty eyes, a waist no bigger than a vase, and that bust flowering out of it.

Understanding Dolly Parton, Broadway's Newest Composer, by Jesse Green

UPDATE: A ticket to this show is worth exactly $3.50.

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