On Thursday, February 7th at New York City’s cabaret hotspot The Metropolitan Room, lovely singer/actress Pia Zadora opened her aptly-named show, “Back Again And Standing Tall”, with the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields fave “Pick Yourself Up” (You know the song: “Don’t lose your confidence if you slip; Be grateful for a pleasant trip; And pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!“). Some culture vultures may view that classic as a well-chosen song for 58-year old Ms. Zadora, whose long career was often marked by stellar highs alongside some embarrassing lows– sometimes, side by side. Zadora’s first film, when she was a child, was “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in 1964, which is now a cult classic. Pia also got to sing in the movie. As an adult, she starred in two R-rated dramas, both with legitimate literary antecedents: “Butterfly”, in 1982, was based on a 1947 novel by James Cain and co-starred Stacy Keach and Orson Welles. “The Lonely Lady”, released the next year, was based on a novel by best-selling author Harold Robbins. Unfortunately, both movies were panned by critics, with an unfair preponderance of the blame thrown at Zadora. Even Pia’s Golden Globe win (Best New Artist for “Butterfly” in 1982 ) was met with considerable controversy. It’s a safe bet that most people today know of Zadora from her most successful song: a duet with Jermaine Jackson called “When The Rain Begins to Fall” in 1984. The slick, high-priced (at the time) video for the song jumped on the MTV generation’s desire to see a miniature cinematic experience with their music. That video helped the song receive a lot of exposure at he time, and subsequently the duet reached The Billboard Hot Dance Club Charts in the U.S. It was an even bigger hit in Europe, where the song reached #1 in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Fans of quirky filmmaker John Waters (like me!) also remember Zadora from her appearance as a beatnik in Waters’ 1988 favorite “Hairspray”.
Pia Zadora had more critical and commercial success with music than with her movie career. Now living in Las Vegas, Zadora’s love of live performing still shines through. She performs in her native Las Vegas as well as occasional dates in other cities, like the aforementioned show in New York City. Her voice is as unblemished and fresh as ever, and she knows what the audience wants to hear. Zadora’s repertoire of standards that night including a wide range of crowd-pleasers, from the sexy and fun “C’est Si Bon”; to the high-spirited “The Lady Is a Tramp”; to a provocatively tender “All of Me”; to “For Once In My Life”, “Maybe This Time”, “How About You?”, and more. She closed with “I Am What I Am” (from “La Cage aux Folles”), which was clearly a musical shout-out to her gay male fans– of which there were many in the audience that night. After the show, Zadora told me me that at this point, she has no plans to release a new album: “I just want to sing, and be on stage, and just enjoy myself. I just want to be who I am, and be out there, and make people happy!” Well, she clearly made a lot of people happy that night! I asked the diminutive diva if she had a message for her GLBT fans. She responded, “I just love you all! You’ve always respected me for my singing and for standing by you guys! Also, you forgave me for ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’!. And if it weren’t for you guys, nobody would have seen ‘The Lonely Lady’!” With Valentine’s Day only a week away, I was next going to ask her what her plans were for the American holiday of love. But after meeting her handsome husband, Las Vegas police officer Michael Jeffries, I don’t think I needed to ask! Still, Zadora offered, “I’m spending my Valentine’s Day in handcuffs. I know I’m gonna get feisty!”
How jealous am I?!
You an stay updated on Pia Zadora’s schedule of performance dates and much more at Pia’s official website, http://www.PiaZadora.com