And Kathy Griffin is still coming
Houston's great diva summer of 2010: From Gaga to Lois to Real Housewives toColbert, it's been the season
When did it begin? Like all summers in Houston, it’s difficult to know the exact date. Was it as early as the whispers of a possible Real Housewives of Houston that set our socialites a preening? How about when Stephen Colbert splashed down into Houston in an orange jumpsuit to ask space sex questions of NASA astronauts and steal a Lunar Rover?
Those were the early signs certainly, but by the time Bravo’s Andy Cohen — with few ties to Houston — flew in for the Pride Parade and two wickedly good witches flew into the Hobby Center, it became definite. It’s August 1 and CultureMap is ready to call it. Houston 2010: Welcome to Diva Summer.
As soon as the heat rose, they were everywhere. Lois the corpse flower took over the Museum of Natural Science, and she wasn't just ready for her close up. She was ready for 24-hour visiting hours, competing-webcams and more than 2,000 twitter followers. Even CultureMap's own queen bee Shelby Hodge felt jealous.
Houston screeched to a halt, held hostage by a big damn flower whose stink never lived up its rep.
Across the street in Miller Outdoor Theater, Lois’s arch-frenemy, Audrey II, belted out “Feed Me” in Little Shop of Horrors. She wants blood in the play, but we know like all good divas she’s really singing for our adoration. May we suggest next year TUTS produce an all-flower revival of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
Those Oz witches defied gravity for weeks.
And over at the Alley, what happened to James Black and those vanished first six performances of St. Nicholas? Does “indisposed” mean the production has succumbed to vampires or to H1N1, that flu that absolutely everyone who is anyone is catching?
Even our sedate, accountant mayor, Annise Parker, seemed to have a touch of it when she slipped into a leather biker jacket and hopped on a Harley for a press conference.
So how does one get to be a 21st-century Houston diva?
Unfortunately, we must dare to contradict hometown royalty Beyonce’s 2009 treatise on the subject, “Diva.”
A diva is not a female version of a hustla, or a female version of anything. A diva is not necessarily even a she. The word is Italian and denotes a celebrated female opera singer, but the word's origin is the feminine form of the Latin divus, god. Over a century of usage has added new meanings, including a difficult, but talented woman.
But this is English, which is not a language that gives a gender to every noun. These days neither sex, nor sexuality, make a diva, just talent, a pride in that talent and the ability to throw an entertaining hissy-fit when the occasion calls for it. As we’re finding this summer, divas don’t have to even be human.
Of course, the Summer of the Diva is not strictly confined to Houston. LeBron James and his one-hour “Hey, anyone want to help me move?” ESPN special? Di Va. Steve Jobs and his beautiful iPhone 4, that keeps hanging up on us? Divvva.
Mel Gibson? No, just sad and pathetic.
Yet, the center of diva phenomena does appear to have converged over Houston. Perhaps this is because Houston is a bit of a diva, itself. Big, shiny, talented, and known to throw a heck of a tantrum when we neglect it.
Case in point, the Saturday night in Hermann Park when lines of people waited to view Lois and all the tickets had been given out for Little Shop of Horrors. Those without tickets were finding their places on the hill, when 20 minutes before the show was to begin the sky opened and drenched all of Lois and Audrey’s fans.
The zoo parking lot filled with water and exiting cars were soon creeping home through a flooding Hermann Park Drive. The park lights flickered as lightning filled the sky. The performance was cancelled, and while there were still people waiting for Lois back in the HMNS, the lines thinned. Houston would not be upstaged by a couple of upstart flowers and showed its wrath.
However, those who stuck around to splash in the puddles were treated to a spectacular lightning show with symphonic thunder accompaniment. Nothing beats a Houston hissy-fit.
Last week might have been the peak of Diva Summer, when Lois and Lady Gaga almost intersected for a few days. What when will it be over? Certainly not soon.
Back at Miller Outdoor Theatre this weekend, one of Shakespeare’s greatest high-maintenance couples, Titania and Oberon, took the stage.
Still coming: Kathy Griffin, Adam Lambert and the Houston Grand Opera's Madam Butterfly will all be arriving before the cold weather. We haven’t heard much from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee lately. Surely, she won’t let high diva season go by without contributing.
It looks like a long, hot summer, so find your inner diva and join in. You know we’ll adore you.