Our favorite '80s enfant terrible, '90s cabaret act and gay goddess Sandra Bernhard turned UCLA's Royce Hall into "Sandyland" Saturday night with her incisive insight and powerful pipes. And while the accomplished actress (not many can say they've worked both with Martin Scorsese and on ABC Family) has mellowed, she hasn't lost her edge.
This, her fourth one-woman show, confirms she's still a raconteur and chanteuse to be reckoned with. She opened with a rousing cover of the Gordon Lightfoot adult contemporary classic "If You Could Read My Mind" (backed by her three-man band, the Flawless Zircons).
She then launched into anecdotes about finding her footing in L.A.; the film that was supposed to put her on the map; her role as an art teacher on teen soap "Switched at Birth;" and, because she was wearing one herself, fashionista André Leon Talley and his "Little Black Dress" exhibition.
But despite all the glitzy stories, she really focused on life with her partner, Sara, and their daughter, Cecily, and growing up in both Flint, Mich., and Scottsdale, Ariz.; stories which, while not as glamorous, said even more about the woman behind the curtain.
Her presence and intellect give depth and pathos to the pop songs that sprinkle the show. She covers Roxette and Heart with aplomb, and she stops the show with "Wrecking Ball" in white Miley Cyrus style undies and tank top, giving them more complexity than as produced.
She's raucously honest with a trenchant mouth that pierces contemporary culture without skewering it. So while she may be more familial and less political, she's still on point, an agile artiste.
Sandra Bernhard and The Flawless Zircons in "Sandyland" played on Feb. 15 at UCLA's Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive in Los Angeles. For information or tickets for upcoming shows, call 310-825-2101 or visit http://cap.ucla.edu/