Wiley Has Issues

There are certain entertainers who stun more than they entertain. Take, for example, the unintentional surrealist Larry "Bud" Melman from David Letterman's NBC days, or the surprisingly long-lived teen sitcom Saved by the Bell. In these cases, a lack of talent -- mixed with confidence and ambition -- resulted in something that fit no conceivable definition of good, yet we were compelled to watch.

Such is the case with Jane Wiley, known to Helios crowds as Bongo Jane, a woman who "entertains" audiences with jazzy clichéd musings. (Lighten up -- clichés can be fun.) She's also been known to pop up at the Monday-night open mike at the Laff Stop, where she is -- let's just say -- abided.

Wiley describes Womenissues, her upcoming show at Midtown Art Center, as an offbeat and bawdy night of music, comedy and intrigue that addresses the "new feminism." So, what's new in feminism?

"I like the niceties that men do for women, and I miss it," says Wiley. She thinks the original feminist movement was "sort of anger-driven," while the new feminism is friendlier and allows for chivalry.

As for the bawdiness of Womenissues, Wiley plans to examine the evolution of pickup lines and other strategic dating moves, along with gender expectations, sexual freedom and sexual positioning (not sexual positions). As for the intrigue, Wiley will present her hypothesis that feminism was a male-engineered movement. (Wha?! See her show for a jazzy explanation.)

The performance falls under the you-gotta-see-this-to-believe-it category, like William Shatner covering Beatles tunes. When Bongo Jane sings "Me and My Bongos," you will be engrossed. Like a train wreck, the sight might leave you in a state of unease, but you won't be able look away.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman