By Marianna Levine
Last Saturday night, the term “Main drag” took on a whole new meaning in Sag Harbor. By 10 o’clock, it was standing room only at Blue Sky restaurant on Main Street where a wide range of people had turned out to see Danny Ximo’s “Raffa Show,” a cabaret in drag. Young, old, gay, straight — all jostled for drinks at the bar prior to the start of the main attraction.
“We were amazed. There were over 200 people there last Saturday night,” enthused Ximo who offered everything from a rousing lip-synced version of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “All that Jazz” to a Marilyn Monroe impersonation. During the evening, Ximo kept the crowd whooping and hollering through several elaborate transformations and also making on-stage appearances were Evita Peron, and Ximo’s personal idol and inspiration, 1970s international singing sensation Raffaella Carra.
While for a moment, Blue Sky felt a bit more like 1930s Berlin or Paris than Eastern Long Island, circa 2010, the show did represent Sag Harbor in all its multifaceted and creative glory. And like accepting port towns the world over, there was something warm and welcoming in the performance and in the audience’s acceptance of it
“Sag Harbor is one of my favorite places in the world. Events here are always full of talent and invention,” noted Ximo. “Although I must say I do enjoy performing all over the Hamptons. But Sag Harbor has a certain energy and feeling. I would say it has good vibrations.”
The Raffa Show has actually been in Sag Harbor since in 2009, when Cigar Bar owner, Arlene Furer, repeatedly requested that Ximo create a show for her after seeing him in drag one Halloween. With Cigar Bar now closed, Ximo took the show over to Blue Sky. Ximo, a native of Argentina who lives on Shelter Island, is quite humble when explaining how he started performing in drag.
“I am mainly a professional actor and dancer,” he said. “I was actually touring with a children’s theater company when I ended up in New York for a Spanish performance of the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ But when I started dressing as a woman for Halloween about 10 years ago, people complimented me on my legs and said my body was perfect for wearing a dress. I don’t mean for this to sound strange, but I thought, ‘Okay maybe I could do this type of show’.”
Ximo makes it clear that he wants the “Raffa Show” to be inclusive, meaning he wants everybody to feel comfortable and “open their minds and hearts” to a new experience. Saturday night’s audience certainly reflected the diversity he hopes to attract. While the bar did seem to have an active singles scene, the restaurant had many couples and families with adult children taking in the entertainment as well.
“This is my first time here, but I love Danny, and I’m so happy to see him perform,” said Isabel Sepulveda who was there with her adult daughter. “You can see he put a lot of effort into this show.”
Sitting near Sepulveda was Nancy Haynes, dock master of Sag Harbor’s Waterfront Marina, who proudly stated that she was “Danny’s adopted mother.”
Ximo is clear the “Raffa Show” is not just a one-woman show (so to speak), but in fact explains that it takes a slew of people to produce it, including his friend, business manager and DJ Lorena Bacolandro. He also has a whole team of hair and make-up people, including Omar Tello, who also likes to claim Ximo as his “adopted son.”
After the “Raffa Show” concludes, Bacolandro continues to play music throughout the evening, mainly disco from the ‘70s, for the amped up crowd. Both Ximo and Bacalondro explain that they are hoping to present the show each month at Blue Sky but that they don’t yet have the exact date for the next show. However they encourage people to go on the “Raffa Show” Facebook site in order to get all the latest performance updates.
“We’re trying to do something original each show,” said Ximo. “We don’t want it to be the same thing each time.”