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'Rock Bottom' review: Bridget Everett mixes raunch and real-deal singing

Bridget Everett in

Bridget Everett in "Rock Bottom" at Joe’s Pub at The Public, running through October 11. Credit: Kevin Yatarola

In the history of raunchy-broad originals, which includes Sophie Tucker and early Bette Midler, we now have Bridget Everett.

Everett, whose following has grown from underground to disarmingly close-to-mainstream, has been selling out a take-no-prisoners show at least once a month for years at Joe's Pub, the downtown cabaret on the uptown side of the Public Theater.

Along the way, this fearlessly fleshy woman and her permanent wardrobe malfunctions have starred in a musical, "At Least It's Pink," co-created by "Sex and the City" writer Michael Patrick King. She has bonded professionally with Comedy Central's Amy Schumer and performed a song with Patti LuPone at Carnegie Hall after LuPone did one at an Everett show. Ben Stiller is planning a TV special for her, and Judd Apatow will flaunt her in his next summer movie.

I'm dropping names as celebrity endorsements because, really, her aggressive and triumphantly vulgar shows are not likely to open soon at a supper club near you. But last week, the Village Voice put her on its cover, headlined: "Alt-Cabaret Provocateur Bridget Everett Is the Most Exciting Performer in New York City."

And this week, she opened "Rock Bottom," a show that includes her own music, plus songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray," "Smash") and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz of the Beastie Boys. He plays bass in her show's band, ironically called the Tender Moments.

In fact, there are a few tender moments in her outlandish, utterly frank show with very few song titles or lyrics I can print here. She swoops in wearing something like a big pillowcase with haphazard strappings. (Copious costumes are by her longtime designer Larry Krone.) She swigs what appears to be wine from a brown paper sack while riffing knowledgeably about fine whites from California.

There is much strong-woman celebration of body parts, some whipped-cream attacks on the crowd and a guy dressed as an unborn baby singing Pat Boone's "Let Me Live." What makes Everett more than a dare-you comedian, however, is her voice. She is the real deal -- a pop, jazz and rock singer who can suggest the gut vulnerability of Janis Joplin, the sultry pain of Peggy Lee, the joy of a '60s girl group and a purity that, for all its incongruity, is very much her own.

WHAT "Rock Bottom"

WHERE Joe's Pub, Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.

INFO $33 (no food or drink minimum); 212-967-7555; publictheater.org

BOTTOM LINE Not your grandmother's cabaret.

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