Best Woman in Man's Clothing


She glowered as Hedwig's surly hubby, Yitzak, at the Re-bar, and she was a hysterical mook-on-the-make in Annex's gender-bending Stage Door, but it was as the flatulent despot in Ki Gottberg's Ubu at the Empty Space this spring that SARAH RUDINOFF really showed us what men are made of. It was a pop portrait of blowhard tyranny so on target it's doubtful any actual male could have given a better performance; Will Ferrell's Janet Reno on SNL seems positively dainty in comparison to Rudinoff's diapered, demanding man-child.

Pretty she wasn't. "I felt gross for two and a half months," Rudinoff recalls of the Ubu run. "I didn't feel attractive. I didn't feel like flirting. It was so physically exhausting I did not have a full life." And then there was the issue of getting over her aversion to breaking wind: "I have such a fart thing, so to play a character who was adamantly farting all over the place was a new thing for me."

Rudinoff may have disgusted even herself, but it's onward and upward from this point forward. Her role in the ensemble of the accomplished fringe piece Shock Brigades last month was her last non-Equity gig. Now it's on to a reprise of her acclaimed solo show, Go There, at Bumbershoot, followed by the Leiber/Stoller musical revue Smoky Joe's Café at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in October and a new one-woman, multi­character piece about Hawaii, The Last State, at On the Boards in December. Rudinoff has the kind of firm judgments and boisterous wit that could make you follow her anywhere, yet this self-described "half-Episcopalian, half-Jew" would be the first to tell you to take her "Best Of"s with a grain of salt.

Sarah Rudinoff's Picks

BEST STORE FOR BIG GIRLS: Nordstrom's Encore. "Oh, that name is so awful, though: Encore. It's like, 'I'm sorry, but I'm back.' An extra helping of applause for the big girls! But they're really great and super helpful there, and you can find genuinely nice things."

BEST SANDWICH: Paseo Caribbean Restaurant. "They have pork sandwiches and chicken sandwiches, and that's it. They come with these incredible grilled onions, and on the side they give you this garlicky corn on the cob—it's like you've died and gone to heaven. If I was ever in prison, that would definitely be a final meal for me."

BEST WEIGHT WATCHERS LEADER: Joanna Gerber, downtown Seattle. "She's awesome. She's very noncorporate. She's who I want to be when I grow up. And she's Jewish, which I love. I don't meet enough Jews. I mean, Seattle's a metropolis—where are all the Jews? Mercer Island? Oh, they're keeping them on an island, are they?"

BEST PLACE FOR A STIFF DRINK: Rosebud. "Really heavy hand there. And it's just nice. It makes me feel like an adult. You can sit and have a conversation, and there aren't a lot of people with ironic haircuts wandering around you."

BEST GAY BAR FOR STRAIGHT GIRLS: R Place. "It's three levels of gay. The first level is for people who aren't ready to make the commitment. The second level is for cruising—it's dark, and I've never hung out there. The third level is for obnoxious performers—the dancers, the karaoke [singers]—and there's a good bathroom up there with a lock on it."

BEST SPIRITUAL RELEASE: "St. Mark's Sunday service with the gay dean [the Rev. Robert V. Taylor]. It rocks. There are just all these cute fag couples and kids and families."

BEST HAIRPIECES: Mid-K Beauty Supply. "It's like a mall—it's a one-stop hair emporium. They have hairpieces in every color. And you always see fabulous black women and drag queens."


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