Lee Day on Life, Liver and the Hirsute of Happiness
On a lovely early autumn Saturday (9/17) The Metropolitan Room hosted its first Pet Cabaret. It may now take a modest bowwow. I have never had much patience for clubbing baby seals; indeed I saw none today at the Met Room. But when it comes to shooting urban animals, photographs that is, I’m your man.
Lee Day, “I’ve Gotta Crow”
Lee Day, sporting Milk Bone earrings and a “Lady and the Tramp” shirt, sang a mixed bag of animal-related numbers and shared bits of her life. She opened with a clean verse of “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals” (Michael O Donoghue) made famous, ahem . . . , by Gilda Radner. She sang a bit from “Biscuits are a Dog’s Best Friend” – without apologies to Styne and Robin (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). Then “I’ve Gotta Crow” (Charlap, Leigh), “Talk to the Animals” (Darin), etc.; you get the idea.
Day’s love of animals has gained her entrée to numerous experiences and celebrities – both before and after achieving some renown. Early in her career she discovered she was a kind of “cat whisperer” when rescuing the feline of an opera singer from a precarious perch. The singer was so grateful that she “gave” Day access to an idol of hers, Doris Day (no relation). Doris Day called Lee Day at an appointed hour and they immediately hit it off over their common cause – talking at length. Doris encouraged Lee to pursue her dream – and she did. They have spoken often since that day.
Lee Day and Metropolitan Room Patrons
Lee grooms, and entertains, pets; indeed, she provides grooming house-calls. She has serviced, so to speak, pets of Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers and Mary Tyler Moore. She has appeared on television with Regis Philbin, Sally Jesse Raphael and, in England, with Terry Wogan. She was seen on the Terry Wogan show by the Queen and Princess Di who then asked to meet her; Day sang for the princes when they were smaller than she. Day is a proponent of pound puppies and does not subscribe to remote animal care; all animal care should be transparent to owners. All of her grooming comes with pet entertainment, but not all entertainment comes with grooming. For example, Lee does entertain at pet weddings and bark-mitzvahsTM.
Day explained in the course of her show that she suffers from Noonan’s syndrome, a condition affecting her learning capacity as well as her physical state (including, particularly the heart). Still, most of us could benefit from whatever has affected Day’s heart; she is guileless and effusive, and she clearly loves animals. She has built for herself a unique career and a remarkable life and, in the process, gained apparent contentment.
Lee Day and Anna Lively sing “He’s a Tramp”
Lee Day was the name on the show marquee, but she was nicely supported by friend Anna Lively, a regular cabaret performer, who joined Day on stage for a lovely and amusing rendition of “He’s a Tramp” (lyrics by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke, music by Oliver Wallace with an assist from Peggy Lee, baying by Lee Day). Both were loosely accompanied on the Piano by Jeff Franzel, an uber-able musician who has played with Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Les Brown, among others, and now writes songs for the likes of The Temptations, Placido Domingo and Josh Groban, as eclectic a group of performers as one can cram into three personnae.
Following the show, doggy treats were made available (by the Met Room) to all comers. In New York (unless it’s Trump) you blink and you miss it. It was sweet, if a tad sentimental, and it may not come again.
Photos by Fred Cohen Photography