By JACOB BERNSTEIN
Published: August 8, 2012
THE Ice Palace nightclub in Cherry Grove on Fire Island is not a place ordinarily associated with great theater. On Friday night, Alan Cumming was there at an underwear party, dancing around in a jock strap and doing something with a gummy bear that cannot be described in this newspaper.
He was back on Saturday night, hosting one of the biggest cultural events on Fire Island this season: a cabaret evening with none other than Liza Minnelli.
Ms. Minnelli said she had not been there in more than 40 years. So it came as little surprise that the shows, two of them performed back-to-back, were standing room only, with lines of gay men in tank tops hooting and hollering in anticipation.
Drag queens were in abundance, along with some boldface names: the fashion designer Michael Kors; the gossip columnist Michael Musto; the writer Lynn Yaeger; Nickelson Wooster, a vice president at J. C. Penney; and the cable television personality Robin Byrd.
A series of burlesque performers warmed up the crowd. The first was a gentleman who calls himself Ray Gunn, who arrived in a green pantsuit and left with little more than a codpiece designed to look like a strawberry patch. The last was a guy who came dressed as a peacock and exited the stage with his mask covering his man parts.
A little after 8:30, Mr. Cumming took to the stage in a pair of motorcycle pants and a button-down shirt with the sleeves cut off. “Hello, Cherry Grove,” he said. “Are you ready for what will probably be the gayest experience you ever have? Me, you, Fire Island and Liza Minnelli.”
He launched into a medley of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” as fans sang along and took videos on their iPhones. He followed it up with “Mein Herr” from “Cabaret.”
Around 9, the sequined Ms. Minnelli joined Mr. Cumming onstage, and the audience was on its feet before the woman even delivered a note.
“Do you have any idea how excited I am to be on the same stage as you?” she said to Mr. Cumming, as he embraced her.
The pair sang “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” certainly ironic given that the temperature in the room was at least 90 degrees. (Ms. Byrd smartly came with a fan.)
For four more songs, Ms. Minnelli proved to be an energetic presence, grinding with Mr. Cumming as they sang the lyrics “Money makes the world go round,” and delivering a touching tribute to Charles Aznavour, who in the 1970s wrote a song about the difficulties gay men faced, “What Makes a Man a Man.” They closed with “Maybe This Time,” another song from “Cabaret.”
“It was spectacular,” said Mr. Kors, who stopped by after the show. “A seminal Fire Island moment.”
Performing doesn’t get easier as you age, Ms. Minnelli said later in her dressing room, where she was in her bra reapplying makeup, Marlboro Lights at the ready.
“From the waist up, I’m Dorothy’s daughter,” she said. “From the waist down, I’m the Tin Man’s kid. I feel about 112. Until I hit that stage, and then age disappears.”