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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 20 - 26, 2002


Vaurnettes take the audience back to Oz

Express Staff Writer

Just when it was safe to go back out in the evenings. When you could be fairly sure you wouldn’t be heckled, embarrassed or stood upon while someone sang "Stand on Your Man." When women had found their way back to a certain prim correctness…the rollicking good time gal singing quartet, the Vaurnettes, reemerged from their three-year hibernation. And ruined all those good intentions.

Known for their high camp, high heels and "four part high anxiety," this gaggle of women perform on Monday nights at the Boiler Room in Sun Valley. They’re almost sane these days—just consider the wildly decorated head gear, bizarre Bavarian flounce skirts and wicked retro Oz-ish Mary Janes heels.

Still quite shapely, Linda Badell, Cherie Kessler, Callie Galpin and newbie Heidi Bates wreak havoc with one-liners and rewritten oldies that emphasize, with plenty of self depreciation, their ages, weights, husbands, ex-boyfriends, careers, and physical symptoms.

It all began in 1981 at the now defunct Silver Creek Saloon on Main Street in Ketchum, which most recently housed the also defunct Ore House. "We’re out living the bars," Galpin pointed out. They’ve also outlived the Creekside, another of their old performing home bars.

The group consisted of Vicki Partney, known as "Titsahoy," Mary Stevens as "Buddha Schwartz," Galpin as "Cheetah" and Kessler as "Kitty." Karen Hale joined for a spell and then was replaced by Linda "Fern" Badell in 1984.

At one point in the 1980s two of the gals were pregnant at the same time. And Galpin’s son has been watching the show since he was 3 years old.

They last performed at the Roosevelt four years ago before deciding to call it quits. "It was time … at the time," said Kessler. "We wanted to leave them gasping."

But something pulled them back to the stage. What? Well, for one thing, they held auditions and discovered the younger Bates, or "Ruby Rose Hips." Bates comes by her talent the genetic way. Her grandmother is the late actress and brilliant comedienne Ann Sothern, and her mother is actress Tisha Sterling—which also makes her a Wood River Valley native.

Bates, who initially balked at auditioning, believing herself to be too young, said that "It was a sure fire way to keep me out of the front row screaming ‘Freebird.’" She also suggested that eventually she could push them around in wheelchairs when they got too decrepit.

So heated were the auditions that one woman, a professional actress in Chicago, sent her resume, declaring that it was her life’s dream to be a Vaurnette.

The other reason they came back? "We missed dressing up," said Kessler, who is appearing currently in the New Theatre Company’s production of "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change."

The costumes are indeed a huge part of the show. They wear riotous headdresses, that enhance their Vaurnette names. For instance, Cheetah’s chapeau has monkeys, "for all kinds of reasons," and Ruby Rose Hips’ has feathers, roses and an owl for her grandmother, who was a "huge inspiration."

One of the gems that Bates has added to the repertoire is a rendition of Brittany Spears’ "Oops, I did it again," only this time it includes the lyrics "Oops, I did it again, I need some depends…I’m not incontinent. But every time that I sneeze, I’m crossing my knees…."

You get the picture. Every woman—of a certain age—in the audience is hysterical during this routine. Which can be dangerous.

They write all the song lyrics and jokes themselves, designed the costumes, and made and painted the props and sets. Galpin painted the quirky backdrop on the stage.

Backed by a band—Jarod Herman, Rick Hoel, Cliff Cunha—that has evolved over the years as well, the foursome take turns leading songs and being the butt of the many jokes.

To wit: Badell, who is a local realtor, pokes a lot of fun at her own career, the million dollar homes, and the demanding clients.

"There are truths we push to the nth degree," she said. One of her funnier routines is a reinvention of "You better shop around."

Another song is "Midol" sung to the tune of "My Guy."

Sticks in the mud, stay home. This is irreverent, often silly and very diverting.

Appearing Monday evenings, The Vaurnettres are in Sun Valley until April 1—or so the schedule says.

"We’ll do our last show on April 1st or our teeth fall out and we can’t see anymore. Which ever comes first," said Galpin.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.