You Make My Pants Pound (And Other Show Tunes…)

Lisa Koch

1995: Tongueinchic Records TIC2458

  1. You Make My Pants Pound
  2. You’ll Never Melt My Heart
  3. All My Stepdaddies
  4. Three Times a Year
  5. Dark of the Morning
  6. Vanity
  7. Night at the Timberline
  8. A Place on the Wall
  9. Murder by Midnight
  10. A Womanly Song
  11. Violette
  12. The Curve of No Return

I’ll start by confessing that I just love Lisa Koch. She is a person of such intense talent and deft humor that frankly I have been overawed in her presence on occasion, even in casual encounters. It was Scott Warrender’s lovely 1991 cabaret/musical “World’s Fair Cruise” that first introduced me to her singing and acting prowess, although if I’d been in on Capitol Hill’s annual Holiday Survival Game Show I would’ve been familiar with her own brand of humor as well by that time, plus that of her partnership with the superbly comedic Peggy Platt (whom I was already incidentally aware of). By the time of “World’s Fair Cruise” I was a patron (of sorts) of the Cabaret de Paris, a valiant holdout of the affordable musical-comedy evenings out Seattle used to have, located in the Fifth Avenue Plaza, specifically in the Café de Paris (where you truly could get good French cuisine in addition to a show most nights); during the early 1990s I was usually a diner there but also sometimes ran lights or helped out in some other way, so desperately did I want to see Warrender’s shows get the audience and response they have always deserved.

“World’s Fair Cruise” was my introduction to not only Lisa Koch but also her brother David, who provides backup vocals on some of this CD’s tracks (including the title one), plus Peggy Platt as a musical-comedy actor (I’d only seen her as a standup comic before that). It was a thrill and a delight to discover that Warrender was collaborating with some talents as stellar in some ways as his own, and to see all of these (plus Lyn McManus, whom I only saw in that show, alas) in full-blown cartoony comedic/musical performance. I went to one of Lisa’s shows at The Wild Rose bar on Capitol Hill around that time and basically was hooked for life when I heard her singing her own comic songs. I confess I’m not as automatically captivated by her non-comedic compositions, but that depends on each individual song more than does my reaction to pretty much ALL of her comedic work, which is sure-fire throughout…the more “serious” or otherwise personal songs have more subjective appeal to me.

A good example of the non-comedic ones, and my reactional quandary, is “Three Times a Year” on this recording: it’s poignant (to say the least) and touching and now intensely evocative of the circumstances of those times…but it was hard to truly get into for awhile. I think it debuted as part of one year’s Holiday Survival Game Show, in which most of the songs were hilarious comedy numbers but some gave the largely gay audience a chance to sympathize en masse regarding the societal and interpersonal/familial agonies many of them would be enduring most acutely during the traditional Winter holiday season. If you’re a straight person from a family in which a gay member wasn’t OK or even imaginable, this is one to play to learn a little about that; if you’ve been a player in one of those dramas, it’s healing because it acknowledges more than one side of the usual rifts. “You came home Christmas Break and broke the big news; we were scared…of what we might see.”

“Three Times a Year” is also notable here because it’s male-gay specific and has AIDS as part of its story; three other tracks (“Night at the Timberline” especially, plus “A Place on the Wall” and the title track “You Make My Pants Pound”) are gay-themed (at least in these recordings) but otherwise unspecific as to gender and thus enjoy the flexibility of such songs. Of those, “A Place on the Wall” is not so much Lesbian as specifically biographical, being a duet of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas.

And then there’s the sheer Humor songs: “You’ll Never Melt My Heart” (which I faintly recall seeing performed once as part of the Holiday Survival Game Show with Lisa wearing big white-painted/black-outlined cardboard circles as her costume), “Vanity” and “The Curve of No Return” (which were from the shows “Meet the Bouffants” and “The Bouffants Go to the Beach,” respectively), the title track “You Make My Pants Pound” and “All My Stepdaddies” (which Koch and Platt performed as part of their Spudds shows). As I said above, these are all pretty much winners due to Koch’s comic-songwriting skills and her gift for the interplay of lyric, melody, innuendo, and camp sensibility. “You’ll Never Melt My Heart” is my favorite of these because of its passionately/sincerely sung silly lyrics (“Dress me up in shabby clothes and jam a carrot up my nose” comes to mind). “Murder by Midnight” was a Holiday Survival Game Show number that obviously could work as a comedy turn but surprisingly could stand on its own as a slightly-too-classic torchy ballad.

Oh, shoot—I forgot about “Violette” and “A Womanly Song,” didn’t I? Oh dear. I suppose “Violette” is in the Lesbian category, if only historically and because the singer is a woman, plus just one phrase of the lyrics; without that specificity it’s just a passionately obsessed tribute with a bridge that stamps it as a product of those days of Seattle musical theatre production. “A Womanly Song” however I forgot here because I associate it more with Dos Fallopia performances, more of a side aspect of Koch than her core output (perhaps)…but certainly it has one of the most fun singalong choruses: “My vulva is singing / And my ovaries dancing / My ears they are ringing / With the sound of my uterus laughing / HA HA HA HA! / My cheeks they are glowing / My fluids are flowing / And my love-bud is growing quite large / My vulva is singing / A womanly song.” Best enjoyed in live performance when you can sing along and even better if Peggy Platt is showing the illustrative diagrams for the lyrics.