White Ghost Shivers' Naughty Vaudeville Returns to the Duck
If the recently retired Asylum Street Spankers were "God's Favorite Band," their fellow Austinites White Ghost Shivers are more like friends of the devil. Or most likely to violate some Blue Law somewhere. They're naughty, but nice.
Photos by Richard McBlane The White Ghost Shivers at Antone's in Austin
The seven-piece Shivers can't be onstage without you looking around for some Snidely Whiplash character twirling his handlebar mustache somewhere nearby, but then a seven-foot-tall, eyelash-thin front man (Westin "Shorty" Borghese) and Kewpie-doll flapper diva (Cella Blue) in your band will do that. The other five Shivers back them up with a hard-driving blend of blues, ragtime, Dixieland and Tin Pan Alley just begging for a captain of industry in top hat and tails to shower the band with $100 bills.
In about a decade, the six-piece Shivers and their R-rated vaudeville (or "Bawdville") have won four Austin Music Awards, released four albums (most recently last year's Nobody Loves You Like We Do), and a created a Halloween Ball that is a red-letter day on the social calendar of Austin miscreants and misfits, as documented on the DVD 2006 Flim Flam Follies: Hallowe'en Ball at the Oaks.
They've also stealthily cultivated a Houston following who enjoys such saucy shenanigans, and this weekend convinced McGonigel's Mucky Duck to give them not one but two sets Saturday night (through perhaps nefarious means). Just don't look for them on a certain NBC summer talent show.
We spoke with Borghese, who takes the stage name "Shorty Borgasm," and Cella Blue separately by email earlier this week.
Cella Blue: Sweaty and Blue... like any true ball should be.
RO: "Sweet Banana" isn't about a potassium-rich fruit that grows in tropical climates, is it?
CB: Why Mr. Gray, what exactly do you mean? Please explain your question with visual aids.
RO: How is the lovely Miss Cella Blue these days?
CB: Thank you for asking. Doing well and staying busy with the always entertaining WGS - expanding our markets and audiences to bring our brand of infectious "feel-good" to as many as possible, my little-known teaching career and also launching a clothing/hat/accessory store on Etsy called "Beekeeper at Night" by Cella Blue... Very exciting. And you? [can't complain - ed.]