Cabaret duo returns for New Hope Celebrates

Mel & El are more than happy to head back to Harlans Cabaret for New Hope Celebrates’ Pride festivities on May 15 — if, for nothing else, the menu offerings.

Known offstage as Melanie Adelman and Ellie Dvorkin, the two real-life longtime best friends have accrued a cult following in New York City, performing in some of the city’s best comedy clubs and cabarets, as well as at events like “Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad,” “The Big Gay Variety Show,” “The Miss Fag Hag Pageant” and here! TV’s “Busted.”

And if these two are as on at Harlans as they were when we talked to them, New Hope is in for one hell of a time.

PGN: How does Harlans in New Hope compare to the clubs and venues you normally play in New York City? EL: We love Harlans! MEL: It’s classy, it’s well-decorated and it’s just as gay as anything in The Village. El And we have never ever seen a roach or a rodent. So in that way, it’s probably nicer than most NYC clubs. M: And the drinks come in real glasses, not Dixie cups. E: And they put, like, six olives in the dirty martinis. M: And they have blue cheese mashed potatoes. Yum. E: Yeah, Harlans is better. We like it the best! PGN: After meeting at the age of 12, at what point did the two of you realize you we going to join forces to become the toast of New York nightlife? M: We didn’t realize it until a few years ago. We performed together as kids, but then we went our separate ways for college. We both did the move-to-New-York-and-audition thing and had separate careers for a while, but once we decided to join forces there was no turning back. E: I think we always wanted to perform together, but we had to gain a certain amount of experience on our own in order to really appreciate the beautiful symbiosis that’s achieved when we work together. M: Did you really just say “symbiosis?” E: I did. As “the toast of New York nightlife,” I stand by my vocabulary choices.

PGN: Your show has been described as “Laverne & Shirley” meets “Sex and the The City,” but are there any musicians or performing artists that you draw inspiration from for your performances? E: We try to just be ourselves, but there are definitely performers that we love who have influenced us along the way. Funny bitches like Bette Midler and Tracey Ullman … M: Carol Burnett and Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner … E: And we love comedians who make music, like Sarah Silverman and Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords. M: But we’re female friends who get a little naughty, hence the Laverne & the City, Sex & the Shirley thing. E: That was clever! M: Thanks.

PGN: You are both performers and writers outside of Mel & El. Do the two of you work/perform more as individuals or as a duo? E: We kinda can’t tolerate performing with anyone else anymore. M: El! That’s not a very politically correct thing to say. E: It’s true. I mostly hate everyone but you. M: Yeah. Me too. E: Well, maybe “hate” is a strong word. M: Other people require words to communicate with each other. We’ve gotten it down to a series of winks, nods and shrugs. It’s much more efficient. E: We’re like bushmen. You know … with the clicking? M: Sshh … no more.

PGN: For the record, do either of you identify as gay? E: Mel? Do you want to answer that? M: I identify as bisexual, but it has been quite a while since I … flexed that muscle. E: I’ve never flexed that muscle, but I would if any females would ever hit on me! M: They don’t hit on you because they know you’re straight. E: Once this article hits the stands that’s all going to change, baby.

PGN: Are you doing anything special for your performance at New Hope’s Pride celebration? M: Oh, yes. We’ve put together some very special surprises. E: Mel’s going to show everyone her penis! M: Just ignore her.

PGN: Who is the most famous person you have ever seen attending one of your performances? E: Madonna loves our show. She often sneaks in the back wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and dances along to the “Vogue” tribute section in our song “Fagnet.” M: Actually, I think that’s a drag queen. E: Actually, I think it’s this girl I know. She’s stalking us. M: You should date her. E: Nah. She’s not a very good dancer.

PGN: Your new CD is called “She’s My Bitch,” so … which one of you is making that statement? M: We’re both making it. We’re each other’s bitch. E: It’s very complicated. Just when I’m certain that Mel is my bitch, I realize that I’m hers. M: It’s symbiotic. E: Look what you did with the word usage! M: You’re welcome.

PGN: Recently you did your “Gay Married” show in New Hope. What’s next, “Couples Therapy”? M: Actually, we just launched a brand-new regular monthly show in NYC called “Mel & El: Our Time of the Month.” But “Couples Therapy” is cute! E: Where were you when we were naming things?

PGN: Languishing in poverty and obscurity in Philadelphia. But enough about me … What’s the next step on your paths to superstardom? E: We’re working on pitching our TV show idea to some networks. It’s highly confidential at the moment, but keep your fingers crossed! M: Yeah. And if that doesn’t work out, we’re going to kill off Kathy Griffin and Tori Spelling and take over their careers. Because, you know, we kind of resemble them. E: So if you see ads for “Tori & Kathy: Couples Therapy” on Bravo, you’ll know it’s really us. M: But don’t tell anyone, OK?

Mel & El perform at 9 p.m. May 15 at Harlans Cabaret, 6426 Lower York Road, New Hope. For more information, visit or call (215) 862-5225.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].