The raunchy and the sweet

A wonderful and energetic night of contrasts at Ladies Night show

Comedian Rachel Myles at Duffy’s Tavern.

Comedian Rachel Myles at Duffy’s Tavern.

Photo by Ken Pordes

Ladies Night at Duffy’s Tavern, Thursday, July 20.

One of the oldest, and therefore probably most true, clichés in the world is that men will never truly understand the minds of women. Many men do respect, accept and cherish our feminine counterparts in this endlessly diverse and challenging universe, and we do our best to prove worthy of their acceptance. But male-bonding activities of sport, rock music or whatever else can’t really compare to similar gathering of beings who also have the exclusive power to bring life into this world.

So, getting to experience a kind of “female-bonding” celebration that featured soulfully honest performers expressing their creativity though comedy and song was irresistible for one who admires the female spirit. And the energetic and encouraging atmosphere of the Ladies Night variety show at Duffy’s Tavern last Thursday (July 20) offered a refreshing respite from our often bipolarized world.

Emcee Rachel Myles provided many hilariously raunchy highlights in her introductions for the other performers, including riffs on body type and random sexual encounters (“homeless dudes don’t know the meaning of ‘one-night stand’”). Myles was an ideal ringleader as she surveyed and stoked the audience for reaction, asking at one point, “How many of you have hooked up with guys you were too good for in high school?” Gales of laughter erupted from the ladies in attendance.

Myles set the evening’s tone for her comedic counterparts and their sometimes pointed examinations of life’s nitty-gritty. Deseray Susan, a dynamic presence in rave-worthy unicorn headdress and silver party dress, became a crowd favorite with her Hunter S. Thompson-esque tales of chemically enhanced debauchery that also shimmered with a youthful not-quite-innocence and sense of adventure. And Shahera Hyatt, a Sacramento comedian and social worker for homeless teens, riffed on how a phone call reporting homeless people going through a suburbanite’s trash might go if the dispatcher had any compassion for the less fortunate, only to add the turnaround: “Just kidding. Don’t worry. We’ll have them arrested.”

On the flip side, the lady singers and songwriters had a much different but just as heartfelt game, bringing a contrasting, yet satisfyingly complementary perspective to the stage. Dynamic duo Jesi Naomi and Holly Taylor brought exuberant energy and gorgeous harmony to their set of originals and covers, while songwriter Alli Battaglia commanded attention and quieted the room with her dusky vocals.

In fact, each of the musicians brought intimacy and charm to her presentation of songs that ranged from quiet folksiness to intense poetic introspection to the soothing but troubled sentiment of Naomi and Taylor’s rendition of Bill Withers’ classic lament “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

The curator of this cohesive collection of performers was Bill “Guillermo” Mash, host of the KZFR community radio program “The Chico Vibe,” and funds raised benefited the Homeward Street Journal, a newspaper he also works with that deals with homeless issues in the North State and includes a page devoted to Chico. Many of the performers appeared live on KZFR’s all-women show “Face the Music” (Thursdays, 7:30-10 p.m.) earlier in the evening.

The courage and honesty brought to the performances at this benefit was wonderful to witness. And the sense of community shared by the women on stage as well as those in the audience was palpable and exhilarating for this male attendee.