Pure Coquette

In real life a flirt can be a social menace, but entertaining her troops onstage at Bond's May 22, Taana Gardner was a wonder of nature, like hormones, or kittens. She rushed out gift-wrapped in white fur from which she jumped like a cake dancer, then raced all over the place like the kid she nearly is, flinging out kisses and vibratos and tiers of black ruffle. But though she finally had to wipe down with a borrowed handkerchief, she never went into a grind or even showed her tongue. Instead she used the first trick every girl learns, the pantie peep (red hose), and constructed the perfect dry flirt, complete with flounce, shiver, confessions. She needs us. We make her heart beat, we make her feel so weak. "Do you know that I love you?" she asked plaintively, but couldn't stop herself from smiling before the crowd broke out in moans. Pure coquette.

As usual, the Bond's sound left lots of gaps, and at first the mike seemed like news to her, but they made friends fast. Without studio resonance and backed by a sleek first-names-only band, Taana's cute, wobbly, yet fearless voice, with its hints of baby-love and shame-shame-shame, sounded surprisingly big and raunchy. After a great opening number--named?--she went through "When You Touch Me" and "Work That Body" off her wonderful no-sell 1979 album, as well as something from The Wiz that gave her the opportunity to jump out of her shoes upon pronouncing Diana Ross's name. And then she could control herself no more: it had to be "Heartbeat," the street record of the year in New York, but nowhere on the national charts.

It was all over fast. Taana gave no encore, as if holding out for the thunderous demand I think the crowd was just too surprised to provide. Who knew to expect this? What happened? Was this the greatest night of Taana Gardner's life? Will we ever see her again?

Village Voice, June 3, 1981