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Arts & Entertainment

Best Kansas Citian to Hire to Liven up a Dull Party 

Cathy Barnett

The actress Cathy Barnett (who worked as a stand-up comedian in New York in the 1980s) is as witty and clever offstage -- playing herself -- as she is portraying characters onstage. Although she's been lucky enough to get juicy roles at almost every theater in town, she's developed a successful side business as a professional party guest. Her character repertoire includes Carol Channing, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Midler, but her most frequent requests are for Marilyn Monroe and, oddly enough, Austin Powers. "Marilyn is an interesting character to play at large parties, when there are both male and female guests," Barnett says. "They love her. But I won't play her for all-male parties anymore. I did it once, for a small group, and was shocked at how cruelly the men treated her. I totally understood the real Marilyn at that moment and was overcome with sadness." As for Powers, Barnett wears the 1960s clothes and the fake teeth. "Men love me as Austin, and older women get the joke," she says. "But younger women are absolutely horrified. They run away from me!"

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