Interview

Fancy Chance Says: “Fight The Power!”

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Fancy Chance is in fighting mood in her latest Soho Theatre show. Image: Sin Bozkurt.
Fancy Chance is in fighting mood in her latest Soho Theatre show. Image: Sin Bozkurt.

The times, they are a-changing. A year on from the Brexit referendum and nearly 100 days since Donald Trump became President, the political landscape in both the US and the UK is unrecognisable from where it was just twelve months ago. Who better to reflect on this fresh hell than Fancy Chance?

The performer has never had it easy: her birth mother abandoned her in 1974 and, despite twice looking for her, Fancy Chance has never found the woman who left her in a bag outside a South Korean police station. She spent her childhood in the US before moving on again, this time to the UK where she has developed a legendary career in cabaret. When not hanging by her hair for the Double R Club and Café de Paris’ Seven Sins, she is widely renowned for her ability to fluidly move between the worlds of burlesque, drag and performance art.

Next week, she appears in her own show. Flights of Fancy is her very personal take on many issues recently thrown up on both sides of the Atlantic, not least race and immigration. We spoke to her about what she thought about where the world was going.


Last year I did a third version of my solo show Flights of Fancy at the Soho Theatre for a couple nights. It was two days before the Brexit vote and four months before the latest U.S. election.

As I’ve spent more time on this planet, I can safely say that I’m never surprised but can often be disappointed.  The outcome of the referendum in the UK to leave the EU and Trump being elected as the US president (along with the Republicans owning our asses) has left me disappointed but also hopeful because people have been shaken into action including myself.

At first, after both results came in, I was shell shocked, depressed and anxious.  The hubris of the powers that were was astounding.  Why the hell were “IN” stickers being passed out in the London borough of Hackney who had the highest percentage of “remain” votes?  Where the hell were they in all the bloody places hardly touched by immigrants but benefitting from EU initiatives?  Why did the US democratic party think that someone was a shoe-in just because they weren’t a pussy grabbing rich fuck who “wins bigly”?



Fancy Chance taking to the air at the Double R Club’s London Wonderground show.


After this cluster of suck right wing voting happened, the subjects and themes of my show took on a different urgency. I’ve been an immigrant twice: once practically under the circumstances of being a refugee, and the other because of marriage. I think because of this and also being a minority and a woman, it’s made me more aware of the politics swirling around us and has changed and shaped what I’ve ended up creating and participating with on stage.

A theme that keeps coming back to me is empathy and compassion. I collaborated with Nathan Evans (my director and collaborator for Flights Of Fancy) for his production of I Love You But We Only have 14 Minutes to Save the Earth. The idea was that a number of performers created a 14 minute act on how or what would save the earth. For my piece I thought, if people would just take a moment to consider the people around them, we wouldn’t be in this fear-mongered shit storm flowing to the right. The only power I have is to air out my complaints on stage but also, 14 Minutes really let me sink my teeth into also making arguments for solutions.

Who am I if I think people who voted for Brexit or Trump are complete xenophobic idiot racist assholes? My conversation with half of humanity stops there.  Also, I have to ask myself, what more can I do to affect change? I have to be tricky with my satire and but, at the same time, bold and unafraid of my truths and my past to make my complaints and urgings potent.

In Flights of Fancy I get to have a conversation with the audience about my personal history and present my opinions on beauty standards, casual racism, ethnic identity, sex work, immigration, social media, gentrification and finding love and family in this ever changing and at times alienating world. I hope it’s wrapped in a bow that moves people to think about the world and the humans around them and leaves them with a few giggles in their bellies and conversations to revisit.

Fight the power!
Be bold!
Be kind!

This is not easy.  None of this is easy in these times.

Flights Of Fancy will be at the Soho Theatre from 25-29 April. More information can be found on the venue website.

Scott Alan: “My Music Comes From A Place Of Being OK With Not Being OK”

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Musical theatre star Scott Alan will return to the stage of Brasserie Zedel for the first time in over a year, when he performs in the debut of his show, The Journey: My Story Through Music

His one man musical tackles themes of depression, mental health, sexuality and sexual abuse in an honest and unedited fashion. The award-winning songwriter tells his own story through over a dozen new and established songs. The Journey charts the writer’s story through sexual awakening and battles with physical and mental health. Using his piano, voice and spontaneous sense of humour, Scott cuts through difficult stories with a musical note of unsentimental levity and empathy.

We caught up with him to ask him about the new musical and how his mental health has affected his work and life.


Some of your songs have been triggered by personal events, for example, your first “successful” song Kiss The Air three days which you wrote days after your parents separated.  Has there been anything this year which has caused to immediately set to writing?

The biggest change in my life was the passing of my dog, Billy Lucas Alan. We had been together for 14 1/2 years and to not have him in my life has left a huge empty paw print in my home. His death really pushed forward a lot of the new songs that are in The Journey but if I had the choice between him and the new material, I’d give back the songs.

 

You have an honest and refreshing approaching to your art form in that you’ve written songs and spoken about your clinical depression before and talked about how you see your music as therapy. How much do you feel the ups and downs of your mental health influences your life as a professional artist? Have changes in medication affected your songwriting style or output?

I always say that I’m who I am today because of being diagnosed as clinically depressed during my teen years. My music comes from a place of being OK with not being OK. When I wrote Anything Worth Holding on To and saw the instant reaction to the words, I knew that sharing my life openly was the way I wanted to move forward. Thankfully, my medication hasn’t had a huge impact on my songwriting. I think it did at the beginning but I’m writing a lot lately, so seems to be a-OK.

 

You’ve been away from the stage for over a year and now you’re back with another personal show The Journey: My Story Through Music at Live At Zedel. Can you tell us more about how this show came about and what led to you writing it?

I started working on the show back in 2012. I wasn’t sure that I was wanting to work on another album of new material and so I started to sit down at my computer and think ofwhat may be next for me. It started as a simple song cycle and has expanded into anything but that.

 

If you could send a message to your 20-year-old self, would you do it in words or through a song you have written? And what would you say?

Always in a song. I’m horrible with words when not being written in front of music. As for writing to my 20-year-old self, I would say “keep doing what you’re doing.” At that age, I was heading off to Los Angeles to try a new adventure. Though I regret not graduating from college, I am proud of always being up for something new. I don’t worry too much about tomorrow. I tend to just live in the moment and I think that was the age when I really began that.

 

What advice would you hand on to other artists living with similar or related illnesses?

I just had a friend ask about antidepressants and fearing that they would make them no longer feel. As an artist, being numb to the world is scary but I think living in sadness is scarier. My advice would be to keep trying medications until you find the right one and the proper dose. It can take some time, so don’t get discouraged. If you need medication in your system, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Life is short as is. Why continue to live it scared, alone and sad?
This has been a hell of a year in terms of celebrity deaths. Of the songwriters and musicians that have passes away over the last twelve months, which of those affected you the most?

Though he passed away prior and wasn’t a songwriter, the one I took the hardest was Robin Williams. I think anyone who suffers from depression understood where he was coming from but knowing how much of a mask he wore to make others happy when he was so self aware of his own demons, really hit home.

 

Do you ever wonder about your legacy? Have you made any plans to preserve your work for future generations (for example, donating personal items like notebooks to a musical theatre museum)?

I think of my legacy too much. I hope that what I leave behind is children and a family. Outside of that, the world can take whatever they want of mine once I’m dead.

 

You’ve worked around the world with a phenomenal number of high profile artists. Artistically, is there anything left in your bucket list? 

Oh, absolutely. So many artists still to work with. The moment you stop dreaming, you might as well be dead.

Scott Alan will be at Brasserie Zedel until Sunday 8 January. More information can be found on the official website.

Image: Ben Walsh

NoFitState Circus: “We Owe A Debt To Margaret Thatcher”

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For London’s circus fans, this is certainly a winter of content. Olivier Award winners La Soirée have pitched up in Leicester Square for another season, Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna is opening soon in the Royal Albert Hall and NoFitState are bringing their brilliant Bianco to London’s Southbank Centre almost four years after it was seen at the Roundhouse.

For Bianco, audiences and apparatus both move around inside their tent to create a dynamic and distinctive environment. The Cardiff-based crew behind the show have been going for thirty years and always strive to produce innovative and exciting circus. I asked NoFitState’s Artistic Director Tom Rack why we should go to see their latest show and where it all went right for his company.


We’re very much looking forward to seeing the new and improved Bianco. For those like me who last saw it in the Roundhouse, how would you say that Bianco has changed? And where has that change come from?

If we don’t change the show every year, we will get tired of it. And if we are tired of it, then that’s not good for the public. Every season a few people come and go in the natural way of things, new people bring a different energy and new acts and we get to shake everything up to keep it all fresh and exciting for both ourselves and the audience.

Bianco at the Roundhouse was nearly four years ago and, since the very beginning of this show’s journey, it has evolved a lot, new music, new acts, new people but it still has the same spirit and the same structure. It’s still Bianco but grown and matured with age and a lot of hard work.

 

NoFit State has reached the grand old age of 30. What would you say were the turning points for yourselves as a company? Were they down more to circumstances, strokes of luck or new ideas?

In 1995, we did our first promenade show Autogeddon and this was the first time we worked with director Firenza Guidi. It was a big but low-budget circus show in a warehouse which gave us both lots of ideas and food for thought for when we came back together in 2004 for our first touring show ImMortal.

It was the beginning of the long and close collaboration that has got us where we are today. Having said that, we also owe a debt to Mrs Thatcher and Mr Tebbit who created the enterprise allowance scheme; it allowed us to get young people off the dole figures. In those days there were no circus schools, we learnt our craft on the streets and, without their help, we wouldn’t have survived.

 

NoFitState's Artistic Director Tom Rack
NoFitState’s Artistic Director Tom Rack

 

NoFit State’s works have been described for over a decade as “no ordinary circus”. That makes for a sexy tagline but is it something that forces you to think more out of the box when it comes to devising productions?

I think when you surround yourself with extraordinary people, the only thing that is impossible is to be ordinary.

It’s not possible to keep circus people in any kind of box and everyone we work with inspires us to do something a bit different and to push at what’s possible. In these circumstances, innovation and originality are inevitable. The day we become ordinary is the day we fail.

 

Bianco has many forward-thinking concepts, not least being a dynamic promenade experience with a live band playing an original score. How are the core concepts formulated for each show? Is it wholly collaborative or does one person take the lead? Has that process changed over time?

For Bianco, the initial concepts come from Firenza who will first propose a scrapbook of ideas and images, concepts and pretexts. Then the creative team all joins in to interpret them and propose different ways they can be developed and realised.

From there, the designs and manifestations are developed and delivered and the individual artists become involved. Firenza will give them impulses or problems that they use to create the dramaturgy and chorography of their act.

Firenza very much takes the lead but it is a massive combined effort that gets it all into place.

 

A scen from Bianco by NoFit State Circus @ Big Top, Southbank Centre. Directed by Firenza Guidi. (Opening 23-11-16) ©Tristram Kenton 11/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

 

We live in austere times so why should people go out of their way to see a circus show now of all times?

Even the Romans believed in this: “two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.”

We like to think there is something for everybody in our work, it can be enjoyed and appreciated on every level by everybody. Circus can gives you thrills, lifts your spirits and make your heart race, make you feel alive. But done right it can also touch your soul and let you escape. And who doesn’t need that?

 

Please settle a bet. Is the name of your company a play on words along the lines of Moscow State Circus or something to do with the condition of the circus artists in the company?

The honest answer is both. Thirty years ago, it was about street performing, festivals and clubs and everything that went along with that. Late one night, we were trying to come up with our name and we looked at other circus names. There was Moscow State, Chinese State and the Netherlands State all working the circuit and the idea of being NoFit State made us giggle and it stuck. These days, though, the culture of the company is very different and I still like to think we are Not in a Fit State to be mainstream and our anarchist spirit is still alive and gets out now and again.

Bianco continues until 22 January 2017 on the South Bank. Tickets are £25-£39.50. More information can be found on the Southbank Centre website.

Cast pictures: Tristram Kenton

Interview: Burlesque Queen Midnite Martini On The Highs And Lows Of Her Rise To The Top

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When Midnite Martini became the highest profile burlesque performer in the world in 2014, she did it in unique style. 

Every year, the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend (BHoF) in Las Vegas awards one performer the prestigious title of Reigning Queen of Burlesque. In 2014, the South Korean-born dancer Midnite Martini took the award with an act which was very different to the more traditional acts. Her “Blue Siren” routine made superb use of her circus and aerial skills, something which literally and metaphorically elevated her above the competition’s more classically-minded contestants.

This weekend, she will be headlining Milan Extraordinaire, Italy’s first festival dedicated to burlesque and cabaret. The three-day event is produced by the founder of the Milan Burlesque School Mitzi Von Wolfgang, restaurant entrepreneur Giorgio Marchisio and top European burlesquer Cleo Viper and features many highlights from around the country and beyond.

We spoke to Midnite Martini about the challenging climb she has had to her position in burlesque royalty.


People are still talking about your winning act a year on. What was it like performing it at BHoF?

My Blue Siren act combined aerial and burlesque set to modern music. I wore a bright blue short wig and was more like a trippy anime daydream. Again, I didn’t actually think this alternative style would ever win the crown, but that’s probably why I won! I didn’t think that act really had the chance of winning, so I went out there and performed without the internal pressure. I felt the audience, the music, and performed from deep down inside.

 

Did you think that your aerial skills were a bonus when you appeared at the Burlesque Hall of Fame?

Funny enough, I never thought my “unique” style of burlesque would win at BHoF. I was very shocked when I actually won the crown. My Blue Siren act that I won with was very “neo” for what I thought BHoF wanted. I was under the impression at that time that only classic acts scored well there but, as our art form changes, so do the establishments and trends and I don’t think that is necessarily the case anymore.

 

“I’m extremely proud to be a face and voice for POC who often don’t feel seen or heard. Things like that fill my heart and soul and make me feel like I’m apart of something bigger than myself. And that is why we do it, right?”

 

I’m very honoured to be a title holder, especially with this act. I’m very proud of the fact that I am also a Performer of Color Queen and it has meant very much to have other Asian performers tell me how important it was for them to see someone that looked more like them be crowned. It gave the message that a person of Asian descent can be seen as beautiful and successful in a “Western” competition and I’m extremely proud to be a face and voice for POC who often don’t feel seen or heard. Things like that fill my heart and soul and make me feel like I’m apart of something bigger than myself. And that is why we do it, right?

 

Take us all the way back to the beginning. What first got you dancing?

I was a figure skater when I was much younger and started taking dance classes to help with my skating. Honestly, I was never that graceful as a figure skater and I really took to dancing, so after a few years I decided to hang my skates up and focus just on dancing and theatre. Soon after, I joined youth community theatre groups in addition to dance classes and that’s when I fell in love with musical theatre. I was a total “Broadway” nerd all growing up (and admittedly still today). I took as much dance and theatre as I could through school and ended up getting into what was then a pretty prestigious musical theatre programme for college.

 

I understand college was a particularly tough time for you.

In college, the musical theatre program directors were very harsh and “real” about the professional dance and theatre world. They told us all that we needed to lose weight and that it didn’t matter how much talent we had: if we didn’t have the female hourglass or the male V, we’d never be hired.

Being one of the only minorities growing up in an all-white family (I was adopted from South Korea as a baby) and living in a predominately Caucasian community, plus being female, a perfectionist, and a dancer I had already struggled with body image and self worth throughout childhood.

 

“I restricted, binged, purged, over-exercised, and became deeply depressed.”

 

After having spent most of my high school days dieting, restricting and not feeling good enough, the words from my program directors pushed me over the edge and my regular dieting and obsession with exercise turned into full blown bulimia. I restricted, binged, purged, over-exercised, and became deeply depressed.

One year later, I quit that program and transferred to a different university. There I studied psychology (which I have my degree in) and  continued to struggle with my bulimia and decided I’d never perform again.

After another year of not performing at the new university, I felt like a piece of me was missing. I wanted to start dancing again, but knew I didn’t want to go back to the traditional dance and theatre environment and yearned for a space where I could perform but keep myself healthy.

 

After all of that, how did you move into circus and burlesque? And which came first?

I found myself auditioning for a local company that combined modern dance with aerial apparatus, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance in Boulder, Colarodo. and ended up auditioning to join their company. I had never done circus or aerial before but, at that time, the company was looking for dancers who they would then train in aerial. I had always wanted to run away and join the circus so thought here’s my chance! Thankfully I got into the company; I was just 20 years old and this was a turning point that really changed the rest of my life!

I still remember the first company rehearsal I had with them in which one of the company members brought chocolate for everyone to share. I thought to myself, “What?! Is this a trick? They eat chocolate?!” and I knew that this company was a much different environment than what I was used to. They were more concerned about health, strength, and movement quality than what you looked like or what you weighed. I mean this in the most loving way, but it seemed like the circus/aerial world was a safe place for the misfits to come together and create. I felt like I had found a community to which I could relate.

 

So how did burlesque come into the picture?

Soon after joining Frequent Flyers, I had started wondering about this thing I had heard called burlesque. Honestly, I didn’t know much about it but had a sense that maybe it was another place “misfits” like myself could thrive. I started doing my research and found that there was a burlesque troupe in Denver.

I contacted the troupe leader, Vivienne VaVoom, and told her I did aerial dance and wanted to learn more about burlesque. Vivienne invited me to come watch their next show and when I did I instantly fell in love. The burlesque show had the character and quirk of musical theatre with the acceptance of performers of different shapes and sizes. I met with Vivienne after the show and told her my story and dance background.

Now, you have to keep in mind that this was back in the day, burlesque was still quite underground and unknown in Denver, and I was able to get into burlesque performance differently than what you do now. But back then Vivienne just said, “why don’t you bring two routines and perform in our next show?” And I gladly accepted!

 

“I was always fascinated with trying to surprise the audience.”

 

I used my dance and musical theatre training, developed two routines, came down to the bar (where they snuck me in the side door as I was still only 20 at the time) and performed my very first burlesque acts. Vivienne and the troupe liked what I did, they asked me to join the troupe and I performed with them for the next several years.

From there my aim was always to try and blend my dance/circus training with burlesque as seamlessly as possible. I’m sure I didn’t always succeed in this, but what true artist ever does? But my intention was always to have the different art forms flow together and create routines that were true hybrids of striptease and air/circus dancing. I also create straight aerial and straight burlesque routines, but have become most known for my aerial burlesque fusion.

I was always fascinated with trying to surprise the audience. Show them something they’ve never seen before. Sometimes that meant experimenting with moves I could do on a folding chair (like my signature stocking removal) or deconstructing feather fans to create my original design (which I call the Midnite Finger Fans). Being innovative (or attempting to be innovative) was always something that kept me inspired and interested. So I think my style and approach to burlesque really stemmed from those two driving forces, fusion and innovation.

More recently though I’m finding that my inspiration is coming more from playing with vulnerability onstage. I’m curious and excited to see how my style continues to shift as the focus of what stirs me in performance continues to morph!


The second Milan Extraordinaire takes place on 25-27 November. For full information, check out the official website.

Jeremy Goldstein Speaks Truth To Power

Jeremy Goldstein. Image: Darren Black.Read more

A new arts project co-presented by producer Jeremy Goldstein and Run-Riot founder Jamie McLaren will see a number of participants speaking out on one topic: “Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?”

Between Wednesday 21 September and Saturday 24 September, the Truth To Power Cafes at Soho Theatre will see 24 very different Londoners respond to that question and bring their own unique insight.

The tasty line-up includes LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell, director of the Live Art Development Agency Lois Keidan, environmental activist Tamsin Omond and This Is Cabaret editor-in-chief Franco Milazzo.

A long-term collaborator of New York cabaret icon Penny Arcade, Goldstein is looking forward to seeing where he can take this new project. We spoke to him about its origins and where he plans to take it.

How did the idea for this Cafe come about? Do you have any plans to take it to other cities or repeat these sessions next year?

I’ve been running London Artists Projects since 2000 but last year I decided to give it a new lease of life, so I relaunched with a renewed mission to speak truth to power.  We launched on Trafalgar Square with ACT UP London and the UK’s leading banner maker for the Trade Union movement Ed Hall.

“No single Cafe will ever be the same.”  

The event was broadcast on London Live TV and since then Ed’s ACT UP banner has been seen by 100,000 people across the capital. It was street theatre meets political activism head on and in some ways that’s where the idea for the Cafe came from.  But we can’t be on Trafalgar Square every day so I wanted to devise a simple event which we could present in venues from here to Timbuktu.

The Cafe is context-driven and participant-centred, so the challenge is to find interesting environments from which we can draw participants.  No single Cafe will ever be the same and in the future recruiting participants from within each venue/locale community will be an exciting part of the project. In November we’re off to  The Albany from 4-8 November and in January we’ll be at the Arcola Theatre from 11-13 January.

Beyond that I hope to present it on the Southbank and at Summerhall for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe.  I’d like to do one Cafe a month but it takes time to build it up.

 

“The Britain as I know it, died the day we lost the EU.”

 

2016 has arguably been the year of oratory with demagogues like Corbyn, Sanders, Trump and Farage –populist politicians that are arguably stronger on ideals than detail – pulling in huge crowds despite, or maybe because we have a jaded view of politics. Your Truth To Power Cafe will bring a diverse range of orators to Soho Theatre. How did you go about choosing your candidates?

The Britain as I know it, died the day we lost the EU.  I felt a profound sense of loss and I took it very personally. Europe had always represented a coming together for the common good, and a post war/Holocaust peace, so never before had my civil liberties been challenged in ways I did not think possible in the 21st century.

Since the referendum, I’ve been in shock trying to come to terms with that fateful decision and I know I’m not alone.

As a producer I’ve always been very social in that I like bringing people together for the common good of theatre, art and community, so I opened up my address book and invited my network. I asked them the question Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them? Word of mouth took off.

 

Truth To Power Cafe co-producer Jeremy Goldstein.
Truth To Power Cafe co-producer Jeremy Goldstein.

 

What does “Truth To Power” mean to you?

Producing independently is not for the faint-hearted and, as there’s no money in it, there has to be a higher purpose so speaking truth to power is it for me.

I’m 46 now and it took me a long time to understand why I do the things I do, why I choose to work with certain people and not others, and why those choices made my life a living hell for ten years. Only in the last two or three years, though, have I understood how important it is to stick to your guns and stand up for what you believe in.

I also believe in epigenetics and that your belief systems are in your genes.  My late father Mick was in the Jewish tradition of the international socialist left and a member of Jews Against the Occupation as well as a long-standing member of the Democratic Socialist Party.  Is it any wonder I do what I do?

As far as I can tell the origins of the phrase date back to the 18th century.  These days it is widely accepted to be a term coined by the Quakers in the 1950s as part of their search for an Alternative to Violence, so its roots are in the anti-war movement.  In simple terms, it means saying something to those in authority or position of trust don’t want to hear.  Michael Billington of the Guardian wrote “speaking truth to power is the rebirth of political theatre”.  In politics, life, love etc., it’s about taking a stand and speaking up for what you believe in.

 

“We are not there to judge or discuss, we are there to listen and listen we will.”

 

What kind of subjects will your candidates talk about? Is there anything which is verboten?

For the Soho edition participants will address everything from austerity to power structures, cultural gate keepers, men and women in suits, sexual assault, medical and environmental issues and the importance of emotional truth and empathy.  One participant, Mathilde Hawkins from Brixton, is only 16 but has given the whole concept a great deal of thought.  We’ve had a very interesting email exchange.  It will be great to meet her.

I like to think of the Cafe as a safe space where pretty much anything can be said. We are not there to judge or discuss, we are there to listen and listen we will. I don’t believe in censorship but I guess I’d have to think carefully about people using it as a platform for hate but I’m prepared to cross that bridge as and when.

 

This show is being run in tandem with Penny Arcade’s Longing Lasts Longer. How did you first meet Penny and what’s the secret behind your long working relationship?

I first met Penny Arcade in 2004.  I was opening a show with Marisa Carnesky called Ghost Train at QueerUPNorth in Manchester and Penny was at the opening night party.

We were all very young in those days with the world up our arse, and Penny sat there as this kind of all knowing oracle in the thick of it all.  Jump forward six years to 2010 and I was opening another show with Mark Ravenhill and Bette Bourne, but this time I’d reached the dizzy heights of St Ann’s Warehouse New York.  After the show there was a small private gathering in a fabulous penthouse overlooking Manhattan and who should be there but none other than Penny Arcade.  She always says exactly what’s on her mind and she came up to me and said ‘you should produce me’ so I did.

The relationship works because we are honest and treat each other well.  We respect each other’s work and are mutually non-exclusive so we do whatever we like and work with all sorts of different people.  It sounds basic I know but it’s hard to find that especially in this business, as people want to own you.  Jump forward another six years and this December we will have come full circle as the NY premiere for Longing Lasts Longer is at St Ann’s Warehouse which is where our journey began.  That’s exciting.

 

“The image led me to think of myself as an angel or message bearer seeking redemption.”

 

For The Truth To Power Cafe, you’ve arranged a special banner. Can you tell us more about that?

This year I’ve been writing a play within which I appear as a DJ and an Angel.  We spent a day filming for it in July, and I created this persona and costume on set.

It was all improvised and done during the course of a morning, but the image I made was very powerful and it felt like a good fit in terms of The Truth to Power Cafe. The image led me to think of myself as an angel / message bearer seeking redemption from injustice, poverty, famine, war, inequality and so on – themes which reoccur when we speak truth to power.  I then gave a copy of the image to Ed Hall who designed the banner which is now 7ft high x 5ft wide.

Most people know Ed’s work through his collaborations with Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller and last year he designed for Caryl Churchill at the National as well our event on Trafalgar Square.  He’s an amazing artist with a wonderful aesthetic.  The banner is a poignant statement.  It will hang at the Cafe.

 

Other than the Cafe and Penny’s show, what else are you working on at the moment?

My play called Mick’s Friend which I want to put on next year.  It was originally my father Mick’s play but I’ve adapted it with his oldest friend, the actor and poet Henry Woolf who is now 86.

Henry and Mick grew up in Hackney and were evacuated from London together during the War.  After the War they met their other great friend, the playwright Harold Pinter and became known as the Hackney Gang.  Harold wrote Mick into his one and only novel The Dwarfs which was later adapted for a BBC 4 Film and Henry directed Harold’s first ever production of The Room in 1957 and went on to work with Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles and Ralph Richardson.  Harold, Henry and Mick were friends for life and all appear in the play with Henry as himself.

Mick Friend’s mixes fact and fiction to create a memory play which shifts between time and space to celebrate the power of friendship and family and the lengths we go to preserve it.  The play is totally unique and utterly authentic and I’m really proud of it.  I can’t wait to do it.

The Truth To Power cafes will take place from 21-24 September 2016 at Soho Theatre. Tickets are £3. More information can be found on the Soho Theatre website.

“Drag, Like Queerness Itself, Is Limitless”

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Briefs, a recurring darling of the South Bank’s London Wonderground, opens next week with a new look. Led by the bearded beauty that is Fez Fa’anana and featuring star performer Captain Kidd (past winner of the King Of Burlesque title, as anointed by the world-renowned Burlesque Hall of Fame), the Australian all-male circus-comedy-drag extravaganza now includes James Welsby (above), a choreographer and performer working extensively in contemporary dance and cabaret.

He is already established down under where Gay News Network listed him as one of the of “25 LGBT People to Watch in 2015″.  As well as bring the founder and director of the award-winning Phantom Limbs, he has produced his own drag cabaret show Yummy. He will be taking over the slot recently vacated by Dallas Dellaforce who has retired from the show.

 

How did you come to be a part of Briefs?
I’ve been moving in similar circles as Briefs for the last few years, and I got to know the boys through arts festival contexts. I was a company dancer for seven years, and have been working in cabaret (The Burlesque Hour) and drag (across Melbourne and Berlin) for the last three, so Briefs is a perfect fit. I died and came back to life when they asked me to work with them.

 

Drag has been through a sea-change over the last decade or so, especially thanks to shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. On the one hand, some would say that it has given drag a higher profile which has allowed queens to find space in the mainstream. Others point to the more alternative and less TV-friendly forms of drag being pushed to the margins. What’s your take?

I think the scope of drag has been blown wide open world-wide, and people have realised that drag, like queerness itself, is limitless. It can be as glamorous as it can be comic, or as other-worldly as familiar. I love RuPaul’s Drag Race so much, and I love alternative club drag too.

I think Drag Race has hosted some incredible avant garde queens as well as the gorgeous pageant girls.  My personal faves have been Manila, Yara Sofia, Milk, Alaska, Pearl, Violet, and Kim Chi. They are all very visual. I adore every RuGirl though, and they’ve each brought something different and interesting.

I like how alternative drag can abandon conventions (like tucking or ‘realness’), and can put a spin on audience expectations. Those performers play by their own rules, and don’t try to fit in, they try and stand out. My favourite club queens are Benjamin Hancock, James Andrews, Karen From Finance, Hungry, Mikey Woodbridge, and Betty Grumble. They’re all extremely visual too, and slay in the performance department. But there’s really too many to name – how much time do you have?

 

“We’re all in the margins – some just more than others.”

 

Probably not as long as you’ll need! Where do you see drag fitting into the wider world of entertainment?

Drag has always had a place in pop culture, especially throughout theatre history. Shakespeare, pantomime, musicals, late night entertainment. Drag has always been there – maybe the difference now is that drag is not relegated to comedy and pastiche. It’s found it’s feet in the art and fashion world, and people use drag to deliver design ideas and performance skills, while simultaneously breaking gender expectations.

I don’t think I’d say drag has fallen into mainstream pop culture though. Even if there is a wider audience for it, it’s a subversive art form and thrives the best in queer spaces. I still feel unsafe walking down the street in drag sometimes, because when fucking with gender norms, the world may still respond with violence. That’s our reality as queer entertainers. We’re all in the margins – some just more than others.

 

We loved the look of Yummy from what we saw in the trailer. How did that show come about and will it come to the UK at any point?
Yummy is my drag cabaret that I was working on before I joined Briefs. I’ve done seasons of it in Melbourne and Berlin. It’s an incredible mix of performers who pack a punch and bring something super colourful and edgy to the stage. It’s an inclusive mix of various drag and allied artists, and it’s really so damn fun. Right now I’m focusing on Briefs, and loving every minute of it, but perhaps Yummy will shine in the future.

 

Looking at your videos, it seems that you are a very physical performer. Would you say that was reflected in your current work for Briefs? For those who have seen only your predecessor, how would you say you differed as a performer?

I studied at The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), specialising in contemporary dance, so that influences my work. I also do voguing and tap, so that has a presence too. Those skills are definitely reflected in my current acts with Briefs.

Dallas Dellaforce is a legendary queen, and one of my personal faves! We decided to go in a different direction with my presence in the show and focus on a different look and feel. Dallas channels the likes of Thierry Mugler, and I channel the likes of Gareth Pugh. It’s fierce in a different way.

 

Finally, are there any British drag queens you’re looking forward to seeing while you’re over here?

I saw Myra DuBois recently in Edinburgh – I love British queens so much, they always bring it! Manchester queens have been serving some seriously incredible looks, and the Sink the Pink crowd obviously have the best fun ever. I want to meet every Soho and East London Queen I can. Come at me Brits!

Briefs officially opens on 13 September with previews running from 6 September. Tickets are £17.00 (including £1 online booking fee) and can be bought from the official London Wonderground website.

 

#EdFringe Interview With Laura London: “Magic Wasn’t Considered A Woman’s Job For A Long Time”

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Instantly recognisable by her flame-coloured hairdo, magician Laura London has been a staple on the capital’s cabaret scene for a number of years. This August, she has taken her debut one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time.

At the Voodoo Rooms until 28 August, Cheat explores the real-life world of card-shark, gambler and sleight-of-hand artist Geraldine Hartmann in 1919 through her diary entries. Whiskey, love and money all play a part in this tale but the real reveal is London giving the lowdown on the magic she performs. Audiences will be let into the secrets of how the hustlers of Hartmann’s day made their money from mystified marks.

We spoke to Laura about her show and why, as an industry, magic has so few high profile female proponents.


I’ve seen you doing close-up magic for a number of years now. Where does your fascination for this branch of magic come from?

For the last 15 years I have worked as a magician. But four years ago I took the decision to focus mainly on sleight of hand card magic.

It always fascinated me and was my favourite kind of magic to watch, practice and perform. There’s something aesthetically pleasing about a deck of playing cards; I love that something so small can create such wonder.

 

Me and you both, though I suspect we may be talking about different things. What was the impetus behind the new show? Did it stem from a Eureka moment or is it something that has coalesced over time?

I first had the idea to write Cheat three years ago when I discovered my family had a bit of a dark side. In the 1920s, my family were publicans from Birmingham into illegal gaming, horses as well as card games. Through this, I discovered some very interesting people. The show is inspired by one of those discoveries.

 

You’re well known for your flaming red hairdo. What inspired that look?  

Strangely, my image is a toned down version of my former self. As a teenager I was a bit of a punk, always having crazy hairdos and a rather odd fashion sense. I wanted to be taken seriously so I changed my style a little, but kept the red hair so that I still felt like myself.

 

“Magic wasn’t considered a woman’s job for a long time.”

 

Magic is one of the few entertainment genres which still lacks a strong female presence at the top. Why do you think that is? Is it institutional or down to the available talent?

We have had some incredibly talented female magicians through the years. Like Mercedes Talma who was very well known in the early 1900s and was dubbed ‘The Queen of Coins’ for her sleight of hand skill and her ability to produce coins from thin air.  It is true though that none have really hit the big time in more recent generations.

I wouldn’t say it’s a lack of talent though. I would say it has more to do with the fact that magic wasn’t considered a woman’s job for a long time, but now that’s changing as more and more young girls are considering magic as a real career.

 

Magic is increasingly a team sport (Impossible, The Illusionists, Killer Magic, Now You See Me etc). Do you think the era of headline name magicians like David Copperfield, Paul Daniels and David Blaine has come to an end or is it a cyclical thing?

I think magic is as strong as it ever was. It’s true that these shows aren’t creating or focusing on one talent but I believe there will always be someone that shines through on their own. Dynamo and Troy are very well known here in the UK but they certainly won’t be the last we discover.

 

“I think magic needs to be shaken up a little.”

 

Every genre goes through a phase of being seen as niche then going mainstream before retreating to niche status again (for example, see drag before and after RuPaul’s Drag Race took off). Where do you think magic is now?

I think magic needs to be shaken up a little. There’s too many shows with wonderful backdrops and flashy props but have little continuity or substance.

I would love to see more shows like Derren Brown’s. He uses his skill to say something and make us think. The public are as interested in how things work and the story than they are in just being fooled. 

 

Cards must be some of the most difficult theatrical props around, being hard to see from a distance and harder to distinguish and engage with meaningfully. How do you get around this with your show?

I will be telling a story about a female card cheat from the 1920s, demonstrating the techniques she used and shared in her personal journal. I have worked hard on the presentation so that all those demonstrations can be seen clearly. Spectators will also be invited to join me on stage and watch up close and personal.

 

Final question: if magic hadn’t been a viable career for you, what would you have done?

Had I not been a magician, I’d most likely have ended up in prison.

 

Laura London’s Cheat can be seen at Voodoo Rooms until 28 August. For timings and ticket information, see the official Edinburgh Fringe Festival website listing

Image: James Millar

Richard O’Brien: New Rocky Horror Film Is “Misconceived And Badly Cast”

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The much-anticipated comeback of The Stripper, a musical play created by Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley opens this week at St James Theatre, London.

Set in California, 1961, this tale of ecdysiastic intrigue is an exquisite take on film noir and will appeal to all fans of the genre. The cast features The Bodyguard‘s Gloria Onitiri as Deadpan Dolores and Sebastien Torkia as Al Wheeler with Vivien of Holloway providing the retro costuming and sponsorship.

Eternally famous for his work behind and in front of the camera for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, O’Brien now lives in New Zealand. We caught up with him to ask why people should see The Stripper.


Hello! You’ve described The Stripper before as “the coolest evening you’ve ever had in your entire life.” What do you think it says to a modern audience? Do you see it as a period piece or something which still has a strong connection to the contemporary?

It is most definitely a ‘very specific’ period piece. It is set in that moment where the American Dream had come true and was about to take a nose dive with the death of JFK. A time when men’s clothing and attitudes became a touch more narcissistic and sex became to be regarded as even more of a man’s prerogative.

This is the time of The Rat Pack. James Bond. Madison Avenue. Old Spice and Blue Note Jazz.

 

And I noticed that you’ve appeared in a past version of this play. Is there any chance at all that you’ll be popping up in this latest outing?

Sadly, I shall not be there as I have work commitments out here in New Zealand.

 

Damn. Now that you’re half a world away from Blighty, what are are your most enduring memories of London nightlife? 

I lived in London for almost fifty years and, through that time I was in various financial states which, of course governed my ability to enjoy the night life. Each of these stages was interesting.

What I used to love was people ringing the doorbell of my house in the early hours of the morning and waking me up. We always find a bottle of something and spend a few hours chatting and laughing. I wouldn’t welcome it now however.

 

“The Rocky Horror Show defies categorisation.”

 

Your works have an enduring appeal if the London theatre landscape is anything to go by. There’s a new film version of Rocky Horror on its way, The Crystal Maze is now an interactive experience, We gave Shock Treatment a favourable review when it appeared last year and now we have The Stripper at the St James’ Theatre. What’s the secret to creating art that talks to people across decades and, in the case of Rocky Horror, entire generations?

The Rocky Horror Show defies categorisation. It is a work of juvenilia that really shouldn’t have enjoyed the longevity that it has but continues to delight audiences both old and new.

My writing is driven by the sole purpose of entertainment and, as I am not an intellectual, it would be foolish and pretentious of me to attempt to introduce heavyweight themes into my offerings.

 

What’s your considered opinion of West End musicals Kinky Boots and Mrs Henderson Presents which use drag and nudity respectively as USPs? Do you feel Rocky Horror did it bigger and better back in the day?

Both these shows approach these themes with a knowingness that borders upon smugness. It is a dangerous road to take as being too pleased with yourself will undermine the comedy invested in the works.

 

“The producer and director seem to have missed the point entirely.”

 

There have been mixed reactions to the new film version of Rocky Horror. What’s your message to fans of the original who are not sure whether to see this version?

I think that it is a project that is misconceived and (sadly for the players) badly cast. The producer and director seem to have missed the point entirely. I will say no more as I may be tempted to say too much.

 

One more question: there have been a number of high profile deaths over the last year. Did you feel any of them particularly keenly? 

We all have to shuffle off the stage at some time. The deaths that affect me the most are those of dearly loved ones and those who are regarded as collateral damage by those should know better.

The Stripper will be at St James Theatre from Thursday 7 July until 13 August. Performances: Monday – Thursday evenings at 8pm, Friday & Saturday evenings at 8.30pm and Friday & Saturday matinees at 5pm. For previews, ticket prices are £15/£25/£30 and £20/£25/£29.50/£35 thereafter. More information can be found on the St James Theatre website.

Le Gateau Chocolat: “The Disenfranchised Need A Voice, Society Needs A Mirror, Governments Need To Be Held Accountable”

Le Gateau Chocolat will be re-appearing at the Spiegeltent on 30 July.Read more

To call Le Gateau Chocolat a unique individual may be the understatement of the century. The larger-than-life alt-drag bass singer who turned down a career in law has trotted the globe with the Olivier Award-winning La Soiree, raised the roof with barnstorming Spiegeltent shows, movingly revealed the intimate details of his life in BLACK and paid tribute to his favourite stars in new show ICONS.

He’s also shown he can play well with others. His A Night at the Musicals with East End drag legend Jonny Woo debuted at the Adelaide Festival earlier this year but has been seen before and after around London at venues as diverse as thriving gay pub The Glory and upmarket pizza parlour basement The Pheasantry. This year has also seen him step onto the National Theatre stage in the latest version of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera.

Next week will see him in a very different environment, that of Latitude Festival (14-17 July). He will be appearing there as part of Soho Theatre’s contribution to the cabaret tent which also features dysfunctional magicians Peter & Bambi  Heaven, alt-dragster Christeene, singer Bridget Everett and comedian Sam Campbell.

We spoke to him as he prepares to entertain Latitude’s wellied masses.


You have had your fingers quite a few pies over the last year, not least ICONS, A Night At The Musicals, La Soiree, The Threepenny Opera and, this summer, your appearance at the Latitude Festival. Apart from filthy lucre, what draws you to a particular project or show?

Sometimes it was the opportunity to work with another artist. With A Night At The Musicals it was Jonny Woo and with ICONS, it was Marty Hailey, musical director extraordinaire.

It’s also important for me to explore new platform and new stages. At the National, I had the opportunity to grow as an artist and extend my audience reach while BLACK gave me the chance to work with the orchestra Psappha Ensemble.

There are so many considerations to be made when making decisions. For instance, there was a spring tour booked for BLACK; Dundee, Manchester, Adelaide but the opportunity to play on the the National stage, in the much respected Threepenny Opera with (National Theatre Artistic Director) Rufus Norris at the helm was too good to miss. Thankfully the presenters from all the respective venues and festivals agreed and were conscientious enough to release and reschedule the project.

 

“It’s incumbent on the performer to help people forget, dream, imagine, feel.”

 

A festival tent is not your usual theatrical space. How do you modify your performance to that kind of environment?

Firstly, by not making a fringe or tent show but by always committing to make the best show you can at the point of its inception.

Yes, some of my repertoire is better suited to black box or theatrical environments but my first show, for instance, played both the Bosco tent at Brighton Fringe and the theatre at Menier Chocolate Factory. It’s incumbent on the performer to assemble the ingredients necessary to help people forget, dream, imagine, feel, be entertained from lights to dramaturgical considerations – all these story telling tools must never be undermined.

Also, I think there is currency to be had in relishing the juxtaposition of high art in low places or vice versa. Doing the running man with Sharlene from Basement Jaxx looking like a loofah sponge on the Barbican stage was simply heaven.

 

When not on stage, will you be gadding about the festival or will this just be a flying visit?

I think it might be a flying visit though Jonny Woo has just asked if I might be interested in a singing with the Glory presentation. I think Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: The Opera) might be on piano and I love him. He’s hilarious.

 

“Going beyond one’s comfort zone breeds an exponential growth and learning that can’t be taught.” 

 

Kurt Weill, who provided the music to The Threepenny Opera, was encouraged by his parents and tutors to go down a more elitist and traditional career path yet he felt that music should be something enjoyed by all. Should classically-trained artists be encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone and reach out to the public?

After not taking up a place at Guildhall and being subsequently rejected by the Royal Academy, not thinking laterally was imperative.

The operatic stages are seldom peopled by minorities and as I much as I love the art form, it does nothing to encourage or inspire me to pursue it, for it becomes an exhausting enterprise but that’s a much longer conversation.

Imagine the time when I could’ve taken my niece, in the Seventies at the Met, to see Leontyne Price sing Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly? Incredible. In that vein, rather wonderful to read of Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Young Musician of the Year win.  Going beyond one’s comfort zone breeds an exponential growth and learning that can’t be taught.

 

What is the role, then, for the government or the academies in realising an artist’s potential? 

Whether there’s a “happy ever after” is often down to all three of the government, the academies and most importantly, the artist. Not everyone who train is going to be working at the opera house or ENO or Opera North etc but it doesn’t mean one is a failure.

There are so many avenues to explore. And I think seeds of industriousness should be planted by academies to encourage to dream big but with tenaciousness and variety.  I think the government have an important role to play but that’s a much bigger conversation and certain not with jokes like Nicky Morgan as the minister for education downgrading the important of arts in our society in praise of STEM subjects.

 

“The disenfranchised need a voice, society needs a mirror, governments need to be held accountable.”

 

The classical arts are still very much perceived as something done by and for the white middle classes, chiefly in London. Would you say that was an accurate description? Do you see this ever changing? 

It very much is. I have only ever experienced a truly diverse audience at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool. A little at the Albany but everywhere else, it’s been mostly as you describe: white middle class.

Even at Edinburgh Fringe. That said, being in the audiences of both Amen Corner at the National and In the Heights was really thrilling as they were very mixed. I will say, it has been extraordinary rehearsing at the National at the moment; The Flick, The Suicide, Le Blanc, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom– all playing.

There’s a comfort, an encouraging comfort that comes from that level of diversity. And hopefully, the programming reaches out to different communities and showcases the very concept that theatre and art is for everybody.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” said Banksy. Never a truer word said. The disenfranchised need a voice, society needs a mirror, governments need to be held accountable. Voices are found, developed and amplified with the support of public arts funding. The importance of which should never be undermined or over estimated.

We live in a world where Idris Elba is “too street” to play Bond. A black Hermione despite approval from the author J.K. Rowling, breeds such outrage. Again, I think there’s a much bigger conversation here. I take the responsibility of this platform very seriously, we could talk about this for hours but whilst the conversation needs to be had, one must continue to seek different avenues and platforms to show work.

 

Do you think the shrinking purse of public arts funding will encourage or restrict artists from alternative backgrounds breaking through?

BLACK was created with such funds. Duckie, who I working with, was unfortunately unsuccessful in its bid but was thankfully still workshopped with the kind support of Colchester Arts Centre, the Wolsey Theatre and Norwich Arts Centre. Restricting this funding or constant cuts to it will mean whole communities might not be heard and the privileged remain de riguer.

 

 

Where can people see you after Latitude Festival?

I’m at The Threepenny Opera at the National till September, ICONS in soho theatre at some point this year, Duckie, a new family show being discussed as a Christmas run at the Southbank, BLACK will be at the Dublin Theatre Festival followed by an autumn tour somewhere in London.

Failing all of that, there for the travelling amongst you (should this materialise, I might actually die) Wagner’s Tannhauser in, wait for it, Bayreuth!

Latitude Festival takes place this year from Thursday 14-Sunday 17 July. 

Fancy Chance Goes Back To The Beginning In Her New Show

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In a scene which thrives on variety, Fancy Chance has one of the most diverse repertoires of all. We’ve seen her as a drag king at Alternative Eurovision, stripping at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, hair-hanging at The Double R Club and The Raunch and telling about her earliest days as part of Nathan Evan’s ensemble show I Love You But We Only Have Fourteen Minutes To Save The Earth.

She has teamed up with Evans again for her new one-woman soirée Fancy Chance: Flights Of Fancy which will be at Soho Theatre on 21 and 22 June. Once again, she’ll be talking candidly about her childhood in Korea and America and her inexorable rise to being one of the most unpredictable stars of the London cabaret scene.

Before she tells the audience everything, we got our own exclusive insight into this much-admired performer and put to her some of our most burning questions.


Let’s get the most burning question out of the way first. What’s the inspiration behind your name?

It’s actually quite simple. I was asked to by Indigo Blue to be in BurlyQ: A Queer Cabaret burlesque troupe and had to choose a stage name. I liked the term “fancy pants” and the song Fancy by Bobby Gentry and decided do a play on words. Ironically it makes more sense in the UK but rhymes more with an American accent.

 

How does this show related to your part of I Love You But…? Will you use that as a starting point or are you taking a new approach?

I gained a lot confidence in my performing capabilities with that show. It really showed how well Nathan and I work together, so it was only natural that I have a stab at doing a solo show. Most of the material is actually new but drawing on themes and subjects I’ve used before and I Love You But…. has inspired certain parts.

 

What still appeals about cabaret? What in particular drove you to perform in this corner of the entertainment business in the first place? 

I’m still in this “business” partly because I don’t know what else I can do and there is a great sense of community and creativity all around.

I accidentally ended up in cabaret as a “profession”. I started out just doing weird dance and band projects as a hobby. When I did burlesque, I found out that my sense of humour translated well on stage.

In the early 2000s, neo-burlesque scene was still quite varied and had a playful experimental punk quality to it; it really gave me an education about stagecraft without the pressure of trying to satisfy the audiences’ expectations. Next thing I knew, I was getting booked and I was working harder to create interesting and fun pieces and was eventually able to support myself.

 

Fancy Chance hair-hanging as part of The Double R Club’s 2014 show at the London Wonderground.

 

You’ve covered more genres than most cabaret artists, not least drag, circus, burlesque and performance art. What gives you the impetus to explore new areas rather than, as some do, just mine one particular art form? 

I think all of them can overlap and I’ve just naturally ended up covering those different genres because it it was what was asked of me either by myself or a production.  As the years of experience have increased, I find that I can’t actually stick to a particular art form.

 

Do you ever worry about repeating yourself?

I worry about being good. I don’t care about repeating myself as long as what I’m doing is quality shit.

 

Through all your different acts, would you say there was an artistic or personal thread through them all?

Absolutely! I find that the only good material I’ve created has come from something that I’ve taken a personal interest in or draws from my experiences.

 

Do you have a preferred or typical creative processes when working on new acts or the latest show?

Full on freak out mode, wine and a hot glue gun.

 

You often work alone but you are currently appearing in as part of Empress Stah’s The Raunch. What persuaded you to join the show?

I’ve known and worked in the same circles as Stah for ages now and loved the concept of the show. I really didn’t need persuading.

Stah is the director but we developed the acts that I appear in together with the songs that had been chosen. It’s been amazing hair hanging so many times in a row. I really feel that part of my skill set is improving.

 

One of our favourite routines of yours sees you transform from a Kim Jong-il character to Prince. Where did you get the idea for that pairing?

I think I’ve only done the Kim Jong il to Prince once! I did it for Alternative Eurovision with the most hilarious set of backing dancers. I do believe I got cabaret royalty to dress in skimpy leotards, sunglasses and scarves. I had already been satirising Kim Jong Il for ages and had been doing lots of appearances as Prince and thought pairing them together for Eurovision was perfect. North Korea was like Israel.

 

Now that both men have died, have you retired it?

Only when I DIE.

 

Fancy Chance can be seen in her one-woman show Fancy Chance: Flights Of Fancy at Soho Theatre on 21 and 22 June.