As we’re making merry this holiday season, we’re interviewing various members of the Walking Fish/B. Someday family. Anna Frangiosa, also known as Annie A-Bomb of Revival Burlesque, Cabaret Red Light and The Philadelphia School of Burlesque, answered ten questions for us during a break from preparing for the upcoming show, A Burlesque Carol. Take a look!
For those of us who might have been living under a rock for the past 150 years, what is burlesque and how does it differ from other performance art forms?
Many people still don’t know what burlesque is, or they think it is classic strip tease. It is classic strip tease, but traditionally it includes satire and other types of short acts and skits, from magicians to musical acts. If you wiki or google the word you’ll find that the definition is “making fun of high culture”, so it is a populist form of theater, often a cheap ticket, and a show satirizing the high brow entertainments of the day. There was big time and small time theater back before film became the entertainment of the day, there were big and small burlesque stars. Burlesque doesn’t take itself too seriously, and has always had defend itself from critics. People who say it is smut or has no place in the arts probably don’t know what it is, or are people with a repressed sense of fun.
What was your path to burlesque?
I studied anthropology and fashion design in college, and graduated from FIT and Temple. I came to burlesque in the late 1990’s when was an aspiring costume designer, and a retro head into all kinds of vintage stuff. I grew up watching old films and I knew what vaudeville and burelsque was from an early age.
This isn’t your only recurring burlesque gig. How does Revival Burlesque differ from Cabaret Red Light?
I like to describe Revival as like “Kids in the Hall with boobs”, or “SNL with boobs”. We make pop culture references and we run the gamate stylistically show by show. And Cabaret Red Light is run by bunch of commies who want to start a revolution. Cabaret Red Light has live, original music by the Blazing Cherries. CRL’s the Seven Deadly Sins takes place in hell and features various guest host “devils”.
You’re also the headmistress of The Philadelphia School of Burlesque. What’s the best benefit you get from that endeavor?
I get to meet a lot of women who are real characters. For some reason ladies interested in burlesque are creative and awesome! And I’m able to build the burlesque community in Philadelphia.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had as a performer?
Either performing at the Union League in the hall were the President of the United States dines when he comes to Philly (I think they said that all of them have dined there!) He wasn’t there, it was a private Christmas Party. OR Riding with the Axis of Eve girls during the 2004 presidential election when they came to Philly to get out the vote. We were “Fairies for Kerry”!
A Christmas Carol has had every possible permutation of revision, adaptation and satire since its original publication in 1843. Why do you think its popularity has endured for so long?
I think A Christmas Carol is timeless because there will always be miserable, greedy people. We fantasize about how they could just, “wake up one morning and see the light”. The Scrooge character does this, so we think, “Why not Rush Limbaugh?”
What do you want audiences to come away with after seeing one of your shows?
You’ll have to ask them.
What are you reading these days?
E.T.A Hoffman short stories which are for a upcoming project, Sexus by Henry Miller, and I’m always reading books about how to make stuff. Puppets and knitting are often the subject of these how -to books lately.
What’s under your bed?
Summer clothes, bed sheets, and my cats.
If you could have any three famous people, living or dead, over for lunch, who would you invite and what would you serve?
Sean Penn, George W. Bush, and Fidel Castro. If Fidel isn’t alive switch to Susan Sarandon instead.
Revival Burlesque’s next show, A Burlesque Carol, will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone. It’s playing this weekend, Friday, December 11, Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13. All performances start at 8pm. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit our website at www.walkingfishtheatre.com. Thanks!