Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Conversation With Lady Jack

There are many reasons to attend this Saturday's Rooftop Shuffle, which is taking place this Saturday night at the Lakeview Baseball Club on Sheffield Ave. There's open bar and delicious food. There's the spectacular view of the legendary deserted Wrigley Field, where George Halas, Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers held court for a time (when a baseball team called the Cubs weren't in there). There's live music by the incredible Cain Mutiny, the Wanton Looks, ROYCE and DJ Chas. There are valuable prizes to be won. There's the comedy of host Stanley Grabowski, fresh from his triumphant East Coast tour capped by four standing-room only shows in Key West, FL. All this for a mere 40 bones.

And then there's Lady Jack, perhaps the most unique performer the Factory has ever seen at events like this. Her Facebook fan page describes Lady Jack as "a solo Burlesque performer....that conspire[s] to create worlds of midnight festival, magic and eroticism for an audience that wants to play." Intrigued? Read on....in an EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Lady Jack in advance of the Saturday night show.

How did you first become interested in vaudeville/burlesque?

It began more with an interest in macabre storytelling, physical theatre, narrative dance, music videos, Erte (an art deco fashion designer), female archetypes, magical realism, and eroticism in art. Put that in a giant vat and combine it with the tendency to create characters that go through a metamorphosis and and you sort of have burlesque.

I actually started out with a character concept of "Lady Jack" -- the name was inspired by playing a role of a Jack in the Box in a show. I kept the jester/trickster concept, added a flair of sexy....and Lady Jack was born. But I first began exploring the concept through a duo "Jack and Jinx", which was very much a concept of Vaudeville meets the live music video. Then I branched off from that into solo burlesque -- both character/story based performance art versions and classic/neo striptease.

Besides the launch party, what are you working on these days?

I just produced my first show at Debonair Social Club (Carnival Burlesque on September 16), which met with great success! I will be producing a Halloween burlesque night there on October 28 and I am already excited about it. I am also playing the title role of Queenie, a burlesque star from the 20s, in Silent Theatre Company's production of "The Wild Party" -- Fridays at 8 and 10:30 at the Prop Theatre through the first week of August. We are running a variety show in tandem on Saturday nights at 10:30.

I typically work with Oona Productions, Silent Theatre, Angela Eve and Eve's Parlor Varietease Cabaret, Vaudezilla Productions, Mo' Roses Productions and have performed often at Debonair Social Club and Theatro. Shows are always popping up with these groups and venues!

I have to ask, since your costumes are so awesome -- do you design your own costumes, or do you just mix and match, or does someone help you out with that and do your costumes?

Thanks! It's a combo of both. Mostly mixing and matching and I do some embellishment. I. Am. NOT. Crafty. So I try to keep that to a minimum. When I can work with a costume designer I go for Barb Staples. She is phenomenal.

Book you are currently reading:
I'm actually reading one -- hooray! It is Interpreter of Maladies. So very good. I'd forgotten I actually enjoy reading. We are so driven by the Internet now.

Also...do you choose your costumes on look, or how they feel, or how easy it is take them off in time to the music?

All of the above. It was a learning curve -- which I'm still riding on -- that costume removal process is extremely important to burlesque. I'm more focused on dance and story and concept and timing. But the more I get into the more striptease elements I see how important the costuming is to the piece.

I stay home to watch:

Hard-core pornography. Obviousssssly. No, I'm kidding. No....I'm serious. Well. Maybe I...uh...(cough)....Were you asking about books? What?

(Laughing nervously) Hahaha! Jeez, what WAS I asking about now? Um...so --are you a Lisa Ann gal or a Deauxma fan, or do you prefer the old-school Vanessa Del Rio stuff? And what's the deal with the MILF Hunter? I can't stand that guy.

MILF HUNTER? I just checked out the Web site for the first time in my life. I smell deceit and deception. I don't think there are MILFs on the Web site. Nor were they hunted. Just a personal educated hypothesis.

Wait just a second! Are you suggesting that this entire site is NOT what it claims, and that all involved are in fact PAID for their -- oh, whoops! My kids just walked in. Time to switch gears -- you seem to have worked with quite a few photographers. What do you look for in a photographer, and do you find the whole process tedious or exciting?

Exciting. I love working with photographers. In terms of what I would look for, it entirely depends on the project. But one thing I hope for is that the photographer gives creative input whether it is my project or theirs. Another thing is trust and respect in the situation. And thirdly, I prefer working with someone with whom I can get a great improvisatory groove going, where I just feel free to shift continuously until they ask me to pause to make a slight adjustment.

I really don't care for being posed from the get-go. It goes back to the trust and respect issue. I'm a trained actor and dancer, so I feel like I can accomplish some goals without being treated like a mannequin. A good photographer acts like a good director. So being posed straight-off is like having a director telling you exactly how to say a line, before you've even worked on the character. I even had a photographer I had just met (and there was no money on the line) walk up to me at the top of the shoot and physically place my arm where he wanted it. Punch.

If I could hang out with anyone for a night, it would be:

Let's go with a double date -- Obama and me, Kanye West and Taylor Swift. I live life on the edge, people.

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