Saturday, May 21, 2011

Behind the Scarlet Curtain: Fosse Jack (Part I)

My name is Fosse Jack. At least it is in some circles. To others I am James or Jim (even Jimmy if you’ve known me long enough), but I would greatly appreciate it if you never call me Jimbo, or make clichéd Star Trek references concerning the deceased. I don’t find it humorous.

I am a dancer, an actor, a singer, and a burlesque performer. I am a producer, a director, and a theatrical writer. I am a friend, and lover; a brother and son. I am a social idealist, and think communism is a really cool idea. I believe in loving your food, and treating both animals and the environment responsibly and humanely. I consider myself a spiritual disciple of a man shrouded in myth.

I love Burlesque and Musical Theatre; Lady Gaga, and Jason & DeMarco; soccer and hiking; Hiyao Miyazaki and C.S. Lewis; Tennessee Williams, and Mary Zimmerman; Dungeons & Dragons, and video games. I am a knight in shining armor, a bleeding heart idealist, and a fashion loving urbanite. I am gay, in both the contemporary and archaic senses of the word, “vanilla chai” and poly. I am many things, and I am always discovering more about myself.

I grew up in the south eastern United States, Georgia to be specific. From the tender age of 5 I lived in the college town called Statesboro, connected Georgia Southern University, than in a rural suburb of said college town. I started high school in a farming community called Brooklet (I kid you not), and I spent most of my summers on the Gulf of Mexico. It was a pleasant way to grow up; if hot, muggy, and entirely too filled with biting critters. I had good friends, suffered less than my fair share of childhood torment, and had a family that loved, supported and expected a lot of me.

Within our southern, Bible Belt community, my family was considered ‘moderate’ … or in PNW terms, not-quite raging conservatives. Born into and raised in the United Methodist tradition I was a firm if naïve Christian.

I loved the stories in the Bible, and could tell you many of them by heart. I loved the poetry of Genesis 1, the stories of David and Jonathan (Jonathan is still my favorite biblical character), the imagery in Ezekiel, and the stories of Jesus. I embraced the teachings of love, forgiveness above all, and could never stomach the idea of eternal damnation, and argued against the concept of a loving God who could willingly condemn someone to suffer forever. It just wasn’t right.

Still, I was socially conservative. I frowned on alcohol, thought heavy metal music just a little bit evil, and couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like Jesus. I felt that sex belonged in the realm of marriage, not because marriage was necessarily holy, but that sex was and belonged in a ‘temple’ of sorts. I followed the main stream Christian stance on homosexuality, and marriage, but in truth I had no real concept of what it meant to be homosexual. I just thought… they are doing something kind of icky. What that “icky” stuff was, exactly, was beyond me. In fact if you had asked me if I knew any gay people, I would have said no. I probably was friends with several, and just never assumed or understood. I still don’t like making assumptions about people, but back than… I couldn’t. I had no reference. I was so far in the closet, that I was “in Narnia” and I had no intention of leaving that place anytime soon.

My family moved to the West Coast when I was a sophomore in high school, to a little town called Hoquiam. A place more socially backwards and depressing that the tiny farming community I had lived in, in Georgia. It was a place where ‘rednecks and hicks” did not have the excuse of actually being farmers. It was a place where I grew disgusted of liberals who abused the system, and conservative who were afraid of the system. There was no idealism, and no tradition. It felt like a lost world. 

I finished a year of high school in Hoquiam before enrolling in the Running Start Program and attending class at the local college, almost exclusively. My goal was to be done with Hoquiam quickly.

After graduating with my HS Diploma and AA Degree, I made the decision to attend Seattle Pacific University. My plan (since I was ten or twelve) was to go into Christian ministry, and SPU was the next step in that plan.

Little did I know that Seattle Pacific University, a conservative Free Methodist school populated largely by conservative Presbyterian students, would be THE turning point in my life. My journey from here would take me to where I am today, not through the backlash that conservatism can sometimes induce, but through a gentle opening into a wider world and the removal of the blinders I had long permitted myself to wear.

[Behind the Scarlet Curtain is a monthly blog series that looks at the lives of people in and around the Burlesque Community. What drives us to do what we do? Where do we come from? Are we different from everyone else? As I get to know people in the community I find that I want to get to know them ever more. If you are interested in being interviewed for this series of biographical shorts, please contact me at]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Match Game: Cher Wars

Ok, so last night I had the opportunity to go see Match Game at The Rendezvous, for the first time.  Wow! What a delightful cluster f*ck of personalities and bad humor.  Mimicking the old 60s/70s game shows, Match Game pits audience members against each other to see who can best get into the minds of the "celebrity" panelists.

Hosted by the amazingly cheesy Richard Rugburn, Sunday night's theme was a awkward mash up of pop culture references: Cher and Star Wars... which expectedly please both gays and geeks alike.  The match game phrases developed where largely absurd, but that was the point!  The celebrity panelists came up with some pretty ridiculous answers (again... the point) making it hard for the audience participants to get inside their heads.

The highlights of the show included the wit and humor of Glamazonia, and a character by Steven Stone called Lando Caucasian, a charismatic if slightly sleezy Star Wars themed politician.  References by Lucky Penny as Barbraleia a mash up character of Princess Leia and Barbarella were perhaps to obscure for the majority of the audience but she committed to them, and it was fun to watch Richard drool over her awesome go-go boots.  Bravo girl! :-)

The rest of the panelist seemed to be there to be crude, and as a show built around parodying an often risque game show of yesteryear, it worked.  For those of you who have not made it before, look it up.  Apparently they have only one more show, ending its 5 year run (this is an awesome achievement!) that will be coming up in early summer.  It's wacky, it's tacky, and it's a lot of fun.

Loves, Fosse Jack

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Upcoming Show! Floozies & Fairytales

Saturday, May 28th at The Redezvous/Jewelbox Theaer I will be joining Vixen Valentine, Beatrice Belladona, Violet DeVille, EmpeROAR Fabulous and more for a fairytale themed burlesque show!  I love fairytales, and I love the act I'm developing for this show.  Here is a fairytale teaser, and I hope to see you there!


Once upon a time, there was a boy named Fosse Jack.  He was not a bad boy.  He was not a good boy.  But he was a nice boy.  One night he decided to go on an adventure.  His mother did not want him to go, but he said "I am a man, mother.  I must see the world!"  She did not stop him but she said, "Be careful my son for the world is full of faeries, and they will lure you with glitter and booze and you will be lost forever."  Fosse Jack kissed him mother and went on, heedless of the warning she had given.

His mother had good reason to warn him, for Fosse Jack was a changeling child, a faerie himself, and she feared that once he found out he would never return.

Fosse Jack went into night and he met many wonderful faeries.  He danced, and he drank, and he got covered in glitter. 

When the moon was full over head, Fosse Jack met a giant.  A big beautiful lady giant with long blonde hair, and adorable little cat ears.  She smiled at him and because he was tired she offered him food and rest.  Fosse Jack thought she was a "nice giant" and he snuggled his head in her giant bossoms.

Morning came, and the giant made him breakfast.  Hickory Farms sausage with Ego waffles with gallons of syrup.  By the time his appetite was sated, Fosse Jack was sticky all over.  The giant told him, that she must go out but before he left he could use her shower.  He smiled and thanked her.

Fosse Jack scrubbed and he scrubbed and he got the syrup off of his lithe, pale body.  Afterwards as he looked for his clothes he spotted something that filled his eyes with mischeivious glimmers.  Remember that he was not a bad boy.  But seeing that the giant's beautiful shoes fit him just right, he proved that nice boys CAN be naughty.

Into The Woods

So I am going to take a few moments to break from my burlesque blog and inset a bit of my first love, "musical theatre"! 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite shows at one of my favorites Seattle theaters.  Seattle Musical Theatre, up in Magnusun Park, is currently running a production of INTO THE WOODS. Written by Stephen Sondheim, the show combines various fairy tales and takes you on a journey from "I wish!" to "Happily Ever After" to After Happily Ever After.  The journey takes you into "the woods" a magical realm that tends to play tricks on the mind, and changes all who pass through it.

I could go on and on about the "deeper meaning" and all that jazz, but I'd prefer to do that in person so if you are interested, look me up and we'll have tea and talk theatre.  The purpose of this review is to pique your interest in some fantastic talent and a well constructed production.

First allow me to say that Into The Woods, like many Sondheim shows, is a difficult piece of theatrical material.  The music is unneccessarily complex, and at times sounds wrong (though I assure you it is right).  Complicated rythms, fast words work and more make Into The Woods a challenge for any actor or singer that approaches it, but it is that complexity and challenge that makes a well done production all the more impressive.

I will admit that I had second thoughts when I first came into the auditorium.  The "books" set on stage, to signify the three main stories that we would follow where painfully crafted projections.  But as the lights dimmed, the Narrator stepped on stage, and Cinderella uttered the first notes of the show, I let myself forget the projections (at least until intermission).

With very few exceptions the talent on stage Saturday night shined.  The actors brought depth, conflict and meaning to characters that can be easily turned into one-dimensional storybook cut outs. 

V.J. Orduna and Britt Boyd as the Baker and his Wife, Collin Madison as Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) and Julie Drummond as Little Red Riding Hood set the bar for the show.  V.J.'s soft-spoken performance emphasized the uncertain nature of the Baker. Britt's jazzy-grit gave earthiness and spice to the Wife, a bored woman who finds passion in the woods.  Colin deftly explored the full range of Jack's youthful innocence, from playful to unconditionally caring to the edge of razor sharp wrath.  Julie, as Red was sarcastic, bitey and to the point, and she wielded her words like the knife her Granny gave her.

These four played their roles well, and brought life to the archetypes upon which the show is built, working together they formed the heart of the show.

As Cinderella, Ashley Coates provided the "wings" that allowed that heart to soar.  With excellent comedic time and some very good pratt falls, Ashley played the lovable clutz running from a Prince she didn't ask for.   When the time called for it however, Ashley drew deep and revealed the bittersweet soul that lay beneath both peasant girl and princess.  Her vocal performance was stunning, and hearing her sing "No One Is Alone" is reason enough to see the show!

Dallas Milholland excelled as the Witch.  Comically energetic (ever seen a fairytale hag rap?) to begin with, she becomes stately when her beauty returns.  Dallas provided one of the most haunting moments of the show as she sung Last Midnight directly to the Baker's son, a chilling lullaby and an excellent directing choice by Victoria Webb.  The Witch is far from a stereotypical villian, but can be played as such.  Dallas did not shirk from taking her character farther then the paper doll antagonist and explored every inch of her humanity.  Brava.

The best performance of the night was given by Josh Ryder who doubled (as is tradition) as The Wolf to Little Red, and Cinderella's Prince.  Josh is no stranger to SMT's stage, and I have enjoyed his performances each time, but these two roles seem custom made for him.  As the Wolf he is both intensely sensual and he so strongly channels the animalistic energy of a wolf, that he manages to play the sexual predator without being creepy.  As Cinderella's Prince, Josh is refined, charmingly flamboyant and comically snobbish, whats more he is human.  In his confrontation with Cinderella in ACT II, he reveals a self-knowledge and understanding that makes him sympathetic to the audience.  He can't be what Cinderella wants, he can't even be what the kingdom wants; so his solace... get lost in The Woods and just take it, moment by moment.  Josh can sing (and has a howl that made my mouth water), dance, and act. If I didn't have a huge crush on him, I'd be jealous.  :-)  Amazing work!

The remaining aspects of the show all met the standard I have come to expect from SMT.  The small intrumental ensemble directed by Paul Linnes worked well together, and provided a quality of sound that I have seen much larger music pits lack (even at higher budjet theatres).  The scenic shifts where smooth, as trees moved quietly through the muted lights and colors of The Woods.  The sound was a little unbalanced, with SFX levels being inconsistent but vocal volumes where steady enough that the audience could hear the actors sing, and really that is the most important thing.

With my critiques and praises shared, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this production and I want to recommend all of my readers to go see it if you have a chance.  Despites its reputation as a show that "performers love" (SMT had to add two whole nights of auditions because so many people wanted came out for it... that
s 5 nights of audtions!), but does not have the best box office ratings, SMT's production is selling so don't wait too long.  Tickets can be purchase at or call 206-363-2809.  INTO THE WOODS will be playing for two more weekends!