Paige Collette and I used to work together at the beloved Oscar Wilde Bookshop. She is an amazing and creative talent and I miss working with her.
On Friday, May 8th, she and three other female writer/performers, Erin Markey, Lucy Alibar, & Erin Search-Wells, will debut #1 Female.
I asked Paige a few questions about her and the upcoming show.
PC: Erin Markey is sharing some amazing pieces including part of her longer show "Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail" about falling for a girl she worked with at a strip club. Lucy Alibar is doing a mini-musical extravaganza about baking and self-esteem that is hilarious. Erin Search-Wells is coming in from Minneapolis to perform. And I'm going to share a few new characters and some burlesque. I can assure you, it will be fierce. Also there's a 'zine called #1 FEMALE that we're making to distribute and that's really exciting to me! There'll be some wigs, some white wine, some cupcakes, and some hardcore girlie energy.
JB: How did the process of creating the show work?
PC: Well, Alison Fleminger at the Performance Project got in touch with me through my friend Abby Browde, and she offered me the opportunity to perform and curate an evening at University Settlement. And I thought "Who do I want to gather together to perform?" And I know so many amazing female performers -- so I was walking away from my meeting with Alison, and I just got on my cellphone and started calling these female performers that I love. And my friends Kate and Martha had this idea for a 'zine called #1 FEMALE, and I thought, "Ooh, that's a great title. We're gonna use that."
JB: What is your own process of creating like?
PC: I try to write everyday -- although of course sometimes I fall off the wagon and don't write for awhile, but I really try to do it everyday! Cause a lot of it's just white noise in my brain that I have to get out ("had amazing sex last night, have to pay my insurance, I'm hungry" yada yada), but then I'll start to hit on something good -- a good stream of writing for a character. Or sometimes I'll just have good one-liners here and there amidst all my white noise thoughts, so I'll go back and circle the good stuff, and then type all the good stuff together and cut-n-paste and rearrange and figure out how stuff fits together.
JB: At this very moment, who is your #1 Female?
PC: Oh man. There are a lot! My roommate Amy Gironda's really awesome. She's gonna be a part of my #1 FEMALE piece. She's a performer, and she has a style blog -- outfitsoutfits.com. She listens to me, and we really girl-out together. Of course my mom rocks. And I really love Britney Spears -- she's irresistible to me. I'm reading a book by A.M. Homes right now, so I'm really excited about her. My friend Tali Wertheimer's a #1. And my friend and collaborator Tatiana Pavela.
I really like the work of this choreographer Faye Driscoll -- she's a #1. Tina Turner. Tina Fey. Annie Sprinkle. Gloria Steinem. Susie Bright. Seriously, I could go on all day with this stuff -- it's dangerous. I love Jenna Jameson too. And of course Michelle Obama. And I love Helen Mirren in The Queen -- so good. And all the girls involved in #1 FEMALE, they're all #1s.
I saw your post about Tonya Harding the other day -- I don't know if I'd call her a #1, but she's incredibly compelling. Everyone's so annoyed with Rachel Ray, but she's a #1 in my book. I don't watch her show or cook her food, but I watched her E-True Hollywood story on the treadmill once and got into it. My friend Sarah Moore's a #1 -- she's graduating from law school this month. Ok, I have to stop this now. Oh, but Sasha Grey. She's a #1. Okay, done. Wait, one more -- Susan Boyle. Okay, now I'm done.
JB: Who was your very first #1 female fascination and what did you find compelling about her?
PC: My first female fascination was multi-fold -- all the women on my mom's soap opera "Days of Our Lives." So we had Kayla, Jennifer, Hope, Marlena, Kimberly (played by Patsy Pease, amazing). I think I loved how much these women were feeling -- the depths of their emotion. Everything they were feeling was so important. And music played behind them wherever they went. And they got to hang out in beds with men. And at hospitals. Their lives seemed really exciting. My mom would breastfeed me while she watched "Days of Our Lives," and then we just kept watching it. I'd say the peak of my fascination with those women hit from the time I was 5 years old til the time I was 8 and then looped back again when I was 11.
JB: Are there any female actors in particular who have inspired you?
PC: I loved Gilda Radner when I was in middle school. She was hugely inspiring -- and Jane Curtain too and Madeline Kahn. I love Samantha Morton. There's an awesome actress in the live theater scene in Dallas where I grew up named Tina Parker, and she absolutely rocks -- very inspiring. Susan Sarandon. And I'm fascinated by porn stars and pop stars and R&B and hip hop stars -- they inspire me. And Karen Finley.
JB: What about writers?
PC: Well, I loved When Harry Met Sally when I was in middle school, and that was written by Nora Ephron. I don't know when I realized that was written by a woman, but that was exciting. And I mean, Tina Fey is a genius. My friend Jess Barbagallo is a playwright, and she's great. And Paula Vogel is an amazing playwright too. As far as book authors -- Mary Gaitskill, Joan Didion, Lorrie Moore, Haruki Murakami (a boy!), this playwright Gary Owen (another boy!). Oh and Anais Nin -- huge. Camille Paglia. The writers at Bust. Michelle Tea, Ali Liebgott. I would say that Henry Miller was really inspiring to me too. Rita Mae Brown. Young Jean Lee. I could go on for a long time here.
JB: What books have you been reading?
PC: I'm reading This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. I found a copy of it on the sidewalk just outside my house. I was sorta like, "Uh oh, I guess this is a sign that my life is in danger?!" But I've really been enjoying the book -- it's great. I just read an old self-help book called Smart Actors, Foolish Choices that my therapist found in some book donation shelf in her building -- some of the advice is actually really good. And I'm reading A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews.
PC: Well my computer crashed a couple months ago, and that's usually how I listen to music. But I like Britney's new songs. I guess the guy from LCD Soundsystem really works on her stuff. "If U Seek Amy" and "Circus" and there's this really funny song called "Blur" -- one of the lyrics in the refrain is "Let me get my hair dried" -- oh damn! I just googled the lyrcis and found out the lyrics are "just let me get my head right" -- damn, I was imagining Britney getting out of the shower and like, "Who is this stranger in my bed? I just need to dry my hair and get the fuck out of here." Oh well, it's still a juicy song for me.
And let's see, "Diva" by Beyonce. Radiohead always. Toto's "Africa" cause I used that in a burlesque piece recently -- might use it at #1 FEMALE. Sleater-Kinney's "The Woods" -- Led Zeppelin always. Rolling Stones always. Fleetwood Mac. I heard this mix of that song "I'm Good, I'm Gone" by Lykke Li that I liked. And I just got down with some of My Morning Jacket. "Saint Dymphna" by Gang Gang Dance. Beck's Mutations and Beck's Information. Goldfrapp. Mum. The Knife. Justin Timberlake on the treadmill. Ok, I'll stop now!
JB: What was your first music single purchase? Was it 12 inch, 45, cassette, or CD?
PC: I bought a cassette tape -- Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" but really I listened to a lot of Madonna on the radio as a kid. And church songs. And in middle school it was all Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Carole King, and the Hair soundtrack. With a little bit of Nirvana and Alanis Morissette tossed in there too.
JB: Describe your style.
PC: Casual. I wear jeans and a hoodie like everyday. I have a few shirts that I love, and I just wear the same thing all the time. I grew up wearing a uniform everday to school, so that's in my blood. And if I dress up, I go pretty retro-glam. A dress and heels (Aerosoles are amazing). But overall I guess I'd say casual sexy -- I like shirts and jeans that hug my figure. And it's hard for me to do anything between casual or dressy -- I feel like it's all or nothing with me. I love lingerie. And I love stuff that friends are getting rid of that I then get for free! I went to a clothing swap the other day, and I got some CUTIE open-toe pastel plaid wedges. Very retro-looking. CUTE! And I grew up in Texas, so I usually wear at least a little bit of make-up almost everyday. Waz up, Naomi Wolf!
JB: What challenges do you face now as a performer/writer living in the city?
PC: Oh god, money! Can a bitch get paid? Yeah, money is tough. Carrying a ton of costumes and wigs and props like rotary telephones and cherry pies around -- that's difficult in a city like New York cause girl ain't got no car! And you know, it's hard to get people out to shows. People are reluctant to go to the theater. A lot of people have seen work that sucked, and now they're just turned off. But people come to my shows, and they have such a good time! Cause really there's so much good work out there to see -- you just gotta go get it. I just feel like a lotta people are holed up with their Netflix and their youtube and their cable, and they just follow reality shows -- which I can totally get down with, but c'mon people, ya still gotta go to the theater! This is New York! You can watch cable and Netflix and youtube in Ohio, so take advantage of what you have in New York! And now that the weather's gorgeous, I'm hoping to see more people out and about.
JB: From one star to four stars, how many stars do you give your day?
PC: Well let's see -- I woke up, wrote, drank some green tea, made my bed, spent an hour at the gym, and took a walk along the park. (Ha! That sounds like a really productive day, and I am not always that productive! I sound like I live in LA!) Ok then I had a couple good phone conversations -- one with my friend Jess Barbagallo (that amazing playwright) and the other with my dear friend Erin Search-Wells (also one of my #1 FEMALE performers). And later I'm gonna see a play at HERE Arts Space, and then my plan is to go out and get laid! And answering these interview questions was pretty fuckin' fun -- so ya know what, I'm gonna give my day a 3 outta 4! Thanks for interviewing me, Jeffery!
For #1 Female tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-453-4532
$10 for students or seniors
Friday, May 8, 2009
Time: 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Location: University Settlement
Street: 184 Eldridge Street
City/Town: New York, NY