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Madama Butterfly Opens 2019/2020 Portland Opera Season

Portland Opera Opens 55th Season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura makes her U.S. debut as Cio-Cio-San 

Portland, OR (September 26, 2019) – Portland Opera will mark the start of the 2019/20 season with Giacomo Puccini’s powerful drama Madama Butterfly. This production will feature the U.S. debut of acclaimed soprano Hiromi Omura as the title character, a role she has sung with Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, the Latvian National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and The New National Theatre Tokyo. This piece tells the story of a young wife and mother named Cio-Cio-San, in Nagasaki, Japan, who waits for the return of her beloved B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy. Written in 1903, and last seen on the Portland Opera stage in 2012, Puccini’s stunning and emotional work continues to be one of the most popular operas performed in the United States. Portland Opera will present four performances of Madama Butterfly on October 25, 27, 31, and November 2 at the Keller Auditorium in downtown Portland. 

Portland Opera’s esteemed music director, George Manahan, will conduct Puccini’s intimate and heart-wrenching score, which features Cio-Cio-San’s famous aria “Un bel dì vedremo,” and the ethereal Humming Chorus. E. Loren Meeker, who was last seen at Portland Opera as the Assistant Director of Puccini’s La Bohème in 2009, returns to direct this production. Momo Suzuki and Kevin Suzuki make their Portland Opera debuts as Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors for the piece. 

Tenor Luis Chapa will make his Portland Opera debut as Pinkerton, a role he sang at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017/18 season. Suzuki will be sung by mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida, who also makes her company debut. She has previously sung the role at the Manitoba Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Utah Opera. Baritone Troy Cook joins the company for the first time. He will sing the role of Sharpless, a role he has previously sung with the Washington National Opera, Utah Opera, and Central City Opera. Baritone André Chiang, a former Portland Opera Resident Artist, returns to the company as Prince Yamadori and The Imperial Commissioner. Bass Peixin Chen makes his Portland Opera debut as the Bonze, after making his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Washington native tenor Karl Marx Reyes will make his company debut as the marriage broker, Goro. Current Portland Opera Resident Artist mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman sings the role of Kate Pinkerton. Lighting is designed by Mark McCullough. Performances will also feature the talented local and regional musicians who make up Portland Opera’s orchestra and chorus. 

“An idealistic, Japanese girl in the early 1900s falls for a brash, entitled American soldier whose actions turn her love into a story ending in exploitation, betrayal, and abandonment,” says stage director E. Loren Meeker. “Puccini’s masterpiece Madama Butterfly forces American audiences to consider our history, culture, and the unknown victims of our past foreign policy. Our goal within a traditional setting is to honor Japanese culture through insightful storytelling and modern characterization. This creates an environment where we can examine the harsh realities of our past in an effort to learn from our mistakes at global, national, and personal levels.” 

As work begins onstage with this production of Madama Butterfly, Portland Opera seeks to enhance community dialogue and context surrounding this piece. On Sunday, October 13, audiences are invited to a free preview event at the Multnomah County Public Library, featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by Nicholas Fox, chorus master and assistant conductor. On Thursday, October 24, Portland Opera will welcome special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation titled “Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition.” Portland Opera will also present “East & West: A Special Evening of Song” on Tuesday, October 29. This recital, featuring members of the Madama Butterfly company, will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. More information on these events can be found on page 4. 

Madama Butterfly was made possible by Barran Liebman, LLP and Et Fille Wines. Portland Opera is grateful for the ongoing support of the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Portland Opera is a member of OPERA America. 

Madama Butterfly Tickets and Information 

Performances take place at 7:30PM at the Keller Auditorium with the exception of the matinee on October 27 which begins at 2:00PM. One hour prior to each performance, audience members are invited to a pre-show lecture. 

Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with projected English translations. 

Student rush tickets are available for performances of Madama Butterfly. Call 503-241- 1802 Monday through Friday from 10AM–5PM for more information. Portland Opera is proud to also work with the Veteran Tickets Foundation ( to share tickets to the performances on October 31 with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families. In addition, a limited number of free tickets are available through My Discovery Pass, a program created by Multnomah County Library that offers access to local museums and cultural institutions for library card holders. 

A limited number of $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders are available two weeks prior to each performance, subject to availability. These tickets must be purchased via phone by calling 503-241-1802. 

The performance on October 27 at 2pm will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance is visually translated with English text projected above the stage. 

Tickets for Madama Butterfly are now available, starting at $35. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802. For more information, patrons may also contact the Opera Concierge at, Monday through Friday from 10PM–5PM. 

Special Events 

Madama Butterfly Preview: Multnomah County Public Library Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 2pm Central Branch | 801 SW 10th Ave. Free admission. 

A preview event featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox. 

Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 7 PM Hampton Opera Center | 211 SE Caruthers St. Free admission. Reservations are recommended. 503.421.1802 | 

Portland Opera welcomes special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation, in preparation for the opening of Madama Butterfly. The program will be an hour, followed by a question and discussion session. 

East & West: A Special Evening of Song Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | 7 PM Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum | 1219 SW Park Ave. Free Admission. Reservations highly recommended. 503.421.1802 | 

Portland Opera invites the community to a unique musical program, featuring guest artists and members of the Madama Butterfly company. The selections will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. The evening will include an aria from An American Dream (music by Jack Perla and libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo), a contemporary chamber opera that reflects on the experiences of WWII-era Japanese Americans who were persecuted and imprisoned by the United States government. The performance will feature chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox as pianist. 

Madama Butterfly Cast & Creative Team 

Cio-Cio-San Hiromi Omura Pinkerton Luis Chapa Suzuki Nina Yoshida Sharpless Troy Cook Goro Karl Marx Reyes Yamadori/Commissioner André Chiang Bonze Peixin Chen Kate Pinkerton Camille Sherman Cio-Cio-San’s Cousin Cristina Marino Cio-Cio-San’s Mother Aimee Chalfant Yakuside, Cio-Cio-San’s Uncle Jim Jeppesen Cio-Cio-San’s Aunt Kate Strohecker Official Registrar Bryan Ross Sorrow, Cio-Cio-San’s Child TBA 

Conductor George Manahan Director E. Loren Meeker 

Lighting Designer Mark McCullough Set and Costume Designer Lloyd Evans Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors Momo Suzuki & Kevin Suzuki Chorus Master & Assistant Conductor Nicholas Fox Assistant Director Conor Hanratty 

About Portland Opera 

Portland Opera exists to inspire, challenge, and uplift our audiences by creating productions of high artistic quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera. 

Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of the opera repertoire with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton 

Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to make opera accessible for all. 

International Women’s Day & Women’s National History Month: Why I Chose to Honor a Cabaret Performer and Actor Born in 1901

International Women’s Day & Women’s National History Month

Why I Chose to Honor a Cabaret Performer and Actor Born in 1901

By Sebastian Fortino, Editor-in-Chief


Today, Friday March 8th, we celebrate the accomplishments women have achieved. We also reflect upon the patriarchy, and how women often suffered in silence. They were the property of their husbands, as were any offspring from the union. They could not divorce. They could not have a paycheck written out to them in their own name. Should they divorce, it was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that women could easily keep custody of their children.


In terms of equality in divorce, or at least more equality, I recently learned about Caroline Norton. She was an upper-middle-class woman and writer living in Victorian England. Her husband would not allow for a divorce. Even though he went through her “fortune” and kept her children from her. Interestingly enough, she was able to gain sympathy for her cause through befriending a very unlikely source: Queen Victoria.


Yes, I know Queen Victoria’s colonial activity has cast viable shadows upon her legacy. However, she argued against her own prime minister in support of bringing about equality in the then-taboo area of divorce. This surely had to do with Norton’s letters. After all, being a wife and mother lucky in her marriage, Victoria felt empathy towards those women who were essentially under house arrest if they were in an unhappy situation. Norton even mentioned so-called “conjugal rights,” something most women in that age would probably have shied away from even discussing due to supposed propriety. Men could also easily get a doctor to write a false but damaging letter saying their wives were literally insane for wanting a divorce.


However, Caroline Norton is not my focus. I wanted to mention her legacy because she is largely unknown.  


Instead today, I wanted to focus on one of my favorite women from the pages of history. Born on December 27th, 1901 in Berlin, she rose to fame as a cabaret singer in the famed Weimar Republic. A period of very liberal attitudes to sexuality and gender roles. Sadly, the famed era of a Berlin which accepted homosexuality, gender fluidity, and other notions which we as LGBTQ people still fight for today, ended abruptly in 1933 when Hitler rose to power.

Who am I celebrating today? Her name was Marlene Dietrich, she was a performer known for appearing in a tuxedo, a top hat, and smoking a cigarette held aloft like any fashionable male boulevardier or flâneur. (Okay, I do admit the gay man writing this piece–me–is obsessed with Old Hollywood Glamour, which Dietrich served.)

Marlene Dietrich kisses the famed French singer Edith Piaf active in the French Resistance. She was also known to be sexually fluid.

Queer culture was so accepted in Berlin, that gay and lesbian bars were quite visible. Dietrich no doubt spent her time on the boards as well as on the banquettes. In fact, she appeared in so-called “men’s dress” in public, even when not performing. She also had several lovers, of both sexes.

According to WIkipedia,


A famous, early image from her career. The gender bending style of dress which led her to take part in the drag balls of 1920s/30s Berlin.

She was fluent in German, English, and French. Dietrich, who was bisexual, quietly enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.[75][76] She also defied conventional gender roles through her boxing at Turkish trainer and prizefighter Sabri Mahir’s boxing studio in Berlin, which opened to women in the late 1920s.”


Her early film career in Germany brought her to Hollywood. She knew what was going on in her homeland. In 1937, along with the Jewish, Austrian-born director Billy WIlder she set up a fund to assist Jews and other dissidents escaping the Third Reich. In fact, Dietrich put her $450,000 salary from a film that same year in escrow; to help refugees from Europe.

Dietrich was truly risking her life. Hitler had in fact asked her to come home to Germany to make films, which would of course have been propaganda for the Nazis. She stayed in Hollywood, and  went on to sell war bonds to aid the Allies. It is agreed she sold more than any other Hollywood star.

Talk about a slap in the face to the führer!

During WWII, between 1944 and 1945, she further risked her life by following the troops led by Generals Patton and Gavin. When asked why she would play such a dangerous game, being only a few miles from the enemy–arguably her personal enemy–she replied, “aus Anstand,” which means, “out of decency.”

This did not however give her much love in her native Germany. After the war, she ventured to then-named West Germany to do a series of concerts. Perhaps she knew she would not be greeted with a hero’s welcome, and sources I have read said she was spit on by some Germans who stayed in their country during the war. To them she was a traitor.

Marlene Dietrich with American soldiers; throughout her life she referred to them as her “boys.”


Despite her success as an actor, and singer, when asked what her greatest achievement had been, she would say it was her actions in the war and performing for “her boys.” She also perhaps further angered the German people due to her final momentous film, “Judgment at Nuremburg.” The story was based on actual events which saw several former Nazis executed for their roles in the war. An interesting note, famed gay icon Judy Garland was her co-star. They developed a mutual dislike of each other which became petty, at best.


Alas, befitting a legend renowned for her great beauty and talent, she withdrew in seclusion to her Paris apartment in the later years of her life. She rarely left her rooms, but kept up great correspondence and phone calls to friends the world over. As for the juicy bits about her relationships and affairs–she had an open marriage with her husband–her only child Maria Riva destroyed much of her private papers after her death in 1992.

Perhaps this was an unlikely choice, a woman born in 1901 whom I admire nearly 120 years later. But as a bisexual woman, who challenged gender stereotypes, an actor, singer, and Nazi-hater, I feel she is a worthy candidate.  Sadly, I think her hatred of fascism makes her an ideal person to admire in 2019.

If you have not heard Ms. Dietrich sing, you can find a recording of arguably her most famous song here.

ProudTimes is actively seeking first-hand accounts of women our readers admire. Whether they are living now, or were born in 1901. Please submit story ideas to and we will do our best to incorporate it into our website.


Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas coming to Re-Bar on December 7th

Scott Shoemaker is a hilarious writer, director and performer that has had a hand in many of Seattle’s best burlesque shows. After recently starring as the boisterous clairvoyant Leonora Doddington in Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor, Scott is returning to the stage in his brand-new holiday special, “Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas coming to Re-Bar on December 7th through the 23rd. It promises to the must see show of the season!

Scott, thank you so much for agreeing to give us a little sneak peek. This show is a pretty big deal for you! What does it take to write, direct and star in a show like this?

It takes up our whole lives! Luckily, I don’t do it alone. My partner Freddy Molitch creates these shows with me and he is a very talented writer and director.

This show in particular is certainly a bear. We are used to producing the “Ms. Pak-Man” cabaret shows which are a bit simpler to stage and only have a cast of three (myself and the amazing Ghostettes Erin Stewart and Amalia Larson). The War on Christmas, however, has a lot more moving parts, a bigger cast and is structurally more complicated, so it’s certainly been a challenge. It’s also all new original material, and that’s always scary, because you really have no idea how it’s going to go over. But if an idea one of us comes up with makes the other one laugh, then we figure that at least somebody else is going to think its funny! Hopefully, anyway.

Creating shows like this is exhausting and can really drain you, but the exhilaration of the creative process and the end result certainly make it worth it. We’re very lucky to be able to do it.

You’ve been working in Seattle for over 15 years now with a hefty number of productions under your belt including Homo for the Holidays, Ms. Pacman: Multiple Lives, Camptacular, Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor and now The War on Christmas. What is it about Seattle’s cabaret and burlesque scene that keeps you coming back for more?

Although things are changing in Seattle, it has historically afforded fringe theater / cabaret / burlesque / drag artists the opportunity to create independent work that is weird and risky, and in turn has attracted a smart fringe theater-going audience that supports that weird and risky stuff. Yes, the demographics here are changing and it’s getting much more expensive to produce shows here, but that core audience that comes out to support these kinds of shows are still here, and that’s what keeps us coming back for more. We love producing shows for the folks in Seattle and are proud to be in a long line of weirdos that have made Seattle their creative home.

What can we expect from The War on Christmas that sets it apart from the other projects that you’ve collaborated on?

The War on Christmas is uncharted territory for Freddy and I. Most of the stuff we do is purely for laughs, but this has a bit of a political undercurrent. It also has some of the most bizarre and absurd things we’ve ever done in any show, and for us that’s really saying something. And while it’s as edgy as our typical work, it also has a little more heart, which is a change for us. We’re usually pretty cynical jerks.

You’ve worked with many of the best performers Seattle has to offer including BenDeLaCreme, INGA, Major Scales, Kitten N’Lou, and this new cast is no different. Ade, Waxie Moon, Faggedy Randy Mandy Price are long time performers in Seattle and are starring in this new production. What excites you most about working with the incredible cast of the War on Christmas?

Pretty much everything! What I particularly love is that they are all brilliant solo artists in their own fields that bring different areas of expertise to the show. Their ideas and their collaboration in the creation of the show are invaluable. I respect them all so much, and the show wouldn’t be the same without their individual creativity and sensibilities.

I have to say that I always love the idea of a Christmas comedy show, because you have so much material to work with. Besides poking some fun at Santa Claus, What kind of hi jinks will you be getting into on stage?

The show is jam packed with songs, dances, a burlesque number, skits, dramatic soliloquies and general insanity. There are so many cool costumes and special effects, and the lighting design is outrageous. The designers we’ve had the pleasure of working with on this show are the absolute best in town. But what I think is especially cool is that the cast gets to do some things that they don’t get to do in other shows and it’s amazingly fun to see them do something different. The show is full of surprises and we can’t wait to see people’s reactions!

Well that sounds like a pretty good time to me! Scott thank you so much for answering our questions and giving us a little sneak peak. I have no doubt that all your hard work will pay off and I cannot wait to see you at Re-bar this weekend.

1114 Howell ST       Seattle WA 98101


Lady Bunny -Hung With Care at The Triple Door, Seattle Dec. 5th

Today I have the distinct honor of asking the one and only Lady Bunny a few questions about what she’s been up to lately and about her upcoming Holiday Show, “Hung With Care”. Lady Bunny is a Southern Queen originally hailing from Chattanooga, TN. As a young performer, she started doing drag in Atlanta, Ga. and subsequently crashing the New York City drag scene in the 80’s, the city, that she’s called home ever since. She made a name for herself as the reigning comedy queen of NYC, where she spews her unapologetic brand of humor. It is that humor which has made gays roar with laughter for ages. Lucky for us, she is headed to Seattle’s Triple Door on December 5th.

Lady Bunny, thank you so much for taking the time to answer this poor meager gay’s questions. I seriously, am not worthy, but since we’re here, and you already agreed, I suppose we should just jump right in.

You are very welcome and let’s do it!

You’re no stranger to Seattle, having performed at Julia’s on Broadway in 2011, Neighbors in 2014, the Egyptian Theater last year for Trans-Jester and earlier this year for National Treasures (and those are just the ones I know about). I’m interested to hear your take on Seattle’s drag Scene, given your extensive history in drag culture. Have you noticed any differences or similarities to other cities where you’ve performed?

Seattle does have it’s own spin on drag, but it isn’t limited to any one type of performer. Julia’s, is a bit more traditional with celebrity impersonations and the like, but then there’s also the zany Dina Martina, who has carved out a very mixed crowd in Seattle and now has a large national following. BenDeLaCreme is part of the vintage burlesque scene popular in those parts, while Jinkx screams ALTERNATIVE with her live singing and original tunes. Mark Finley, is lovable trash with a hint of theater. Mama Tits, shares Mark’s theatrical vibe, but she isn’t at all lovable. KIDDING!

I haven’t been lucky enough to see one of your shows in person yet, but from what clips I’ve seen and articles I’ve read, I think it’s safe to say not all of your jokes can be described as “P.C.”. I can imagine, it is received very differently depending on your location, the audience, and even night to night. Has this ever affected your humor and the jokes you decided to include, or do you think it’s important to stick to your brand now more than ever?

A lot of people connect my name to organizing Wigstock and DJing, without necessarily knowing what to expect, if they get tickets for a one hour performance. I’m definitely not PC, and am definitely too twisted to receive even an R rating. But my sense of humor was developed in front of drunken nightclub audiences, who appreciated filth. The challenge was to shock them, so I rose to it. And as much as I enjoy raunch, I know that everyone doesn’t. So, I typically put a warning on the ticket link, warning people that my humor is not PC and does not want to be. That way they aren’t unpleasantly surprised. I even urge people to skip my shows—including my mom—if they don’t enjoy offensive humor. I’m too blue for even some gay pride outdoor events. Seattle can be very PC, but I think over the years, I’ve found my audience there. From The Cuff at Pride, working with Qurb magazine and roasting my pal Mark Finley.

What bugs me is this notion, that I’ve seen applied to other queens who are picketed or protested due to their content. My attitude is if you don’t like something, don’t go see it. Why try shut it down? Are you that bored? I don’t like seeing football players getting their heads bashed in on a field which develop into serious health issues later. But, I have better things to do with my life than picket stadiums.

Comedy aside, there is another side to your drag that really entices me. In all of your previous interviews you came off as kind of a wise motherly figure, (albeit one with daggers in her teeth). You’re a wealth of information regarding LGBTQ history, and you have been very outspoken regarding inclusion in the drag community. In a time when it seems like everyone wants drag queens to fit into a specific mold, you encourage people to turn off their tv’s and experience their local queens in person. What advice do you have for people looking to experience drag, or even gets their hands dirty and put on a wig themselves?

I’m sick of cookie cutter drag. If RuPaul wears a flower in her hair, every queen in the nation does. When Bianca won with heavy lower lashes, many queens aped her style. Now, they will do Trixie Mattel-Inspired make-up. Cookie cutter is the opposite of creative. I’m not here to fit into anyone else’s mold. Instead of copying other queens, why not develop your own style? I also find it odd that I’m often approached by younger performers begging for tips. Well, I was given wonderful tips before I even knew that drag would be my career. The older queens took me under their wing because I clearly needed help, but also since they could recognize a kernel of talent in me. If their instincts about me were correct, they hoped that I might add something to a craft which was their livelihood. So while I didn’t have a specific drag mom, I was grateful for these time-honored tips from much more established peers. To some degree the older queens must have felt I’d earned them. Now these tips are readily available to all in endless youtube makeup tutorials, which I never want to see another of. If you spend hours on your make-up and look ridiculously gorgeous, that’s step #1. But step #2 is walking on stage. If you have less talent than looks, you won’t hold my interest beyond that first burst of applause, based on your look. I’m more interested in performers than Instagram stars with flawless make-up.

You recently revived Wigstock with Neil Patrick Harris of all people. What was it like to work with him and his husband and what does it mean to you to resurrect this iconic event after 17 years?

Wigstock is my baby, but after 20 years of the festival, I needed a 17 year long break! Neil and his boyfriend David Burtqa approached me, and I think we all found that we worked very well together. They’re good people, but we hit a road bump during the Wigstock reboot. Both helped us soar right through the process, with their very positive attitudes and their own considerable connections. So, the show in September was a hit! I loved working with them. Neil and David are genuine drag fans. Like me, they’re NYC residents who just want to bring that some of that freak factor back to a very corporate and slick city, which could use some grit like the kooky queens of Wigstock. (Dina came up from Provincetown and was a highlight.) I think Neil also wanted to show an edgier side of himself after starring in Hedwig. Sometimes that drag bug can be highly addictive.

Now on to your holiday show! In the hilarious promo video, you got yourself into some precarious situations with Santa Claus. Can you give your future audience a little sense of what to expect when they roll up at the Triple Door?

The perfect antidote to Xmas songs, which are inescapable from the day after Halloween through New Years is to butcher every holiday tune with demented parodies. So prepare for dirty ditties like, I Saw Daddy Fisting Santa Claus, A Holly Molly Christmas and The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen. I also screen a banned from youtube video, while changing costumes, which I consider my very best comedy. But it is filthy!

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas myself and I feel like, based on your comedy, you could go either way. Either you purposely love to make a mockery of the overly commercialized holiday, or you love it and your holiday show is a labor of love. Can you tell me what made you want to do this show?

I love Thanksgiving, since it’s not a religious day and if you’re even alive you have something to be grateful for. While I’m in agreement with your take on Xmas, and my show is celebrating “Jesus’s birthday” with an atheist potty mouth, I do see Christmas, as a time for people to be nicer to each other. Call it “holiday magic”, or whatever, but the lights and the holiday cheer—ie desserts and alcohol—do eventually seduce me. During the month of December, I’ve noticed that people do tend to be more likely to make eye contact, hold the door for someone or strike up a conversation with a stranger. Even though others (especially my age group) hates Santacon, and see it as a millennial drunkfest, I absolutely love it. How can I put on a drag festival and frown on people hitting the streets to bug out with their Santa costumes? (Even if they are vomiting in doorways during the daytime.) The more we actually get together in person, the less time we spend on social media with friends who we’ve never met.

As far as why I want to do the show, I already have some Xmas material which can only be performed around this time of year. And along with my co-writer Beryl Mendelbaum, I’ve added a ton of new stuff this year. Last year’s NYC run sold out every show, so I must be onto something. And Dina Martina advised me to do an annual holiday show years ago. Hers has certainly become a smash, so I took her advice. Just not her make-up tips!

Lady Bunny, thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, but more importantly, I want to thank you on behalf Seattle itself for gracing us all with your presence. I’m looking forward to seeing you this Wednesday for a night of filth and raucous laughter. There are currently no upcoming events listed on her website so if you haven’t purchased your tickets, do it now before you miss out!

Follow Lady Bunny:  Facebook or visit her website.

Get your Tickets now!


Based on the real life of professional dominatrix Yin Q.

Asian-Femme-focused digital drama explores the complexities of our secret taboos: Bondage, Submission, Sado-Masochism, Fetish, and Kink.

Museum Of Sex to host Red Carpet Premiere

EW YORK – In a surprise announcement from her private lair, Margaret Cho announced last week that “I have joined an amazing new series, Mercy Mistress, as an Exec Producer. You will watch.”

Mercy Mistress is based on a memoir by Yin Q. The show follows the character Mistress Yin, played by Poppy Liu, as a queer, first-gen, Chinese-American professional and lifestyle dominatrix in Manhattan. Season 1 is directed entirely by Amanda Madden, and produced by a primarily woman-led crew, with support of the POC, Asian American, queer, and kink communities. The show simultaneously explores immigrant life, stories of Asian culture in America, the struggles and challenges of sex workers, and authentic experiences in the kink world.

It is likely NSFW, so adventure with discretion!

Yin Q said “We are thrilled to bring Mercy Mistress to the communities it represents, as well as to the greater audience. I am personally ecstatic to work with the legendary Margaret Cho. She has long championed the myriad voices inside and behind this series.”

Cho added “Yin’s universe, executed by Amanda and inhabited by Poppy, embodies the wonderful mad mix of diverse people living in our world, and making art in our culture. Unfortunately, these very voices – the Sex Worker, the Chinese Immigrant, the Asian Woman, the secret Kink – often remain invisible. It’s an honor to help get them seen.”

Cho and her partners Sarah Martin and Jessie Boemper also join Mercy Mistress as Executive Producers, along with their frequent collaborator, Evan Shapiro. Together the team recently announced their sale of comedy series Almost Asian, a series which takes on the Asian American experience from a significantly lighter tone.

Cho’s declaration came via Instagram, with an announcement that the first episode of Mercy Mistress dropped on the show’s YouTube page ( The series, which will be released on January 7, will be celebrated at The Museum of Sex in NYC with an exclusive premiere experience.

Stage Left Theater – The Long Christmas Ride Home December 13-23, 2018

Coming up at Stage Left Theater:

The Long Christmas Ride Home

December 13-23, 2018

Directed by Susan Hardie,

Written by Paula Vogel


The Long Christmas Ride Home, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Paula Vogel, and directed by Susan Hardie, opens December 13th and runs to December 23rd at Stage Left Theater.

This hauntingly beautiful play follows a family of five through their emotional Christmas day and more.  Their story is told with the help of Japanese style Bunraku puppet theatre performances and corresponding live music, giving the play a magical quality.  This journey explores cultures, religions, genders, values, life and death as the family travels to church and grandparent’s home for the holiday.

…“one of the most absorbing evenings of theatre to come along in some time.” – Variety


Stage Left 2019 Calendar News – Bar May 24 – June 16, 2019

Announcing Stage Left 2019 Calendar News!

Directed by Troy Nickerson
Written by Damon Intrabartolo, Jon Hartmere

May 24 – June 16, 2019

Added to Stage Left’s late season line-up is bare, bringing this cult classic to Spokane audiences for the first time. Opening May 24, and running through June 16, 2019, bare’s popularity and power stems from its honesty, resonating with audiences as it provides truthful accounts of the common complexities of teenage life.

A pulsating, electric contemporary rock opera, bare follows a group of students at a Catholic boarding school as they grapple with issues of sexuality, identity, and the future. As the group attempts to put up a production of Romeo and Juliet, tension flares, self-doubt simmers, and God’s path seems more difficult to find than ever.

With heart-pounding lyrics and a cast of bright young characters, bare is a provocative, fresh, and utterly honest look at the dangers of baring your soul, and the consequences of continuing to hide.

The Threepenny Opera, by Bertolt Brecht, which was previously in this slot, is moved to Fall 2019; details to come!


FUNHOUSE LOUNGE- Come Out Laughing

Come Out Laughing

Portland’s Funhouse Lounge Hosts Comics Erin Foley & Jason Dudey

By Sebastian Fortino

ProudTimes spoke with comedians Erin Foley and Jason Dudey. They are bringing their brand of LGBT comedy to the Rose City this month. Despite this being an interview with two very funny people, we got serious.

Yup, we talked turkey.

So, the show is called “Come Out Laughing” and it brings together LGBTQ+ and straight comics. Why was this an important angle for you?

Erin Foley & Jason Dudey: We wanted to create a show which brought everyone together – on and off the stage. Our country is being infested with divisive language and our mission is to use comedy build a bridge between people, not separate us.

The press release states, “The world is on fire, so why not laugh and drink? We’re on borrowed time!” What does that mean to you?

EF: Well, I’ve been drinking and marching since the election and comedy has saved me! Whether I’m using my jokes as an outlet or I’m watching other comics and laughing my head off, comedy has always been a saving grace. Plain and simple, comedy can make you feel sane in our upside down world.

How long have you been performing? Do you still find challenges as an out comic?

EF: I’ve been performing for about twenty years. I look at myself this way – I’m a comic who happens to be gay. It doesn’t define my act, it doesn’t define my life. The challenges are performing in cities and towns that are not LGBTQ friendly. It’s ridiculous. I have this line in my act when referring to relationships “gay, straight, it’s all the same crap”. Funny is funny so the challenge is getting more narrow-minded people to understand that just because we’re gay, doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the show.

 How did the concept come together?

JD: I started the first Come Out Laughing shows at the Laugh Factory in Long Beach, California. They were a huge success, so we teamed up and started touring.

EF: Jason and I wanted to take the show to smaller cities and towns that needed more LGBTQ (and adjacent) content – while at the same time really encouraging our straight audiences to join. We both have acts that are very universal.

The show also has an underlying theme of both queer and straight people performing and in the audience. Is this still a novel idea? Were comics largely segregated in terms of sexuality, or “what they could get away with?

EF & JD: We have toured around the country for a long time and the lack of diversity in traditional comedy clubs is unbelievable. There might be a couple of women or possibly one gay man or lesbian performing in a calendar year. In addition, there’s a high probability that part of these comic’s acts will contain homophobic or misogynistic content. Come Out Laughing is the antithesis. We want to bring as much diversity as possible – on and off the stage – providing a night of comedy that is fun for everyone – unless you’re a homophobe or an asshole. Then I would encourage you to stay home and regroup.

We are coming up on the election. Your show is coming to Portland on the 13th of this month. How political do you and the other performers get?

EF: I always joke about politics in the my act, no matter who is in charge. Even a giant orange man baby. Jason’s fantastic jokes are more about his life experiences but I’m sure all of the comics will have some take on the what’s happening in the news.

 Who will be joining the show here in Portland?

EF: We’re so lucky to have the fabulous Belinda Carroll joining us on stage. She’s an amazing local comic in Portland and founder of the Portland Queer Comedy Festival. The show is hosted by D. Martin Austin, another great Portland comic who we are excited to meet!

 How long has the show been on tour?

EF & JD: We kicked off the Come Out Laughing Tour earlier this year. We’ve done shows in New York City, Baltimore and Los Angeles. After our Pacific NW tour, we are headed to Asheville, Cleveland, Columbus and Austin. We’re thrilled.

 We’re approaching Thanksgiving. If you could each invite any two comedians, living or dead, to dinner who and why would you invite? What do you think they’d bring?

EF: For me, I would pick Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller. These two women were not only absolutely hysterical, they were pioneers for women in comedy. I want to hear all their stories over wine, turkey and more wine. Lucille would bring a stranger off the street and Phyllis would bring a bottle of Wild Turkey.

JD: Louie Anderson – The obvious reason of course, he’s from the midwest and I guarantee he’d bring some delicious casserole…or two. Probably his mother’s recipes too! Butter, whipped cream, cheese – all the Thanksgiving staples. Joan Rivers – My family is so uptight on holidays. Everyone acting appropriately, not wanting to offend any guests and general awkwardness.  It’d be nice to just have a truth teller at the table. Let’s be honest, my sister’s turkey is horrible, someone needs to tell her.

 Anything else you’d care to add?  

EF & JD: Just a huge thank you to Belinda and the Fun House Lounge for opening up their space and letting us bring Come Out Laughing to one of our favorite cities!


Make sure to check out Funhouse Lounge for ticket availability. The show is one night only, on Tuesday, November 13th, from 7PM until 9PM.

Trans actress/model Andreja Pejic featured in new ‘The Girl In The Spider’s Web’

Claire Foy and Andreja Pejic star in new clip from
The Girl In The Spider’s Web

In theaters this Friday, November 9th

Lisbeth Salander, the cult figure and title character of the acclaimed Millennium book series created by Stieg Larsson, will return to the screen in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a first-time adaptation of the recent global bestseller. Golden Globe winner Claire Foy, the star of “The Crown,” plays the outcast vigilante defender under the direction of Fede Alvarez, the director of 2016’s breakout thriller Don’t Breathe; the screenplay adaptation is by Steven Knight and Fede Alvarez & Jay Basu.


The Best of The Second City – Chuck Norment


Martin Woldson Theater At The Fox  is always thinking ahead and finding the best shows to bring to Spokane. This month The Fox presents The Best of The Second City, Chicago’s legendary sketch and improv comedy theater, as part of their national tour, “The Best of The Second City.” This must-see show features the best sketches and songs from The Second City’s history — as well as their trademark improvisation. America’s first name in comedy has produced superstars like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant, Alan Arkin and more. Fresh, fast and always spectacularly funny, The Second City is celebrating nearly sixty years of producing cutting-edge satirical revues and launching the careers of generation after generation of comedy’s best and brightest.

They have a strong of comedic background performing performing at iO with Virgin Daiquiris, Your Fucked Up Relationship and Harold team Meridian Chuck was a featured performer in Second City and NBC Universal’s Breakout Comedy Festival, has comedy always been the goal or a fun adventure?

Comedy has always been a very serious venture for me. I feel in love with it when I first saw SNL at the age of 12, I remember watching it and laughing harder than I ever had and knowing that comedy was what I was meant to do.

The name of the show implies that this is “The Best of Second City” do they feel that it is?

The Second City archive is so vast it is hard to say this is THE BEST OF THE BEST! The company spans back to 1959, with so much ingenious material. We are definitely performing the sketches we enjoy the most!

Performing in front of a live audience sketches performed by the greats such as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and more does that inspire or intimidate?

Inspires! Knowing we are standing in the same places as some of America’s greatest comedians makes it feel like we’ve chosen the right path. It makes going out and doing this job worth it.

As a comedian are you able to put some of your own style to the sketches making them better and more unique to today’s cultural environment?

Absolutely we have to edit and update a lot of jokes because the societal growth and progression evolves so quickly that jokes and points of view become dated very quickly. I’m the first out trans performer the theatre has ever had, and I constantly task myself with making sure that voice is represented. It’s important to all of us that anyone who comes to our shows feels represented and heard.

What is your favorite sketch and why?

A sketch called Beat Poets. It’s very silly, allows me to improvise A TON! And I get to wear a nude colored skin tight suit and roll around the stage like a newborn babe!

In one word each describe your fellow performers of “the Best of the Second City”?

Terrence Carey: spiritual shaman
Sarah Dell’Amico: white trash floridian
Asia Martin: Assata Shakur
Olivia Nielsen: colonial ghost
Griffin Wenzler: sarcastic uncle

(I cheated and used more than one word!)

What should the audience expect during the performance(no spoilers, but please tease us!)

You have to come and see for yourself! But guaranteed a lot of laughs!!!!!

Most shows come through Spokane so fast I do not think the performers get any downtime here in Spokane. If they had time to do something here what might that be?

I’m hoping someone tells me the hot hot spots while we are in town. But! I would love to go hiking and see some waterfalls. Unfortunately, the Midwest only offers corn fields as a landscape. So, Spokane’s landscape is the thing I’m most excited to drink in!

Traveling from state to state, city to city, and town to town must have its ups and downs what drives you as a performer?

It definitely is quite exhausting. But, truly the thing that makes this job is the people you meet along the way. I’m obsessed with my cast, and feel like the luckiest person alive to have them in my life. You get the opportunity to see the world with seven people you’d never get to travel with otherwise, and create strong bonds that last a lifetime. I’m infinitely grateful for them and the ways our paths will always intersect because of this experience.

Click on Martin Woldson Theater At The Fox Theater Logo to learn more and get your tickets.