12th Annual New York Burlesque Festival

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NYBF_2014Jen Gapay and Angie Pontani are no slouches. Not only have they created the biggest and grandest burlesque festival of its kind in the New York Burlesque Festival, now celebrating its 12th year, but they both have very impressive resumes outside of the festival.

As a performer, burlesque extraordinaire, Angie Pontani, “The Italian Stallionette,” was a key player in establishing NYC’s burlesque scene. She won burlesque’s most prestigious award, “Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World” in 2008 and has toured multiple runs in the United States, Italy, Australia, Spain and Hong Kong, earning the title of “Best International Touring Artist of 2009,” by The Naked City/Alternative Media Group of Australia. As a producer she has produced the 2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame’s The Titans of Tease, the 53rd Annual Striptease Reunion Showcase and the Saturday Night Competition. She was co-creator of the off-Broadway hit, This is Burlesque as well the on-going U.S. tour, Burlesque-A-Pades, starring the “#1 Burlesque Attraction in the Nation”(AOL.com), The World Famous Pontani Sisters. Angie will also be featured in the PBS series Great Performances, performing live at Lincoln Center with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. This is scheduled to air on PBS on October, 24, 2014.

Jen Gapay is the founder of Thirsty Girl Productions, which debuted in 1997 in Seattle with Capitol Hill Block Party, now one of the largest annual urban music festivals in the country. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Promotions Director at the Village Voice, where she created and produced the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island. Other notable accomplishments include the New York Boylesque Festival, which she co-produces with famed NYC producer Daniel Nardicio, and the Coney Island Talent Show, now in its fourth year. She was also the artistic director for the Dresden Dolls’ F**k the Back Row tour in 2006 and talent coordinator for several of their tours in the USA, Europe and Australia. This is just a smattering of what she’s done.

From Thursday, September 25th to Sunday, September 28th, they’ll host the 12th annual New York Burlesque Festival. You can pick up full festival passes from Brown Paper Tickets HERE, and we advise you grab some ’cause they’re going quick.

We were able to chat with Angie and Jen about the festival and burlesque in New York. Jen shared some advice to event organizers and producers considering having a festival.

Wow. 12 years is quite an accomplishment. What do you feel is the secret behind the festival’s success and longevity?

Jen Gapay: Thank you. I feel that having the festival in NYC has helped the festival grow.  Everyone wants to come to New York to visit and everyone wants to come to New York to perform and that has been extremely helpful. Also Angie and I work together well as producers, run a tight ship and know how to put on a good show, so our festival has a good reputation from performers and patrons and you can’t buy that.

What performers are you especially excited for this year and why?

Jen Gapay: I am particularly excited to see Imogen Kelly from Australia perform this year. She is an amazing performer who is known as Australia’s Queen of Burlesque and also took the title of Queen of Burlesque in 2012 at The Burlesque Festival Hall of Fame Weekender in Las Vegas. She has a variety of styles and is a very visual performer, and one not to miss.

It seems that the line-up of performers is more focused on performers from NYC.  Do you feel that the pool of talent is growing in New York as burlesque becomes more popular?

Angie Pontani:
Our line-up is definitely chock-full of NYC performers, but how could it not be? New York City is home to the biggest and fastest growing burlesque community in the world, we have an insane wealth of talent here. I think that is in part to burlesque becoming more popular and also because this is New York, a thriving hot bed for the performing arts as well as one of the birthplaces of the new-burlesque resurgence. But the festival also brings in performers from around the globe. This year we have folks from Australia, Helsinki, London, Canada, New Zealand and more, not to mention representation from just about every state in the union.

Do you feel that your audiences are made of predominantly New Yorkers or do folks travel to come to the festival every year? 

Angie Pontani: We get a good amount of New Yorkers, but there are a lot of people who come to town for the weekend, some make it an annual tradition. If you’re a burlesque fan,  what better vacation can you have then catching your favorite performers from around the globe right here in the Big Apple?

How has the New York burlesque scene changed since you started the festival 12 years ago? What makes the New York scene unique?

Angie Pontani: The scene has changed and evolved over the years. When we started 12 years ago it was much smaller. We didn’t have as much of an application process, we just invited everyone we knew in burlesque and that was about 60 people mostly from NYC, LA or New Orleans. Now we are sifting through over 300 applications from all over the world.  Burlesque has grown exponentially and one of the coolest things about seeing all these performers is you get a feel for the burlesque scene where they come from. Every city has its own vibe: Chicago is really theatrical, Texas is big and showy, LA has an ultra-glam spirit, New Orleans has the blues and New York has everything.

Tell us a little about the all-new Burlesque Bazaar.

Jen Gapay:  The Burlesque Bazaar is a new event we just added to the festival last year.  It’s taking place on Sunday, September 28th at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn and will feature over a dozen vendors showcasing costumes, vintage clothing, corsets, feather accessories, pasties, Burly-Q’s Nell’s pop up burlesque museum and even Fredini’s 3-D Scan-A-Rama that can scan your image right on site. We will also have a Q&A with burlesque legend Val Valentine and feature a live pinup shoot on stage with Don Spiro and stars of the festival. Plus, this event is free.

Brown Paper Tickets is seeing burlesque festivals pop up all over the country. Now every state seems to have its own festival. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a burlesque producer who’s thinking of starting a festival in his/her town?

Jen Gapay: I think in order to produce a successful burlesque festival, it really helps to have  a thriving burlesque scene already built into the community, so make sure you have that before doing it.

Thanks to Jen and Angie for taking the time to chat. If you’re in the New York area next weekend, be sure to check out this world-class showcase of the best that burlesque has to offer.

French Comedy Nights: KALLAGAN en français à New-York

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New YoPhoto_blog_editedrk City is the undeniable epicenter of American standup comedy. There’s an audience for everything. Latin Comedy Night, Italian Comedy Night, Jewish Comedy Night… every evening all over the city, clubs are full of crowds that love to make fun of themselves (and especially each other). No matter who you are, to stay sane in New York City requires an outlet for pent up frustration – and everyone loves to laugh. Even the French.

But until this week, there wasn’t a French Comedy Night to be found anywhere in the five boroughs. That changed on April 3rd at Greenwich Village Comedy Club with the first of what should be many French Comedy Nights from B.Productions. French people love the self-depreciating and often cruel sense of humor that comes from their homeland. Florence Foresti, Gad Elmaleh, Fabrice Éboué… But many have been forced to enjoy some of their favorite standup comedians by themselves because as their friends would affirm, watching comedy with subtitles just isn’t the same.

That’s about to change as the francophone minority in New York finally has an outlet of their own to gather and laugh with (and at) each other. Kallagan kicked it off last night and had no difficulty proving there was an audience for his humor outside the Métropole. He joked about passing through American customs as a “tourist”, the incredible ease of obtaining a driver’s license in America, and showing up drunk to his son’s birth. He used a speculum as a puppet and spent a lot of time questioning the gynecologist’s qualifications. He also hopes to use his accent to attract an American woman but so far has had no such luck.

Kallagan is a rare example of a near instant success story in the world of standup comedy. He has quickly built a loyal audience in France and abroad since his first show 8 years ago. He’s starred in televised specials, performed in seven different countries, and opened for some of France’s biggest names in comedy. Not bad for someone still in his 20’s.

B.Production’s first French Comedy Night was a big success, filling a vacuum for the city’s vast and diverse French-speaking population. Greenwich Village Comedy Club was packed with students, couples and “tourists” (hey, it’s been 3 months, time to renew that visa), some even traveling in from different states. For the next French Comedy Night, Kallagan will return on Tuesday April 8th for the last of two NYC performances before continuing his U.S. tour. Tickets are only $20 for a guaranteed good time. Get your tickets soon, show up early, and keep a look out for more French comedy journeying across the Atlantic.

Post by Victor Chovil, Brown Paper Tickets’ New York City Outreach Representative.

Superstorm Sandy relief with i was really very hungry

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We have been so happy to see our producers plan events with Superstorm Sandy in mind! Relief efforts are not over and there IS still time for you to make a difference. Many places continue to rebuild and recover from the damage. As a way to support their efforts, we have created a Sandy Relief Efforts page that lists all events in one convenient location, along with current news and ways to help you prepare your family in the event of another natural disaster.

Live in Brooklyn? On December 15th the Vinegar Hill Sound is hosting a holiday dinner by i was really, very hungry. Your support will help serve 200 residents of Far Rockaway just a week after the event with a warm meal and some holiday cheer.

If you need more enticement, your own warm meal will be absolutely decadent. Warm your hands on a wassail cocktail while snacking on a cheese log and house made charcuterie with house-made crackers. Dinner is a full, holiday spread: oyster pie, peas and carrots and rolls and duck butter; goose roulade with red cabbage choucroute; poppyseed yorkshire pudding; and brussel sprouts with currants and pecans. Top it off with rum cake and poached pears.

No better way to celebrate the holidays then helping those in need. Check out more about how you can get involved.

 

Foodie Friday: Hooray for Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Here is a chocolate chip cookie recipe I have been using for years. It’s near and dear to me so I would like to share it with you! Even during these sweltering summer months, there is nothing like a chocolate chip cookie. Try eating them with some vanilla ice cream at your next summer barbecue. (more…)

I Scream, You Scream!: The Ice Cream Post

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Photo by Jessica Merz on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

As February winds to a close, it’s time to plan for the most wonderful time of the year: ice cream season. Unlike the winter months, where the only advantage to eating ice cream is that it is delicious (which is really the main draw, let’s be real), springtime seems perfectly suited to the frozen delicacy. Not too hot, so it doesn’t melt all over you, and not too cold, so it doesn’t make your teeth hurt. Ice cream is the best. To celebrate the glory that is ice cream, here is a list of events all across the USA to get your sweet tooth satisfied. BOO-YUM!

Friday, March 2 | Deadly Dessert | Philadelphia, PA

ICE CRIME! This dinner theater production in Philly needs you to solve a mystery surrounding Len & Terry’s Ice Cream. “But wait,” you say, “I want to eat ice cream, not just talk about it! YOU TRICKED ME.” No, I did not. This is DINNER THEATER, and Bistro Romano, as part of its full menu, has a fine selection of gelato and sorbetto to satisfy that craving. This is an all-immersive ice cream experience. (more…)

BPT’s Music Picks for this Week: Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog & Mary Gauthier

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We’re ticketing a couple great shows of some truly unique performers this coming weekend and I wanted to give you all a heads up so that, if you’re in the area, you can check out something a little out of the ordinary.

The first of these unique performers is Marc Ribot. Ribot is an American guitarist and composer that is probably best known for the work he’s done for other performers. It’s a pretty impressive and eclectic list: Tom Waits, John Zorn, Wilson Pickett, Elvis Costello, Foetus, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, The Black Keys, Elton John, Madeline Peyroux, Marianne Faithful and more. He’s probably best known for his work with Tom Waits since he was a key factor in helping Tom develop his new musical direction on the ground breaking 1985 album Rain Dogs. This was some of his earliest session work and he would continue to offer a unique sound to all the artists that he worked with henceforth. (more…)

Featured Non-Profit: BrooklynSpeaks

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Do you love New York? Me too!

A few weekends ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the Big Apple for the New York Worlds Maker Faire. Everything about the city was exciting; from dodging people at Grand Central Station, to strolling through the neighborhoods at  midnight. I loved listening to the variety of languages being spoken on the subways and savoring different culinary flavors on every block. Being surrounded by so much energy and life was revitalizing, to say the least. (more…)