An interview with Fancy Chanceby Belén Bale
Fancy Chance’s work incorporates comedy, burlesque, drag, circus, cabaret and live art. Having made London her home she is consistently working and travelling.From Las Vegas (Caesar’s Palace no less…) to Latitude, and from Gothenburg to Glastonbury, cities as far afield as New York, Helsinki and Dubai have played host to Fancy’s multiple skills and personas. In 2009 she was crowned the Alternative Miss World by national treasure Andrew Logan after hanging by her hair from the rafters of the Roundhouse and in 2016 Fancy collaborated with Marisa Carnesky in Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman prompting positive reviews. She regularly performs at London’s Wonderground, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Leicester Square Theatre and The Box. And now, although just 4 days away from performing her show ‘Flights of Fancy’ at Rich Mix London as part of Certain Blacks festival, she very kindly agreed to answer some of our questions.
INTERVIEW WITH ER
What first attracted you to the burlesque scene?
My friend Indigo Blue asked me to be in her troupe BurlyQ: A Queer Cabaret round 2001. I hardly knew what burlesque was when I was introduced to it. She started the troupe because she had been active in the neo-burlesque scene for a while and started the group as a reaction to the “vintage” aspects of the scene that included old sexist and homophobic humour. In turn much of the work we did was humorous and that’s probably what attracted me most… that and the costumes.
How has it evolved from when you first started performing?
It’s gotten popular and so there’s still a lot of variety of performers and events but at the same time with the sheer numbers of people performing, much of the more visible commercial burlesque out there conforms to the social norms of what is “beautiful” and “glamorous” sometimes at the cost of rich content. At the same time many of the younger performers who are producing as well are ending up blending with drag, live-art/performance art, circus and cabaret. It’s fantastic.
How did you become involved with BurlyQ and what was it like directing BurlyQ Revue in 2005? How different is it from performing?
When I moved to London I decided to start up a satellite group of BurlyQ. As far as producing and directing I was winging it really. I had been slowly collecting people who I thought we interesting and funny to get the group together and one of us lived in a squat that allowed us free rehearsal space. Collectively we created group acts. It was stressful but really fun and rewarding.
Is burlesque becoming a popular platform for LGBTQI representation?
I think it can be a very inclusive platform but as with most things, LGBTQI and many people of colour often have to carve out spaces for ourselves. This is such a big question I can’t really answer it succinctly.
There’s no doubt that the events of the last two years, especially the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, have caused quite a feeling of depression among people. Do you think political satire of the kind featured in your shows is what’s needed to really cheer us up? Or would you like to do more than that and help to change things?
I think activism will change things. Performance and satire can give us kind of a cathartic feeling that there are people concentrating on calling out this move to the right but really it’s what we do with that feeling. I hope my shows inspire people to be more thoughtful and plant a seed in their brains and bodies to take action and pay attention to people and political movements that have caused these things that I satirise.
What can we expect from your show Flights of Fancy coming up this Sunday?
Laughter, shame, tears, anger, joy, release. Like sex but … um … not.
Flights of Fancy is very personal to you and is centred around your own experiences. Is it cathartic to talk about and share them with an audience?
At first it was but now I just want to give the audience a great experience by giving a great performance of what I hope is good material.
What’s up next for you after the show?
I’m going to perform on the 15th and 16th of September in Brighton at the Marlborough and then from there I’d like to tour the show where ever and when ever I can!
And lastly, where do you get your nipple tassels from?
I still use many from the defunct and muchly missed Twirly Girl that Indigo Blue used to run. Now I make my own or get them commissioned by various humans.
A globe-trotting, time-traveling mini-spectacle with turbulent polemics and unexpectedly poignant stop-offs, Flights Of Fancy tells the true story of the artist’s journey from Korean refugee to international cabaret performer. In-flight entertainment includes offbeat humour, songs, and scenarios, written and performed by the artist herself and developed and directed by Nathan Evans.
Sunday September 10, 5pm, Rich Mix London. Part of the Certain Blacks Harlem festival.
Tickets £10/£12 To book: www.richmix.org.uk
Friday September 15 ad Saturday September 16, 7.30pm. Marlborough Theatre, Brighton.
Tickets: £9.50/£7.50 To book: www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk