The strapping, mustached burlesquer has been making quite an impact on New York nightlife as of late… enough to earn him his very first GLAM nomination. Thotyssey gets the bare truth from the one and only Jack Barrow. [Cover photo: Alan Barnett]
Thotyssey: Hello Jack, thanks for chatting today! So, how did you ring in the New Year?
A 1920’s themed party is the perfect venue for a burlesque performance.
Oh, absolutely! Burlesque is rooted in the vintage world. I was doing improvised burlesque acts throughout the night to a live band that was playing Louisiana Jazz. It had a very Roaring 20’s vibe!
So, where are you from originally… and what were your earliest interests regarding art and performance?
I’m originally from Sacramento, California. My earliest interests were actually comic books and cartoonists. I wanted to be an artist for those things, but stumbled upon the stage at 15. I put on a pair of dance shoes, and have been evolving into the proud queer person that I am today ever since. I’m very inspired by musical theatre, Freddie Mercury, Liza Minelli, Dick Van Dyke, Lady Gaga and the X-Men.
An extraordinary and diverse set of inspirations!
I like to keep it diverse and stay curious.
How exactly did you discover burlesque?
I moved to New York to attend theatre conservatory, and literally fell into the nightlife scene three years ago. A photo on Instagram got me invited to be a part of a cabaret burlesque night. And I met friends along the way that have given me chances to continue to develop my Jack Barrow character. That was so refreshing for me, as a person who is trying to be an actor in this city, as well. The industry wants to typecast, and burlesque has been an outlet for me to live authentically, and express myself in whatever way I want. The ways that make me feel powerful. It’s thrilling and inspiring to have that part of me celebrated and cheered on. It’s been an amazing journey.
You have the perfect mustache, by the way… is that a whole process to maintain?
Thank you! Tom Selleck said that the secret to a great mustache is a little comb. He was right! A little trim too, depending on how bushy we want it to be
Tom Selleck is good for something,! Does your burlesque generally tend to lean towards campy and funny, or do you go for sexy and drama occasionally as well?
I do it all! I think I’m generally known as being a more energetic camp and dancing performer, but love to pull out a slow burn and look you in the eyes while I peel off my clothes. And always gender fucked and androgynous.
It’s interesting that burlesque has always centered around folks getting more naked, but today it’s super inclusive of all body types, gender identifications, races, etc.
Burlesque celebrates all of it. We want to see and experience it all.
Did you have to overcome any hangups about being bare in a room full of strangers… even though you look great, of course?
Not really, I’ve always been a bold, exhibitionist type. I find it incredibly empowering and cathartic.
Congrats on your recent GLAM nomination for Best Burlesque. by the way! This is your first nomination, right?
It is, thank you so much! I’m so grateful and super humbled to be in that stacked category, filled with people that I adore, and to be recognized as a stand out performer in the New York nightlife community.
Viktor Devonne and the White Elephant Burlesque Society have been so supportive. It’s exciting to be recognized in so many categories, especially as White Elephant shows will be sparce in the city once Viktor moves to California to continue his life there. I’m honored to have been part of such an important staple in the NYC burlesque legacy.
I didn’t know he was leaving! We’ll miss you, Viktor!
He will always be a treasured guest star on our stages.
And you’ve been slaying the game with two of the city’s top drag queens, Ritzy Bitz and Nicole Onoscopi, for 3 Fine Wines, a show and kiki at the Rosè Mansion! In January, you’re moving from Wednesdays to bi-weekly Monday nights there.
The Rose Mansion has been so good to us, and I have loved getting to do a show alongside two queens at the top of their game. It makes it exciting to come to work! The venue is your most elaborate, extra version of a Lisa Frank / Barbie Dreamhouse that you could imagine. Our show is kooky and a unique blend of drag and burlesque–those basic bitches eat it up with a spoon!
And you’re also going to have a busy weekend now.
And then, two shows on the 11th.
What else is coming up for you?
Werrrrk Okay I’m closing: what’s your best piece of advice for someone who is considering a career in burlesque?
I would say that any aspiring burlesque entertainer should make sure that they are familiar with burlesque history and traditions; know who your legends are, and take notes. Take your time taking off your clothes, remember that editing is important, and to live your truth.
Thank you, Jack!