She’s been voted the “Number One Most Influential Non-Performing Woman in Burlesque” in 21st Century Burlesque Magazine. She’s co-founded and co-produced some of the FIRST burlesque and boylesque festivals in the world. She’s Jen Gapay, burlesque’s pioneer producer extraordinaire, and BurlyCon is thrilled to have her as a Guest of Honor this year!
BurlyCon chatted with Jen to get a sneak peek of what she has in store for us this October.
Interview: Czech Mate
Your first Thirsty Girl production was Seattle’s annual Capitol Hill Block Party in 1997, a rock festival (that’s bigger than ever 17 years later). Are you excited to return to the home of grunge, Starbucks and The Stranger as a Guest of Honor at BurlyCon?
I am very excited and extremely honored to return to Seattle as a Guest of Honor at Burlycon, I can’t wait!
Congratulations on your recent nuptials! How does it feel to be hitched…and what was it like producing a wedding?!
Thank you! It feels great to be hitched but to be honest, producing a wedding is no walk in the park, and I plan on never doing it again!
Why do you produce burlesque? Why does the burly business matter?
I produce burlesque because I love burlesque. Good burlesque can make me laugh, cry or just grin from ear to ear. I like to think that when I produce a great show, I get to do the same for others.
Burlesque is an amazing escape from an often-difficult world, and it empowers performers to embrace their bodies as well as their funny personality quirks and anything else that makes them unique. It’s important because it entertains us and often teaches us something at the same time.
What differences (if any) do you see in how performers and non-performers produce?
I think it depends on the performer, some performers can produce shows with an unbiased eye, but generally if you are in the show that you produce, there are choices you make that are performer-centric choices that could very well differ from the eye of a producer that isn’t in the show.
You’ve co-produced major festivals – including one of the first burlesque festivals in the world (the New York Burlesque Festival in 2003), and the FIRST boylesque festival in the world (the New York Boylesque Festival in 2012) – and tons of outrageous shows. Which ones have been the most fun? What are some of your favorites?
It never ceases to amaze me how much work, and how much fun, producing The New York Burlesque Festival is. Four days of Glitter and Glamour in Gotham is pretty amazing! The 10th Annual NY Burlesque Festival in 2012 stands out in my mind as a personal favorite because it was so monumental, and because, honestly, when we started the festival we never thought it would last this long!
The 3rd Annual NY Boylesque Festival, in April of this year, was also amazing. It was our biggest crowd yet, and what started out with a predominantly gay male audience has changed a little bit each year to include more of a diverse crowd. What I love about this festival is the energy! It has a very campy feel and the boys have so much fun—it’s contagious!
I also really enjoy co-producing Menorah Horah with The Schlep Sisters each Hanukkah. It’s one of my holiday highlights and I’m not even Jewish!
I don’t take NO for an answer!
You’ve collaborated with the World Famous Pontani Sisters, Amanda Palmer and the Dresden Dolls, and Daniel Nardicio (the “D” in DList). What’s one of your key secrets to playing well with others while putting on an event?
Listen to your partner and choose your battles wisely.
You’ve been voted the “Number 1 Most Influential Non-Performing Woman in Burlesque” by your peers in 21st Century Burlesque Magazine. What does that mean to you?
It means that I must be doing something right and I better keep doing it!
We’re thirsty for more Thirsty Girl. What exciting secret projects do you have in the works?
Daniel Nardicio and I are currently working on another Boylesque Festival in another US city—more details coming soon!
You’re a BurlyCon virgin, and we’re honored to have 2014 be your first time. What are you most excited about for this year’s burlesque learning extravaganza?
I’m excited to for the entire BurlyCon experience and getting to connect with performers and other producers, and getting to know them outside of a festival I’m producing. I usually don’t have much time to connect with anyone during the NY festivals, so I’m looking forward to this the most.
Quench your thirst for Thirsty Girl at BurlyCon 2014! BurlyCon is Oct. 9-12th at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sea Tac, WA. Visit www.BurlyCon.org for more information. Register today!