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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy celebrating her win at the Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant. September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

What’s it like to be Miss Coney Island 2011? ATZ asked Lefty Lucy, who won the title in September at the 8th annual burlesque beauty pageant and is halfway into her reign.  Her predecessors are such luminaries of the New York sideshow and burlesque scene as Bambi the Mermaid, Insectavora Angelica, Julie Atlas Muz, Ekaterina, Serpentina, Gal Friday and Gigi LaFemme. The Great Fredini, who runs Coney Island USA’s Burlesque at the Beach, explains: “Bambi carefully curates the Miss Coney Island Pageant herself. We usually have 8 to 12 competitors and I emcee the show with a band. It’s run in a classic beauty pageant format with segments for runway, talent, lineup, etc. The thing is you just never know who will take it because the audience in the theater votes to decide who the new Miss Coney Island will be. So it’s really about who the audience loves the most. It’s very Coney Island!”

Q: When you were crowned Miss Coney Island, you looked very surprised. What is the secret of your success?

A: I was surprised! While I’ve been a performer all my life, I’ve only been performing burlesque for just over 2 years. The Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant has been an inspiration to me for years now; it was THE destination for my birthday for almost all of the past 6 years! I think that helped, really, as far as the “secret to my success” is concerned. Since I have seen the pageant, I had a pretty good sense of what a Coney Island audience wants. Coney Island lovers tend to be funny, original, sincere, and full of joy. The competitors who stuck with me over the years (Minnie Tonka, Nasty Canasta, Trixie Little) each had strong gimmicks that reflected who they are, and by being themselves they reflected the Coney Island spirit. I just tried to be true to me and also entertain.

Lefty Lucy

Emcee Fred Kahl intros Lefty Lucy. Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant, September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: How has being Miss Coney Island changed your everyday life?  Are there any official duties or perks that come with the title?

A: I get to be involved in shows I haven’t been in before, like the big Spring Gala on Thursday, April 28. I also got a banner painted by Coney Island USA’s artist in residence, Marie Roberts, which is absolutely stunning. As for official duties, they primarily include producing a few shows at Sideshows by the Seashore and heading the Mermaid Parade as the Queen of Coney Island. I co-produced “Mr. and Ms. Coney Island Play Favorites” with the reigning King of Coney Island, Glenn Marla and we’re hoping we get to do a few more before my time is up! Beyond that, I’m working with Bambi the Mermaid to create a Wikipedia entry and Facebook page for Miss Coney Island, trying to coordinate some big press pushes for the season this summer, and making sure that New Yorkers know that Coney Island is still alive and kicking.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as a Robot in Sweet & Nasty Burlesque at Coney Island USA. Banner by Marie Roberts. October 7, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Your costumes in the pageant were a knockout!  One photographer wrote on flickr: “I am really impressed by this girl. Three interesting costume changes and silver make-up put on and removed!” Tell us a little about the inspiration for and creation of the costumes. Did you make them yourself?

A: Thank you! I am an incredibly lucky girl. One of my best friends of all time, David Withrow (DW professionally), is a brilliant costume designer. He and I both like to have a narrative in costumes, and once I settled on doing a brand new robot act for the show, I decided I wanted all of my looks to be robot inspired. The robot act costume I made out of duct tape and tin foil. It is sort of an homage to the costumes I grew up seeing on the Twilight Zone. For the gown, DW suggested doing a take on the Metropolis robot, and we decided to use all of the iconic architecture of Coney Island to emphasize that concept. We built that headdress the day of the show using foam core, toothpicks, and silver sharpies! Glamorous, no? Then for the swimsuit portion of the competition, I decided to go 60s Fembot, which is why I’m all pink and gogo-tastic. What you don’t see are my bullet pasties under the bra!

Miss Coney Island

Bambi the Mermaid with the newly crowned Miss Coney Island Lefty Lucy. Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant. September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Are zany costumes your trademark?  You portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters in Epic Win Burlesque, Lot’s Wife as the Morton Salt Girl in Storybook Burlesque’s version of the Bible. Tell us about the costumes.  Do you ever get any ideas that are too over the top?

A: hahaha yes, Mr. Stay Puft was a fun one, for sure. It’s made of this awful gummy insulated fabric that we found on discount. I don’t know what it is supposed to be used for, but it’s perfect for a marshmallow man. The first two times I did the act, I filled the costume with marshmallows so every time I tore a piece off, marshmallows flew in to the audience. It was a lot of fun. Morton Salt Girl was easy as she has such an iconic look; the hard part was figuring out what she would wear under the dress!

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as the Morton Salt Girl/Lot's Wife in Storybook Burlesque's Bible Show II. December 3, 2010. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

I wouldn’t say that zany costumes are my trademark, but zany concepts definitely are. As I’m getting deeper into burlesque, I’m becoming less afraid of dreaming big. I love burlesque, and I love when I see someone take something off in an unexpected way. There’s an inherent sense of playfulness to much of my burlesque, and I think having costumes that can be removed in unique ways helps engage the audience and lets them partake in the fun I am having on stage. It makes burlesque more like a magic trick, and why go to live performance if not to experience magic?

As for ideas that are too over the top, I have them all the time! Some we make come true, like Mr. Stay Puft and my wall costume. For Storybook Burlesque’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play within a Play within a Burlesque show, I played the Wall, and did an Elizabethan take on the look. I had “walls” sticking out of my hips as panniers, and a cage bodice with bricks framing it that are removed throughout the act. Other acts I dream up are not possible now, but I’m still trying to find ways to make them happen. I’d love to do an act using the sort of wheel that knife throwers use, but I would be a record. You wouldn’t see a person at all until pieces began being removed and I would be revealed, attached to this spinning upright record. These wheels aren’t the sort of thing you can find on Craigslist, though, so that will definitely have to wait.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Midsummer Night's Dream. July 29, 2010. Photo © Matt Bresler via flickr

Q: Your bio says that you made your burlesque debut in the New York School of Burlesque Showcase in January 2009 at the Slipper Room.  What was your favorite part of the curriculum?  What inspired you to enroll in NYSB?

A: The first class I ever took with the NYSB was a 4 week intensive covering all of the basics of burlesque: pasty making and tassel twirling, the glove peel, stocking peel, etc. with Jo “Boobs” Weldon as teacher. It was incredibly freeing and I learned SO much. I don’t have a dance background, and this class helped me become comfortable with movement and feeling sexy instead of silly or self conscious. But my favorite part was tassel twirling, hands down. I took to it like a fish to water, and Jo called me a freak for getting it as quickly as I did.

What brought me to the NYSB was really what got me in to burlesque. It’s a long story, but it’s partially inspired by Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and an application I was filling out to become a member of the Evil League of Evil. I needed an outlet, and burlesque was a perfect fit. My friend Dave had a huge crush on Jo and told me about the school, so I looked online and signed up immediately.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Midsummer Night's Dream. July 29, 2010. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

Q: How did you come up with your stage name “Lefty Lucy”?   What is your background and how does it inform your personality as a burlesque performer?

A: Before I took my first class, I knew I was going to need a name. I was going in a totally different direction, basing my ideas off of my muggle name, but Dave (the one who had a crush on Jo) pointed out that all of the options I was coming up with sounded more drag than burlesque. I made a list of who I wanted to model my performance style after, and I immediately thought of all the time I spent watching I Love Lucy as a kid. I also have a background in theater, from on stage to being a techie, and I would be nowhere without “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty”! I Googled the name and (at the time) only found a band with the name, so it seemed ok for me to use it. I got lucky considering how much I didn’t know at the time about burlesque names. A lot of people pick a clever name they love, only to discover there are 10 other women around the world with names that sound similar, and it can be very frustrating. But Lefty Lucy is unique to me, and I love that.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as Mr Stay Puft in Sweet & Nasty Burlesque at Coney Island USA. October 7, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Your comedic flair and range of facial expressions reminded me of Lucille Ball.  Is Lucy one of the inspirations for your stage persona Lefty Lucy?

A: That is an incredible compliment! Thank you! And yes, she is absolutely an inspiration.

Q: What’s your favorite episode or scene from I Love Lucy?

A: I think my absolute favorite is the one Harpo Marx is on. The Duck Soup mirror bit is classic and hilarious! I also love when Lucy tries to make the apartment feel like Cuba for Ricky, and does a great Carmen Miranda bit. I pay homage to that scene in one of my acts.

Q Who are some of your other heroines?

A: The two icons who got me through high school were Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. They are still huge inspirations for me today, along with Goldie Hawn, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, and Ann Margaret. As for real-life heroines, Little Brooklyn is my all-time favorite performer. Her comedic timing and command of an audience is unbelievable, and her ideas are brilliant and spot-on. I also really admire BB Heart, who is one of my friends and co-founder of Storybook Burlesque. Her work is incredibly inspiring and uniquely her, which is fantastic.

Q: You’re a founding member of Storybook Burlesque, which is described as “literary burlesque” inspired by storybooks, including tabloids, the Bible, Shakespeare and Doctor Seuss. Which stories do you find inspiring and why?

A: I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and Peter Pan the most. I love the imagery and fanciful elements of Alice, not to mention all of the satire and social commentary involved. Peter Pan has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid; I always dreamt of being able to fly (and playing the part Mary Martin made famous!). Both books really get you out of the everyday and into your own imagination which is one of the most important things you can be in touch with as a performer. They make me want to be extraordinary, and to help others do it too. My favorite novel is Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant. He is one of very few authors who takes advantage of the uniqueness of books as a medium, and introduces you to characters that you only later discover look differently than you had imagined. I love this because it pushes me to reconsider the assumptions I make and why I make them, and also because it’s something any visual medium simply can’t do. I love artists who take advantage of what makes their medium special.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Dr Seuss Show. Banner by Marie Roberts. February 10, 2011. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

Lefty Lucy is Miss Coney Island 2011 and a founding member of Storybook Burlesque, which will be presenting Grimm’s Fairy Tales in Summer 2011. She is a member of Epic Win Burlesque, which is debuting their newest show, Rated R for Violence, on April 22nd & 23rd at the Tank, and will be performing as part of Nerdapalooza in Orlando on July 16. She also co-produces Drive Thru Burlesque with Sizzle Dizzle. Drive Thru Burlesque is a monthly 5 hour burlesque extravaganza one Friday a month at the Parkside Lounge.

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July 6, 2009: Q & A with Zoltar: Coney Island Mermaid Parade’s Best Fortunetelling Float!

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Parksmania, the premier Italian news portal for amusement and theme parks, interviewed Alberto Zamperla about Luna Park Coney Island at the Euro Attractions Show in Rome on October 6-8, 2010. Since the conversation is in Italian, ATZ asked a friend to translate Zamperla’s remarks.

Parksmania’s YouTube video also has footage of Luna Park’s rides in action and a “virtual tour” of the park. At the beginning of the vid, you’ll catch a glimpse of Zamperla’s rendering of the future Luna Restaurant’s hot pink facade and blue awnings.

As ATZ reported earlier this month, the $1.4 million dollar restaurant is currently under construction at Surf Avenue and 10th Street and will be operated by corporate giant Sodexo, which will also run some of the food concessions on the Boardwalk. Luna Park Coney Island, which has 18 Zamperla rides plus a Reverchon water flume, opened on Memorial Day Weekend 2010.

Here’s a translation of what Alberto Zamperla, president and CEO of Antonio Zamperla S.p.A, had to say in the interview with Parksmania…

It’s always been my dream to create a whole amusement park with only Zamperla-attractions. To do this in New York, where the great amusement park of Coney Island opened over 100 years ago, and to become part of this magnificent history, is among the best experiences I had in my life.

We have opened 19 new attractions, we employed 210 persons, we received 200 inspections from the Building Department. This shows the logistic excellence of Zamperla, which even Bloomberg recognized. He himself couldn’t believe that we were able to realize all this in only 100 days. We showed an incredible organizing ability.

We have had 400.000 visitors, 25% more than expected. We opened the park the very day we completed the construction works.

We conquered the trust of the NYC Municipality, so much that in the coming years we’ll expand the park. Next year we’ll create a “thrill zone” with “adrenalinic” rides for the youngsters, including a roller coaster.

The trust was so great that they entrusted us with the refurbishment of the whole boardwalk, so that we will also take over the management of the gastronomic activities.

ATZ thanks Alessandro Busà, the editor of Urban Reinventors, for translating the audio. His paper Rezoning Coney Island (pdf) can be downloaded via the website of Hunter College Dept of Urban Affairs & Planning.
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December 5, 2010: Zamperla Air Race Ride Wins Sales at IAAPA Attractions Expo

December 2, 2009: Under Construction: Luna Park Coney Island’s $1.4M Sodexo-Run Restaurant & More

August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

January 26, 2010: Scoop: Zamperla’s $24M Coney Island Park to be Named Luna Park!

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Here’s a trip you won’t want to miss! On Friday, October 16, Coney Island USA’s Burlesque at the Beach presents “A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy” by East Village performance artist and virtuoso “vocal acrobat” Zero Boy. As a longtime fan, we’re confident Zero Boy is the man to make the glorious hurly burly of Coney’s history come alive onstage.

“The audience is the nephew,” says the ad for the show. “Visit Dreamland, Luna and Steeplechase Parks! Ride the Colossus! Soar on the Parachute Jump! Explore the wonders of Coney Island’s previous centuries. Hot dog eating contests, amusement rides and games of chance. Ride the roller coasters and swim in the clean and pristine aural waters of Zero Boy’s latest vocally animated cartoon.” Here’s a snippet of the play performed this spring at the Ask Dr Hal Show in San Francisco…

In a recent phone conversation with ATZ, Zero Boy talks about developing the play from a three-minute bit to a 45-minute work-in-progress, the inspiration for the set design, fave things to do in Coney, and oh yeah, how he got the name Zero Boy. For the record, his answers were punctuated with lots of laughter and little onomatopoeic flourishes. Photos of Zero Boy used with permission of the photographer Scott A Ettin.

Q: When I first saw the notice for your show on the CIUSA website I was excited because of course I know your work and I love Coney Island. I thought, I have to see this! What will the show be like in relation to the history of Coney Island?

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A: Well, I do a comic romp through the past, present, and future of Coney Island. It’s sort of like a cartoon of certain big historical elements starting with the beginning of Coney Island all the way up to the 80s, 90s, to now. I did a thing called Stump Zero Boy where people would write in a two word scenario on the radio. I do a similar thing toward the end of the show. People say the Future of Coney Island is dot dot dot. Then I present the future of Coney Island via the audience’s suggestions.

Q: How did you get the idea to do a show about Coney Island?

A: It started as a routine last year I did in a show called “Astroland” at the Kitchen. They asked me to do a bit for it, three minutes of Coney Island Zero Boy style. That routine went from three minutes and developed into a 25, 30 minute routine. I knew I wanted to do a full blown play because the response to it in traveling around the country. When I was doing the routine in Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and in New York, it was sort of like a sail boat. I didn’t have to put up the sail very hard before the thing was flying across the lake.

Every show, there’s a guarantee someone will come up and tell me, I went to Coney Island when I was bla bla years old. I saw Steeplechase. Or, oh I was too young to see it but… Or I went with da da da da. People come up and tell their stories. As I found out the history of Coney Island, I was really blown away. I developed the show and brought in a director from Seattle who really helped format the show for September 11 at Ars Nova.

Q: How did you research it?

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A: I read Charlie Denson’s book Coney Island Lost & Found, which I loved. It was a major inspiration for me and for the set design, along with the other materials we had. I did a lot of Internet surfing. This summer was the summer that I’ve gone to Coney Island the most. And I jumped on my bike and I rode around the whole island, which was a real interesting eye opener because most people just get off at Brighton Beach or the amusement district and that’s it. Seriously, people get off the train they just head for the beach. They never really go in the opposite direction.

On Labor Day Weekend we were wandering around Coney Island. When you get there at 11 o’clock on a Sunday no one is there, you get there at 12 the place is hopping. Then we came around the corner— and I’d read that article about the Bell in the newspaper how the divers pulled the Bell out of the water— and here we are and they’re pulling the Bell out of the Coney Island History Project and I was the second person to ring the Bell that day!

For me it was a special moment, I felt like it was Coney Island saying go, Zero Boy go, tell our story. I tell everyone this story. One, I tell people you should check out the Bell, and two, it really meant something to me, like history is coming back around. Because people really don’t know anything about Coney Island unless they really research it. I didn’t know anything. You realize the whole island was a giant resort that slowly melted away.

I hope folks from Coney show up and say, oh you’re wrong about this, you need to add that, because the show really needs about 20 minutes more worth of material in my estimation.

Q: How long is it now?

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A: it runs about 40 to 45. It is a Zero Boy style show in that it’s like Bugs Bunny going through history

Q: I saw that YouTube clip from San Francisco and I realized that it was probably a shorter, earlier version because it didn’t say anything about Luna Park or Dreamland. I love the intro Dr Hal gives you, he’s hilarious!

A: At that Dr Hal show this guy David Capurro the Yo-Yo King was on the fly. No matter what performer is going on he throws up images off the Internet. He was on the fly doing that and I started interacting with it. It inspired me.

The rest of the show, whole sections of it, I had gone out and done solo bits. So there were elements that had been tried and true with the audience. Now it’s a play rather than just a routine.

I’m going to start adding interactive stuff where I’ll be using old film footage and literally as people turn and look maybe speaking to them sort of Zelig style.

Q: Do you use props too?

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A: No, I do not. A la Zero Boy, the props you see are whatever I create via sound and simple pantomime and I have a beautiful set. As a Coney Island person you will love it. What was so funny was when we did the show at Ars Nova, there’s a reveal where I say “Welcome to Coney Island” and the curtains open, and there was the set. And the set got applause

Q: Wow

A: I thought so, too. I was like, wow. The visual artist who spent two weeks making it was crying he was so happy. But the other thing is the Elephant. It’s the centerpiece on the set actually. In the sideshow I don’t think there will be a reveal cause there’s no place to hide the set. But people who know the history will appreciate it. Aficionados are gonna go, yeah

Q: Personally what are some of your favorite things to do in Coney Island?

A: I’d say first thing you do is take the Q train to Brighton Beach and pick up your food. You’ve got that great neighborhood filed with all Russian food, Georgian food, great deals on fruit, then walk down the Boardwalk to the amusement zone. That’s what I tell people

Q: What’s your favorite ride or game?

A: My favorite would be the Cyclone, It scares me every time but I love it every time. The Cyclone is such a great old thing.

Q: The Cyclone is in the show, right?

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A: Oh, of course, it’s the height of the show. It’s funny, if I had my druthers, my favorite ride would be the Steeplechase. If I could go back in time and ride that thing, that would be one of my wishes of life. Part of the show is based on my friend, a Lower East Sider who grew up on 13th Street between 2nd and 3rd. He told me about going to Coney Island as a kid in the 1940s and riding the Steeplechase horse and thinking he was gonna fall off. Part of my show is Uncle Zero Boy talks about when your grandfather grew up on the Lower East Side and he loved to go to Coney Island and I tell his story of Steeplechase and Luna Park.

I talk about Dreamland, Luna Park and Steeplechase Park in one element of the show. You’ll get the reference to the Bell.

Q: Oh, the Bell is in the show?

A: Very briefly. I talk about the fire. I talk about everything went up in flames, and you hear bong bong splosh. I talk about the historical recreations they did. I talk about the Wonder Wheel… the Wonder Wheel, the largest ferris wheel in the world. It’s 600 meters in diameter.

I bring out Frankie Yale. I bring out Al Capone. I talk about the Fearless Frogman himself. I basically cover a lot of bases in a small show. It’s such a huge, huge thing, but there are a few more bases I need to cover. That’s why I’m taking a long process and developing the show.

I have this really great feeling about this Coney Island show. I’ve hit some universal vein. It’s the right time and the place is really wonderful. Coney Island was the template for so many things.

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

Id like to ultimately do the Fringe Festivals this coming spring and summer and fall. What would be cool is doing it in Times Square in a small theatre so people who are coming to visit New York get a little taste of this and go running out to Coney Island.

Q: How did you become Zero Boy? I thought, gee I wonder if he did this as a boy at school?

A: No this is what happened… when people interview me on the radio, how did you get the name Zero Boy, I say when I was a young kid I was hit by a radioactive mathematician and it gave me the superhero powers to make sound into reality, cartoon sounds. And then we moved to France and while we were in France, I was walking along the Champs d’Elysee and I heard non non non, which in English means no. And I look up and the Eiffel Tower is shaking and bolts are popping out. So I fly over and I turn on my welding finger. I hear “the hero boy the hero boy he saved us he saved the Eiffel Tower, the hero boy!” and I get the medal from the President. But the newspapers in America messed up and got it as Zero Boy. So I kept it.

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy. Photo © Scott A Ettin/www.tankboy.com

“A Trip to Coney Island with Uncle Zero Boy”

Written by Zero Boy
Director… Armitage Shanks
Dramaturge… Jodi Glucksman
Set Design…Adrianno
Audio and Media Design… Richard Reta
Set Construction…Terry McHugh
Booking… Gorgeous Management
Michael Wolk, Maureen Sebastian
Photography… Scott Ettin

Burlesque at the Beach at Sideshows by the Seashore, Coney Island USA
Friday, October 16, 2009, 9 pm, $15
1208 Surf Avenue at West 12th St, Coney Island

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