15 Questions in 15 Minutes with John Jarboe

John Jarboe (Photo credit: Robert Maris)

John Jarboe (Photo credit: Robert Maris)

The Bearded Ladies extend their proverbial 15 minutes of fame this week with the opening of their cabaret residency of ANDY: A POPERA in the lobby of the Wilma Theater, the second phase in the show’s development (the first was a series of pop-up performances around town). Inspired by Pop icon Andy Warhol, the original hour-long ensemble-devised show, in collaboration with Opera Philadelphia, will culminate in a full-chorus opera in a found space in 2015.

I caught up with director and co-lead writer John Jarboe, founder and artistic director of the Beards, for a Warholian-style pop-quiz interview about Andy.

1. When did you first hear of Andy Warhol?

John Jarboe: My ex-boyfriend was reading his diaries, around six years ago—though I probably knew him before that.

2. What about Andy inspired you?

JJ: How deliciously mundane his writing is, and I thought it would be a wonderful text to have someone sing.

3. What did you learn from him?

JJ: That he’s still alive.

4. What’s your favorite Warhol work?

JJ: The huge Technicolor Skulls; I call them “celebrity skulls.”

5. What’s your favorite Warhol quote?

JJ: “Wow.”

6. What’s your favorite story about him?

JJ: He was looking at someone’s shoes . . . Well, wait, let me find a different one; that one’s a little raunchy!

7. Who’s your favorite Superstar?

JJ: Candy Darling.

8. What would you like your audiences to know about Andy?

JJ: There’s a difference between Andy the man and Andy the phenomenon. The Beards are focusing on Andy the phenomenon—Andy now, not then.

9. What would you like to know about Andy?

JJ: What he would do today.

10. What would you say to Andy if you could speak to him? 

JJ: “Wow.” And I would show him Facebook immediately!

11. What makes him so fascinating?

JJ: The tension between what’s on the outside and what may or may not be on the inside.

Promotional image for ANDY: A POPERA by The Bearded Ladies Cabaret (Photo credit: Design by Flying Hand Studio, photo by Kate Raines Plate 3 Photography, Make-Up by Rebecca Kanach)

Promotional image for ANDY: A POPERA by The Bearded Ladies Cabaret (Photo credit: Design by Flying Hand Studio, photo by Kate Raines Plate 3 Photography, Make-Up by Rebecca Kanach)

12. What is the allure of the Factory?

JJ: They were very young, very queer, and unabashedly themselves—or what they wanted to be, which is not always the same thing at all.

13. What is it about silver?

JJ: Silver is everything; it’s reflective.

14. What’s Andy’s most important legacy?

JJ: Repetition.

14. What’s Andy’s most important legacy?

JJ: Repetition.

14. What’s Andy’s most important legacy?

JJ: Repetition.

15. What do you think the next 15 minutes in the afterlife of Andy Warhol will bring?

JJ: More of it. We’re already in the next 15 minutes. 

Oh wow, John, that’s fabulous; you’re so beautiful–thanks! [The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St.] July 16-27, 2014, http://beardedladiescabaret.com/shows/andy-a-popera/.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.