There are many ways fans show their appreciation and love for the films/comics/franchises they adore. Whether it’s dressing up as their favorite characters, hosting midnight shows, or creating a musical tribute to that piece of pop culture that helped define their personality, nothing is more flattering than a fan tribute.
So when Chris Beyond, a Los Angeles-based burlesque producer decided he wanted to round up his friends and pay homage to director David Lynch, he crossed his fingers that die-hard Laura Palmer fans would come out to support. They didn’t disappoint, and his show, Beneath the Surface, is now in it’s fourth year.
Beyond, who hosts as Lynch, took a minute to talk to me about his labor of love.
Maggie: This is your fourth year doing this particular show. Have others popped up around the country?
Chris Beyond: We were definitely the first show in the world as far as we have seen, to do a full David Lynch themed burlesque show. A few others have cropped up around the world, but we were lucky to be able to do it first, and we like to think best, but we may be a little biased.
Maggie: What are some of your favorite Lynch numbers in the show?
Chris Beyond: We feature a rotating cast every year. This year I am excited to bring back Red Snapper’s interpretation of Laura Palmer, which is a striptease where she starts off dead on stage, and then retraces some of her last moments, all in reverse. We have a fantastic interpretation of the film Dune done by Glama Sutra who is somehow able to transform into many characters on stage all in the same act. Anna Bells has several routines based on Twin Peaks including one with a spot-on recreation of Audrey Horne’s One Eyed Jack’s lingerie. It’s hard to pick a favorite out of many favorites though.
Maggie: What other “geek” themed shows has Peepshow Menagerie done in the past?
Chris Beyond: Well the GEEKIEST show has probably got to be our show called “The Science Of Burlesque” which was a show where we actually TAUGHT science through burlesque. We didn’t think it would be the hit it ended up being, but it was packed, and we even had several scientists and members of Mensa in the audience! We definitely plan on doing it again.
We have done burlesque interpretations of James Bond (“The Spy Who Teased Me”), Marvel Comics (“The Marvels Of Burlesque”), Devo (“Peek-A-Boo!”), and Monty Python to name a few. Every year we do a show based on the Frankie & Annette movies, with a running storyline and cliffhanger at the end of each one.
We’ve done a burlesque ‘roast’ of Steven Spielberg and his films. Our most popular shows have been the Lynch show, and a show called “Burlesqueland!” which is a huge multi-day event dedicated to all things Disney, with an emphasis on the theme parks, and a trip to the actual park as part of the event. This year we have done our first tribute to Doctor Who called “Spacetease!” which did so well we had to add a second show recently with even more details and characters for the fans. It had a full storyline, like our shows usually do, and we were shocked at how many people joined us.
Maggie: Has the word spread in the David Lynch community about your show?
Chris Beyond: The attendance for the first show was surprisingly great. I think it was both a case of our posters getting out there, and direct lines to some of the Lynch fan sites. Facebook is helpful, but unpredictable so I still prefer to do the hard work and get out there to promote. Right after the first show we had a lot of people asking us in the club when we are going to do it again. I prefer to keep most of the themes of our shows a year apart though. That way, audiences won’t get bored of the theme and it allows us to do more of our weird ideas too each year.
Maggie: Overall, what is a defining characteristic of a Lynch fan? What is it about his films that intrigue/delight people?
Chris Beyond: The audiences for our Lynch shows tend to be the most different from any of the other shows we do. Often it’s people who probably wouldn’t go to a burlesque show if it weren’t for the theme. They are definitely indie movie fans who appreciate art, and could be described as wearing a lot more black (which is pretty much what me and my producer wear off stage anyway), but we try to do the show in a way that opens it up to people not familiar with Lynch’s work. Like his films, we try to include acts that are dark and “mysterious,” but also include acts that show his humor as well. We even have an act that isn’t as much based directly on one of his films, rather the feeling one may get when WATCHING that particular film.
In the end though, it’s still, at its core, a burlesque show through and through.
Maggie: What drew you to Lynch’s work?
Chris Beyond: David Lynch has always encouraged people to have different interpretations of his films and as a fan of his work, I can only speak for myself and say, I love how he brings to the surface the scary underbelly of what goes on every day in any town out there, and allows us to be both frightened and amused at the same time. I find his films to be very re-watchable because it’s almost like staring at a painting and finding something new every time. Some would say watching Inland Empire IS very much like staring at a painting, and I can’t argue with that either. It just depends on how you feel about the painting, I guess.
Maggie: What is your favorite Lynch film?
Chris Beyond: This is a tough question for me because I really do love many of his films, and most of them have a very different tone from one another. My personal VERY favorite may seem like a strange choice because of how hard it bombed in the box office, but I really love Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Even without knowing about all of the characters brought over from the show, it’s a very interesting and spooky film, that in the end and under all of the gloss, is actually a very stylistic interpretation of an all too common and sad story about young American life. While I think some things are better explained if you’ve seen the television series first, you actually don’t need it to figure out the core story — at least to your own interpretation of the film.
Peepshow Menagerie presents: Beneath the Surface: A David Lynch Burlesque Tribute is this Friday, September 21, 2012 at Fais Do Do in Los Angeles. For more information, go to http://peepshowmenagerie.com/.
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