This post is one of a series profiling the hundreds of performers I’ve presented through my American Vaudeville Theatre in celebration of its 15th anniversary. Don’t miss the American Vaudeville Theatre’s 15th Anniversary ExTRAVaganza in the New York International Fringe Festival this August!
In 1997 or thereabouts my friend Geordie Austin (an incredible singer and musician who used to come to the Charleston Open Mike Night alluded to many times on this blog) let me know he was playing clarinet in a cool burlesque show at the Wow Cafe Theatre called Tex and Trixie’s Vaudeville Show. The show was hosted by this amazing split personality He/She character: one personality was Trixie, a gorgeous, blue-haired, statuesque cat-house Madame…the other Tex, an adorable, mustachioed cow-poke who rode a wheeled hobby horse with bicycle handlebars. In addition, the company featured a chorus line of cuties. There were also several acts, one of whom was Dirty Martini, who stands out because this was the first time I had seen her.
Anyway, Tex and Trixie were both Alison Ward, as you probably guessed. Says she about that show, “I decided to go into vaudeville after graduating from SVA with an MFA in Visual Arts. Knowing nothing about performance, but with a burning desire to find out, I wrote, directed and pieced together a vaudeville show that featured elaborate dance acts and full scale musical numbers. The music and lyrics were written by myself and a cast of characters ranging from my father, friends, and members of the chorus.”
Anyway I loved her and her crew so much I asked ’em to co-produce my next show. After 14 months of a bi-weekly show at Surf Reality, in 1999 I wanted to try a concentrated regular theatre run (four shows a week for several weeks) at Todo Con Nada. The show with Trixie’s All Girl Revue was probably my favorite incarnation of the AVT to date. We got great publicity in all the major newspapers, played to full houses, and enjoyed something of a, well, on and offstage bacchanalia. Let’s just say when I remember this as our “saloon edition”, it’s for a six-pack of reasons.
In 2001, Alison became one of the founding members of the legendary Glamazons, a burlesque troupe that challenges the norms of feminine beauty.
Alison is an expert on aesthetic beauty — her training and her “other career” is as a visual artist, which explains the gorgeous costumes and props she devised for her shows. One of her more recent conceptual projects (2009) was The Waterpod, a floating eco-habitat that she and two other artists inhabited for five months. She has also shown work at the Queens Museum, The Dumbo Arts Center, the Bronx Museum, the CCCB Museum in Spain, RAW Space Gallery in Australia and Castlefield Gallery in England. She has done residencies at Raw Space in Australia, The Artist in the Marketplace Program, and through the LMCC Studio and Swing Space programs. She has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Lewisham Arts Council in London to perform her work. Alison is currently an artist in residence at Flux Factory in Long Island City, Queens.
To learn more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.