Franky’s Foxes One Year Anniversary Tea

Before we all take a seat at the fabulous Franky’s Foxes tea table ahead of their one year anniversary show at Franky Bradley’s tomorrow night, I have a bit of a confession to make…as many mugs as I’ve broken with local entertainers, doing interviews still terrifies me a little bit. Like…it’s that kind of hands clasping, gum chewing, Britney-in-’06-on-Matt Lauer-explaining-why-she-drove-with-her-baby-on-her- lap kind of nervous. Perhaps it’s out of fear of mumbling over my words, my own creative insecurities (we all have them…even Beyonce) or the fact that these talented creative artists depend on this bitch to put them in an even more fabulous light…as if it that were truly possible. Really, it’s enough to make you go cray. 

And although I’m well acquainted with the Foxes outside of their fresh werk and fierce faces, those nerves certainly came rushing back once we gathered around the table during their rehearsal last week. (And no, I’m not telling you what track they were owning it to…you just have to be there tomorrow night)

However, the answer as to why those “eeks!” took over my life once again once as we sat down to spill about it all was quickly answered….because in the oh, so short time in the year  (because in today’s bonkers life it really is) that Franky’s Foxes have owned the stage every first Friday at Franky Bradley’s, they’ve become not just a talent, a brand, a business, a slay, but they have become a true Philly entertainment family. So, you can see as to why it would be a bit intimidating, because it’s that family element that without any question chantays them above the rest and makes them Philly’s truly very own….Franky’s Foxes

While many, many of you are familiar with this multi-talented troupe of red-hot local drag divas, for those of you who may be shakin’ your tails for the first time, Franky’s Foxes consists of the “Subversive” Ann Artist, “Philly’s Broadway Baby” and “Italian Loudmouth” Maria Top Catt, “Video Vixen” Omyra Lynn, “Drag Robot” and “Costume Queen,” Iris Spectre, the “Superhero of the Show” Lady Poison, and of course, Ms. Zsa Zsa St James, whom you may know as “Philly’s Rice Bowl.” Unfortunately, lucky number seven, the vivacious Ms. Karma was busy getting her education on when we all chatted, but she’s still stopped by to spill about what doing this incredible show means to her. 

But before we all sit the f#$k down with Franky’s Foxes, we know that any family isn’t complete without a couple of parental figures to keep them all in check, and lucky for the Foxes, they have their Momma Fox, the flawless Ms. Nicole Fatima, who is that diva responsible for bringing these queens together a year ago and making it all–and them–get to werk. And we have to show love to Mr. Daddy Fox, Franky Bradley’s creative director Dave Morreale, who is about to get a big surprise tomorrow night when a few of the fine local dancing gentlemen from FB’s all male dance troupe, Bradley’s Bucks stop to deliver a surprise performance for his upcoming birthday…that he knows nothing about….because we just have to put that out there to add to the madness. 

And of course, there is DJ Chris Urban, who has provided these gals over the past year with the right grooves and mixes to take them and this show to the next Philly level…which is where you spill some local drag tea with Franky’s Foxes….right now. 

Kicking off our spill, how about each of you describe your experience during the first year of Franky’s Foxes in one word. ZZ-Spectacular! IS-Creatively-satisfying…let’s make that hyphenated.  OL– Exciting! LP-Family MT-Nostalgic AA-Titilating… 

Now, if there’s one element that you’ve all certainly established it’s that this ensemble is a true Philly entertainment family. But of course, with any creative family will come fights and some shade throwing, so Ms. Iris, I’ll field this one to you. How do you all get through those days when the creative struggle can feel a little too real? IS-To be honest, after each show, we have a meeting the next Monday. We scream, we fight, we cry, we let everything out all the table…but no one leaves here upset. And if they do, it’s talked about immediately afterwards. We call each other, take care of each other, we make sure we’re all okay. Sometimes we storm out and come right back because you feel like an asshole. You think, ‘no, this is my family. I can’t leave this how it is.” We trust each other, with each other’s hearts and with each other’s passion. 

*a little side tea broke out as to just which Fox walked out, when Ms. Topcatt admitted, “It was me! I stormed out, smoked a cigarette and walked around the block and came back in and cried….so there we go.” *

Anyone can snatch this one up, when did you feel the family element took over the show? (everybody at once) The very first show. (except for Ms. Zsa Zsa, who claimed it was the sixth).

AA-We were all working together for so long. These are the people who I’m closest with in this drag community which has become so big, and really, I don’t really know anyone else besides these girls as my drag family. 

MT-There’s a lot of connections in here just amongst us. Ann Artist and Maria Topcatt were born in the same room sitting down years ago talking about how we wanted to start drag. I worked with Zsa Zsa and Omyra in The Dollhouse [Revue] as their choreographer and then became a drag queen. Then me. Iris and Poison were [in the] final cast of The Dollhouse. And everyone except Omyra Lynn–as much as we say she’s our sister she’s your (fun!) Aunt, but she’s the same age as you–she’s the only one in the group who didn’t go through the struggle of establishing themselves in a competition in front of a majority of Philly’s gay community.

LP-I think the important thing about us is that we actually have respect for the craft and we give a fuck about what we’re doing and what we’re putting on stage. It’s not just about throwing a wig on and deciding our numbers two minutes before we go on.

ZZ-We are like the fucking X-Men, we’re mutants, we’re constantly evolving our craft because of the inspiration we give each other. Every time one of us steps it up, it’s like okay, time for you to step it up as well.

 MT-Yes, and that there’s no leader in the group…it’s just us getting to play in our playroom and create a bunch of nonsense that people apparently fucking love and they keep coming back to! 

Now, I just want to put Ms. Omyra on the spot since her and I go way back to those early Tabu days. Actually, I think the first time we met was when we were throwing a Rihanna CD release party and there you were with your little suitcase ready to own it. Looking back to the time, the drag scene in Philly has certainly fucking exploded since then, and it’s constantly growing and changing, but what is one element–as a local drag diva whose seen it all–that you would personally like to see more of in the community? More comradery amongst the queens themselves. Also, more supporting each other as far as going to each other’s shows. None of that cattiness…I just want that shit to be gone. 

Now, to put each of you on the spot. Shout out for me one individual performance over the past year you absolutely loved, and maybe one you felt that wasn’t so slayed?

AA-Okay, I’m going to be really candid. Y’all the first show I was trippin (yes, that kind) So…that was fun and it was an experiment because it’s like…how free can I actually be in this show? That was my way of testing it out and you guys let me do that. And my favorite would have to be… (Ms. Nicole chimes in)–“how about the one with the 50 death drops?” Oh, yeah…that was fun! But I had practiced that song {a sick remix of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone”]before and those death drops were like…perfect.

MTI had one, but after my last show there’s two that kind of rival one another. My favorite was when I Tina Turner’s cover of “Baby, I’m a Star” and I had four backup dancers for it. And the weekend before I had performed that as a boy in a dance series. So, I not only got to perform as a drag queen, but I got to perform my friend’s choreography and bring her artistic element into the show. But another one that rivals that one is I just did a contemporary modern piece to 2, 1″ by Imogen Heap. And that’s the great thing about this show. I just said, “I’m gonna do it..” And one maybe not so good? As Poison said, we take our craft very seriously, so I’ve personally never walked on the stage and felt like I was never prepared. But if there’s one that technically went wrong, but people still loved it, was when I did a post modern jukebox cover of “Roar.” I did a swing number and danced right out of my shoes..and kicked Mimi right in the head.

LP-I think the one number that I always have trouble with is whenever I do Beyonce’s “Haunted.” That’s why I do it so much, because I never feel like I did it in my mind the way that it comes out. And every time I’m the lead in the number…that pressure is insane. But everything else…I love…I love everything we do. 

OL[When I performed} The Snuff Film, I remember stressing out before because nothing was going right. My costume and ideas just didn’t come through, but it pulled off okay and people were like, “that was amazing!” and in my head, I’m thinking, “If I gave you what I was really trying to give you, you would’ve loved it that much more!” My favorite is whenever I do my favorite song in the world, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I feel like a lot of times when I do that song in other places, people are like, ‘why is this black girl about to do this song.’ But doing it here, everybody’s singing along and I get so much off of the feedback from our crowd.

IS- Okay, so I’m my own worst critic, but to be honest, I hated my Mystique number. One of my contacts broke before I got it in my fucking eye. The wig was off, the whole thing was just..horrible, horrible. But one of my favorites was doing The Robot and stripping out if it into a girl again. Because I didn’t just want to have one identity. That was really cathartic..and everything I do with Zsa Zsa. Any duet we do because I love synergy more than working on my own. That’s why I love being in a collaborative. Because if I have to go be in a show by myself–which I do frequently…I hate it because everything’s on you instead of being able to say, okay, how can we make this work. How can we use our energy together to make something really workout and beautiful and fun.

Speaking of you two, what would you say is your favorite number you’ve done together?  ZZI think or Ninja number because when I was making that choreography up, I was totally feeling it. It’s been awhile since I’ve done fierce choreo that I really felt.

IS-Also, don’t forget “Chronicles” (aka The Blue One} That was both of us going through shit, and we listened to the song and “Holy Fuck” that is what were both feeling, so let’s just make this work. And Zsa Zsa did the costumes, the hair, the headpieces, integrated the was all her.

Okay, Ms. St. James…how about your favorite and least favorite performance from this year? ZZ-Like Iris said, we’re our own worst critic. I think the Grimes number that I did [was my least favorite] because when I put it together and performed it, I thought, ‘that fabric is not floatin’ and that wind is just not picking it up!” Afterwards I was like, I did alright. But, I think my favorite one might be our Circus show when I was upside down and being an aerialist. It really helped me step up my game.

Okay, let’s spill for a moment about your fabulous accompanying DJ, Mr. Chris Urban. How’s it been having him along on this fabulous ride? MT-Chris Urban is the shit! OL-I remember when I performed as Storm, I was like, Chris can you get me some weather sounds? And he turned it out. He has so much to do, but he’s like anytime you need anything I got you. He’ll come to rehearsals to see if we ned any specific music as far as group numbers are concerned.  DM-Looking back, it’s cool to see the decisions [Nicole and I] made about the group and Chris absolutely couldn’t have been a better perfect addition to this family. 

Now, looking back to that first show, did you ever think that you gals would strike the one year mark from that very first slay? 

AA-I did, but I wasn’t sure because you never know with these [Philly] clubs. I’ve been a part of so many events where it’s like we’re gonna start something and it doesn’t even make it to a year, so I didn’t come in here expecting anything. Yes, our first show had a big turnout and it just kept growing and it was like…’okay, they ain’t going away!’ 

MT-I just never thought it would be that consistent. Now, we have people making t-shirts, bringing us gifts and we have people that we see every first Friday that tell their friends, ‘no, bitch, I’m not going out, it’s Foxes Friday.’ It’s probably been the most rewarding were I’ve actually teared up a little bit just thinking about when you do something that’s so personal, so intimate and you share it with a group of people, but to have [these Foxes fans] that are at your show every time fighting to get in the front row because they can’t wait to for what you’re going to do…it’s unreal. 

DM-When we first started it, it was really interesting because we were trying to figure out what day would work best for the show and we went back and forth so many times–maybe we’ll do it on a Thursday or a Sunday? But this Friday opportunity popped up, and the venue was still in its infancy stage as well (it was just three months old at the time), so a lot of people didn’t know what we were doing up here. We brought the first show, turned it out and really packed the room for the first time with such new energy. I know that after that first show, I said to Nicole, “this is incredible!” We were celebrating with champagne that entire first night! There are also new faces with every first Friday, and it’s not all a gay crowd. There’s also people that may be exposed to drag for the first time and loving what they see. [This show] is really special for the venue and we’ve come so far in the course of a year. 

Back to our one-word spill, how about each of you give one word to describe the Foxes goals for year two and beyond…. AA-Stripper-pole. MTExperimentation LPExcited. OLLemonade. ISBliss. ZZFuckgasmic 

But the fabulous Ms. Fatima said it best…..”Domination.” Enough said. 

But, wait there’s just a little bit more. Although Ms. Karma wasn’t able to spill with us, that cover photo you’re all gagging over is all wrapped in his professional photography werk, Brendan Patrick Photo, and spill it below just a little bit more to hear what doing Franky’s Foxes has meant to him…

“And [doing] the foxes meant family; it meant a second chance for Ms Karma to bloom and blossom into a more well-rounded character. I had been taking a break before I was asked by Nicole to join the foxes, and I’m very glad I took her up on that offer. The girls work so hard every week to bring you an amazing opening number and they’re such great performers. They’re consistently an inspiration to me and I always look forward to seeing what they cook up.” 

See you tomorrow night! 




















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