Do Yourself a Favor and Watch Queen Shmooquan Dancing and Feeding Twinkies to Rubber Chickens at the Same Time.
You see, there are performers like Evel Knievel, who jumped motorcycles over school buses. There are performers like Nadia Comăneci, who scored the first-ever perfect 10 on the uneven bars at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. There are performers like Harry Houdini, who hang upside down underwater in straitjackets. And there are performers like Pam Grier, and Joni Mitchell. Queen Shmooquan is somehow them all.
Queen Shmooquan vaudeville/psychedelia are not to be missed, people; and Jeppa was pregnant when I saw her. Did nothing to stop the over-the-topness.
Trying to describe the performances of Queen Shmooquan demands a literary acuity far beyond my limited powers. This last June, I saw Shmooquan at On the Boards, as part of the Northwest New Works Festival. She closed out a program of four, following up a doze-inducing semi-improvised dance number, and it was sort of like the heavens split open and a choir of angels began vomiting unicorns down on us all.
Entering on a bicycle and dressed like Prince, Shmooquan proceeded to perform her own downward spiral from aspiring actress to coke-addicted burn-out in a 20-minute performance replete with a degrading producer’s couch audition, frequent mispronunciation of the word “vagina” (as in, The Bagina Monologues), and fake male genitalia made from a dildo and two maracas stuffed into a bra and hung between her legs. In a word, it was awesome...
Queen Shmooquan, I am a Promise. Holy fucking Christ…this is sheer genius. Jeppa K. Hall’s Queen Shmooquan routine has been around a while, but this is the first time we’ve seen it and it may well be the funniest thing we’ve ever seen. PR materials claimed the show as somehow about “the Muse,” but the only sign of one we could see was cocaine. Queen Shmooquan suffers worse and worse nose bleeds as the show progresses, from her entrance as a Prince impersonator to her close as a washed-up never-was. In between, she does a brilliant rendition of The Vagina Monologues (involving mispronunciation and family trees that loop back on themselves, as well as nasal birth) to an imitation of Shirley Temple in Annie, while wearing a male appendage constructed of a fuzzy bra, maracas, and a dildo. Seriously, if you ever the chance to see Queen Shmooquan, take it–this is amazingly hilarious stuff.
If you haven’t seen the Queen before, I dare say you haven’t properly lived. I sincerely believe that she is one of the finest artists in any medium that Seattle has ever produced.
Dragging me, kicking and screaming, into liking it: Queen Shmooquan, who, until last weekend, I had thought of as a cheap-shot artist who relied on scatological shtick—bright leotards, rubber chickens, regurgitated Twinkies, and homemade strap-ons. The poultry and penises were fully represented, but the Queen revealed new depths of flagrant pop-culture weirdness—she might be an heir to Dina Martina and Klaus Nomi. Shmooquan stuffed her performance with exquisitely surreal video (Mister Rogers, cheesy hand-holding on the beach, kaleidoscopic underwear) and antics. She rode a bicycle, danced on roller skates, and smeared her face with lipstick before chewing off the tip. At one point, the audience applauded her for simply eating a Dorito. Shmooquan’s heart beats pure entertainment—glittery, gaudy, and shameless. God save the Queen.
Jeppa Hall's Kingdom Lies Between Vaudeville and Psychedelia
For someone of such tiny, compact, gymnastlike stature, she commands attention with a magnetic charisma, humor, and emphatic body language, dragging you, even against your will, into her worlds. Whether she’s slumped behind an acoustic guitar as Goatgirl, her Malvina Reynolds–like yowls delivering tales of love pursuits and daily struggles, or onstage in a wedding dress giving birth to an inflatable frog and stuffing it in a plastic bag, you have no choice but to be completely captivated by her performances.
As Queen Shmooquan, whom Hall considers her own personal vehicle for social change, it’s like she’s grabbing you by the hand and screaming, “Come along with me!” And you follow along in her glorious, terrifying, rainbow-colored wake, willing or not, into an abyss of subconscious fears, experiences, self-consciousness, loathing, hatred, love, political statements that range from denatured food to women’s body issues, birth, death, and whatever else may rise to the surface.
During a recent packed-house performance at the Rendezvous JewelBox Theater, with a hand-painted shrine of Mr. Rogers behind her, Queen Shmooquan’s antics ran the gamut from auditioning potential dates plucked from the audience, dressing them up in ridiculous costumes, interrogating them, and force-feeding them cheese puffs and Ho Hos to receiving her dead chicken babies in a coffin complete with trifolded American flag, delivered via USPS direct from Iraq.
FASHION ICON QUEEN SHMOOQUAN
I Own Me is an eye-popping multimedia performance spectacle featuring Jeppa Hall as Queen Shmooquan—the master shape-shifter, joyful healer, public flailer, shouter of prophetic messages, owner of vast ambitions, singer of quavery spirituals, and seller of retail products from her lifestyles and services line.
Q&A with Jeppa Hall aka Queen Shmooquan
Jeppa Hall’s stage act is a reflection of her determined humanity, motherhood and non-Mormon Utah upbringing. Hall started out her career as an actor, but acting made her crazy, so she quit. After meeting some groovy musicians, she starting singing—which is how she found her voice and discovered her alter ego: Queen Shmooquan, a vivid, crass character dripping with truth and absurdity. Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20, Secret location
How did Queen Shmooquan first come about?
When I was a kid, I used to torture my brother by sitting on him and hanging spit out of my mouth inches away from his face. I wouldn’t stop until he called me “Queen Jeppa.” Then in high school, my best friend and I had a long-running imaginary scenario that we acted out in the form of tea parties. Her character was named “Blipperdine” and my character was a domineering, emotionally manipulative drama queen named “Shmooquan.” Officially, “Queen Shmooquan” was born one night in 2001 when I performed a mock burlesque piece at the Rendezvous JewelBox Theater for Fricker’s Follies, a surreal, sometimes horrible, occasionally brilliant drunken vaudeville show.
What does she stand for?
Queen Shmooquan is an everyday American hero within whom lies a modern day oracle. She stands for everything that is beautiful about being human and alive, and everything wrong and gross with being a participant in our brainwashed, capitalist, sexist, racist, violent, junk-filled American culture.
The show is being promoted AS a seminar for healing. Why?
The majority of the American population is sick, physically or mentally or both. The planet is sick. I have personally experienced profound healing through laughter. Laughing and being funny feels amazing. Anyone who has had a good belly laugh has experienced the euphoria from all that fresh oxygen rushing to the brain.
You use a lot of crazy props. How do they find their way into your act?
I have found almost every one of my props at the Goodwill on Dearborn. Sometimes I go there looking for something in particular, but usually the props find me. Sometimes it’s obvious what I should do with an object. Other times, I bring it home and turn it around, looking at it from different angles. I hook it on to me somehow or put it on my head and see how it feels. A prop will find its way into my act if it gives me a brilliant idea, points me in a new direction or helps me discover a new posture or way of carrying myself.
Which one do you love the most?
My most prized prop is my homemade “weiner balls.” I first used it in a piece in which I performed a faux sexy belly dance to a Led Zeppelin song.
What surprises you in your work?
I am often surprised at how influential my upbringing is to my artistic work. My sense of humor was ingrained in me at a very young age by my young, outrageous, charismatic, daredevil father.
Has anyone not yet been converted to the cult of performance-art comedian Queen Shmooquan? (She finally ensnared me last February with a short but mind-meltingly psychedelic song-and-video cycle at On the Boards.)
Not everyone among us has yet been exposed to Queen Shmooquan. If you’re one of those unfortunate people, you must see her solo show at the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater. As played by Jeppa Hall, Queen Shmooquan is part sex goddess, part retarded child. In her performances, Shmooquan is a kind of priestess of strange rituals in which the stuff of religion gets tangled up with the trappings of politics, as performed by a sexually precocious wild child. She’s beyond weird, but she still manages to be poetic, prophetic, absurd and never less than compelling.
QUEEN SHMOOQUAN I OWN ME
The first thing I always notice in the royal presence of Queen Shmooquan is her costuming. Whether she’s sporting a bloody nose, a neck brace, two rubber chickens for a bra, or even a bushy wig of pubic hair jutting out from her shiny leotard or jockstrap, SHE ALWAYS LOOKS GOOD. Actually, her looks make people beautifully uncomfortable, not unlike the camel toe of Dina Martina sometimes does. This new solo show, filled with singing, dancing, and food eating, will examine Shmoo’s “female self-reinvention” in our “material world controlled by the Weiner-ball Priesthood.” You’ve never seen anything quite like it.
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