Mister Joe Black
Text JF. Pierets Photos Scott Chalmers
‘A constantly evolving cabaret chameleon, blurring the lines of decency within entertainment and continues to drive music and performance into strange new realms’ and ‘No stranger to the absurd, Joe Black creates a world where the shocking is the sublime and the ridiculous is the beautiful’, are just some of the numerous quotes we find when reading about Mr. Joe Black. An interview with the gin drinking cabaret darling, musical comedy misfit and acid tongued ringmaster.
How would you describe what you are doing?
Attempting to evoke the dark spirit of Weimar Berlin through the use of modern song and comedy nonsense.
Have you always been the creative creature that you are today?
I suppose so, yeah! I always loved acting and showing off. I meddled briefly in the world of filmmaking but decided my calling was performing rather than being behind the camera.
Would you like to tell me about your childhood?
My mother was a jackal and I was often followed around by a large black dog….that was the plot of The Omen, wasn’t it? Though I enjoyed drawing, painting, dressing up and playing games in my mind, I was always fascinated by villains. I wanted to be a super villain and take over the world.
What social reality lies beneath all that make-up?
I seem to have molded everything into one big messy ball. I perform and produce shows on a full time basis, so there isn’t really much of a gap between my reality and my art. I’ve let it envelop me and I don’t think I would ever change that. I love it.
Do you feel the urge to push boundaries?
All the time. I often have been told ‘no, you can’t do that. It’s taking things too far’, but I’ll try to push them as often as I can.
Does your look give you the chance to become who you want to be?
I think it aids it, definitely. Once the make-up and costume goes on, I feel like I’m ready to go on stage. It helps me to fully realize what I’m trying to achieve.
Do you aim for a gender- and sexless look?
Yes, completely. I want people to have to second-guess my gender. I don’t aim to look like a woman and I don’t aim to look like a man.
I want to look like a painting. Something from a twisted imagination!
On you’re website you talk about dark cabaret. Will you be able to do what you do for a long time?
I will continue to do it as long as I can. When the time comes where I can’t do it… I’ll probably still do it. Regardless!
‘I want people to have to second-guess my gender. I don’t aim to look like a woman and I don’t aim to look like a man. I want to look like a painting.’
Do you live in a fantasized parallel world?
Sometimes. I think it depends how many performances I have coming up. In times that are very busy, it is easy to become detached from reality and lose yourself. Sometimes I take my makeup off and I don’t recognize the person looking back at me.
When and why did you make the step from street performances to indoor shows?
Street performing can be cruel and unkind. I preferred the idea of a dedicated audience, rather than people who may not be interested or those who may feel aggressive against it. I think I did street performing for about a year and then fully took it inside. I haven’t done a street performance in a very long time.
Do you think legacy has become important for an artist? If so, what do you want to achieve?
A legacy is all the artists’ work. It is what they leave behind. I think it is incredibly important… it’s everything. What would be sadder than to do all that work, when nothing would be remembered? An artist’s legacy is their mark. It’s their tattoo on the world. I don’t think that should ever be forgotten. It should be appreciated for times and times to come.
Am I taking the whole thing too serious?
Not at all. Performing is a serious thing. Whether it’s a funny performance, a sad performance, a emotionally devastating performance or even just something really lighthearted. You leave a lasting impression on people. I think that is something to really be treasured.
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