Named “one of Boston’s rising stars” by Stuff Magazine, Johnny Blazes is known for hir genre-bending, gender-blending, tongue-in-cheek performances. Drawing from hir training in theater, dance and opera, ze creates a graceful clowning style that incorporates drag, burlesque and circus arts to produce works that defy categorization and keep audiences laughing.
About performing in the cracks between, the intersections, Johnny says: "I am interested in the multifarious spectrum of genders available in drag performance, in human sexuality and the exposed body as both symbol and object in burlesque, in the awe-inspiring feats of which the human body is capable as realized in circus arts, and, above all, in the power of laughter to enlighten."
Johnny is a bricoleur: one who uses materials at hand to create new works. With pastiches crafted from snatches of pop culture, mythology, literature and shared histories, ze uses music, movement and characters to sew a patchwork of cultural references. Johnny says: "…as a collage artist, a collector of trash, I both despise and adore the junk I have collected. I both celebrate the beautiful flamboyance of femininity and eschew the notion that it should be expressed in only one way by only one set of people."
Johnny has performed in spaces ranging from Carnegie Hall in New York (as an aspiring young opera star) to the Fox Theater in Tucson (as part of The International Drag King Community Extravaganza). Ze also founded and directed Oberlin College’s OCircus!, a 95-person student group with whom Johnny created five original shows. The final OCircus! show that ze directed was a small ensemble circus that drew upon vaudevillian traditions to create a dark and sexy narrative with a cabaret feel. The show wowed audiences in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, New York, DC, Richmond, and Boston.
Johnny’s current solo project, “wo(n)man show,” makes full use of hir broad range of talents. This semi-narrative, evening-length performance uses drag, dance, theater, clowning, circus arts and classical voice to tell stories that are both personal and universal. “wo(n)man show” is a humorous look at the gender stereotypes that pervade our world, and the performativity of one person’s daily genders. “wo(n)man show” has played at venues and colleges throughout the East Coast, and continues to tour the US year-round.
Some of Johnny's offerings are:
- Dazzling, funny and inspiring one-person vaudevillian performance “wo(n)man show”
- Hosting and/or performing for student drag shows, cabarets and parties
- Guest lectures and demonstrations in Gender and Women’s Studies and performance-based classes
- Workshops in drag performance, circus arts, and other performance-related topics
- 3- or 7-day residencies in clowning/object manipulation or drag performance, leading up to a class performance
"Laughter will enlighten you, relieve you of the heavy baggage of this culture of normalcy. It will strip the veil from your eyes so that you may better see the absurdity of that which you thought was holding you back. You are not ordinary at all, you are brilliant, and if you pursue “normal,” you rob the world of something glorious." - Johnny Blazes