The Employee Interview Part XI: Audra

Posted by Miss Ess, September 27, 2007 01:48pm | Post a Comment
4 Months Employment

Hi Audra!  So you are new here-- let's get to it.  What was going on at your parents' house when you were a kid in Fresno?

mad magazine alfred e neumann what me worryThanks---now everyone will know I'm from Fresno! Ha ha. My parents' house was and still is a treasure trove of antiques and general garbage. Under their influence, I became a collector at an early age -- mostly in order to fit in. When my parents took me "garage sailing," I'd always pick up old Mad Magazines from the 50's and 60's. I had a pretty huge collection. I'd mostly stay inside and try to laugh at the jokes about Eisenhower. 

Did your sister have any influence on your musical taste?

Absolutely! She's eight years older than me and very musical, sonina hagen she was all about playing her records. My first 7 or 8 years, it was Beatles non-stop, and then it was Bauhaus and Nina Hagen. I stole all of her records when she moved out. I was about 13 then and I started playing Bauhaus' In a Flat Field endlessly. It was also right around then that I discovered my grandmother's old '78s of jazz and klezmer recordings. Some how punk, death-rock, Judaica, and the 20's and 30's all got smooshed together in my world view.
I love it.  That makes total sense.  What was the first concert you ever went to?

the ramonesThe first big concert I ever saw was The Ramones when they played the Wilson Theater in Fresno. My sister took me and my friend Dory. Frank Black opened for them by playing three or four songs and then storming off. I remember being a little embarrassed for being a Fresnan, but then The Ramones came out and played about 500 songs in 45 minutes and it was the happiest moment of my life, which had only been about 14 years up to then. We talked about it for weeks. I couldn't hear for days. A guy I didn't know proposed to me at that show.

When did you discover the whole world of cult cinema and people like Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis?

While growing, up everyone always told me that my family was like the Addams Family and after a whilethe addams family I started to believe it. Looking back, I can see why a weird old house full of weird old things and weird old people (hi mom and dad) may have played that way for the Joe-Average High School Kids in Fresno. As a result, I collected a lot of eccentric friends who weren't afraid to come over to the house. One of those kids was a real weirdo named Jason Chavez, who now happens to be a fellow Amoebite! He brought over the H.G. Lewis gore classic Blood Feast and I was hooked. I started decorating my room with fake body parts and all that. I was most impressed with the fearless low-budgetness of it all. One spends their whole life trying to be perfect for everyone, and then you see something like that and think, "Aha! The alternative to perfection is breathtaking!"  I didn't get into Russ Meyer until just a few years ago. I was always afraid of the big breasts, but I've leaned to embrace that side of exploitation now. Those chicks rule the films, not the other way around.

I think I was definitely not into the boob factor either but once I saw Faster Pussycat... I suddenly understood what was going on.  So when did you start making films yourself?

The first film I ever acted in was The Breathing Show, which has since been distributed by Film Threat.  I auditioned for it as a diversion from grad school, but putting in 12 hour days on a film set ended up being an experience that I really wanted more of. I acted in a few other full-length indie features including one with Udo Kier, but I've never been interested in finding an agent and pursuing the whole Hollywood audition scene. I've always considered myself more of a writer than performer, which is why I've started making films with my creative partners. The first project started about two years ago, mixing burlesque with sketch comedy. Since then, I've collaborated on several music videos and comedy pieces. AND now I am working on a screenplay, of course.

Even though you are new to Amoeba, you have lived in San Francisco a long time.  What's your favorite local band?

the flakesI have. I've lived here for about nine years, and I've been attached to a number of local bands, but I'd have to say that my favorite band now is The Flakes, but some would say that I'm biased.

So tell me about the burlesque scene here in San Francisco:  Where are the good places to go to see a show and what's the scene like in general?  How did you get involved?

I don't think I can speak for the whole's complicated and splintered, just like any scene. But I can tell you how I ended upodessa lil audra wolfmann there. I was looking for a way to synthesize my writing and my acting, and in 2004 my opportunity knocked: I was given one night a week to do whatever I wanted at Eli's Mile High Club. It was the perfect laboratory to work out my performance experiments. I planned a night of vaudeville style variety acts, burlesque dancers, and music, and named it after one of Buster Keaton's most unfunny movies, Speak Easily (only I called my night SpeakEasily). I needed a master of ceremonies to tie the whole evening together, but there just wasn't anyone out there doing exactly what it was that I was looking I made her up myself and called her Odessa Lil, the Mistress of Ceremonies. And now that's what I do in up, tell some jokes in my's all very glamorous. Odessa Lil is the detritus of my muddled upbringing: all antiquated borscht-belt humor, nervous sexuality, female anger, and put downs. pirates of the caribbean disneylandShe carries a riding crop to keep the performers in order but she might use it to scold the audience if they don't laugh at the right parts. As far as I know, she is the world's only stand-up domme.

What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?

I haven't been in over 17 years, but at the time it was definitely Pirates of the Caribbean and that underwater-mermaid-submarine one. Do you know which one I'm talking about? I like any ride that threatens to drown you in the name of entertainment. Otherwise, my memories of Disneyland are unfairly dominated by the Teacups and how I threw up again and again on them.

Do you have a musical guilty pleasure?

Too many! The top of my list is going to have to be a tie between Allan Sherman and Mickey Katz. I've learned over the years that no one besides me really wants to hear "Borscht Riders in the Sky" at max volume.

What are you listening to these days?

A lot of Japanese GS (Group Sound) of the 60's. Oh, and Neil Hamburger! Great Moments At Dineil hamburger Presas's Pizza House and Great Phone Calls are both truly...great!

What's your favorite thing about working at Amoeba?

Coming from working at a "major financial institution" to Amoeba has sort of been like being let free from jail, so I'm going to have to run the risk of sounding cheesy here and say: everything! The fact that I work with creative and talented people, can go downstairs and access massive amounts of pop culture, and can facilitate events that bring people enjoyment...all those things just thrill me every day.

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Ramones (11), Burlesque (6), Odessa Lil (1), Speakeasily (1), The Flakes (3), Employee Interview (26), Interview (341), Audra (38)