Meet the Performers: Joey Martini Part 1

Bawdy, bald, and blue eyed, Joey Martini is one of Peek-A-Boo’s hosts with the most. He brings his cheeky vaudevillian charm to the stage, along with kilos of rhinestones, to win over audiences in Philly and beyond every time! Joey answers Ginger Leigh’s questions in Part 1 of this Meet the Performers interview.

What was your first experience as a performer?
…Hahaha well, to tell you the truth, my first experience as a performer was in the mid 1970’s throwing tantrums as a child. What performances those were…These shows I would do for free, but they always came at a price; the price of a spanking for mouthing off. Now this wasn’t the reward I was looking for at the time and quickly learned to change my tune when it came to my spontaneous artistic craft. As a performer, we all have to start somewhere and to have this epiphany at an early age was pivotal to my career. So after some brainstorming, I reworked my act and then all the pieces all started to fall into place. I decided to put on shows for my Mom & Dad. Small productions in the living room. One was called “Gettin’ Daddy a beer” (this was a one man show about the trials and tribulations of thirst, all done to a jaunty song – it was magnificent and I was hooked. Others include: “Tub-time strip” which segued into the classic “I got Bubbles for hair” – these no one showed up for, sadly…) My parents had lots of friends around the neighborhood and they also had children around my age, so it wasn’t long before these little one-man shows evolved into bigger shows and since our families all hung out with each other once or twice a week, it was always a guaranteed audience. We didn’t have to flyer the neighborhood or take out ads in the town fanzine or anything. We were small-time and even back then, had an assurance of food, travel, room and board after the show. Sure they skimped on the pay-out, but It was brilliant! These suckers LOVED everything we did! Since then I never looked back.

Do you remember your first Peek-A-Boo show? What was your first number?
My first Peek-a-Boo show, I wasn’t supposed to be in at all. I was riding high performing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Harwan Theatre in Mt. Ephraim NJ. with THEE shadowcast at the time ‘The Transducer Players’. Ex-Transducer, Count Scotchula at the time had already moved into Philadelphia years prior and was making a name for himself producing band flyers and networking (aka whoring) himself into shows. He approached two of the Rocky Horror shadowcast members, Dawn & Linette about doing a number for this new show at a place called “The Five Spot”. (I don’t believe it was called ‘The Peek-a-Boo Revue’ back then, but I could be wrong.) The show was on a Wednesday night and it was part of Philadelphia’s “Make it a Wednesday” campaign. A night of free parking after 5pm, discounted dining, movie tickets, etc… do they still have this? It was great. One shows in particular, Linette couldn’t make it out and I was asked to fill in for Scotchy’s number ‘Name your poison’ from a movie called “The Return of Captain Invincible” – Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley from The Rocky Horror Picture Show collaborated 3 songs for the film and this was one of them. After this number, I knew my Rocky Horror days were numbered. I was hooked.

Who inspires you in the burlesque world?
Oh wow, great question My Peek-a-Boo Family is obviously at the top of my list but there are a LOT more from all around the world, I couldn’t possible name them all. But I do know they all have one thing in common: The artistry, or what Gypsy Rose Lee called “Illusion” – I love being taken on a journey and to forget my troubles (if only for 3-5 minutes at a time). Burlesque performers are quite creative – it’s more than just stripping. There is a lot of thought that goes into a number and these people make it look effortless.

What is your favorite thing about Count Scotchula?
Count Scotchula is by far (in my opinion) the most interesting man alive. I have known him for nearly 30 years and he still has the ability to amaze me. He is a very caring man and lives to support the arts in Philadelphia any way he can. He approaches everything head on and isn’t afraid of failure. “Falling forward” he puts it. Give it your all and if it doesn’t work out according to plan, you “Fall forward”, never back. He follows his passions. All of em. Every single passion this man has, he has followed. Music, Illustrating, film-making, the arts, burlesque, producer, etc… every single one. He is always in your corner and also has the uncanny ability to recycle and reuse fabric to create costumes like no one I have ever met. It’s borderline crazy/genius and he makes it work. I love that man.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Meet the Performers: Joey Martini!