Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Madison Krekel

At Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Madison Krekel pliés at the barre, softly bending knees covered by tiger stripe pants. She wears a bright tie-dye shirt and her hair, the color of red licorice, is shaped into a fluffy D.A. She leads her ballet students through tendus, jumps in first and second position, standing on their toes in relevé. They talk and laugh and glide across the floor, arms outstretched.

Madison studied dance for most of her life, even through college, and she moved to New York in 2010 with every intention of joining a contemporary ballet company. But something shifted and she realized she needed a change. She began experimenting with modern and different kinds of performance, and has been working as a freelance modern dancer since. She toured with Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show and performed with Third Rail Projects’ Then She Fell, a Bessie Award-winning immersive theatre retelling of Alice in Wonderland. She has also assisted choreographers like Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez with reconstructions of work by the influential, experimental choreographer John Bernd. You may recognize Madison from a supporting role in a Miss Manhattan Hangs Out from earlier this year with Katy Pyle, as Madison is a featured dancer in Katy’s Ballez company.
After class, Madison grabs her grey stetson and pops it on her head with all the natural flair of a cowboy leaving a saloon. We head to her home where she will prepare for tonight’s show with her band Snatch Attack, a Cramps-esque punk-rockabilly outfit that sounds like “painting on pencil mustaches, staying in rundown motels, guzzling tiki drinks, driving fast hot rod hearses.” She is the lead singer, in drag as MadDaddy MayHammhmm, who she describes as “a hillbilly ghoul,” a fast-talking, swaggering scion of the undead who weren’t never nobody’s granmama.

“Come, help me pick out a mumu!” she says. There’s a framed portrait of a bloated ‘70s Elvis; a shrine of kitschy knickknacks like a toy pink Cadillac, a figurine of Jim Carrey in The Mask, and a tiki candle; a shrunken head, and scads of sparkly costume jewelry. Madison says she always felt like a glamour puss and now also feels like a femme stud. Her mumus are from the discount store nearby, where she gets all her MadDaddy costumes, like bright pink lace bloomers, oversized underwear with zipper pockets and, of course, the mumus. We pick a beige one and soon Madison is painting MadDaddy into existence on her face in the bathroom and warming up her voice.

She emerges in full MadDaddy regalia, blacked-out teeth, mustache, rings, bone necklaces, ‘50s bowling shirt and all, and we head to Hank’s Saloon, a rock and roll bar. Madison as MadDaddy is electric, moving with the muscle memory of a dancer overtaken by, yes, a swaggering hillbilly ghoul, swinging her dress and giving rubber cockroaches to the audience. The crowd that gathered in front of her is almost stuck to the floor in awe, exploding into applause after each song.

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