Artist Interview with Martinoa Mayotte
I started performing drag 20 years ago (this upcoming October) in Detroit, Michigan. At 19, I attended a Musical Theater Conservatory in NY and then worked for years as a professional theater artist and event producer. After several years working together, Co-Owner (Gabe Gabriel) and I realized we had a love of, and great respect for, The Circus Arts. Although between us at the time we only had some basic juggling and acro-balance/tumbling skills, we thought it could be amazing to use our producing/directing skills to try and gather artists to play our small part in keeping small, local circuses alive.
In addition to FABULOUS drag performances, there will also be a Disney sing-along, a dance party, and more surprises! I set out to create the type of entertainment that I wished existed when I was a child, and since I never really grew up, it's really easy for me to remember. Basically, I wanted to make myself into the Lisa Frank Unicorn of my childhood dreams. Over the last few years, I've hosted TC PRIDE on the Rainbow Stage and performed as Unicorn Martina at many other LGBTQ+ Pride events all over the state, storytimes, and a Minnesota Fringe Festival Production Super Drag Storytime. This show is a culmination of my favorite parts of all of those Unicorn Parties! But obviously, we didn't invent the Drag Brunch. They've been around for many years, and drag performance has been around even longer. We feel like we are upholding what is a very longstanding and important queer tradition.
In essence, I get to sit and imagine incredible events/experiences and then watch them come to life, but much of my work time is spent sitting at my computer or phone, negotiating with venues and artists over scheduling, budgets, and other logistics. And then onto coordinating with our amazing team of Producers to make sure everything happens just as planned. I am very fortunate to have three producers for the Queer Circus (Mightywaterfairy, Stella Rockstar, and Co-Owner Gabe Gabriel) who work extremely hard, taking on various production roles for various events. This allows us to share the load so we can each focus on building and performing our own individual acts as well.
Collaboration is often an important aspect of creativity. Have you collaborated with any other artists in the past, and if so, how did that influence your performances?
We love to have artists collaborate. I particularly love when live musicians perform in tandem with our drag or circus artists. Over the years, we've had a blast putting together our group numbers for the Queer Circus and some other group dances for different drag shows over the years. I love it because it allows us time "outside of makeup" to get to know each other better, and to build on each other's creativity. The result can be anything from chaotic to incredible, but no matter what, it's so much fun.
We also ask them to hoot and holler for our artists for being brave, in the hopes that it will inspire them to go out and be brave in the world themselves. We encourage our audiences to take home with them our joy, acceptance, and community spirit.
In terms of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, we strive to make sure that our shows are accessible to everyone. We have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of hate speech, discrimination, or harassment. We also make sure that our venues are physically accessible to people with disabilities, and we provide American Sign Language interpretation at all of our shows.
We are constantly learning and growing, and we try to create a space where people can share their ideas and feedback with us. We want to hear from our audiences about how we can improve, and we take their suggestions seriously.
Overall, we hope that our shows create a sense of belonging and joy for everyone who attends. We want people to feel seen, heard, and celebrated for who they are, and to leave our shows feeling empowered to spread kindness and acceptance in their own lives.
We also ask them to hoot and holler for our artists for being brave, in the hopes that it will inspire them to go out and be brave in the world themselves. We encourage our audiences to take home with them our joy, acceptance and self love.
You have various skills and talents, including music direction, costume design, and set design. How do you balance these different artistic pursuits, and which ones do you enjoy the most?
It's sometimes difficult to balance so many plates at once, but I've been working this way since I was a teenager. I could never choose between any particular interest, and so I do my best to schedule time very carefully and take lots of organized notes about everything, so I can easily hop from one thing to the other. I really enjoy sewing for a couple hours, and then working on the computer for SSP for a couple, then Bearded Dragon care time, and then studying Piano music for an upcoming Musical etc. But, Performing Musical Theatre is by far my oldest and dearest artistic pursuit.
What are your future goals and plans for your drag and circus performances, and do you have any exciting upcoming events or projects?
Our hope is to continue our monthly residencies but we are also planning a few new theatrical projects. Including the first full staging of the original musical Gabe and I wrote, Christopher St: The Musical, and we would love to produce a fully theatrical run of our Queer Circus, which has been the dream of our producers for a very long time.
I'm on Instagram @TheLadyMartina. Folks can also check out company updates, join the mailing list and contact us at www.QueerCircusMN.com or on Instagram @QueerCircusMN.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting involved in the world of drag/circus performance?
All the usual tools to success apply: hard work, patience, information and kindness. If it's something you really want to do then don't try to rush it, take your time learning your craft and discovering what you want to say with your performances. It can be absurd, it can be political, it can be unbelievable, but make it you.
Ticket Information: Unicorn Drag Brunch
Tickets are $15 for the show. Food and drinks are a la carte.
Doors are at noon. Show starts at 12:30pm.
Unicorn Drag Brunch is the 2nd Saturday of every month.
Upcoming Arts + Rec events: