Volume 78 - Number 34 / January 21 - 27, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Villager photos by J.B. Nicholas
Above, inside the new House of Yes, stilt-walker and hula-hoop artist Ali, right, talked to fellow performers as Jordan practiced her aerial routine.
Reborn House of Yes feeling positive on their new show
By J.B. Nicholas
“Show me your gold and I’ll show you my girls!”
So begins “Lady Circus and the Mickey Western Band Present: The Rusted Gun Saloon,” an aerial-powered, folk-driven, sexy beast of a show at the House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The show almost did not go on.
Readers of The Villager may recall that in late April of last year the House of Yes, an artists’ collective then located just on the other side of the Bushwick border in Ridgewood, Queens, burned to the ground after a piece of toast burst into flames and ignited a decorative puppet. Luckily, no one was injured.
The collective, however, composed of a handful of mostly female artists in residence, as well as several contributing artists, lost nearly everything in the fire, including four laptop computers, hundreds of costumes, deejay equipment and loudspeakers, two aerial silks, theater lights, 30 bolts of fabric, three sewing machines, several dressers full of notions, a drum set, 95 percent of the residents’ clothing and a cat named Pilgrim.
“It’s been really difficult,” said Anya, queen of the House of Yes, about life since the fire and the struggle to find a new space. “It’s been a crazy adventure. Not all miserable, but certainly challenging. And interesting, really interesting.”
For months after the fire, members of the House of Yes couch-surfed through Hipsterdom as Anya and Kae, her close friend from Rochester, N.Y., where the two went to high school, searched for a new space in which to reincarnate the collective. Their search culminated three months after the fire, in June of last year, when a lease was signed for an industrial space that was once an icehouse.
Since that time members and friends of the House of Yes have spent thousands of dollars and hours turning what had been an empty, raw warehouse into a suite of offices and performance space. Renovations included the installation of a Broadway-quality, 50-foot-tall, aerial truss from which performers can swing, sway and drop to their hearts’ content. The truss is the centerpiece of the main room, and figures prominently in the new show.
“The Rusted Gun Saloon” is set, said Anya, somewhere in the West during the Depression.
“But the Depression is now,” she said. There are beds in the back of the saloon, added Anya, “but we never say that it’s a whorehouse. Some peoples’ parents are coming. So it’s kind of like waking up in a strip club during a depression and it’s a blizzard outside. We play ourselves,” Anya said. “Of course, some things are exaggerated.”
Ali, another House of Yes performer, said the show represents the culmination of a great deal of hard, collective work and love.
“This is our first full production,” she said. “We started out as just a group of girls that ‘gigged,’” she said, referring to the short theatrical pieces the group has done up until now. “This is our first full stage show. People should leave blown away. There’s so much stuff going on that’s really…amazing!”
Lady Circus will perform on Fri., Jan. 23, and Sat., Jan. 24, at 9:30 p.m., at House of Yes, 342 Maujer St., Brooklyn. Tickets are $20. Visit www.ladycircus.com for more information.