A relic of the Warhol days, ex-“Queen of off-off-Broadway,” and a legend in her own mind, Melba LaRose (yes, that’s her real name) escaped to the West Coast in the ’70s in a full-length black velvet coat, hot pants, floppy hat, and ripped fishnets — the strangest thing that ever got off the bus. After shaking off the glitter, it turned out that, contrary to popular dish, she wasn’t a drag queen after all. She was accepted into Lonny Chapman’s Group Theatre, where she explored more traditional roles than those written for her in NYC by Jackie Curtis, assisted by the inimitable Candy Darling. Lulled into a lobotomy by the ocean waves and insistently repetitive sunny days, she began writing and directing plays about the underground in NY and soon was on a plane back to Gotham. Now, ensconced in the world of providing professional theatre to under-served audiences (for 30 years), she writes, directs and sometimes acts in touring productions of the nonprofit company, NY Artists Unlimited. Not completely forgetting the wild theatre history of her youth, she created the International CringeFest, an annual escapade of irreverent, naughty, politically incorrect, politically satirical plays and musicals by up & coming and already arrived playwrights.
Favorite book: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past;
Favorite movie: Death in Venice;
Favorite line from a play: “What the fuck for, dial one?!” (Lanford Wilson’s 4th of July)
Favorite pop-culture guilty pleasure: “Family Guy”;
Life-altering play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (original production);
Favorite cocktails: poured them out 40 years ago after drinking a fleet of sailors under the table (I was a child prodigy);
still dream of: getting a MacArthur Genius Grant… or going to Hinckley, Ohio, to wait for the buzzards to return;
feel most like myself when I am at the ietm International Theatre Conference in a different country every six months;
best escape: obviously, travel (Travelers Anonymous is calling);
one thing nobody knows about me: I’m shy.
These days, I spend my life contemplating existential angst over the current crisis throughout the world, but especially as it affects the arts. The meds are not working.
Melba LaRose. Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in Executives & Professionals. Formerly with the NY Street Theatre Caravan. She has been married 25 years to Brazilian sculptor Elson de Faria