If you haven’t heard of Martha Graham Cracker by now, well … you need to get out more. Not only has Martha been slaying audiences at her drag-show cabaret for almost seven years now, but her alter ego, thespian Van Reigersberg, is co-founder of the lauded Pig Iron Theatre Company. We caught up with him just as he was prepping for that company’s version of Twelfth Night and his new role as teacher at Pig Iron’s first-ever theater school. Both open this month.
My full name is… Fernando Steven Van Reigersberg.
I am a … performer.
I’ve lived in Philadelphia for … 14 years.
The thing that I like most about myself is … my sense of humor.
One thing I would change about myself is … gender, duh. No, no, I would be more politically engaged and more fearless.
If I weren’t doing this for a living, I’d be … a librarian. I’m a person of extremes.
If I’m only having one cocktail, it’s going to be … a Cosmo. Wait, that’s so gay.
My greatest extravagance is … I’m not extravagant. Food.
If I owned a race horse, I’d name it … Tabasco Cat.
If I were to live in any other city, it would be … Ooh. God. I think Chicago. It’s an amazing theater town.
One song that feels like it was actually written for me is … Two. “Raspberry Beret.” And Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want.”
My fictional hero is… Bertie Wooster, the totally discombobulated guy who can never do anything right in the Jeeves novels. Hugh Laurie played him in the movie.
My real-life hero is … Aretha Franklin, obviously. Mary J Blige is a second. Chaka Khan. The list goes on and on.
The most important thing I ever did was … adopt my cat, Frosty.
My parents … are astounding and very tolerant of my crazy ways.
The best thing I own is … the garden behind my house in South Philly.
The best restaurant in Philly is … I really love Le Virtu. I spend my birthdays there.
The question I get asked the most is … How do you learn all those lines?
The last time I was mistaken for a famous person, it was … There are so many. Jared Leto. Dave Matthews. And Jim Carey. Martha could be easily confused with Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.
My greatest fear is … Being buried alive.
The best book I ever read is … Middlesex, it’s an amazing book about a hermaphrodite, but it’s so much more than that. An amazing story.
One thing people generally don’t know about me is … I’m a hermaphrodite. Joke. I’m a Scorpio.
The best thing on TV is … Mad Men. The acting is just perfect.
I spend most of my time … listening to music on my computer.
People are always telling me I need to stop … singing so loudly.
I collect … glamorous gowns and things with horses.
The skill I most wish I had is … playing a musical instrument. Any. Maybe guitar.
My greatest regret is … moving to Philadelphia. Just kidding. I don’t believe in regret.
My greatest achievement … starting Pig Iron Theatre Company. And surviving.
Right now, I’m most excited about … Pig Iron’s new show, Twelfth Night. I’m just so sick of … urban blight.
If I could switch places with one person for a day, it’d be … Rufus Wainwright. No. How about Michelle Obama. Oprah? No, wait. Oh, I know. Cate Blanchett. That’s the one.
My favorite spot in Philly is … the Dream Garden at the Curtis Center. A hidden gem. I also like tasting oils at Garces Trading Company.
One thing this city doesn’t have that it really needs is … more park space along the waterfront.
I say all the time that … it doesn’t hurt to smile.
I found the love of my life … in me.
The celeb body I wish I had is … for Martha, Beyonce. And for myself, Jude Law.