13 Questions with Bearded Ladies Cabaret Founder John Jarboe

I snagged some Q&A time with the handsome Philly actor before he hits the stage this week with cabaret diva Martha Graham Cracker.

This week, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret (BLC) will present its new show, “My Dinner with Dito: A How To Be Gay Cabaret,” starring Dito van Reigersberg (aka the glorious Martha Graham Cracker.) In it, BLC founder John Jarboe (above, right) and Reigersberg (above, left) will slip into heels and fishnets to take a musical journey through the work of some of our biggest gay icons — from Judy and Liza to Dolly and Joan.

If you know anything about Philly’s performance scene, I don’t have to tell you how exciting it is that these two powerhouses are teaming up, but in a Q&A with Jarboe this week, I found out no one’s more thrilled than him. Keep reading to find out how Martha Graham Cracker is making a dream of his come true, why — even under all the wigs and gowns — he doesn’t consider himself a drag queen and what diva he looks to for inspiration on his very worst days. 

What’s your Philly connection?
I’m a Midwestern boy. I moved here out of college, so my connection is new but full. I love it here.

When are you happiest?
I really love singing around a piano with The Bearded Ladies.

What’s your gayest possession?
I have a crystal paperweight that has the letters “f-a-g” on it.  I found it in a thrift shop in Western PA.

Describe the perfect night in the Gayborhood in three words.
Tavern. Gosha. Gin.

If you were told you could only sing one song for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
The Man That Got Away

Joan Crawford or Bette Davis? And why, darling?
Bette Davis because she was less crazy than Joan, and killer at one-liners.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
Lake Michigan

Someone told me once that you don’t consider yourself a drag queen. So what do you consider yourself?
That is a great question. I consider myself an actor and theater artist first and foremost. I play characters, and I don’t have one go-to persona. I also don’t try to hide that I am a man, and I don’t lip sync. That being said I am a sort of drag queen, or at least I use a lot of that energy on stage, so …

What has been your crowning achievement so far?
I am really really fortunate to have worked with and to work with some really stunning artists. Just the fact that I can get the Bearded Ladies (who are all busy and ridiculously talented people) together is an accomplishment.

If Martha Graham Cracker could grant you one wish, what would it be?
I am already getting it. Performing with Dito like this is amazing.

Who is your diva inspiration?
Julia Child for good days; Edith Piaf for bad

What is your life motto?
“Why be normal when you can be happy?”

I feel gayest when …
I am at a piano bar with Dito.

“My Dinner with Dito: A How to be Gay Cabaret” starts tomorrow, July 17 and runs through July 27. For specific time and date information and to purchase tickets, go here.

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Have gay news you’d like to share with G Philly? Send tips to jmiddleton@phillymag.com.

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