Art Talk with Martha Graham Cracker

One of our favorite drag queens performs at PMA this Friday - we have the scoop on the show

Photo by Amy Hartranft

Martha Graham Cracker, the queen of Philadelphia cabaret, brings her campy cultural commentary to the Philadelphia Museum of Art this week (April 27) during Art After 5 on the Great Stair Hall. We talked to Martha about the show, her new Twitter account (@TheMarthaMan) and her very unique take on fine art. 
In preparing for your show this Friday at the art museum, have you been channeling any fine art influences? 
Well, van Gogh is in the next room - poor guy. I've been thinking about him. His painting "Rain" is devastating and so moving. Perhaps for the show he'll lend us some of his melancholy, some of his manic joy and his rough brushstrokes.
What's your favorite exhibit at the museum these days? 
Beyond the van Gogh. And of course Zoe Strauss. Hmm, I guess I like the knights' armor room and the wackadoo Cy Twombly room. I also just like to say Cy Twombly - sounds like onomatopoeia. 
What can we expect from your show this time around? 
We are going to try to keep it really varied, from intimate creepy ballads to gangbusters gospel-funk. I always chase the waiters - this year I hope to catch one by the tail. I may also attempt to reach up with my giant arms and get the Calder mobile a-spinning. 
The museum's grand staircase is a far cry from the intimate quarters at Beau Monde where you regularly play. Does this change the playlist at all? 
Yes, we've added some stadium rockers. But one has to be aware of reverb, it's a big hall. Too much reverb can mean muddy waters, if you know what I mean. 
Given that there's a lot more space to strut those legendary legs of yours, can we expect a bit more dancing in this show? 
All I remember from last year's show is not being able to feel my own legendary legs the next day. I will attempt to dance the dance if you ask me to, but mainly I try to run up and down the steps to share the wealth. 
That's quite a workout - in high heels no less! If Martha could serenade any artist - living or dead - who would it be and what would you sing? 
I think I would sing "Rocket Man" to Thomas Eakins.  Just to let him know, that I know, you know? 
Martha Graham Cracker, April 27, 5 p.m., 26th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-684-7602.