BRIDGET BARKAN IN THE LOVE JUNKIE
425 Lafayette St.
Saturday, May 31, $15, 9:00
Bridget Barkan is a practitioner of the healing power of music, having worked as a music therapist for special-needs children. The native New Yorker, a singer, actor, and Scissor Sisters regular who appeared on Sesame Street as a child and as an adult in such films as Sherrybaby and Everyday People and has a recurring role as a one-legged hooker on Law & Order: SVU, is doing some public healing of her own in her one-woman show, The Love Junkie. In the solo performance, returning to Joe’s Pub on May 31, the fiery redhead and self-described “douche bag magnet” — whose father, Mark, coproduced what might be the first psychedelic album, the Deep’s 1968 Psychedelic Moods: A Mind Expanding Phenomena — employs a mélange of musical styles and genres, including cover songs and originals, while portraying multiple characters to explore recovery from such intimate addictions as love and sex. Barkan, who has been busily posting short “Love Junkie Episodes” on her YouTube channel, recently discussed Times Square, the ’80s, gender roles, and hunting with twi-ny.
twi-ny: You were born and raised in New York City, where you started taking the subway by yourself to school when you were eleven. There are people today who would have your parents locked up for allowing such a thing. What was your childhood in the city like?
Bridget Barkan: Well, taking the subway wasn’t such a huge deal; kids younger than me did and still do. An old man once touched my ass when I was seven and I screamed bloody murder. New York was more edgy. I spent a lot of time going to play pinball or to the movies with my dad in the dirty Times Square, not the Disney version. One time, these two guys tried to mug my dad under some scaffolding, but he was raised in Brooklyn and ended up scaring the shit out of them. It was a very sexually vibrant city and I was excited about it all. It was also oozing with creativity. Sex and art come from the same place, so it makes sense. I think growing up here has given me a real love and connection to many different cultures and sense of openness. I live on the stage of life with no fourth wall.
twi-ny: You got fired from Sesame Street when you were six. What happened?
BB: Well, the rumor is that Bert and Ernie were having a fight in between takes and I came over and tried to fix the problem like I usually did with my parents. But then Big Bird stuck his big head in and Cookie Monster lost his cool. It got pretty messy and for the sake of the show, I took the fall.
No, the truth is, I was apparently bossing the older kids around and a parent complained. I was always an actress, but directing is my real passion . . . haha.
twi-ny: You have a special fondness for the style of the ’80s. What is it about that decade that appeals to you?
BB: Well, I grew up in NYC in the ’80s. Damn, I didn’t want to reveal my age, but oh well, I’m already an old hag in this industry anyway. You gotta be twelve years old but look thirty to be of any interest. I believe the ’80s was the last era of real unique expression. Everything that has come after seems to be regurgitated from the past. The ’90s definitely had some moments too. But to me, the real metamorphosis and discovery of hip-hop was a major game changer in the ’80s.
twi-ny: You recently tweeted, “I’ve always been more of the beast than the beauty.” What did you mean by that?
BB: I talk about this in the show, feeling like I’m a hunter. It’s rare that I meet a guy who is coming for my hide with a strong and ferocious intention. I’ve always had the instinct to woo men, shower them, serenade their hearts. Could be attributed to my growing up around three big brothers, having more testosterone. I generally played the boy when playing house or I was the evil witch. Never really the damsel in distress. Maybe I was a dude in my past life or maybe our gender role ideas and concepts are really screwed up. But I’m kind of a closeted hunter. I’ve realized I’m more afraid of going after men the way I used to. I dip my toes in it but I don’t go in for the full attack. I’m like a cowardly lion.
twi-ny: You’ve noted that you’ve wanted to do a one-woman show since you saw Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. What was it about that show that so deeply affected you?
BB: There was this amazing web of stories. They were all connected so magically, intertwined and mirroring one another. I’ve always loved movies and books that express and highlight how we are all connected. And how a life can be this pure explosion of seeing what other stars you are connected to in your constellation. At the end of the show, this giant mirror comes down, so the audience can see themselves. I was just in tears, and it has stayed with me ever since: The power of art that opens your heart, breaks it, then heals it again.
twi-ny: What was the genesis of The Love Junkie?
BB: I started writing many different one-woman shows over the past years and they were always about heartbreak and failed love. One show started where I played every guy I was with but I could never find an ending, because I kept doing the same thing over and over again. I needed to actually change something in my life so I could write the show I wanted to. I did just that, this time around. I ended a relationship and committed to the relationship with myself.
During the last two years on tour with Scissor Sisters, I researched every artist and show that I loved. I journaled, I wrote weird songs, made tracks, improvised for hours on my computer, danced, did solo photo shoots. I also got lots of advice from [Scissor Sisters] Jake [Shears], Ana [Matronic], Del [Marquis], and Babydaddy, in different ways. Just being who they were inspired me, but they also took time to let me share with them. But it was the actual doing that got me running. I tried out a different performance art piece once a month at an art party called ArtErotica, curated by Dinna Alexanyan. I found a spiritual comedy coach named Alicia Dattner, who guided me through some healing work. She also had been going through love pain as well.
twi-ny: You play multiple characters in the show. Do you have any particular favorites?
BB: I think my favorite character to play is the Old Me, the jaded, lonely, fat, sick, dying, washed-up me. Playing her with a fat suit, cigarette, and cane is a lot of fun. On a personal level it’s like I’m exorcising that idea from my head, that I won’t ever really become her.
twi-ny: You’ll be performing The Love Junkie on May 31 at Joe’s Pub. What are the plans for the show after that?
BB: I love Joe’s Pub; it’s become a real home to me. I would like to have a consistent run of it in NYC, maybe weekly, biweekly, then take it to L.A., London, and beyond! I am looking into spaces and always looking for people to help it grow. I’m excited to let it evolve. Not every show will be the same. It’s an organism in itself. I designed it to be a journey. Maybe this show will be the first step. There could be eleven more. It is a healing experiment for me. So I will walk the road to recovery and see where it takes me.