November 2016 Show
A meteoric act in the NZ comedy scene, this Filipino Christchurch-born comic was a 2014 Raw Comedy Quest finalist, and was nominated for the 2016 Billy T award.
David grew up in Woolston, Christchurch which was a nice mix of a beach and suburban lifestyle, meaning that he could enjoy fish and chips while playing on the local roundabout as a child. After deciding stand up comedy and performing arts was the career he wanted to pursue, David moved to Auckland in 2014.
David enjoys making people laugh, and studied performing arts at Hagley theatre company. Afterwards he went down the road of stand up comedy, performing at local variety nights like ‘Monday Night Magic’ with his very off beat comedy. Performances highlights include taping a knife to his head and proclaiming that he is the ‘Nightmare Unicorn’.
He found influence in the thriving busking/circus scene in Christchurch – watching people swallow swords and walk on broken glass has shown him that almost anything can be entertaining.
His style of comedy can be described as a big ball of manic energy that even his body can’t keep up with.
Miss La Vida
Performing for the third time for November’s Menagerie, otherwise known as Cake Month, Miss La Vida is back with a brand new burlesque act.
The Ballet School Drop Outs
Once upon a time there were two prim and proper ballerinas, full of hopes and dreams for the future, who found themselves lost on the way home from Sunday school. They happened upon a glittery door sporting a Red Delicious apple and hoping to get directions, the pair entered the establishment and came out dressed only in their dignity. The rest is history!
Dahlia Dangerous and Trillian met in 2013 at Red Delicious Burlesque Academy as they prepared to debut as solo performers. Collectively they have over 50 years’ experience in various styles of dance and performance. BSD are arguably the best burlesque duet in New Zealand, using their exceptional talent for synchronicity to create intense and powerful acts that will leave you clinging to the edge of your seat and begging for more.
They have been featured in the New Zealand Burlesque Festival in 2013 and 2014, the Australian Burlesque Festival 2014 and 2016 and the Perth International Burlesque Festival 2015.
Both proud members of the NZ royal court, Trillian was crowned Queen of the New Zealand Burlesque Festival in 2014 and Dahlia took over the title in 2015 *insert royal wave here*
Reprobate rhymer and spoken word poet Michael Gray has been regularly performing in Wellington’s poetry, comedy and variety scenes for the last four years. This is his fourth time at Menagerie and it remains his favourite show.
Sunshine appeared in the very first act in the very first Menagerie and is proud to be a part of the zoological wonders that have graced the stage since then. She also performs with The Wellington City Shake-‘Em-On-Downers, Oy Azoy, and the Inspirare choir. Her solo material aims to help you form your opinion about a very polarizing instrument.
Rachel Rouge is a Gemini, a split personality she has a manicured toe in showbiz and a calloused heel in middle eastern politics. She gives away a kidney but is unwilling to share her laundry powder. She’s been a witch and an atheist. She eats bacon but thinks buying purebred dogs is cruel. She has a postgraduate degree but still hits the clear button on the calculator several times to get all the maths out. She’s climbed volcanoes but doesn’t like getting up to turn on a light. Rachel is an enigma of duality, and in this show she’ll show you two sides of her many facets with a traditional half-half lip-sync act.
An aerialist like no other you won’t be able to look away as she deftly defies gravity.
Based in Wellington, she has been performing off the ground for the past 10 years.
Prancing prince of the pelvic thrust and king of the crochet codpiece, Clever Hansel started his performance career in a Taiwanese lounge bar at the age of four. He’s now somewhat taller. A Wellington-based purveyor of delightfully perverse burlesque, music and cabaret, Hansel has been exposing himself to startled local audiences since 2009. Winner of the 2015 Golden Garter award for Favourite Male Burlesque, Hansel was one of the weirdos behind Zomburlesque, NZ’s foremost burlesque zombie-stripper horror-musical. Hansel also performs as a member of The Klaus Vermillion Quartet, Wellington’s only band of consensual jazz con-artists.
His parents know what he gets up to for fun. They have yet to disown him.
After a glittering career in menswear, Fraser Hooper gave it all up to follow the red nose. Twenty seven years on his unique brand of award winning comedy has delighted thousands of audiences in over thirty countries worldwide appearing in nearly every major theatre, clown and street festival in Europe, Canada and Australasia.
While Rachel Rouge is the curator and keeper of The Menagerie, Eli Joseph has been every other role. From preening feathers, training various critters, securing cages, collecting tickets, ringmastering, performer wrangling, and attaching sequins to places that need more sparkle, Eli has been The Menagerie’s most valuable asset, and most sublime creature.
This month Eli has brought together his favourite performers and acts from the last three years of Menagerie shows, to create one unmissable show.
October 2016 Show
Runner up at The Grand Tease Wellington 2016 / New Zealand Boylesque Performer.
To dance with moral and and principle, to stay strong on the stage.
But there are many temptations that can lead one astray… to give into temptation… Greed, Pride… Lust.
On the stage, expression of Virtue is the intention. Passion of Virtue, sequins of sin, leather for order, a tease to remember and a kiss to indulge… Give in to the new color of Lust.
Wellington’s very own resident sideshow & freakshow diva, Roxy enjoys making others squeamish, performing stunts of questionable nature and executing terrible puns at inappropriate moments.
The Grand Dame of Georgia, Penny Dreadful, is back in Wellington for the scarily sexy Halloween Menagerie. Penny is about as scary as they come (and boy, does she come)… She’s a poltergeist with personality, a personal friend of Putin’s, and pulled off Rasputin in Paris.
Penny Dreadful has been performing in Wellington for the last four years, with both the the IBC (Industrial Burlesque Collective) and Vaudeville Inc. Penny is raucous, trashy, and filthily fabulous, and she brings a special something something to the stage every time she graces it (but only the Devil knows what that something is…).
Vex is brief. The writer’s equivalent of premature ejaculation. Don’t worry though, all things come to an end.
This alabaster angel is your newest manic pixie dream girl muse. Fresh as a daisy and delicate as sledgehammer Gwen aims to win your hearts, and haunt your dreams.
Combining old world elegance and a dash of new ethereal weird, Gwen is ready to arouse and disturb even the most apathetic of hearts.
April Fish is a musical act directed by avant-garde composer-pianist Katie Morton. Described as ‘space opera’, ‘pop rapture’, and ‘gothic chamber rock’, the live experience challenges the listener to confront their own inner darkness, depths, and desires.
For this Halloween Menagerie, April Fish will feature Mx Morton on the piano, with the talents of Double Bass player John Costa, and the ever-endearing vocalists Hans Landon-Lane (Clever Hansel), Emma Wollum, and Laura Gardner.
He is everyone’s favorite naughty uncle and the worlds first ventriloquist mime. Anglebert Humpermink hit the Wellington scene not so much a hiss and a roar but more a fizzle and a whimper.
Pipi-Ayesha Evans is a circus and physical theatre performer, with 14 years experience of professional circus work. She trained in circus at CircoArts, Christchurch, and theatre at Otago University, Dunedin. She has performed extensively in theatrical productions and at numerous corporate functions throughout New Zealand and Internationally.
Notable NZ productions include Maui-One Man Against the Gods, Our Secret Garden, Ship Song, Kahuku, Cats, Circus Aotearoa and The World of Wearable Arts.
International performances have taken her to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Shanghai, Nepal, Japan, France and the USA.
Pipi-Ayesha performs a range of circus skills including tissu, web, lyra, static trapeze, dance trapeze, aerial net, stilts, acro-balance, and poi. She also acts, sings and is a puppeteer, and teaches yoga and circus. She aims to create work that is provocative and beautiful, combining high physicality with innovative storytelling to create compelling theatre.
She also has a solo circus theatre show ‘The Blue-Bearded Lady’ that she’s performed in Australia and New Zealand. Comments from reviewers about this have included:
Utterly charming in a ghoulish kind of way.
Highly recommended if a trifle unsettling!
The beauty of this show is its unabashed genre-bending and blending. It makes no apologies, no concessions and is a brave piece of work.
Seductive yet disturbing, graceful yet jarring, unequivocally captivating and above all absolutely fearless.
– Regional News
Pipi-Ayesha’s nakedness … was refreshing in the often over-sexualised space of circus performance. She performed that nakedness with complete ease that demanded her audience view this representation of the female body simply as a hard working body.
– Celia White – Director, Vulcana Women’s Circus
Earthy and real…mythical and magical.
– Mandy White
Hansel & Victor
Having worked together for years, and used to being mistaken for each other on a semi-regular basis, it may come as no surprise to see Hansel and Victor on stage together.
For Halloween though, they’re getting oh so very close. How close? Too close for comfort, at the very least.
This Halloween, Harlow Lestrange brings you the most menacing Menagerie yet as her last show of the year!
Harlow fears nothing (but is a little iffy around large spiders, and social interaction), her favourite Halloween film is Ginger Snaps and she has a weird attraction to fictional serial killers that she would rather not look too closely into.
A swamp witch at heart, Halloween is Harlow’s favourite holiday ending in “ween”.
September 2016 Show
Caroline Welkin has put comedy in her life since she wrote and directed her first show at a London primary school. Sadly YouTube wasn’t invented for another 40 years, or you’d know her better.
She came to live in Wellington with her comedy in 1997, having been inspired by teachers from the UK and US. She’s been a comedy Diva, an award winning Fringe performer and on Pulp Comedy. Caroline brings lugubrious humour and tall tales together. As a comedian and storyteller around Wellington and beyond, she is bigger than ever before – which she blames on menopause. Life never stops giving you something to laugh at. . .
She is thrilled to be part of Menagerie, as she owns many outfits that she just can’t wear on Upper Hutt High Street
“Hula hooping has never been something I’ve considered an art, but thanks to Harlow Lestrange I am quickly changing my opinion. Sure, I’ve seen hula hooping before, but never quite so gracefully. It was in a word, mesmerizing.” – Wellington On A Pastie
Aside from hooping Harlow also dabbles in burlesque, fire spinning, and various other circus apparatus and has produced a few shows such as Nerdlesque! NZ and a couple of previous Menageries.
Burlesque dancer, Pin-up Model and Marmite Lover.
The vixen, Kiki Kisses, is well known for her over-the-top stage antics and theatrical expressions. Most recently performing in the Australian Burlesque Festival 2016, Kiki has experience across the board from ballroom to impromptu performances at 3am.
This tall drink of water brings together her wealth of experience and natural talents to dazzle, amaze and leave you wanting more. A true entertainer, her dance style is as equally sultry as it is comical and she enjoys surprising an audience – this daredevil is sure to leave you hot under the collar.
Pande-monium originally started training circus skills in partner acrobatics, but her burly but unreliable partners kept legging it to exotic parts unknown (well, to Palmerston North and Seattle actually). Rather than climb the walls in frustration, she began to climb a rope instead; living the life of a solo aerialist. Now she is rather attached to her Corde lisse/ rope and is going to rise to the challenge to make some form of aerials work even with only a 2.2m high ceiling!
Maor is a passionate scientist of questionable credibility. He is often found fumbling with laboratory equipment and breaking whatever laws of nature he can.
He will bring to you a magical show based on recent scientific(ish) discoveries that will change your views on the world. Perhaps a bit lost, or somewhat mad, surely putting him on stage, couldn’t go bad?
Josh Davies is an award nominated comedian who has quickly gained success on the comedy scene. In the short time he has been doing comedy he has become a RAW comedy quest finalist and performed throughout the country with some of New Zealand’s top comedians. His comedy style has been described as intelligent and dark through the use of personal stories of his blindness, everything nerdy and the world of science.
Songstress Bea Lee-Smith, fell in love with Musical Theatre at age five, when her parents took her to see the movie Annie. Her aspirations to be Grace Farrell, lead to aspiration to be Suzanne Farrell, and 32 years and counting, of ballet training. Bea graduated from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in 2001.
She has worked throughout the country as a freelance singer, actor, dancer, writer and director for the last 20 years. In 2010 she formed production company Fab Cabaret Productions. Their performance of Cabaret en Hiver, at The Opera House Foyer, sold out.
After a few years off training to be a Pilates and Xtend Barre Instructor, Bea is excited to be back in the saddle. Fab Cabaret is producing Jason Robert Brownʼs Songs For A New World in January 2017. For more information, do checkout their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/fabcabaretproductions
Free & Frank
Free & Frank started as a group of enthusiastic ukulele players with connections to State sector agencies. The group formed in 2012 aims to write and play songs that reflect what we know best – life in the public sector and in and around Wellington.
Expanding from that base the group in performance now covers a range of genre, fresh arrangements of songs and often includes a bass, keyboard and percussion component.
As an emcee, Victor’s no stranger to winging it with words on the Fringe bar stage. This time around his challenge will be remembering his lines.
He’s a little nervous, have you heard some of the top notch talkers Rachel has booked for previous Menageries!?
This is Rachel’s last time producing The Menagerie for 2016. The October show is being produced by our hoop dancer Harlow Lestrange, and the November show is being produced by our poet Victor Victorious (a.k.a. Eli Joseph). So Rachel is delighted that she has such a strong line up for this show, and she looks forward to sitting back for the rest of the year and watching the shows that Victor and Harlow have put together. She’s already got crazy plans for The Menagerie in 2017.
August 2016 Show
Trillian is an internationally recognised, multi award winning pole performer and burlesque artist.
Her background deeply rooted in classical ballet. Dancing wise she’s an all rounder, experienced in jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop, latin ballroom and african jazz. It doesn’t stop there, Trillian is a trained classical and jazz singer too.
Upon completing a performing arts certificate at Brent Street Studios in Sydney, Australia she decided to branch out even further and give pole fitness a try. That was 8 years ago and she’s never looked back. Teaching pole for both fitness and stage for the past 4 years has been a most rewarding and fulfilling experience.
She joined the New Zealand burlesque scene in 2013 under the tutelage of Red Delicious Burlesque Academy and since then has gone from strength to strength. She is a certified Xpert Pole Fitness Instructor and in 2016 became the first person in New Zealand to become a licensed instructor for Rockin’ Legs N Abs, an awesome exercise program developed by aussie pole dancing sensation Cleo The Hurricane.
Michael writes sexy, sexy poetry. So sexy, in fact, that he now has to discourage audiences from underwear throwing, as it’s become to much of a distraction. Prepare to be seduced by his risqué rhymes, titillating turns of phrase and provocative puns. He’s also happens to be a part-time stripper. What more could you ask for?
Multi-modal artist and circus extraordinaire, a mysterious woman called Mary… when not juggling postgraduate studies, and teaching circus arts and physical theatre; also manages to balance on bottles, slack-rope, spin hula hoops, hang from the rafters and generally push the boundaries of creative movement.
Miss Candy Applebottom
Residing in his fortress of light in the harbour of Lyttelton, Von Leon a.k. Candy, hones his skills in looping. A solo act of transgressive proportions utilising his I.D.B.M (industrial death boogie machine) & his music skills.
All this culminates into loop based storytelling with Candy in full regalia. Concluding the show with a full fledged burlesque piece.
Candy, a creature to behold in herself will entertain you with her unique style & quirkiness. You want oddities? You’ve found one! One of NZ’s very own born & bred bearded cross dresser, Miss Candy Applebottom.
His cut-throat physical comedy will have you in stitches, while his extreme balancing will have you on the edge of your seat. Combining circus stunts, knife juggling and vaudevillian humor this man is guaranteed to negotiate with your funny bone.
Tamara and Sharon
Tamara and Sharon are an operatic duo with a whole pile of performing experience under their belts. They’ve both worked for New Zealand Opera and while Sharon is still out in the opera scene and kicking butt working with aspiring singers, Tamara has only just got back into singing after an extended break.
When Tamara and Sharon perform together, they’re combining their passion for opera with their love of rock & pop music, making for an always interesting and sometimes hilarious experience.
Get ready for some sass as Julz hits the stage. She brings a quirky dark style to her sets. Keen to mock herself, she makes you laugh at life in all its challenges for the single 30 year old female.
Julz has been performing extensively for the last two and a bit years, appearing weekly in comedy shows across Wellington and taking part in Bogan Yoga, Young Guns and opening for Sanjay Parhbu during the Comedy Festival. She’s also opened for Urzila Carlson at VK’s Premier Comedy Night, Wellington’s only dedicated comedy club.
Perhaps she is the lovechild of a dusty, banjo playing cowboy and a siren singing mermaid, if the two were ever to meet, then Tessa Dillon would be the product.
She writes songs about longing, being lost, and Thai takeaways arriving too late.
The Weeping Witch of Wellington whose craft of magic is channeled through body and beauty. Powers that will surely hypnotise and enchant even the strongest of will. Be careful, if she doesn’t steal your hearts she will steal your souls in their stead.
Originally from the Great Plains of America she flew away to escape the witch hunts to seek refuge in New Zealand to practice and tame her craft. Her drag career has started and is now based here in wellington performing at all the local venues as well as a hired cabaret performer for Ivy Bar and cabaret. Her passion has helped bring in a renaissance of drag in wellington with her and her friends. This witch has also established a drag haus of performers, The Haus of Voyant, whose names include Indy Pendant, Abi Wilde, Barbra Shop, Bunny Holiday, and Eve Envy, all upcoming queens to lookout for in future shows in Wellington and beyond.
You can follow Claire’s occult on Instagram The_Claire_Voyant or follow The Haus of Voyant at #hausofvoyant
Chelfyn uses psychology, deception, chicanery and lies to create an illusion of control and superior mental powers, much like many preachers and politicians have throughout history. He has yet to use his powers to form a cult.
The captivating Harlow Lestrange joins forces with Rachel Rouge to co-curate this line up. Harlow’s extensive connections to Wellington’s performance community means The Menagerie can bring in some of our finest, most talented and most interesting performing artists.
Rachel Rouge, the woman behind The Menagerie, is the recipient of the inaugural Moon Poppy Fringe Award for being the most fabulous 2016. Upon receiving this award by The Fringe Bar Rachel was also given a star named after her. It’s in the constellation of the Southern Cross. She’s super chuffed.
July 2016 Show
One of the most recognisable and hairy comedy faces to come out of New Zealand. Winner of all of the awards the Billy T Award, The Fred Dagg Award, NZCG Best Male Comedian & Best MC), Ben has been smashing comedy out of the park since a long time ago.
As a regular panelist and head writer for the NZ’s top rating and long running topical panel show ‘7Days’ Ben is a household name in New Zealand. He has also appeared on numerous TV shows including the 10 NZ Comedy Festival Galas, 4 AotearoHA Comedy specials, Funny Roots and Would I Lie To You. He has hosted the New Zealand Music Awards, and had his own series alongside Steve Wrigley, World Famous with Ben & Steve and most recently Hosted all 10 episodes of TV3’s new stand up comedy show After Hours.
Born in rural Taranaki, Ben cut his comedy chops in Wellington before making the move to London where he honed his craft to the fine tuned beast we now see. Not only a favourite with all the big UK clubs but also the Edinburgh festival and playing to thousands in the comedy tents of Leeds, Reading and V music festivals. Ben was also used as a support act on the national tours of superstars Stewart Lee, Stephen Merchant and Ed Byrne.
Ben has appeared at Just for Laughs, recorded 2 series of The Comedy Store TV for UK Comedy central and starred along side Andy Parsons in his BBC radio 3 Sit-com.
The Aqua Breeze
Whether it be hypnotising hoops or a sultry aerial act, this is not a creature to be underestimated. The Aqua Breeze has a background in rhythmic gymnastics, then fell into circus and never came out again. She presents to you her debut on the Menagerie stage in the hopes of winning you over, one person at a time.
Mr Lola Illusion
He will charm you with his smile, the suggestive twinkle in his eye will bewitch you and when he sashays into your life you will never be the same.
People question is “he” male? Is “he” female? Is that magic? Who is his mysterious lover? And then… their own sexuality. And that folks is the Illusion that is Lola, an enigma wrapped in a banana skin encased in a sequined gown and sprinkled with glitter.
From generation X with love. Wellington’s funkiest community choir, bringing the hits of the 70s and 80s back to life in the 21st century
Hailing from the Hutt Valley, Tom first dove into the realm of illusion in 2009. Having a slightly concerning obsession with teddy bears, Tom claims to understand the way of the teddy and has created powerful illusions on this magical, cotton filled foundation…
A slightly insane, colourful haired freak playing with teddy bears on a stage; what is the worst that could happen?
SheShe is a smooth singing siren who evokes the elegance of the old world with a swoosh from her feather fan.
SheShe will take you on a journey back to a time gone by. Her performance style takes influence from her acting background, a comical slaps stick character, a scorned women, a temptress, sometimes all of the above, lending herself to juxtaposing characters as not to fall into any one genre. With a longing to inspire desire in her audience and leave them feeling moved by her performance.
SheShe Velour is an entertainer who incorporates strong characterisation, with her voice and Cabaret Burlesque finesse, dare to be lured. SheShe was a contestant in Miss Burlesque Victoria, Perth Burlesque Festival, Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe festivals and multiple Rainbow Serpent festivals, she is also Creative Director Le Tableaux Burlesque producing multiple productions in Melbourne, and is excited about making the move to the vibrant little city of Wellington
Victor has been many things while working for the Menagerie. MC, stage manager, singer, stripper, polar bear, unconvincing drag queen.
He has never been an acrobat before (or a ballerina, for that matter).
Come see what happens when he tries both at once. Perhaps it will be beautiful.
Duncan is a queer poet who has suffered from depression. How novel.
His poetry is focused on drawing attention to social issues, telling stories and letting the audience be a party of the narrative.
Stephen Wilbury has been an object manipulator for over 10 years. He was booked to perform at The Menagerie in January, however had to deal with a last minute emergency. We are thrilled that he’s able to come back to Wellington to join us in this show.
After spending his youth immersed in the underground squat rave juggling scene (it was a thing honest) in the early 2000s. He turned pro and moved to Edinburgh to work with the Scottish circus troupe Te Pooka. Steve has performed in front of audiences large and small from the Queen at the Scottish Parliament Opening to the Hebridian Celtic Festival, probably the most remote folk music festival on Earth. Steve has also produced two best selling staff manipulation DVDs that inspired a whole generation of fire spinners to explore their props beyond fire. Over the past year Steve has moved from straight manipulation acts to magic because hey why not?
Stephen met our producer and curator Rachel back in the early 2000s when Rachel was a regular burlesque performer at the reknown Vaudeville Cabaret and Edinburgh’s infamous Bongo Club and Steve was a regular MC with diablo hips that could sell out a show.
Producer Rachel Rouge gave away her kidney on the 1st of June 2016, since then she’s been mostly watching telly from a next of pillows. She’s recovering well and by the time this July show happens she’s pretty sure she will have returned to full health.
If you would like to listen to her thoughts about donating a kidney you can hear her talk at the May Menagerie. Due to camera focus issues, we recommend you listen to this youtube clip an now watch it.. unless you want a headache from trying to focus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFhwIqBPSG4
June 2016 Show
Lucy Roche finds it inauthentic to talk about herself in the third person because she believes it jars with her “brutally honest” comedy.“TMI” are three letters that aren’t in Lucy’s vocabulary, as evidenced by her raunchy jokes and bold insights.
Grand Raw Quest Winner 2016, 2015 Nominee for Best Newcomer at the Wellington Comedy Awards and regular performer at VKs are just some of her recent achievements.
“…We were laughing constantly with her brute honesty and clever turn of phrase.”- Art Murmurs
“… brazenly, shockingly wonderful.”- Theatreview
The man in blue is an object manipulator. Specializing in plate spinning, he is here for your viewing pleasure.
Twyla Deville is an all round good time gal and official owner of THE BUTT. Big time nerd, small time stripper she’ll combine the two and leave you wondering how she did get all that junk inside her truck (it’s a TARDIS).
A regular on the streets of Wellington (weather permitting) and at the various markets around town, Andy adds his own flare to a variety of songs. A keen songwriter, his original music can be found online. Andy is currently recording an EP for release later this year.
Andy has performed all over Wellington, but his favourite previous gig was at the first Sofar Sounds here in Wellington. A beautiful, intimate event that he thoroughly enjoyed.
When not playing music, Andy enjoys acting. He gets to put both his talents together in July as part of the Young & Hungry show “Bloody Hell Jesus (Get Your Own Friends)”.
Stephii Onassiss likes to talk, she also likes to stand on stages. This is why she’s the perfect choice for MC at June’s Menagerie. By the time you read this Stephii will have either won the Capital Drag 2016 title or is in a downward spiral of despair after another loss, either way its very entertaining (update: she won!).
This offbeat beauty looks forward to seeing you at the Menagerie and trying not to overshadow the actual performers.
The Boomtown Okrabats originally trained as aerial artists – until they realised no venues in wellington have a ceiling more than 8 feet high.
Now doing ground based acts, they blend dance and circus acrobatics into entertaining acts they hope doesn’t just look like trapeze on the ground.
Sassy, funny, risque and energetic, they were once described by a random drunken guy as ‘totally like, awesome!’
Tess Tosterone had been practicing drag in every day life for twenty years before they decided to debut as a drag queen in January’s Queen Vs Queen where they took the crown. Tess loves playing around with political themes in their drag acts, as well as throwing in a large handful of circus tricks and burlesque. Tess was previously known as Coco Caine.
Tess recently took out 3rd place in Capital Drag 2016.
Originally from Auckland, Kozo Komatsubara aka Kozo Kaos is known as New Zealand’s fastest juggler. He is also an accomplished magician and street performer and performs regularly around New Zealand at Circuses, Festivals, Corporate events and Private functions.
It is Kozos first time performing in Wellington and is hoping to perform some ‘shocking’ material at The Menagerie.
Harlow Lestrange is your producer, a green haired swamp witch and aspiring vigilante. She doesn’t understand why people don’t think telekinesis is the best super power, and hopes to one day command her own space fleet once the AIs have taken over and figured out how to conquer death.
She also hula hoops, plays with fire and attends circus school full time. People often ask her, “how do you do the hula so good?” and if you must know, the answer is practice and regular blood sacrifice.
May 2016 Show
Sweet as sin, sexy as hell and dangerous in the wrong hands, Dahlia Dangerous has been seducing audiences throughout New Zealand and Australia since 2013. Her effortless elegance and dirty bump n grind recently won her the coveted Queen of the New Zealand Burlesque Festival crown and she’s bringing her award winning act to Wellington…in all its PVC glory
Last night she was a stripper who smokes too much weed. Right now she’s a poet who hates writing bios. This morning she was a feminist, down in the trenches and knee deep in filth. Five years ago she was a hippy with her hands in the dirt. She’s been a singer, an actor, a comedian, and a storyteller. A community worker, a teacher, a hipster barista, and a suicidal office worker. She’s performed in front of crowds of three, and crowds of 30,000.
She likes popcorn, pizza, and oxford commas. She refuses to choose between Star Wars and Star Trek, coffee and tea, or cats and dogs. She talks a lot about sex, politics, and sexual politics. She drinks whiskey neat, and rarely turns down the offer of a drink.
“Hadassah Grace’s anecdotal style of spoken word provides moments of hilarious self-reflection while also making some serious and thought provoking points. Her poems take the audience from places of passion-filled eroticism to drugged-up sex in the woods with a sprinkling of anti-greed and dairy farming thrown in for good measure. These heartfelt poems reveal more than clothes could ever cover and her themes of sex, politics, and sexual politics make sobering yet playful points about the state of the system.” – Thomas Aitken, Theatre Review
“Hadassah commands the stage like no other and she brightens the world with her incandescence.” – Rachel Rouge
“She’s got thunder and lightening inside her.” – Adam McGrath, The Eastern
Erica looks like a lady but sings like a man. You might remember her from Dannevirke Little Theatre’s productions of Oliver!, Little Shop of Horrors and Les Misérables where she played a tavern wench, beggar woman, and street prostitute respectively. Her one woman show ‘Man Parts’ was nominated for two Fringe awards but she lost out to a clown from Mexico. Despite this, Erica remains upbeat and even more determined to be the first female tenor from Dannevirke to hit the big time!
Daniel John Smith
Daniel John Smith is an award winning stand up comedian based in Wellington, New Zealand. I loves telling stories which can get a bit dark.
In 2015 Daniel opened for visiting US comic Joe Mande (Parks and Recreation), featured in TV3’s ‘AotearoHA: Rising Stars’, sold out the run of his joint 2015 Comedy Festival show ‘How to Fold a Fitted Sheet’ and was crowned Best Comedian at the Wellington Comedy Awards.
“Terrific… There was a darkness is his act that no one could have spotted at the start. He managed to take us, Stewart Lee-like, down imaginary pathways to have us laugh at some truly awful (always clever) ideas.” – Simon Sweetman
In late 2015 Victor decided to break a break from being funny, and create an routine that focused on dancing.
The result is act that left critics saying “I fear for his safety” and “Damn! Those legs, tho.”
Come witness what happens when you put tall men in heels, and make them dance.
Mitchell Kirk plays soft ambient acoustic music and can often be heard busking along Wellingtons waterfront. He came to the capital a year ago from his hometown Gisborne to pursue music.
Molly started performing comedy in 2008 in California and has performed at the famous Punch Line in San Francisco as well as other renowned comedy clubs. She has also produced comedy shows in theatres, clubs, and coffee houses. Molly moved to Wellington in 2014, and has made a name for herself as a trusted performer and MC, with a proven ability to turn audiences into comedy participants.
Rosalie spent her whole life perfecting her art of twisting and bending in the most unimaginable positions. She decided to bring this to the next level in aerial arts, which brought her all the way from Montreal to New Zealand after touring the world with her duo trapeze act on Cirque du Soleil’s stage.
Reuben Tyrie has been practicing the art of magic since he was 8; some say its an obsession, he calls it a passion. Awarded ‘Most Promising Performer’ at the 2015 New Zealand Magic Convention, he uses mind-bending magic, the wit of the youth and a good head of hair (even better than Donald Trump’s) to mesmerise and entertain all.
Our producer Rachel Rouge has been enjoying the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, she won second place at the brilliant Lip Sync Battles Wellington special VIP Top of the Pops Comedy Festival edition (Penny Ashton took first place and Neil Thornton landed 3rd).
Rachel also performed at Dialogues, a special storytelling show in Auckland curated by Michèle A’Court. Here is an excerpt from her introduction in that show written by Hadassah Grace:
“Sometimes in life you meet a person who gets cooler, kinder, smarter, funnier, sexier, and wiser with every interaction.
Sometimes in life you meet a person, and it’s impossible to tell if you want to fuck them, marry them or be them.
Sometimes in life you meet a person like a punch to the stomach, a kiss on the forehead, a hand over your heart. Like the space between bodies when you’re spooning after sex. Like the white bits on a zebra crossing when you’re barefoot on a hot Summer’s day. […]
Rachel Rouge is every one of these people.”
April 2016 Show
The mastermind behind The Menagerie will be front-and-centre hosting this special show at The Menagerie headquarters, aka Rachel’s apartment on Cuba Street. During the Comedy Festival venues are in short supply, but the show must go on. Rachel & Harlow opening the doors, assembling a stage, setting up the sofas, and getting ready to welcome you to the show.
Penny Ashton is New Zealand’s own global comedienne who has been making a splash on the world stage since 2002. She has performed over 500 solo shows and has sold out from Edinburgh to Adelaide to Tokoroa. She has represented both New Zealand in The World Cup of Theatresports in Germany, and Australasia in a Performance Poetry Slam Tournament Tour of the UK. She has also performed poetry by invitation at The Glastonbury Festival, her solo musicalPromise and Promiscuity at The Jane Austen Festival in Bath and has reported from the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas.
Penny has also been a regular on Radio NZ National’s The Panel since it began and presentedKiwi Gold and North and South My Space on the now sadly demised Heartland Channel. She also presented a World Wide Web segment on the sadly demised Good Morning show. Basically if you want your TV show to last don’t hire her.
Her latest string to her crowded bow is that of a wedding celebrant which she finds just a delightful job. It got even more delightful with the passing of the marriage equality act and she has enjoyed uniting anyone and everyone with the simple condition that they love each other. She is awaiting people to start marrying pets and their sisters as was predicted by a vocal opposition to marriage equality, but weirdly this hasn’t happened yet.
In 2016 she is taking a leaf out of her own kindle and getting hitched herself.
Benjamin Embers, armed with a loop pedal, a guitar, a violin bow and a range of strange mouth-noises, takes the audience (and himself) on a meandering adventure through layers of glompy beats and whompy bass. All sounds served live, organic and free range.
Tangle & Dangle
Multi-talented, majestic and malodorous, maverick megastars Tangle and Dangle are running out of words that start with m. Literacy’s over-rated anyway! Tangle and Dangle are “EXPRRRT” at whatever they turn their paws to, and at the Menagerie this month you’ll be mesmerised by their monstery mastery of musical theatre.
Tangle and Dangle can’t wait to
eat meet you!
The Menagerie’s most regular irregularity, Victor has been involved in the show from it’s debut. This month he will be showcasing his singing skills on stage. He hopes you like sad songs.
Living doll Hannie Helsden is a real life circus sweetheart. With a comprehensive background in Artistic Gymnastics, Hannie has toured extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand as a long time cast member of Circus Quirkus, performing acrobatics, aerial hoop and hula hoops. A born entertainer, she has done Fringe shows, Corporate events and Cabarets, and even has a Bachelor in Circus arts after completing three years of full time training in Melbourne. She quickly became known, and loved, for her clever character work and high level circus skill.
Just like any dolly, Hannie loves to try new things, so in 2014 she embarked on a sexy season of burlesque inspired aerial and hula hoop performances with Sina King’s Burlesque 54. She is an original cast member of James Welsby’s YUMMY; A Drag Pop Cabaret which debuted in 2015 to a sold out crowd as a part of MIDWINTA Festival. She then started her 2016 of with a bang in Berlin performing as a part of the Chamäleon Theatre’s OFF NIGHT with YUMMY [Berlin Edition]. She also performed hula hoop and burlesque in Stockholm Sweden as a Guest Entertainer at MELT.
When Hannie’s not performing or hanging out in her Dreamhouse, you can find her training aerial hoop, hula hoop and pole dancing at Pole and Aerial Divas, where she has been an Aerial Syllabus Coordinator and Pole and Hoop Instructor since 2013.
Zane & Degge
Zane and Degge have been entertaining audiences around New Zealand since before they can remember. Born your average baby brothers, cute, round and bald, they are now fully fledged variety entertainers. They bring shows that meld highly skilled circus feats, hilarious grassroots comedy and fantastic creative entertainment.
For this show will they get their new brolesque act ready? Or will they have to resort to some old material. Not even they know but it is sure worth the gamble!
The Dulcet Duo
Cordelia and Emma have been performing as the Dulcet Duo since the very first Menagerie! Whether they’re making music together or performing burlesque (or both), their antics are always delightfully dorky.
Hugo Grrrl is a faux show boi, a dorky drag king and a terrible stripper.This adorable little gentleman arrived on this earth less than a year ago, in a hailstorm of duct tape and glitter, and has since made a big splash in the New Zealand cabaret community. His potent stylistic blend of burlesque, drag and uncomfortably awkward gyration won him Favourite Newcomer at the New Zealand Burlesque Festival 2015, People’s Choice Award and Best Newcomer at Grand Tease Wellington, a bronze medal in the prestigious Capital Drag competition 2015. This year he performed at the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Pride Festivals. He is so pleased to be here humping for you at The Menagerie. He’s a lad who’s always happy to see you, he aims to sexually confuse, he’s Hugo Grrrl!
Harlow Lestrange is always searching for new and fun things to do, so she’s pretty excited to be producing a show inside a living room.
Other new and fun things Harlow has done includes spinning fire with her boobs, briefly letting a man repeatedly handcuff her and lock her in a box for magic and that time she joined a paranormal investigation society and hunted ghosts.
She hopes to introduce you to some new and fun things this April 30th!
March 2016 Show
“Shay Horay is at the top of his craft…. his act demonstrates an exceptional degree of originality and extraordinary creativity” Shelley Switzer, Director Edmonton Streetfest, Canada
“Why not give Keith Preene his own TV show?.. Now, that I would watch” Charlie Gates, The Press
Cohen Holloway is one of New Zealand’s most recognisable faces if you watch only the coolest movies and TV. He’s starred in What We Do in the Shadows, Good for Nothing, Until Proven Innocent, road trip short Coconut, Find Me a Maori Bride and the soon to be released Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Not only that Cohen is a talented writer, director and comedian. He’s freaken awesome
Duchess deBerry is Aotearoa’s premier burlesque export. Having extensively toured the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and USA during 2015, the Duchess is now based at the exclusive Las Vegas Club in Auckland, where she has performed for noted national and international guests, including Quentin Tarantino.
Known as the Antipodean Temptress, Duchess deBerry intends to continue her plans for world domination, going wherever the boobs, booze and business class travel take her.
Guitarist, Composer & Singer-Songwriter, Joel Lester, is a musical vagrant. Continuously drifting from one style to the next, he can be found combining disparate elements to create lush soundscapes, well crafted improvisations and songs containing the reflectiveness and lyricism of one who labours at their craft everyday.
Joel is a regular performer around town and a frequent face in the open mic/jam night scene. It is here that he has made a name for himself as a welcome addition to the new generation of rising guitar players and songwriters within the country.
His music can be viewed and listened to on his youtube channel www.youtube.com/user/JoelLesterMusic
Nancy discovered she had a natural husk after yelling at the patriarchy all day. Now she sings. She looks forward to having her whole life behind her.
Ruby Ruin is a vivacious, attitude filled, award winning, burlesque bad ass who has entertained audiences from New Zealand & Australia to the USA.
A woman of far too many hats – she is a burlesque tutor and producer, renowned Nillionaire, trailer dweller extraordinaire with a love of travelling and an inability to stick to just one thing.
Amongst her many projects is Nillionaires Club, a project raising funding to help struggling artists reach their goals; Tease & Trouble Productions; ‘Burlesquercise New Zealand‘ dance fitness classes with 5 centres across NZ and expanding; and ‘Grand Tease New Zealand‘ – New Zealand’s biggest burlesque competition!
Ruthie le Bleu
“Burlesque and Cabaret, let me come in”
“Not without hair on your chinnie-chin-chin”.
A suspiciously convenient encounter with a laser hair-removalist saw Ruthie LeBleu lose her niche in the Wellington vaudeville scene. What was she to do? To the conservatoire she did run, as fast as her fingers could carry her. Then she huffed and she puffed and she blew herself away, for a lot of hard work goes a long, long way.
Now Ruthie tickles the ebonies and ivories while masterfully manipulating her vocal tract to bring you melodies like you’ve never heard them before, dancing across musical genres with the agility of a gold-medal gymnast.
“She uses her strong voice eloquently and powerfully, from belting and bold to softer and sentimental. Excellent scat vocals have character.” – Capital Times
Imogen Aerial Arts
Imogen has traveled the length of the country from theatres in the country’s largest cities to the streets of the smallest. With a background in dance she infuses this into her circus performance.
Francesca is a UK based performer and choreographer. After training as a contemporary dancer she stumbled into slam poetry, and has spent the last few years collaborating within the international poetry community to create experiential performances that invite audiences to actively participate in the conversations that unfold before them. She has performed extensively within Europe and North America, and is excited to be performing in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time!
Back in the driver’s seat, adjusting her crown, flying ahead of the pack on her high horse sailing the briny seas Rachel Rouge is mixing metaphors and regurgitating clichés.
Over the past year Rachel has judged burlesque, lip syncing, magic, poetry, comedy, drag, and even full shows. She really loves judging, sometimes she judges people when they are not even in a competition.
February 2016 Show
Absurdist performance artist & Sex clown, Glitta Supernova is one of the original pioneers of the 90’s global Burlesque revival. “A catalyst for pushing burlesque art into the most interesting direction” Glitta Supernova is also co-founder of the infamous Cult club “Gurlesque” (Australia’s 1st Burlesque Club 1998 – 2010 ,2 Green Room Nominations) & mastermind behind the award winning Pretty Peepers Untraditional Cabaret (2011- currently) Now touring her One woman show The Glitta Supernova Experience “Lets get METAphysical” (nominated “Best Cabaret” FRINGEWORLD Perth 2015) to Wellington, Dunedin & Auckland.
“My life’s work is about the She Beast within, the wild, organic & uncontrolled nature of the feminine, pre patriarchy, pre-capitalism & pre-marketing/media culture controlling our inner & outer being. I love to play around with modern archetypes & subvert them into another dimension. Society is very scared of the strong sexual empowered woman, she is considered grotesque so I embrace the grotesque with my art activism.”
Sunshine Cannery was founded in Owen, Wisconsin in 1915 and in a basement in Newtown in 2016, as singer/accordionist Emma Wollum carries on the family tradition. Featuring a wry, cabaret-inflected selection of Wollum’s own compositions, Sunshine Cannery will make you reconsider the accordion as an instrument of seduction.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a multi million dollar franchise? No! It’s Miss Lizzie. Flying in to save the day with stupendous stunts and amazing escapes, she has travelled New Zealand, the UK, North America and even the United Arab Emirates in her ongoing quest for the perfect cabaret. Up up and away!
Miss Lizzie’s mild mannered alter-ego is Rollicking Entertainment’s Lizzie Tollemache (As seen in World Buskers Festival, WOMAD, Cuba Dupa, Dubai International Comedy Festival, Christchurch Arts Festival and theatres across Canada).
Olivia fell in love with spoken word poetry thanks to Youtube and bad ass female poets. She was hooked after entering her first poetry slam and finding it a completely appropriate place to talk about feminism, sex and bodies. Olivia ranked 3rd at the 2015 National Slam Poetry final and spent her winnings on expanding her hedgehog collection.
KBG Purple has trained in the Circus Arts for going on a decade now, and built an extensive resume in the process, which now includes the Dunedin and NZ Fringe Festivals, the Mullumbimby Circus Festival in Oz, and New Zealand’s first (and last) Circus Awards Presentation. While everybody else was gravitating towards juggling and aerials, he found himself drawn to the more odd, alternative and abstract art forms, such as Contortion, Mime and Vaudeville. His training adventures have grown to include the late Circo Arts, the Wellington Circus Trust, Spin Circus Academy (also in Oz,) and he is studying this year for a degree in Circus and Dance at Whitireia. This piece will attempt to pay tribute to one of his idols, the great Charlie Chaplin.
Snap presented by RuseWebsites is a man who has lived. Most well known for breaking not one, but two Guinness World Records, Snap has shown himself to be far too motivated for the amount of devils lettuce he indulges in.
A national sex icon and party ambassador, last year Snap completed a highly successful nationwide tour where he received this outstanding review… “All I can remember about Snap is that he had dreads and a floral jacket”
This is a man who owned a miniature horse, has multiple penises tattooed on his back and once sold his last name. Snap’s determination to live an eventful, humorous life is truly commendable.
Faí plays traditional Celtic music ranging from slow airs to fast paced reels and jigs. Elena plays the Irish whistle and Michael plays the guitar.
With a cheeky wit befitting his convict ancestry, David Ladderman (2014 World Buskers Festival Critics Choice winner) is back to cavort and contort at his favourite! Magic, ladder-walking and juggling from the man with the cheeky grin.
David is a founding member of both The Loons Circus Theatre Company and Rollicking Entertainment. With a career spanning everything from busking festivals to the NZ Opera to entertaining on the red carpet for The Hobbit world premiere, he is a true variety entertainment veteran.
Sarah Harpur is an award winning comedian who has performed her ‘brilliantly bizarre’ comedy from Adelaide to Edinburgh.
The founding member of the world famous ‘Dead Dads Club’, Sarah has a taste for the surreal and the macabre. A walking contradiction, Sarah likes eating sausages, doing yoga and writing books for children.
Warning: May contain dead dads.
We are delighted to welcome to The Menagerie team Harlow Lestrange to produce 5 of our shows this year. Harlow is taking control of all even-month shows for 2016. She brings with her a fresh perspective, youthful vitality, new insights and a ton of great ideas. We can’t wait to see what she’ll bring to The Menagerie stage.
Harlow is a hula hooping comic book fanatic that likes to play with fire and take her clothes off onstage. She got her start in Christchurch where she discovered burlesque and produced the first New Zealand Nerdlesque shows, which she then went on to put on in Wellington. Harlow is currently doing a diploma in Circus Arts and Dance so that she can become a Professional Carnie, and so she has something vaguely academic to talk about at Christmas dinner.
January 2016 Show
We are utterly fizzing to welcome back the dark mistress of New Zealand burlesque. Professional dancer Miss Anthropy (AKA Hannah Tasker-Poland) will be doing an epic mash-up of the best bits from her performances at the iconic Auckland show Electrique Burlesque.
Buckle in, hold on, and get ready for a ride through a crazy, weird, beautiful, messy and mesmerising act of many styles, costumes and personas.
Inspired by the St. Louis Missouri music scene in her home country of the United States, Brit fell in love with hooping in the summer of 2009. Since then, her passion for performance art has evolved her in to becoming the impressive multi-talented artist she is today. Whether free-flow spinning multiple fire hoops, performing choreographed solo/partner/group routines, or even playing guitar while hooping; Brittania is an unstoppable force! Traveling the world regularly to dedicate time to her art, this positive bright-eyed woman is someone you should know.
Eliza dances, sings and talks ridiculous pseudo nonsense that she sometimes writes on trains in foreign countries when she’s severely sleep deprived. She’s been traveling the world of contemporary dance and is back in Wellington to share her unique brand of word and movement vomit. She switches from insane eccentricity to intense poignancy as quickly as turning a light on and off so hold your horses because you never know what you might get.
Check out her Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/user20499175
Our MC Sera Devcich, is a new Stand up comic on the scene. She’s a hater of fondant icing, cricket and penguins. A lover of gloating, hoarding and beer. She’s a Passionate thinker and reluctant doer – Sera Devcich “I’m more like the ideas guy in a movement, cos I’m really good at thinking about doing the right thing, just don’t put me on the frontline honestly, I can’t really be assed.”
Hey Kids! Do you know what a snuff film is? Let me show you! Enter the selacious world of Dorge and let him take you through his 50 shades of orange and other furry matters. Furverts welcome, this ain’t no family show.
Dive into the world of puppetry with sexual fetishes, to find out more of what this strange and uncomfortable world offers have a look at their full upcoming Fringe Festival show: https://fringe.co.nz/#event/dorge-abcds-m/b981f486-78f7-4210-9459-9ac8e3f33484
The Crimson Club
The Crimson Club is a genre defying experimental cabaret band. Their eccentric multi-instrumental entertainment draws on many influences, from Edith Piaf to Laurie Anderson. Singing in French and English they play a mixture of original tunes and irreverent covers with a twist of humour and a dash of cabaret. Their first album “Thursday Mornings” was released in 2009. With songs in French and English.
The line-up features Shona Jaunas (vocals, violin) Melissa Garber (accordion, theremin, vocals, percussion) and Janet Holborow (cello, vocals, alto flute and bass drum).
“We’ll take anything on and turn it into cabaret,” says cellist Janet Holborow. “Our style changes completely from one song to the next. One minute you’re in a bar in Paris and the next you’re listening to rock covers or original experimental songs.”
“Experienced musicians who work together exceptionally well and have a great time on stage,” Ewen Coleman from the Dominon Post Listen here: https://thecrimsonclub.bandcamp.com/releases
Kade and Jeremy
Kade and Jeremy are a nice contrast to each other.
Jeremy has a very placid and deadpan style, whilst Kade is lanky and full of energy. Combining their talents of comedy and magic, they definitely will not disappoint.
Also, they dance. To Katy Perry. It’s their signature thing, so if you catch one of their gigs, you might be in for a little more of a treat than you originally thought you were getting.
Kade and Jeremy put on their first ever show together in 2012 and have been hitting the New Zealand International Comedy Festival every year since. Nominated for Best Newcomer Wellington in the 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival and having opened for the likes of Mike King, be sure to check out these boys as they keep making waves in the comedy scene.
“Two talented young men who are sure to go far. If you want laughs and magic then this is the show for you.” – Chris Cox, the mind reader who can’t read minds.
Stephen Wilbury has been an object manipulator for over 10 years. After spending his youth immersed in the underground squat rave juggling scene (it was a thing honest) in the early 2000s. He turned pro and moved to Edinburgh to work with the Scottish circus troupe Te Pooka. Steve has performed in front of audiences large and small from the Queen at the Scottish Parliament Opening to the Hebridian Celtic Festival, probably the most remote folk music festival on Earth. Steve has also produced two best selling staff manipulation DVDs that inspired a whole generation of fire spinners to explore their props beyond fire. Over the past year Steve has moved from straight manipulation acts to magic because hey why not?
Stephen met our producer and curator Rachel back in the early 2000s when Rachel was a regular burlesque performer at the reknown Vaudeville Cabaret and Edinburgh’s infamous Bongo Club and Steve was a regular MC with diablo hips that could sell out a show.
If you don’t see her you most certainly will hear her! Dramatic soprano Laura Loach has a penchant for tragic heroines and dreams of spotlight, stardom and applause.
“……I was at first enchanted by the simple beauty of her voice and its easy delivery, even in quality throughout its range; her style was warm and lyrical.” Middle-C
Back again for another year of sumptuous madness and talented oddities. Rachel Rouge hand picked every act in this line up, it’s a job she loves.
Rachel has spent her December break enjoying the sun, catching up with friends, wrestling black bears and adding random lies to conversation.