Blazing a trail for those with advancing years, Nana Funk shows it can still be fun, even when you do need a wee every now and then.
It was a chance encounter a couple of years ago with the national treasure that is Nana Funk. But we were fully on board with her quirky and, at times, outrageous form of burlesque.
She’s breaking boundaries and doesn’t really seem to care who’s watching her do it. She just cracks on anyway.
After her role as a compère for the Secret Circus at last weekend’s Threshold Festival, we thought it was an ideal time to find out what’s on her mind.
So – 13 Questions.
Where are you and what are you doing?
Lying on the sofa under a sleeping bag listening to a new boiler being fitted in the bathroom…worrying about how much longer it’s going to be as I’ll need a wee soon.
What is your favourite view?
Ooh, it depends on my mood. Erm..
Blue sky, blue sea, white beach
Smiling faces of me loved ones
A gigantic gin & tonic
A boiler with a working pilot light!
We know you as a burlesque entertainer. Is there anything in particular you try to convey, or to say, with your work? Who are you appealing to?
I started off doing burlesque for a laugh and to prove to myself that you’re never too old to learn new tricks. Really quickly I realised that I actually had a lot to say about that and now am working on trying to highlight how we’re treated as we get older and how society doesn’t see a place for people, especially women, as we get to a certain age.
I like to think that I can appeal to most people, but want to encourage other older wonders to find their voices. And because most of my work is inspired by audience suggestions, I’m able to voice their voices if they don’t want to voice them themselves.
You were recently heavily involved with Threshold Festival in Liverpool. It’s a mixed art event, combining music, theatre as well as visual arts. 2021 was the last iteration of Threshold, but do you see a market for mixing up the different art genres?
Oh totally! The art genres are intrinsically mixed up anyway (in the same way that all art is intrinsically mixed up in every day life even if people don’t realise). I love the fact that audience will visit a festival predominantly to see one art form but will then stumble across different things. Many of my favourite festival moments are from doing that. I’m also sure that many of my now followers didn’t actually come to see me, they just tripped over me along the way & now are part of the Nana Funk fun train!
Is there an image, or other piece of art, you wish you were the one who had created it? Which one?
Ooh bloomin eck! That’s a hard question. I actually don’t know! I did art & studies art history many many years ago and love a bit of Caravaggio. It astounds me that his paintings look so real that you feel that you could put your hand straight into the painting. But on me wall I like to hang things that are all about the texture. I’d love to be able to sculpt but totally don’t have the patience let alone the skill.
If you could go to a show (art, music, play or whatever) right now, anywhere in the world, which artist would you see? And in which venue?
ALL OF THEM!!! EVERYWHERE!! ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!
Who are your artistic influences?
Eee blimey, these questions are hard!
So many influences for many different reasons often depending on my mood at the time. I think the main ones are people are joyous to watch and have total love for what they’re doing and are not afraid to fail while they do it. A lot of my work is improvised and the amazing feeling of the audience and me discovering things at the same time is glorious.
No-one cares if it goes wrong as it’s a shared experience. And often the unexpected moments are moments of gold that are so much better than the rehearsed bits. And when you embrace this the audience feel relaxed and can’t wait to come on the journey with you. I think stand out live performances of people who do this are Le Gateau Chocolat, Alison Moyet, Rachel Bloom and Jane McDonald.
What’s for breakfast in your place? Who would you invite to share it with you?
When it’s me making it, Marmite on toast & a cuppa tea. If someone else is making it, a full English (no mushrooms), extra halloumi and a Bloody Mary. And I’ll invite anyone if they’re going to make that for me.
Tell us something we don’t know.
I gave up on a 1000 piece jigsaw last week coz it was too hard. I put it in the doorstep collection charity bag.
Which city do you recommend we visit – and why?
Ooh. Porto. I bloomin love it. I’ve only been twice but it’s so beautiful and relaxed. It’s cheap, the food and wine is LUSH and everything is wonderful to look at. It’s hard on your thighs as is all uphill but it’s well worth it. I don’t usually like going back to places as there are too many other places in the world to fit in before I shuffle off this mortal coil, but Porto I’d go back in a heartbeat.
What’s your drink of choice?
Red wine, G&T, Bloody Mary, nice cold lager on a hot day, nice cold cider with ice on a hot day, nice cold dry rose wine on a hot day, Zombie, Long Island Iced Tea, a good cuppa tea…I could go on for a while.
What’s next for Nana Funk?
I currently have an Arts Council England application in to fund my One Nana Show “Tough Old Bird” which is on a subject that is close to my heart……on getting old and how are society perceives us as we get old.
Inspired by my very close friend Pat Waller who passed away shortly after her 80th birthday the show is still in its seedling phase and is a work in progress but is gathering pace nicely. Combining song, Improvisation and getting very angry with adverts telling us to look young it endeavours to help us to defy modern culture of telling us we’re too old, rather than trying to defy age! Why? Because we’re worth it!
I’ll be working with the fabulous Paperwork Theatre and also intend to work with local over 50’s groups to workshop ideas for the show and give us oldies a voice. If I’m unsuccessful with the funding the show will still happen…just with fewer costume changes.
Watch this space.
Do you have anything else to declare?
A lot of these musings are totally momentary. Ask me in 10 minutes & my answers will probably be completely different!
If you want to see more musings you can go to www.nanafunkrocks.com or find me on me socials (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. I have downloaded TikTok but I have no idea how to use it)
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