Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Crossing lines and hitting the road

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Theatre | May 10th, 2017

When we had a chance to catch up with Corey Ruffin, the mastermind behind the Grand Rapids-based traveling burlesque troupe Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, he was at the repair shop getting a tune-up on their tour bus. The retired school bus is a veteran of the road and has accommodated the motley crew of musicians and dancers on multiple nationwide tours.

Four of the 10 cast members make up the band, which is based out of Chicago. Five are from Michigan and one from Tennessee.

Though everyone receives their music charts and scripts two weeks prior, they arrive in Grand Rapids with costumes and props in hand, to spend five days prior to hitting the road in nonstop rehearsals -- for a show unlike any other. Imagine a DIY rock n’roll musical production that could make John Waters proud and earn a Frank Zappa seal of approval..

High Plains Reader: How long does it take for you to prepare for a production?

Corey Ruffin: 70 hours a week for years and years and years (laughs).

Booking the tour begins six months in advance. Then after I book it I put together the promotional material, update the website, posters, make merchandise, start on the logistics of travel -- maps, budgeting gas, hotels, all of that kind of crap.

When that’s all done we’re about a month before the gig. Then there’s two weeks of writing the show so everyone has the material for two weeks, then they all come here for four or five days to rehearse the material and then we go.

HPR: So SHFTB has been around for 10-plus years. How do you think your show has evolved?

CR: We’ve been around for 12 years -- I think we’ve been touring for seven or eight. The audiences let us get away with anything. We’ve never had a show where the audience hates it and no one comes to the show. Everywhere we go, they encourage us to do more . We just tend to get a little more ambitious in breaking the mold of burlesque, bands, and theatre. Diehard fans and old friends say to this day that they have no idea how to describe the show when they try to convince people to come.

I don’t know how to explain what the show is either, because it’s so much like a stream of consciousness -- just mental puke onto the stage, so I think that we just have gotten looser and more abstract -- more ambitious in at least the subjects and what we do onstage.

We’ve been on this path of evolving more into musical theatre--sometimes we show up in a town and they think they’re going to see a variety show or a band, then we get up onstage and do a two-hour musical.

HPR: How would you describe the show?

CR: Rachel [SHFTB cast member] says it best. It’s like South Park. I hate to draw from the mainstream for comparisons, but South Park does get away with anything and everything. They can totally put taboos out there and we certainly do. We’re like Don Rickles in a way, where we can say or do anything. We have crossed lines -- serious lines, but we do it with honesty and integrity, so I just say it’s like a South Park musical, with boobs.

HPR: How has the current political climate influenced you?

CR: Ooooooh let me tell you…Our last national tour was September 30-November 6 of 2016. We were on the road the month up to the election. Our last show was two days before the election.

Firstly, we knew Trump was going to win because so much of the mass media doesn’t pay attention to the places you or I are from.

We were at street level--we did a really long run, we didn’t hit North Dakota but we did hit up Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Florida. We went all over the country and everywhere we went, people were going bonkers for Trump.

We had a Trump striptease in the show where he comes out, builds a wall, and then we have these stereotypical “Mexicans” in sombreros and handlebar mustaches getting beaten down behind it. Then he strips down to nazi swastika pasties and goose-

steps.

HPR: Oh yeah, I saw that on YouTube!

CR: We’ve never had boos in our life and anytime we would do that act, half the audience would boo and we’d be like whoa, those people are out there. This is REAL.

In Florida, we heard all of this commotion during the act. It was an outdoor beach bar. Those shows can be rowdy, just because there’s all kinds of random people there. I just assumed some drunk dude was getting into a fight.

When the song ended I was listening and there were three dudes goose stepping at the end of the bar chanting “Bill Clinton’s a rapist…” and then they formed a wall in front of the stage and wouldn’t let anyone see the show, flipping us the bird. One of them said he was going home to get his guns and gun the whole bar down.

So people are really passionate about Trump and they threatened us with violence for making fun of him--it was crazy! So now we’re taking an hour-long musical about him on the road.

IF YOU GO:

Super Happy Funtime Burlesque

Saturday, May 13, 10pm

The Aquarium, 226 Broadway, Fargo

Recently in:

FARGO – Expressing disgust over an interview with a local “pro-white activist” on Valley News Live “Point of View,” concerned citizens have started a campaign to pull advertising from the show.Concerned citizens are…

Culture

The pyramid of the prairie

by Sabrina Hornung

Nekoma tactical area purchased by the Cavalier County JDAPhotos by Sabrina Hornung“These have all been cleaned and filled with sand and concrete,” said Randy Mehlhoff, who serves on both the Langdon Chamber of Commerce Board of…

Sunday, August 20, noon-5pmND Horse Park, 5180 19th Ave N, FargoFood trucks from Fargo-Moorhead and all over the Upper Midwest. Soft drinks, alcohol, prize giveaways, kids jumpy gym, craft vendors, live band, live radio broadcast.…

Our opinion: We all breathe the same air, and we all drank the same beer.Last weekend I helped a pal plan a small festival in an even smaller town. In fact, you may find me bartending there once in a blue moon, flexing my…

Gadfly

Crazy like a fox

by Ed Raymond

Can we learn anything after we know it all?There’s a 100-page book written by a high school dropout that should be read by all high schoolers, college education students, teachers, and politicians. Michael J.Fox of movie and TV…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

On Wednesday July 19, Luna had their first and very solid convergence with Junkyard Brewing. The beer dinner was comprised of five killer Luna courses with five stellar Junkyard beers. The results were extraordinary. Initially I…

Formed in 1988, The Supersuckers have gained the moniker of being “the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world.” In 2015 lead singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti was diagnosed with stage 3 oropharynx cancer. Thankfully he…

Reteaming with his “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, filmmaker David Lowery has a very compelling tale to tell in “A Ghost Story.” Somber yet funny, and comfortable with exclamations of…

Interactive Hive through Plains Art Museum goes to marketPhoto by Jerry ShervenThis summer, interns between the ages of 11 and 18 participated in Buzz Lab, a program through the Plains Art Museum that gives students the opportunity…

‘Heathers’ hits the Empire stage in Grand ForksBefore the pink-clad Plastics or Cher’s group of popular beauties in “Clueless,” the shoulder pad-wearing, croquet mallet-wielding Heathers ruled the halls of Westerberg High…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

If you’ve never had Mankato’s Organ Grinder Amber Ale, you should probably put it near the top of your “must try” lists.If you are a fan of Mankato Brewery you may have been a bit confused the last time you went looking for…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

A few months ago I wrote about the long, strange saga of Jason Halek, the fellow who dumped 800,000 gallons of poisonous oilfield brine down an abandoned oil well south of Dickinson. Back in April of this year, he pleaded guilty to…