Austrian Boylesque artist Jacques Patriaque produced the first Vienna Boylesque Festival in 2014. In just the two years since, it has become one of the most successful Boylesque/Burlesque festivals in the world, with hundreds of international artists recently applying for a select number of spots at the 3rd Annual Vienna Boylesque Festival. It will be held on May 18th and 20th, 2016, and is sponsored by gayPARSHIP.at.
Last month, I sat down with the lovely Monsieur Patriaque to talk about the festival, his career, the Boylesque and Burlesque worlds, his thoughts on life, and everything else in between.
In the first part of my interview the origins of his name, the beginnings of his career, and why Austria doesn’t seem to support its artists like some other European countries do were discussed.
Today, I’m going to look at Jacques’ Vienna Boylesque Festival in a bit more detail, as what he has managed to do with this festival in a city that didn’t have anything of this magnitude before, and in such a short time, is really quite remarkable.
The philosophy behind the Vienna Boylesque Festival
The first thing I noticed about Jacques Patriaque when we began discussing his baby, the Vienna Boylesque Festival, is just how passionate he is. But not just about the festival itself, as that is a given.
Instead, what I thought was lovely is how much he admires and respects the Boylesque and Burlesque performers that travel from all over the world to perform in Vienna, and how he really wants them to have just the best experience they possibly can both backstage and in front of the audience.
He also wants every performer to understand that each and every one of them is important, and that they will all be treated the same — whether they are a headliner or someone just starting out.
“My point when I started the Vienna Boylesque Festival was that I wanted to open up a space for all sorts of artists, and also a space that is like a family. And that’s not a cheesy saying. It really is like a family when you are there. I wanted it to be that, if you’re a newbie, you can talk to Dirty Martini. Go ahead and talk to World Famous *BOB*. Go ahead and talk to Tigger! They are people. Like yourself.
And that’s what I wanted to teach them. Because at some other festivals I’ve been to, people were often a bit separated. The headliners had their own room. Therefore, newbies didn’t dare knock on their door or talk to them.
And, with me, everyone is in one room because I can’t build another space. So it’s like, you’re all there, you might as well talk to each other, learn from each other, make out if you want to – I don’t care. But have fun”.
As for what the performers themselves think about the festival? Jacques told me, when he looks at the submissions from every artist, (and he thoroughly reads the hundreds of applications, and watches every single performance video that arrives with them), the first thing he reads is the answer to the question “Why do you wish to perform at the Vienna Burlesque Festival?”
“What really made me happy was that almost 100 percent of the people applying wrote it was one of the most diverse, most professional festivals, and a festival that is not afraid to take a new direction or to give spots to a different sort of burlesque.”
Jacques Patriaque and his love for The World Famous *BOB*
If you were at last year’s Vienna Boylesque Festival, you will know how much Jacques Patriaque loves his host, The World Famous *BOB*.
“I will never forget the first time I met her at the New York festival in 2013. And I was so nervous backstage. I didn’t know anybody. It was only my second festival. Then *BOB* came backstage.
She opened the curtains, she entered, and she said “Hi”, and then she went to each and every performer and introduced herself. And it wasn’t this American-style fake talking. She really cared. She was so focused on you.
Then, if she knew that the performer didn’t have English as their first language, she would ask ‘Do you really mean it in that way? Because talk me through it, and I’ll try to explain it in a way that you are comfortable with, and so that the audience will get you’. Because she really wanted to make sure every artist was presented in the best possible way.
And then she went on to ask, ‘And how do you spell your name?’
And, for me, that’s a very important little thing, because rarely do hosts ask “How do you spell your name?” But she did. Because she cared”.
Jacques then went on to explain why he thinks *BOB* is so superb at what she does, by talking about the worst host he ever came across at a Burlesque festival.
“She was a drag queen. She arrived almost 40 minutes late. We were all in our costumes, because we were told the show starts on time. Some of us had to body paint and, if you sweat, it’s not cool with the body paint. And, if you’re wearing pasties, they fall off with the heat.
So she arrived at the venue, there were high stairs and she had high heels on. And the only thing she did was shout down at us from the top of the stairs, “Hi, I’m here (and he imitated her giggling). I can’t come down because of my, you know, my heels”.
So, right before your performance, that was supposed to be the time she asked questions, showed some interest, and made you feel comfortable. And that’s what she did.
And I was thinking, you can’t do that. It makes me nervous. That’s just not cool.
And that’s why I will always stick with *BOB* for the Vienna Boylesque Festival. Because she’s the one for me. She’s a true professional.”
Jacques Patriaque and his advice for other Boylesque and Burlesque performers
I knew from just the first few minutes of talking to Jacques that he and I think alike about many different things. One in particular was the way he thinks about criticism, and how, if it’s given in a respectful and meant-to-be helpful way, every artist should listen to it as you can learn so much from it.
The night I met him, he talked specifically about the Burlesque industry, and how he thought the inability to listen to criticism was a failing of quite a few of the Burlesque and Boylesque performers.
“In the Burlesque industry, most of the performers are not used to being criticized. They’re not used to it even if someone means it in a genuine way. Like saying “That’s a good act. But maybe think about it going in that direction instead” etc.
They are often so offended. But, to me, you can tell if it’s criticism or jealousy, and you can tell by the second someone opens their mouth.
But I think never ever be afraid of the truth, and always ask if someone is willing to tell you their opinion, as it will only benefit you”.
Which was interesting to me as, from the first minute I walked into the bar I met him at in Vienna and introduced myself, I got the feeling that Jacques Patriaque is a very gentle, very kind man, and one who does care a lot about what others think of him. I also sensed he is probably nowhere near as self-confident as he outwardly portrays, nor as he would like to be.
But, at the same time, he is savvy enough to know that, even if the comments someone makes to him about his performance might sting a little bit, if he thinks they are correct he will take them to heart, and use them to make his performance even better. And that makes him very intelligent indeed.
Now, I can’t even tell you specifically what the next article in my series on Jacques Patriaque will be about, as we talked about so many different things. But I will tell you friends and family are very important to him, and he had some extremely interesting things to say about them. And, oh, he loves his cats.
Meanwhile, do watch the Recap of the 2nd Annual Vienna Boylesque Festival 2015 video below. In it you’ll catch a glimpse of The World Famous *BOB*, the woman Jacques Patriaque loves and admires so much, as well as get an idea just why this quite new festival already has such a stellar reputation.
I'm a former radio DJ, an ex non-profit Director of Development, and a left-wing human rights advocate with a 20 year background in gay rights and HIV/AIDS rights advocacy. I'm also an avid video game player. Minecraft is my obsession.