An Interview with Jacques Patriaque, Boylesque Artist and Founder of the Vienna Boylesque Festival — Part One

Jacques dressing room
photo copyright Jacques Patriaque

While I’ve been fascinated with Austrian singer Conchita Wurst for almost two years now, a lovely side effect of that fascination has been the other Austrian artists I’ve become familiar with during that time. Artists that either had a direct connection to her, or that I learned about when I started to delve more into the Austrian music, art and entertainment worlds.

One such artist is Jacques Patriaque, Austria’s first Boylesque artist, and someone who I’ve spoken to on and off over the last year via the Internet. But late last month, while on a trip to Vienna, was the first time I actually met Jacques in the flesh, so to speak, and for me it was the highlight of my trip.

Meeting Jacques Patriaque

The evening, however, did not start off on a particularly great note as I heard from Jacques via text that he was sat in a bar a mile or so from my hotel and “had an hour spare” for an interview if I left right there and then. He then sent a map via Google Maps so I could find my way, and suggested I walk.

My abysmal map reading skills, the 10 Viennese I stopped along the way who also couldn’t read maps, and the freezing cold all combined to put me in not the best mood by the time I finally found Monsieur Patriaque in a very cool local bar, nursing a drink, and with about 10 minutes left of his original “hour to spare”.

But, I also had a hunch about Jacques and his time limit. An inkling of an idea that he probably had a lot more time available than what he had told me. But, with me being someone who has written close to 500 articles about Conchita Wurst, I presumed Monsieur Patriaque was allowing himself a bit of an escape route with his “just an hour to spare” in case I turned out to be more than a little ‘nuts’. (Perfectly understandable, honestly).

Needless to say, by the time he had ordered a second drink, and settled in for a good, long conversation, I knew I’d passed his test. Four hours, 43 minutes and several drinks later, I doubt Jacques Patriaque thought I was any more nuts than the average person he meets as part of his Boylesque career and, for my part, I thought he was one of the loveliest people I have ever met.

With such a long conversation on tape, however, (and thanks, Jacques for all that time and all the interesting things we talked about), I’m going to split our conversation up into a series of articles as, with all the topics we talked about — the origins of his name, his upcoming third annual Vienna Boylesque Festival, Boylesque and Burlesque performers, what it’s like on the Boylesque/Burlesque circuit, families, the Austrian arts scene, his cats, why he loves Vienna and the Viennese, why being nice is so important, Conchita Wurst and on and on — this article would be 19 pages long.

So let’s get started with Part One.

How did Jacques Patriaque choose his fabulous name?

Since I first came across Jacques Patriaque, I’ve always thought his name was perfect. For the longest time, I also thought he was French.

But it turns out Jacques Patriaque was born and raised in Vienna, with a more typical Viennese name. A name that, in many ways, doesn’t always exist for him anymore as, according to Jacques, even his own mother often calls him by his French name.

So how did he get it?

According to Jacques, “I studied French (he speaks fluent French, along with fluent English and his native German) and it was actually here, at one of Kitty Willenbruch‘s performances, she asked me if I could host and announce her. And I said, “I don’t know, I don’t feel comfortable on stage” because, at that point, I was super shy and I was super uncomfortable going on stage and just announcing her.

But I did that, and a guy from a local radio station was here and asked me about my name. And I thought, “What do you mean, my name?” “What’s your artist name? You must have an artist name?” the guy insisted, and in my head it was like, quick, quick, say something and I thought “Okay, you studied French”…umm…Jacques.

And then I had a Charlie Chaplin beard, which is quite harsh and, patriarch-like, so that’s why I came up with the name”.

Jacques’ international Boylesque career

Since that quick start to Jacques’ Boylesque career, he has since performed at clubs, theaters and festivals all over Europe and at several high-profile festivals in the U.S. But when I asked him which was his favorite place to perform, he had no hesitation.

“Still New York. Because, for me, it’s like the mecca of Burlesque. I like the vibe there because it’s, at some point, raw, harsh, and then friendly and soft. So I like the mixture there.

And I always get super inspired there visiting local shows, even the trashiest ones in New York because they’re so full of passion and they always move me in different directions. They make me want to be even more creative and risk something as an artist.

My second favorite place is surely Stockholm”.

At this juncture too, I’ll point out that during our conversation Jacques mentioned several times about things being “harsh” but then also “friendly and soft”. And I thought that was interesting as it said to me he is a person who is very visual, particularly as an artist, but also one that bases his opinions on the intense feelings he gets from people and from things.

Another thing that has fascinated me since I started to learn more about the Austrian art scene is how little Austria seems to support its artists. I’ve seen this from the perspective of the music scene, where Austrian singers get little or no support from Austrian radio stations, while American and British singers are promoted ridiculously often.

So I asked Jacques if he also saw that in the Boylesque/Burlesque world in Austria? As a Boylesque artist, did he get any support from the types of organizations, people and media that artists in other countries would often get?

“Nothing”, he responded immediately, and laughed wrily.

He then went on to explain, “That’s why I admire Germany. Because Germany is doing a really great job supporting young artists, and I think not only in the singing industry, but also in the fashion industry. They really push younger people to get into the spotlight”.

So, I asked about Austria.

“Why is that? Because you would think a country would be proud of its own artists, and would want to get them to international exposure. But Austria doesn’t seem to be”.

And Jacques had the same thoughts about it that I have also had a suspicion about ever since I came across Conchita Wurst.

“I mean, look at Conchita. She was a perfect example. Because you only get recognition if the whole world is watching. And if somebody from overseas or whatever says “Wow, I like him or her”, then Austrians are like “Hmmm, maybe we should jump on the train and say something nice too”.

Then he added, a little bit wistfully. “But I’m really proud I grew up here”.

In the next segment of this series on Viennese Boylesque artist Jacques Patriaque, I’ll get much more in depth about his incredibly successful annual Vienna Boylesque Festival, his thoughts about Boylesque and Burlesque performers today and what makes someone a good festival host, and who his favorite person is in the Boylesque/Burlesque world.

Stay tuned. I’ll be back with much, much more on the intelligent, interesting, funny, super talented and extremely adorable Jacques Patriaque (I can’t say enough good things about this lovely man) in part two of this interview.

About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!