It’s me, Sister Indica – your homegurl for LIFE! I’m back with a brand new edition of #OBSESH and I can’t wait to gush all about Nadya Ginsburg and her web series Madonnalogues. If you haven’t seen it, get into it NOW! Look, I even put a playlist together for to make your life easier. See how sweet I am?
The crowd-funded series, which just completed it’s first season, is a hilarious web adaptation of Nadya’s hit live show. It features her playing various characters, both made-up and famous (just wait until you see her Cher and Winona Ryder) – however the true star is her take on Madonna. The way she writes and portrays the Queen of Pop plays up her narcissism and insane ambition, but also reveals a vulnerability that makes you feel a bit sorry for the old gal. Let’s face it: the real Madge just isn’t this endearing.
I’m stoked that I was able to bring Nadya into The Houndstooth Lodge (designed & constructed by my spirit animal David Lynch). Get into our gab fest!
My hippy parents tell me that when I was as young as three years old I would do impressions of how their friends danced at the parties they would throw. Legend has it that my first birthday party featured so much getting down the carpet disintegrated and I was allowed to put both my hands in the cake. I think that’s where the trouble started. I haven’t been able to keep my hands out of the cake since.
When and where did you get your start in comedy?
My first foray into comedy was doing stand-up in the late 90’s in New York City. Back then it was even more of a boys club than it is now so I found more satisfaction and freedom studying Improv. That led to the birth of the sketch comedy duo Verhaeghe & Ginsburg, an act comprised of me and my boyfriend at the time, Victor Verhaeghe.
We met in an Improv class and did the first three levels but couldn’t afford the fourth, so we struck out on our own and learned by doing. We played all the Manhattan clubs along side acts like The Upright Citizens Brigade, Jeanine Garofalo, Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis. Our Polish Ice Dancer sketch even made it to the cover of weekend edition of the New York Times art section where we were featured in an article about a new kind of alternative comedy emerging from The Lower East Side of Manhattan. Then we broke up (trombone sound) and I was forced back to stand-up.
It was hard at first. I was terrified to literally stand up on stage alone, but while auditioning for The Aspen Comedy Festival an agent signed me as a solo act and and then sent me on an audition for a series regular role on a sketch comedy show called HYPE. I booked the job, moved to LA and the show ran for one year, during which time I met my best friend, and then HYPE staff writer, Jackie Beat.
How did you end up working with Roseanne and what is like impressing such a legend?
I met Roseanne through Jackie who was opening up for her at the time. Roseanne is so great because she really believes in and nurtures other female comedians. It was a huge boost to my confidence to work with her. This business is so hard, for women especially, so validation from a woman like Roseanne, who had to fight so hard to believe there was place for herself and then work so hard to make a place for herself, was beyond inspiring. She is a very kind and kick ass lady and Jackie and I are talking about collaborating with her on something again in the near future.
You and my gal pal (and Not Safe 4 Werk homegurl) Deven Green were featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 as comedy coaches. How was your experience working on the show and what did it feel like to get that level of exposure?
How divine is Ms. Green? I adore her. I told her recently it is so rare for one to be so gorgeous and so talented and so not a cunt. Deven loved that I said that about her, which made me adore her even more.
Initially, working on Drag Race was nerve-wracking because I’m so used to giving the audience something and then getting something back. Judging was so different. At first I worried I hadn’t done my job or done enough, but Ru and the whole World of Wonder crew were so chill and there was such a family vibe I immediately felt at ease.
The whole Drag Race experience was less about exposure and more about being a part of a something I can only describe as a much needed healing experience for American culture. Though we are living in a time where there is still so much sexism and racism and homophobia, the fact that soccer Moms are watching that show? That little gay kids in Nebraska know that show exists? It’s really incredible. It is a milestone that will go down in TV history. I’m honored to have been a part of it.
Elephant? Madonna is as sinewy and taught as a pre-pubescent Russian gymnast and she’d like you to take that back! But seriously homosexuals and homosexual-adjacents..I grew up with Madonna and have always been a fan. Because Madonna became famous for being a shape shifting sexual provocateur and is now 56 and still navigating the shark invested waters of staying relevant, her journey is a never-ending wellspring of material. Going inside the head of someone whose job is being Madonna is fascinating to me and is what inspired Madonnalogues the web series.
Full truth, dare be told, I think it’s funny when people call me an “impersonator” when this whole Madonna thing is kind of a fluke. I am an actor and a comedian who can imitate a bunch of different celebrities, Madonna is just the impression that’s been most likely to pay the rent. I guess Madonna and I have that in common. In my live Madonnalogues show I open and close with Madonna, but in the middle I do Cher and Winona Ryder and some original characters from my Verhaeghe & Ginsburg years, so my act truly is a mixed bag.
Through the Gay Mafia grapevine I’ve heard Madonna has seen my videos and her brother Christopher came to my show, but I can’t tell you for sure if Madonna’s seen what I do. However if she has, I suspect she is smart and showbiz-savvy enough to see that I am a fan. At least I hope so. All is fair in love, war and comedy, so you have to go hard or go home, but I always try and come from a place of love.
Helping to fund Season 1 was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Are you doing crowd funding for season 2 as well and if so, where should folks go?
Thank you so much for your support! That makes me so happy to hear. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Not sure yet what incarnation my next filmed Madonna project will be, but in the mean time I’d love for people to follow me on YouTube and Twitter, watch my videos, and come out and see me live!
I’m beyond thrilled that we’re going to have you be part of Project NunwayLA this October. Are there any other charity events you’re regularly part of (shameless plugs for our fellow non-profit friends)!
Thanks so much for inviting me! I am thrilled to be a part of it! One of my favorite charity events that I am regularly a part of is The MisMatch Game hosted by Dennis Hensley at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. The next one is March 15th, Jackie Beat will be Bea Arthur and I will be Cher. It’s such a fun show with so many talented people and it’s all for a great cause.
Catch Nadya at the MisMatch Game on March 15th. Tickets are $15. All seats may be purchased online at www.lalgbtcenter.org/theatre or by phone at (323) 860-7300. Proceeds support the programs and services offered by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Your Homegurl for Life,