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Friday, December 11, 2015

Exclusive Q&A with Diva Impersonator Dorothy Bishop

I interviewed Dorothy Bishop over the phone. Ms Bishop has a rare talent: she is a woman who impersonates women. Her show at NYC's Metropolitan Room has been bringing in a growing audience and receiving wider attention. 

My friend Nick Lion tipped me off to Dorothy's show, and I will be going to see Dorothy perform on December 23rd at 8pm. Here, then, is our Q&A, with Dorothy asking me the questions at the outset:

Buddy Beaverhausen: So good to finally get to talk with you, Dorothy.
Dorothy Bishop: Same here. What is your background? Were you ever an actor?
BB: No. I studied acting at HB Studio briefly, but I've mostly wanted to write. I did have a cabaret act  during the '70s.
DB: Oh, great! What venues did you do?
BB: Rose's Turn on Grove Street when that was called The Duplex. The Bushes of CPW, The Ballroom in Soho, and some other joints that, offhand, I forget the names of.

BB: When I think of women who are celebrity impersonators, I think of Debbie Reynolds, Edie Adams and, certainly, Marilyn Michaels. Did any of these ladies influence you and your work?
DB: Well, yes, they were all influential to one degree or another. Especially Marilyn Michaels, who is my absolute idol. I've friended her on Facebook and keep inviting her to come. I'd love it if she could. It would be a dream come true!

BB: I interviewed Marilyn Michaels and she told me she developed her talent to impersonate as a teenager. When did you start to realize your talent at impersonations?
DB: Oh, much later! I began doing my show as a singer when I was performing in. I have a background in opera at Yale. But I found that when I threw an impersonation or two into my act, it helped bring in more of an audience. So that's really where my impersonations shows were born.

BB: Have any male impersonators influenced or impressed you?
DB: Oh, wow, yes indeed! All the drag queens. I've learned so much from them.

BB: You have quite a residency at the Metropolitan Room. What other rooms in NYC have you played?
DB: The Iguana originally. I've performed on Celebrity Cruises and the whole NYC cabaret circuit, actually, before ending up at the Metropolitan Room, where I'm very happy to say I have that monthly residency now.

BB: What makes the Metropolitan Room home to you?
DB: Well, first and foremost, Bernie and JoAnne have been so generous and wonderful to me. They are so rare and refreshing in what can sometimes be a cutthroat business. Most clubs function on the idea that if you don't bring in a crowd at your first show, that's it for you! But Bernie and Joanne are completely supportive and smart in the sense that they realize it takes time to build up an audience, which is so unusual in the cabaret world.
BB: They have been very supportive of me and my blog as well, so I know just what you mean.
DB: They're great! And I'm happy to say that my audience has grown and we're pulling in bigger crowds all the time.

BB: It looks to me as if you'll be booked there well into 2016. Am I correct?
DB: Yes. I'm thrilled!

BB: What dozen divas do you plan on presenting at your holiday show on December 23rd?
DB: Without giving too much away, I think you can count on my doing Madonna, Cher, Joan Rivers -- whom I didn't do for a while after she passed -- but now I think it's ok to bring her back. and Shirley Bassey, who is new to the show.

BB: How many outfits does this take?
DB: I have one versatile outfit with various accessories onstage as well as a clothes rack. Plus I might go backstage, during a video, to change.

BB: I was introduced to your show through Nick Lion. How did you two connect originally?
DB: Through Facebook actually. We were planning on my performing at his club, Icon, in Astoria. But we've stayed friends and he has come to many of my shows at the Metropolitan Room and is an ardent supporter. I adore Nick!

BB: Did you ever try to impersonate a diva and, for whatever reason, it didn't work out?
DB: Yes. A few were out of my range. I tried doing male divas, too. Doing Steven Tyler wrecks my voice, but I can do a mean Freddie Mercury!

BB: I understand you have a very large gay fan base. Gives new meaning to the term "Friends of Dorothy." Anything you'd like to say to them?
DB: Where would I be without you? I've learned so much from my gay friends. They taught me so much about doing my make-up and wigs! They've been so very supportive and I'm so, so thankful!

BB: Any last shout outs about anything we may not have covered?
DB: Just that I'm very grateful to be able to do what I do. Come see me at the Metropolitan Room on December 23rd at 8:30. Again, thanks to Bernie and Joanne and the remarkable technical crew and staff at the club, and thanks to you, Buddy, for doing this Q&A with me!

BB: Dorothy, I thank you for your time and your patience in pulling this together. So nice talking with you and I look forward to seeing you on the 23rd and in the new year as well. And then I get to write about you all over again!
DB: Look forward to seeing you!

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