Interview: Stacy Makishi

Stacy Makishi in The Falsettos

Performer Stacy Makishi is bringing her new solo show The Falsettos to Chelsea Theatre this month. Alex Hopkins caught up with her to talk family, violence and why The Sopranos saved her.

Tell me about your background. How has this affected the concerns of your work?

I’m from Hawaii, which is a blessing, because no one can fault Hawaiians, it’s like supporting Accrington Stanley football team. And being from a place like Hawaii, you can imagine why my work has a homesick quality. Freud says Love is homesickness. Unrequieted love, homesickness, ‘elsewhere’… that longing for a love that’s just around the corner but always out of reach… These themes permeate my work.

What is your new show The Falsettos about and what can audiences expect?

Mobs. Moms. The Sopranos and lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood.  It’s a show full of hope and a fistful of violence. Did you know that the word violence comes from the Latin, vis, which means life force? Who could know it? But I feel like watching the violence in The Sopranos aroused the life force in my Mom and I. My Mom nearly died three times last year and all that uncertainty plunged us into a depression. Now, if you’re worrying about death, I highly recommend watching The Sopranos. That show will whack some life force back into you, big time. And of course there’s Barbra Streisand and ET too. You don’t wanna miss this show. It will whack you, serenade you and then send you to the moon.

Your show The Making of Bull toured the UK and is returning. How is The Falsettos related to this and how do you explore the idea of ‘the sequel’ within an artist’s work?

My father’s middle name actually means ‘Next, number 2, The Sequel’! Can you imagine anything worse than being born a sequel, unless you’re a sequel to the sequel… me.

The Making of Bull was a riff of Fargo and my obsession with Steve Buscemi. The Falsettos is a riff on The Sopranos. I suppose I have a thing for Italian men. Maybe I am one. I think many artists struggle with this idea of living up to expectations. We’re constantly struggling with ‘formula’ – ‘this worked the last time’ and trying to remain true to your own ‘artist signature’ – in other words, this is how Stacy Makishi would whack that pussy.

In The Falsettos you’re examining your desire to kill your mother to spare her any further pain. Tell me more about this.

I think people are more complicated than we would like to think. When you watch someone you love suffer, your love might take action to end it. Love can drive us to kill. Seeing violence might tap us into life force.

The Sopranos saved my Mom and I from falling into despair. When we watched the violence on The Sopranos, we experienced an odd release, sometimes we would laugh… a complicated laughter. That’s what I hope for the audience. I want them to laugh the kind of laughter that comes out of your body because it suddenly feels the need to release a human sound in public. It’s a laughter connected to joy and sorrow. A laughter of recognition, horror and compassion.

Popular culture, particularly films, plays an important part in your work. Why and how is this explored?

I love film and pop culture because you don’t often get to see a person like me in a series like The Sopranos. I mean, can you imagine a five foot tall girl from Honolulu playing a mobster? I mean, I want to challenge people’s perception about all kinds of things. Who is dangerous? You talkin’ to me?!?

Stacy Makishi’s The Falsettos is at Chelsea Theatre 24 and 25 May

The Making of Bull is at Chelsea Theatre 20 May

Both shows are part of SACRED, Chelsea Theatre’s annual programme of live art and contemporary performance, which has always featured noted gay performers as well as many highly influential live artists.

Words: Alex Hopkins

Jump to comments
Scroll Top