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    Bi-Coastal Cabaret Star Leanne Borghesi to Debut New Show BDSM: Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me at Feinstein’s



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    At a recent San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band fundraiser, members of our team were lucky to have sat near Leanne Borghesi as she performed. We were so close that we could hear Borghesi singing before the sound even carried through the room via the speakers. We all left in awe of her genuine talent that seems like a throwback to the days when singers actually had to project and carry a show without phony electronic enhancements. Many of our city’s great historic moments relied upon such skills. For example, Italian diva Luisa Tetrazzini famously performed at Lotta’s Fountain on Christmas Eve of 1910 to thousands of San Franciscans who were still in recovery mode after the ’06 earthquake.

    If Tetrazzini were alive today, we imagine that she would slip into Feinstein’s at the Nikko on August 5 and 6 @ 8 pm to see Borghesi’s new solo show BDSM: Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me. After Borghesi’s sold-out appearances last fall with the smash-hit show LUSH, she returns with a comedic twist–whipping her strengths, fears, truths and desires into shape with the daring new BDSM.

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    Under the direction of Nicolas Minas, this powerhouse femme leads the audience through songs of the prim and proper to bawdy from the 20’s–40’s, Broadway, camp, pop, and even a surprising sexy dose of pulp erotica. Accomplished New York Musical Director Michael Ferreri joins the evening to lead a swinging trio featuring San Francisco’s finest Roberta Drake on drums and Amanda Wu on bass. It is going to be a one-of-a-kind comedic musical evening not to miss!

    We are thrilled to include Borghesi in the “Women’s Music” series that we are presenting with Feinstein’s. It was a treat to catch up with her recently between the show’s rehearsals in New York.

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    San Francisco Bay Times: Congratulation on returning to Feinsteins at the Nikko to debut your new cabaret show BDSM: Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me. That’s a bold title, and yet it is a comedy? What can your audiences expect from this show after the sold out success of last years hit LUSH?

    Leanne Borghesi: I’m so excited to share this new project with my wonderful San Francisco audiences. There is no other place I would want to debut my work … and, yes, this is a comedy! My audiences can expect a lot of humor and a unique musical journey just like in last year’s LUSH (which played Feinstein’s followed by its NYC Debut at The Duplex). But this new show, BDSM: Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me, is something different. It’s what I’m calling a ‘theatrical cabaret’ because we are really telling a full story that blends my experience in over 15 years of doing cabaret and my entire life of doing theater. I’m so excited to bring some surprising new elements to this show. We have puppetry, my original erotic poetry, and lots of comedy. It’s really more of a one-woman show.

    San Francisco Bay Times: You are a featured performer this year in the San Francisco Bay Times/Feinsteins new Womens Series. Has this motivated your artistic collaboration at all?

    Leanne Borghesi: Exploring the role of women in society has been a major driving force for this show. We’ve been looking at the root of the problems with how women are viewed by using the trope of the 50’s housewife. In the show I play a character who is discontented with her life, but figures out through finding her voice that she does hold the power to go after whatever she wants.

    As a founding member of San Francisco’s comedic trio “B.O.O.B.S! Busty Outrageous Over The Top Broads Singin,” I have always been proud to be a strong woman onstage–but even more so now. Look, I’m a married queer female performer, a faux queen (Anita Cocktail), a musical theater actor, a poetry slam artist, and a cabaret singer–and I’m 6’ feet tall (6’3” in heels). I don’t fit into a standard mold. Working with my Director and longtime friend and colleague Nicolas Minas, it has been amazing to delve into my voice and shed my fears of expressing my inner strengths. I always think of myself as a strong woman, but in putting this show together I’ve really had to tap into an enormous bravery–a fearlessness. It helps that I have such a longtime friendship with Nicolas, and he knows me so well. He is able to call me out when I’m falling back on my old tricks. This kind of work has really pushed me to be the most authentic version of myself … ironically through playing characters and using puppets.

    San Francisco Bay Times: You are a bi-coastal resident of both San Francisco and New York. Please describe your artistic process and how it influences your creativity. What are some of the challenges that you face?

    Leanne Borghesi: Living in both San Francisco and New York for the past three years has been the greatest gift. I have gained so much perspective, artistic growth and self-actualization, but it comes with extreme challenges. Going back and forth between two incredible cities, I’ve really had an opportunity to see my life in this objective way. When I’m here in San Francisco, it is home and there is a safety in that. When I am in Manhattan, living in my cute little apartment in Hamilton Heights, Harlem, it is a whole different energy. Both cities inspire me greatly in such different ways. This project has really benefitted from my time in both places. My artistic team for BDSM is a fantastic blend of wonderful artists from both coasts. Under the direction of New York director Nicolas Minas (LUSH), we have NYC Musical Director Michael Ferreri, who will join forces with the wonderful West Coast musicians Roberta Drake on drums and Amanda Wu on bass, with sound design by my wife Sharon Boggs (soundproductions.biz). Finding the right artists takes time. It has taken many years to pull together such a great team.

    San Francisco Bay Times: As a vivid member of the San Francisco LGBT community and a queer woman, do you feel any responsibility within your work to utilize your voice and perspective?

    Leanne Borghesi: Yes, I do but not just as a queer woman, but as a woman in general. As I gain perspective and maturity as a “big boned” woman in this world, my feminist views and voice become stronger. They have grounded me and have opened the ability to tackle challenges head on with more confidence. Bringing this confidence and voice to the stage within comedy, music, puppetry, sexual & self-realization has been the exciting part of creating this current show. I want to inspire just as New York has inspired me. When you fearlessly put your mind to something you desire, with cultivation come growth and understanding, and I definitely have found that with this show. It is a start, but at least I have begun. This really is a passion project.

    San Francisco Bay Times: Where will we be able to see your work next?

    Leanne Borghesi: I see this debut at Feinstein’s in San Francisco as the first step for BDSM. It’s something new for me–this idea of the ‘theatrical cabaret,’ and I really want to keep developing it. I am already looking at dates this fall in New York and am putting out feelers to take the show on the road. I am planning on taking my work to cabaret and theater venues in Chicago, Provincetown, and the U.K. Those are places where I have performed and would love to go back to, but I can see myself touring all over with my theatrical cabarets. I am also currently working with some fellow colleagues and playwright Nathan Cann to create The National Theater of Uptown in New York where I’m so excited to be a part of a new tribe of theater artists.

    I will continue to split my time between both coasts. San Francisco audiences can expect to see me as this year’s Chanteuse with the monthly Cabaret series at The Circus Center (SF). I will also continue collaborations with my comedic trio B.O.O.B.S to bring quality, female empowered work to the stage. I do keep my non-profit work close to my heart and perform with the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band whenever I can, and support our LGBT community in any way I can by sharing in song and spirit.

    Leanne Borghesi’s BDSM: Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me

    Feinstein’s at the Hotel Nikko

    222 Mason Street, San Francisco

    August 5 and 6 @ 8 pm

    $25–$45 for tickets; Call 866-663-1063 or go to ticketfly.com

    For more information about Leanne Borghesi, please visit: www.leanneborghesi.com