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10 Performance Cabaret Artists to Know: 5. Erin Markey

Erin Markey in conversation with Katherine Cooper:

KC: It seems like you have to do a lot of code-switching because you occupy a few different worlds, whether that’s an MTV audition, or family Christmas or making a YouTube video or performing in drag and I want to know how that feels and how you feel you are different in those situations.

EM: Yeah, it’s funny. It’s funny to be making this show right now where I’m supposed to be Erin Markey the whole time because I feel like I work best when I’m in character. That’s when I’m most honest. So that’s not difficult for me to go back and forth between characters either, because you know different situations call for different folks. Not that that’s made so explicit in my life, in my practical life I mean. I do think we’re going through this time where identity is not as … people aren’t as interested in being one singular thing anymore. I just had trouble writing a bio recently because I was like, “I don’t want to be called a performance artist. I don’t wanna be called a comedian, I don’t want to be called an actor, or a singer or a cabaret artist,” because none of those things seem to really describe who I am. And I feel like if the wrong person sees the wrong word then it’s like a batch of ideas, especially with “performance artist,” that reads as just financially zero. I do feel like it’s money related. But it’s also like, now that everybody knows how to do everything, because everything’s so DIY, you don’t need people to specialize. On a basic level everybody can do things like film and video editing themselves. But even though I edit my own little movies, you know, I would never deign to call myself an editor. So, you just have to describe what you do really simply. And then it makes a whole new sort of thing—identities, I guess. I mean, Dan [Fishback] was really helpful to me when we were having this conversation. He kind of shaped my bio. The sentence we came up with with was, I can’t remember exactly, something like, “Erin Markey makes stuff for stage and video that has music in it.” Which is the most truthful thing.


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