Icing: Find Out What Makes THE JONES FAMILY RETRO SHOW Tick
Great things can happen when childhood dreams become adult (comedy) rock star magic. Sisters Maris Jones and Lavinia Jones Wright grew up playing dress up and acting out their visions in front of a VHS camcorder. (Please don’t make me explain that technology, kids). When the sisters were united in New York City, they utilized their love of music, sketch, retro variety shows and contemporary programming to create THE JONES FAMILY RETRO SHOW. During their lively performances, they dress in drag as their favorite male rock stars (yes, sometimes it’s a boys club), paying homage to the last 60 years of pop culture, as well as pointing out the ironies, camp, and patriarchal notions of the TV, movies, ads and music from our not too distant past. The Jones Family will be bring their gender-bending comedy and variety show back to The Knitting FactoryDecember 19th. Lucky for us, we got to pick their brains about their humble beginnings, that Bohemian Rhapsody trailer remake, and their upcoming Holiday Spectacular! Read and rock on!
JONES FAMILY: One of our biggest inspirations is The Smothers Brothers. We used to watch that and Lawrence Welk when we were little. Lawrence Welk especially was a family staple. We also draw a lot of inspiration from Dick Cavett, SNL and late night shows like Midnight Special. We pull together elements from retro variety shows, talk shows, sketch shows and music programs as well as absurd contemporary shows like Robot Chicken and Eric Andre to make our own new style of variety show.
CAKE: When and how did you first come up with the idea for the show?
JONES FAMILY: We’ve loved to dress up and make videos since we were kids and our parents got one of those early VHS camcorders. Once we were both living in New York City we just got right back into it. Dressing up as rockstars seems to come naturally to us. After about nine months of making one-off videos, we realized this had to potential to be something bigger. So we made episodes for Instagram Stories that ran every Monday night for a few months. Then we knew we had to invite more people to collaborate with us and do it live.
CAKE: How do you decide who will play what character in drag?
JONES FAMILY: It always seems obvious to us who should play what character. Maybe because we know each other so well, and we’re different in certain ways. One person always cares more than the other about a character. For example, Maris really wanted to play Robert Plant because she loves his mannerisms and the way he moves onstage. Lavinia just so happened to have a real fondness for Jimmy Page and his sloppy awesome guitar playing. It always seems to work out. The only one we fought over was David Bowie. That’s why we haven’t done him yet.
CAKE: Bowie is always worth fighting over. What was the reception like to your ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ trailer?
JONES FAMILY: People quote it back to us a lot, which is amazing. It seems like when we posted the side by side, people realized how much work it was. We’re still waiting on our call to be in the movie.
CAKE: It will come! What female musicians did you idolize as youngsters?
JONES FAMILY: One of the reasons we started The Jones Family Retro Show is that rock and roll was such a man’s world. A lot of people realize one day they aren’t a part of history, or a part of the story of the thing they love. Growing up we listened to so much Patsy Cline, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin. Our parents turned us on to so many great female jazz and folk musicians. We deeply love and admire Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Carole King is huge for us, but it’s impossible for us to ignore the fact that our biggest idols were David Bowie and The Beatles, people we couldn’t grow up to be.
CAKE: What kind of reaction do you look to get out of your audiences?
JONES FAMILY: We want to make them laugh! We want to take people out of their daily lives and along on a little trip with us. It’s a bonus for us if we give them something they didn’t expect. That’s the magic of the variety show format. But at the end of the day we want the show to be fun.
CAKE: What do you love most about performing at the Knitting Factory?
JONES FAMILY: They’re very supportive of our show. Which is amazing. We wanted to do the show in a real rock venue, and the Knitting Factory is iconic, so we were really happy they wanted to work with us.
CAKE: When the show is eventually produced for a larger outlet (no doubt it will be) how do you foresee making it even bigger and better? What statement would you like to make?
JONES FAMILY: The Jones Family Retro Show, in our minds, is a whole universe. As we get more and more resources, we want to create more immersive experiences. We’d love bigger sets and costumes, even more rock and roll power. Working in the DIY style, and building this show from the ground up, we’ve been able to grow a creative collective of performers, artists and musicians around us. That is something that will come with the show no matter where it goes.
CAKE: What do you do to unwind after performances?
JONES FAMILY: We immediately book a hotel room and trash it. Then we go home and sleep for a week.
CAKE: What can we expect at the upcoming show?
JONES FAMILY: Snow.
CAKE: Rock on!