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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Fab Interview- Desiree Burch of 52 Man Pickup (FringeNYC)

The Fab Marquee Interview by Antonio Miniño.

In the sea of shows that is The New York International Fringe Festival, there is a woman that is bearing it all; Writer, Performer Desiree Burch exposes her wonderfully juicy list of sexcapades and experiences mastered over her very “active” years. She uses stand-up, sex toys and cleavage in 52 Man Pick-Up. Desiree answered some questions for The Fab Marquee, “nc-17” style.


Lets start by the name of your show 52 Man Pickup. Where did the title come from?
When I started this show, it was just a piece that I did at a reading/performance series I used to host at Galapagos called SMUT. Lots of the city’s best writers, performers, comedians, musicians, etc. would bring their odd, uncategorized, raw, nc-17 material out to the stage to perform, and I would host with jokes, poems, etc.

I had been concurrently collecting notes from a slut phase I’d been going through… because I was running through men like tissue at one point in my life, I wanted to take notes. I felt it was important to remember the people I’d been with, so I’d started making a list of their names, and what I could remember about the experiences…trying to keep tabs on what I was doing really. Trying to account for what I’d done if you will…count the numbers…etc. Women love to make lists of shit, and also have an idea of their “number” as well. And I counted everything. Kept everything accurate and accountable.

At some point I’d amassed enough people that I just thought, why not share these stories at SMUT. Some of them were quite funny and engaging…all of them were interesting to me. So I put each on an index card and pulled them out of a hat. That was my hat trick.

From the index cards and the hat and all of the sexual puns that could come of that…really lent itself to a good gimmick that would bring out the randomness and countless possibilities. Also, in the performance of pulling these cards out of the hat, I was kind of spitting them… like spitting a poem as is done in slam (and a lot of the cards have a poetic nature to the writing… I try to find the lyricism with each), and spitting the cards as is done in the card game “spit.” So putting the show on a deck of playing cards really came from utilizing the feeling of that game to just get rid of all of the cards I’d been dealt as quickly as possible, and also finding a way to epitomize the randomness, the chance, the playing of “the game.” etc.

So of course, I had to name the show after a card game or something to indicate that. I used 52 pickup cause it’s not really a game–it’s more of a trick, a gag; and it’s really a big fucking mess in about 3 seconds, and that was kind of reminiscent of my feelings on sex, and in particular my sexual experience in NYC. Plus, at that point, my number was in the 30s, and I figured it would give me a chance to really enumerate everyone using the whole deck and talk about “the number” again, etc.


What has been the most thrilling and hardest part about putting your personal life and escapades on-stage?

The most thrilling is really connecting openly with the audience. It’s getting to fuck the audience nightly. Some people are not feeling the show, and you can see it on their face. Other people are nodding and totally into it. Others are laughing, others are scared, others are crying. And it’s amazing to be a part of theater that is really getting intimate with people in a way that is somewhat uncharted (speaking somewhat of the format of the show, and mainly of the content).

The hardest part is rehearsal, when I am tired and lonely and trying to fix my own fucking life, and I have to look at a “3″ with some loser on it that I let inside me, and think…I don’t want to talk about this fucking loser anymore. I don’t even really remember fucking him. That experience, that person feels so distant to me (both him and myself), and I’m just not there anymore and I don’t want to go back. And that was really kind of the point in me turning this into a show. I needed to do my own work out loud, for people (because it’s the only way that I really do my best, most confrontational work with myself and the world) in order to come to terms with what I was doing in my life, to confess it if you will. To start figuring out my own patterns, demons, insights about others and myself sexually. I needed empathy from the universe. I needed to feel like this physical, sexual part of me was connected to a web of bodies in the universe, all trying to figure out the same shit, all on our own. It’s a shame to me that that is what we do to sexuality… because we really could evolve if we started being open about the fact that, beyond the procreative and the provocative, there is something about sex that connects lower and higher parts of ourselves.

The hardest part of the show is trying to stay true all of the time. Trying to keep the show up to my current perspectives on life… allowing it to be a growing, alive being, while I am working on the same for myself. Allowing it to be in the awkward phases, as I would allow myself, and showing the audience that, even if I feel like I might not be ready. My director, Isaac Byrne and I are constantly making adjustments that allow the audience into the show–allow them into my experience to draw out their own… and we have to find just the right nudge/trick that is going to do that, and be interesting for those watching and participating, and, above all, be honest. Because that’s the only reason anyone gives a damn about this dirty little show I do. It’s not just doing it for the sake of being sexy and selling shit like everything else on the planet these days. It’s because the show is true that it matters.

Has your fringe experience been exactly what you thought it would be?
Only had one show so far, and I don’t know what I thought it would be. But different people who I don’t know and didn’t invite personally have come out, and press is interested, and that is all good, because I just want to share this show a bit more with the world, and use it to connect with and help other people… and as always, myself too, cause that’s the point of making art. I want to do that before I outgrow the show and need to move on to a different part of myself.

What comes next?
Hopefully this show will get a longer run at some point in the not-too-distant future. I am also working on a women’s comedy festival for October called “The Hysterical Festival” which is going to feature a lot of amazing local and touring comedians, and it’s going to be a blast. More info at

Working Man’s Clothes Productions &
FringeNYC present
Desiree Burch’s
52 Man Pickup
Venue #6: The Jazz Gallery
4 performances left: Mon 18 @ 9:15pm; Wed 20 @ 5:30pm; Thur 21 @10pm and Sat 23 @ 3pm
Tickets are $15.00, available at
Venue #6: The Jazz Gallery | 290 Hudson Street | Manhattan.

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