Welcome back to 25YL’s column showcasing the art and artists we love. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Francine “The Lucid Dream”; the producer and creator of The Pink Room Burlesque, based out of NYC. Read on for a closer look at Francine, her show, and some exciting things coming very soon for Twin Peaks/David Lynch fans.
We live inside a dream (Francine and her introduction to Twin Peaks)
Francine is a photographer and filmmaker who studied Cinema and Photography at Ithaca College and mother to two cats named Scully and One-Eyed Jack…who miraculously can now be affectionally referred to as Two-Eyed Jack! Fun fact; Francine attended Ithaca College not only because of its great film program and communication school, but also because the gorges and waterfalls on site reminded her of Twin Peaks. She lives in the NYC area and though I conducted this interview over Facetime from Indonesia (starting at 6am local time!) I’m pleased to say she’s an absolute joy to speak with, so this kickstarted my day in the best possible way.
Francine’s introduction to Twin Peaks is the definition of living inside a dream. Francine recalls being asleep on the couch while her mother watched the pilot live, while dreaming of a town hall meeting full of family members. She then woke up in a groggy state right into the real Twin Peaks, with the first thing she remembers seeing being that iconic town hall scene, complete with the Log Lady flicking the lights on and off. Francine has been hooked ever since, finding the world created by David Lynch and Mark Frost to be fascinating, and very thankful it’s such an integral part of her life through her work!
The Origin and Evolution of The Pink Room
At its core, The Pink Room is Burlesque, though Francine also affectionately refers to her show as a combination of neo-burlesque, dark cabaret, and nerdlesque! Francine describes The Pink Room as following a fairly traditional neo-burlesque format; with aspects of comedy and musical performance, along with the incorporation of a story arc to hold it all together.
The idea for The Pink Room started back in 2010, with Francine brainstorming ideas with fellow members of her burlesque troop. On Wednesdays, they would go to see other burlesque shows and brainstorm ideas of their own. Francine, not knowing if the others were fans of Twin Peaks at all, decided to throw out the idea of a Twin Peaks themed evening. There was immediate interest and Francine took charge by working to produce an initial show, wondering what type of interest there might be.
When the first show took place in 2011, this was certainly during the low point of interest about Twin Peaks, a far cry from the energy and excitement during that magical summer of 2017 and the lead up to it! Francine speaks highly of Pieter Dom from Welcome to Twin Peaks (https://welcometotwinpeaks.com/, Twitter: @thatsourwaldo) as being a great supporter since the beginning. Francine mentions she intentionally stalked Pieter via Twitter which resulted in great promotion for the show.
The initial intent was just a one-off show at The Parkside Lounge, but Francine soon realized she had something special when lines formed around the block to enter and the event was a sellout. A show the following month introduced Schaffer the Darklord to The Pink Room, who has since become a staple as their MC. Schaffer is also an accomplished rapper (check out his work at https://schafferthedarklord.com/), and has played many characters ranging from Adam Kesher (during a Mulholland Dr. themed night) all the way to Dougie Jones rapping about coffee.
Schaffer’s song “A David Lynch Movie” served as the basis for the short film of the same name directed and edited by Francine, which you can purchase at vimeo.com/ondemand/adavidlynchmovie The film has a very Lynchian vibe, with Easter eggs throughout for fans of his work. When asked about a potential sequel or follow-up Francine doesn’t rule this out. The film took two years to make and release, and she learned a lot from the entire experience to build on when developing anything in the future.
When asked about her favorite characters she’s portrayed during the show, Francine immediately thought of Nadine, recalling a fun event which even featured a singing version of this character. While Wendy Robie has not attended a show, she is aware of The Pink Room and has seen footage of Francine as Nadine. Both Dana Ashbrook and Joy Nash attended recent productions, seeing The Pink Room pay tribute to Bobby Briggs (portrayed by the stage manager as part of the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant at Joe’s Pub) and Senorita Dido respectively. Both actors gave a thumbs-up to the portrayals and interacted with fans during the shows! Francine also spoke of a recent favorite character being Chantal, of Chantal and Hutch, of course complete with a bag of Cheetos.
The Return of Twin Peaks
After several years of successful shows (including themed nights centered around Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and even shows based on The X-Files, marking a departure from the world of Lynch), excitement around Twin Peaks and David Lynch grew to a fever pitch following the announcement of Season 3. As part of the lead-up to the season, Showtime decided to prominently feature The Pink Room as part of a three-part documentary in 2017 titled Twin Peaks: The Phenomenon (able to be viewed in its entirety via the following link: https://welcometotwinpeaks.com/news/twin-peaks-phenomenon-documentary-showtime/) Francine spoke of the thrill of being contacted by Showtime and asked to develop a show, attended by their personnel and filmed for the documentary above. This event ultimately even featured a fundraiser for Meals on Wheels and was a great success, despite needing to come together at very short notice. Part 3 of this documentary even features a clip of David Lynch himself remarking that “Anybody that creates…is a friend of mine”, seemingly in direct reference to The Pink Room!
Shortly afterwards The Pink Room was selected as the entertainment for an official immersive Twin Peaks pop-up in NYC, developed by BBQ films, with each component of the event approved by not only Showtime but also David Lynch. When it came to what The Pink Room wanted to do, Francine notes they were ultimately allowed to do anything they wanted…within reason.
The Pink Room Burlesque at Bedlam – Twin Peaks Costume Party (pre-Festival of Disruption event)
The next big event from the Pink Room is coming VERY soon, at 8pm on May 16th at Bedlam in NYC. This will include not only a Lynchian burlesque show but also a Twin Peaks costume party. I know several attendees who plan to bring amazing costumes, so expect to see some truly great stuff! The timing of this event could not be better, as its the evening before Festival of Disruption (FoD), with an opportunity for attendees to meet many other fans there that weekend.
It is also the first time The Pink Room has offered tiered tickets. These include 3 levels designed to make the event accessible to not only those discovering the show for the first time, but also to reward long-time attendees and those looking for an interactive experience. Tickets can be purchased at the following link: (https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4229093)
Filled with Secrets…
The event advertisements hype up “secrets” being a part of this event, and despite my best efforts Francine is playing these close to the vest…though I will note she had a clear twinkle in her eye when referring to the event itself, and in particular the backstage “experience” available to the Laura Palmer VIP tickets…at the time of this writing only a few left!
Francine mentions the goal of the evening is to venture into the true Pink Room made famous by that iconic scene from Fire Walk With Me. “I loved that scene, along with its debauchery, seediness, and surreal and wonderful nature…so be prepared for that, and to also have a good party!” Francine says not to discount seeing characters and references from the entire world of Lynch, though the event itself will certainly have a Twin Peaks focus. Francine explains that she loves to keep audience members on their toes with fresh takes and ideas, so who knows what might be in store for attendees. She shared an example of a prior event where Calamity Chang WAS the black lodge, described as being “more about an aesthetic or mood than a different character”…definitely intriguing!
The community building aspect of it all is very important, and Francine wants attendees to interact with and meet each other, and for the audience to truly feel like they are a part of the performance. Most importantly she wants everyone to feel welcome and have fun.
The Future (or is it past?) of The Pink Room
I’ve met a lot of great people in the Lynch/Peaks community in the past couple years. In my view, Francine truly embodies the best of the community. For those looking for their fix of Lynch, The Pink Room offers exciting events that truly dig deep into the well of creativity, running the gamut of seemingly every possible aspect of Lynch’s work. A few examples include Minx Arcana acting out the floating poison dart from Dune, and the most recent Miss Twin Peaks Pageant featuring a group armpit itching sequence, in loving homage to Sky Ferreira’s Roadhouse booth rash.
Though the distance from Twin Peaks season 3’s ending continues to grow, Francine doesn’t feel that she’s anywhere close to tapping out. Her passion and excitement for it all was truly infectious during the interview, remarking that if it’s ever not fun, it’s time to end it. She also plans to continue branching out through events honoring other films and shows not Lynch related, with some exciting ideas to come.
When asked to sum up the whole experience in a single sentence, Francine gave a knowing smile and quickly delivered the following, which is The Pink Room’s official tagline: “The pink room is only love and other weird scary crap.” I’d say that sums it up perfectly. If you’re attending FoD this May, you owe it to yourself to check out The Pink Room on May 16th at 8pm. Even if you’re not able to attend this event, make sure to follow The Pink Room and its very talented members through the variety of methods referred to below. There’s even a Mr. Twin Peaks Pageant scheduled for June 15th featuring “a bajillion male characters that we want to pay tribute to and have fun with”. You don’t want to miss what’s coming during 2019 and beyond…
***Feature Image: Photo credit to Sachyn Mital (from left to right: Varla Velour, Anna Copa Cabanna, Schaffer the Darklord, Francine, Joy Nash, Bunny Buxom, Minx Arcana, Seedy Edie, Amelia Bareparts)
Social Media Links:twitter.com/FrancineD
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