If you’re a reader of Essentially Pop you very likely know that our MO is to support the different, the underrated, and the independent artists who might not get as much coverage as we think they should. We’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years now, and over time we’ve expanded from just covering music and musical artists, to books, film, tv shows, and lifestyle.
Today I bring to you an interview with what must be the most niche content we’ve ever covered – and yet, it still very much fits with our mission to bring to the forefront those who deserve to be seen and heard.
Tight and Nerdy are a burlesque troupe like no other. They are the only ones who dance exclusively to the music of “Weird Al” Yankovic. That might seem like a pretty far-out concept, but when you think about it, it’s perfect. Al’s songs (both his parodies and originals) are diverse both lyrically and musically, and I mean, come on…the man also plays polkas on an accordion. What’s not to love?
Now the group are the subject of an upcoming film, ‘Showgals’, which tells the story of finding your place in a chaotic world and redefining what it means to ”belong”. That’s just one of the reasons why they’re the right fit for Essentially Pop.
‘Showgals’ covers these performers and others as they navigate their way through a world stacked against them. With themes of female empowerment, gender inequality and body positivity, this is a film aimed squarely at those of us who have ever felt powerless, lonely or bullied simply because we are unable to hide that we‘re different. And it is all wrapped up in big personalities, over-the-top costumes, and unforgettable performances set to some of Weird Al’s most memorable tunes.
Of course, a story like this would not be complete without hearing from the man himself, “Weird Al” Yankovic, who has spent his 40-plus year career demonstrating to misfits everywhere that weirdness should be celebrated.SHOWGALS: The Movie (A Documentary) by Jeff Nucera — Kickstarter
Check out our interview with co-producers and directors, Jeff Nucera and Jonathan Ruane, as well as some of the Tight & Nerdy Showgals themselves – founder Pickles Kintaro, Odessa Lil, and Mistress Marla Spankx, and once you’re done reading (or before if you want), head over to the link for their Kickstarter and help get this incredible film out in the public sphere, where it deserves to be seen. You don’t need to pledge much at all – you can make your own donation or give as little as $5 – but no matter how large or how small, it all helps.
EP: Jeff and Jonathan, You’ve made a film about a troupe of burlesque artists who perform to the music of “Weird Al” Yankovic. Why?
JEFF: Why, indeed? The idea of making a film about a group of people who have bonded over their love of Weird Al is endlessly thrilling for me, especially since that’s how I met so many of my friends!
JONATHAN: When Jeff told me about the idea of making a documentary about a burlesque troupe that takes their clothes off to Weird Al songs…I immediately was on board. It’s an insane idea that appeals to every fiber of my being. And then, when we went to San Francisco to interview the performers for the first time a few weeks later, it became clear to both of us that this was a group of women that we wanted to spend all of our time with. I have been working in documentary film/television for over two decades and I immediately recognized that the “Tight & Nerdy” crew were/are incredibly compelling documentary subjects.
JEFF: As we got to know the “Tight & Nerdy” troupe, we slowly realized that their story is kind of like all of our stories. This is actually more than a tale about Weird Al-themed Burlesque – it’s really about finding your place in a chaotic world. It’s a film for anyone who was bullied or felt ‘less than’ because they were different – and how Weird Al became a beacon of hope for so many of us by demonstrating that it’s ok to not fit in.
EP: What’s the background of “Tight & Nerdy”? How did the group come together, and how long ago?
PICKLES: A little over a decade ago, I was a baby burlesquer. The group I performed with put in a call for show themes and I suggested an all Weird Al show and was promptly told NO! So I decided that the world needed to see burlesque done to the music of Weird Al and put together some of my most favorite people and pitched it to another producer and he said “…okay…?”
A lot of folks doubted that anyone would show up, but we proved them all wrong by drawing a record crowd on a Monday night!
EP: Does each performer have a specific Weird Al song they perform to, or does it change over time?
PICKLES: We all have our signature acts, the acts that stick and are tried and true. My signature act is ‘Amish Paradise’, but I have also performed to ‘I Want a New Duck’, ‘CNR’, and a very badly done, ‘Like a Surgeon’.
EP: Can any Weird Al song be used for burlesque, or are there some that are too fast, too long, or too difficult to choreograph etc?
PICKLES: I think almost any Weird Al song could be used, but we have learned some important lessons along the way. I would need to know the intention about performing to ‘FAT’. I don’t want to see anyone in a fat suit on my stage… ever. I didn’t think ‘Trapped in the Drive Thru’ was possible and then Nikita Bitch Project knocked it out of the park – with hand puppets no less! I would pay real money to see someone do ‘Albuquerque’ or ‘Six Words Long’!
ODESSA LIL: Song choice is only limited to a performer’s creative vision. A song I may be baffled by could be another performer’s signature act. Personally, I love Al’s polka medleys (‘The Hot Rocks Polka’, ‘The Alternative Polka’, ‘The Hamilton Polka’, etc), but I’d never attempt to choreograph an act to any of them for fear of heart attack or spontaneous combustion.
EP: Similarly, what’s everyone’s (including Jeff & Jonathan) favourite Weird Al song, not just for performing to, and why?
PICKLES: I really really love ‘One More Minute’. I think it’s a pretty perfect love song. I feel so bad for my fiance.
ODESSA LIL: I actually do perform to some of my favorite Al songs: Bob’, ‘Rocky Road’, ‘The Brady Bunch’. But there are so many more favourites! ‘Dare to be Stupid’ is definitely in my top 5 and could be an act coming soon.
I’m really fond of ‘Bob’ and ‘Dare to be Stupid’ because they aren’t exact parodies but rather songs written in the very-recognizable style of Bob Dylan and Devo, respectively. It shows that Al isn’t just a one-trick pony. He’s a many-trick pony.
MISTRESS MARLA SPANKX: ‘Another One Rides The Bus’ has always been a fave of mine. Since we’ve been performing together, I’ve really enjoyed watching people dance to ‘Trapped in the Drive Thru’.
JONATHAN: I was a fan of Weird Al from his ‘Eat It’ days, but the album that really unlocked his appeal to me was ‘Off the Deep End‘. As a teenager, I would listen to it on a loop on my Walkman while mowing the lawn…so ‘Smells Like Nirvana’ will always have the most special place in my heart.
JEFF: It’s hard for me to narrow it down, but ‘Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota’ is just so great. It’s an original song that tells the story of a family road trip to one of the silliest destinations one can think of, but it means so much to all of them. I just love the emotion Al brings to the saga. The song is iconic among Al’s fans, and we even went to see THE Twine Ball during the filming of our documentary. It was pretty astounding.
EP: Jeff and Jonathan, you’ve both been involved in the entertainment business for many years now, what is your connection to “Weird Al” Yankovic?
JEFF: I’ve been a Weird Al fan since childhood, when my older brothers used to sing ‘Another One Rides The Bus’. While in college in the 90s, Al’s drummer Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz emailed me thinking I was someone else, and it was the biggest mistake he ever made because I basically have never stopped bothering him.
Soon after moving to Los Angeles in 1999, I was hired to sort through Weird Al’s fan mail, and have been working in various capacities ever since. I’ve run Weird Al museums, been on an album cover and even in some crowd scenes in his recent movie ‘WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY‘. But the thing I’m most proud of surviving is writing more than 5,000 Al trivia questions for the ‘Weird Al Jeopardy’ VIP experience for his 2018 & 2022 concert tours.
JONATHAN: After meeting Jeff in 2002, his love of Weird Al was contagious and I have been along for the ride ever since.
EP: You have a Kickstarter to raise funds to get the film finalised, how can people help with that?
JONATHAN: We have been funding the documentary filming on our own since 2017, but now it’s time for us to finish putting the film together in what is often the most expensive part of the documentary process: post-production. We are raising money to pay for an editor to edit the film, as well as all of the funds we need to make the film look and sound as amazing as possible. Any little bit helps and even if you can’t contribute, spreading the word about this film and about our kickstarter is always appreciated.
JEFF: BareToBeStupid.com has all of the info you need to back our film!
EP: What’s the final date to join the Kickstarter, and what happens if you don’t raise all the money in time?
JONATHAN: The Kickstarter ends on Friday, March 10th at 10pm PST! And if we don’t raise all the money in time, we will be very very very sad…
JEFF: Yes. VERY sad. Very x 27.
JONATHAN: …but we are committed to finishing this film no matter what. Without the Kickstarter funds, the entire process of finishing the film will just take much much much longer…and we think the world needs to see this film as soon as possible.
EP: What is it about “Weird Al” Yankovic that people find so appealing after all these years?
PICKLES: It’s not just that he is a supremely talented musician, but he is one of the rare celebrities that hasn’t disappointed us in his personal life. He is good to his fans and spreads joy to the world. We need more of that.
ODESSA LIL: Al has serious staying power in our hearts and imaginations because he is shamelessly himself, and that includes his commitment to being “weird,” which is somehow all at once both edgy and wholesome. He’s the eternal outsider but also a force of positivity.
He is also a comedic perfectionist, and that makes his lyrics water-tight and indestructible.
If Jesus died for people’s sins, then Al is weird for people’s right to be nerdy. Maybe I’ve thought about this too much.
JEFF: I was just gonna say his hair, but I think Odessa’s theory is probably more correct.
EP: What’s next for Tight & Nerdy? Where can people find out more about you?
PICKLES: Baretobestupid.com and Showgalsthemovie.com! The pandemic put a grinding halt on our touring and performing but who knows what the future will bring!
ODESSA LIL: They’ll find an awful lot more about us by watching this documentary! Fund it at baretobestupid.com.
EP: Finally, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
PICKLES: Oooh, good question! We were on the road for almost a decade, so it would be nice to be asked about my favorite tour memory – but then I would have to pick one and I have so many!
JONATHAN: I have a question for Jeff…
What is the one song in the Weird Al canon that you wish more people knew about and why?
JEFF: Gah! ALL OF THEM! BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL PERFECT! But if I have to pick, I’d have to say as far as parodies go, I think ‘FOIL’ is really great. It’s on his last album, and it starts off as a classic Weird Al food-based song parody, and then just goes off the rails in a really clever way. It almost felt like an answer to everyone who ever dismissed him as just a guy who sings food songs. For Al’s originals, ‘One of Those Days’ is a favourite of mine because it’s just absurd and wonderful. The narrator sings about a series of unfortunate events such as waking up late for work, hair catching fire and nuclear annihilation – but they somehow all carry the same weight to them, and it’s so great.
Watch the proof of concept video (not a trailer!) for ‘Showgals’ below, and (please please please) support their Kickstarter here. You can find out more about everything online on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.