John Jarboe on “The Beardmobile,” an Added Velocity Spotlight Interview

Our third Added Velocity awardee spotlight is here! John Jarboe tells Roberta more about "The Beardmobile," performance and protest unit on wheels. John also talks about their musical performance piece "Rose: You Are Who You Eat," which they will perform at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on March 26th at 7:30PM! Link to buy tickets, below.

Three Drag queens pose on a stage; in the center is a Black queen in a pink wig, short and tight colorful dress, holding one hand up and the other on her hip; the other two queens stand on either side of her, turned inwards towards the center queen.
‘The Beardmobile’ Lead Artists, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, John Jarboe

Artblog announced Added Velocity‘s five 2021-2022 awardees last month – five artists awarded $15,000 in direct funding to support projects already funded under the Velocity Fund! Last week and this week, Artblog is publishing short Q&A “spotlight” interviews with each of the artists.

Below you will find our third Added Velocity spotlight with John Jarboe, lead artist for The Beardmobile, “a mobile performance and protest unit built into a 15 foot box truck.” If you missed the first two interviews with Ana Cecilia Gonzalez (Alumbra) and Yaroub Al Obaidi (Al Mudhif – A Confluence) we recommend you check those out, too.

Finally, check back next week for the final two Added Velocity artist spotlights, Diente and Sky Fo, lead artists of Choreto, and Kristal Sotomayor, lead artist of Expanding Sanctuary!

Interview with John Jarboe

Roberta Fallon: I love the community spirit of this project: While the concept of a “traveling” performance troupe is old and very successful, to collaborate with community groups or individuals in their productions and protests — in this mobile manner — seems new to me, and perfect for these times. How do you see sustaining the project long-term?

John Jarboe: We’ve been working on The Beardmobile for two years now and have produced two festivals with over fourteen partners already. This was all due to funding we received, so everything was heavily subsidized. We are still investigating the sustainability of the project, seeing if we can generate revenue through private events and parties that lets us then donate our time and resources to other orgs and artists. Added Velocity is a huge help.

Roberta: As a group previously operating without your own performance space, how does it feel to have one?

John: It’s a lot of work! It’s both a truck (so has all the needs of that) and a stage (so demands the maintenance of a venue). But The Beards and I are really proud of the truck and how it manages to amplify (quite literally) artists all around the city, while still maintaining a Bearded Ladies aesthetic and approach. The work of the venue extends far beyond the truck into our philosophies of audience care, accessible ticketing, and COVID care.

Roberta: Was this project provoked by Covid as a way to beat the isolation we’re all feeling?

John: Definitely. We were trying to adapt our annual Late Night Snacks Cabaret Festival. We were also trying to bring art directly to people as safely as possible.

Roberta: Any other thing you’d like to tell me about yourself or the project?

John: We are really excited to partner with rad artists and organizations in the Spring Summer and Fall. While the truck was a pandemic idea, it will ideally live on as a community and Beards resource for performance even when we feel comfortable being in live space again.

In the meantime, the next performance of my work and The Bearded Ladies is called Rose: You Are Who You Eat, a musical performance piece about how I ate my twin in the womb. We are doing workshop performances in Philly the first weekend of March and then taking it to The Guggenheim in NYC thanks to Works And Process on March 26th.