New York has an amazing pool of burlesque MCs, all with unique personalities and their own cults. Today we'll have a quickie with everyone's showbiz heartthrob, Mr. Murray Hill.
The first time I saw you at a burlesque show was a Pontani Sisters show at the Slipper Room in either 2002 or 2003. What was your first burlesque MC gig? Did you expect to be MCing so many burlesque shows?
Ahh, the old days...and who can remember all the details! I don't remember my first burlesque hosting gig per se, but I was doing The Murray Hill Show in the late 90's and Dirty Martini was my first showgirl guest. How could I forget her. She is the first burlesque performer I saw in NYC uptown at the supperclub, I suppose it was true love right from the beginning.
Hosting burlesque shows seems like a natural fit (no pun intended) for me...I'm an old-school kinda guy, and burlesque is from the old vaudeville days. Back then, comics and burlesque girls were always on the same bill. I loved seeing the Don Rickles documentary and hear him talk about the Vegas showrooms. He got his start doing comedy bits in between burlesque performers.
I love the ladies, they love me, it just works. They also let me backstage...that keeps me coming back.
How did you develop the Murray Hill persona?
It developed me! Or maybe more accurately, it enveloped me!
You do more than burlesque MCing. What are some of your other frequent gigs?
I make sure to always work different scenes and to be in front of new audiences all the time. Keeps me fresh and challenges me. I do comedy clubs, call Bingo numbers, appear in plays, TV, movies, host annual events, holiday shows, homosexual pageants...you name it, I do it! They don't call me the hardest-working middle-aged man in show business for nothing.
How was the tour and the New Orleans event? Can you tell us about a few of your favorite gigs?
I really enjoyed all the shows and all the new cities I got to check out, but my favorite gig was with Dita Von Teese and the most hopping city was New Orleans. Oh boy, the audiences for those shows were off-the-charts...well-dressed, loaded, and gorgeous. They were so welcoming and were ready to be entertained. I didn't have to do any ice-breaking, it was all heat from the second I hit the boards. I truly admire Dita's show-womanship, it's a great thrill to see her dazzle and tease from the wings of the stage. Dita Von Teese is like UPS in two ways....she's a package and she delivers.
The New York Burlesque Festival is coming up this fall. You've been hosting at it every year since it began in 2003,correct? Is there anything about the Festival you particularly enjoy?
I look forward to the NYBF every year to see all of New Yorkers in one place together! It's like a high-school burlesque reunion.
What's next for Murray Hill?
Trying to quit eating Swedish Fish. Showbiz! I'll be announcing a debut Off-Broadway show in the coming months! Until then, I'll be hitting the boards all over the country and in the concrete jungle.
What is a gig you haven't yet done that you'd like to do?
I'd love to host the Oscars and and a late night talk show like Johnny Carson, the master!
What advice would you give to would-be burlesque MCs?
The most important part of MCing, in my opinion, is the audience. The audience is #1 in my book. They are the reason we are all there, and that is the essence of entertainment. First thing I do is engage the audience, put them at ease, get them involved in the fun and set the tone for the night. If this is missed in the first minutes of any show, it's an uphill battle all night, and I'd rather have it be a Murray Hill night!
Murray's Showbiz Website!
Photos used with Murray's permission. Photo credits pending.
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