Q&A with Jeppa Hall aka Queen Shmooquan
Jeppa Hall’s stage act is a reflection of her determined humanity, motherhood and non-Mormon Utah upbringing. Hall started out her career as an actor, but acting made her crazy, so she quit. After meeting some groovy musicians, she starting singing—which is how she found her voice and discovered her alter ego: Queen Shmooquan, a vivid, crass character dripping with truth and absurdity. Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20, Secret location
How did Queen Shmooquan first come about?
When I was a kid, I used to torture my brother by sitting on him and hanging spit out of my mouth inches away from his face. I wouldn’t stop until he called me “Queen Jeppa.” Then in high school, my best friend and I had a long-running imaginary scenario that we acted out in the form of tea parties. Her character was named “Blipperdine” and my character was a domineering, emotionally manipulative drama queen named “Shmooquan.” Officially, “Queen Shmooquan” was born one night in 2001 when I performed a mock burlesque piece at the Rendezvous JewelBox Theater for Fricker’s Follies, a surreal, sometimes horrible, occasionally brilliant drunken vaudeville show.
What does she stand for?
Queen Shmooquan is an everyday American hero within whom lies a modern day oracle. She stands for everything that is beautiful about being human and alive, and everything wrong and gross with being a participant in our brainwashed, capitalist, sexist, racist, violent, junk-filled American culture.
The show is being promoted AS a seminar for healing. Why?
The majority of the American population is sick, physically or mentally or both. The planet is sick. I have personally experienced profound healing through laughter. Laughing and being funny feels amazing. Anyone who has had a good belly laugh has experienced the euphoria from all that fresh oxygen rushing to the brain.
You use a lot of crazy props. How do they find their way into your act?
I have found almost every one of my props at the Goodwill on Dearborn. Sometimes I go there looking for something in particular, but usually the props find me. Sometimes it’s obvious what I should do with an object. Other times, I bring it home and turn it around, looking at it from different angles. I hook it on to me somehow or put it on my head and see how it feels. A prop will find its way into my act if it gives me a brilliant idea, points me in a new direction or helps me discover a new posture or way of carrying myself.
Which one do you love the most?
My most prized prop is my homemade “weiner balls.” I first used it in a piece in which I performed a faux sexy belly dance to a Led Zeppelin song.
What surprises you in your work?
I am often surprised at how influential my upbringing is to my artistic work. My sense of humor was ingrained in me at a very young age by my young, outrageous, charismatic, daredevil father.
Photo by Steve Korn.