A few years back, Amanda Knisely papered Athens, GA with flyers in an effort to attract kindred spirits who might want to help her put on a burlesque show. She advertised for jugglers, singers, dancers, magicians–the only stipulation was “no animals and no kids,” a rule we stick to even now. Amanda (now known as Miss Effie) had no idea if anyone would even show up to that first meeting. As it turns out, there were quite a few talented folks in town interested in sharing their, ahem…assets with our fair city. The date of that first meeting–January 16, 2005–is what we consider the birthday of Effie’s Club Follies.
The first ever Effie’s Club Follies show was in May of that year at what was then known as Club Ritz in downtown Athens. The show had a vaudeville flair, incorporating singing, dancing, juggling, magic, and of course, burlesque numbers. Over 400 people were in attendance, and the feedback was incredible. Those of you who have followed our antics since those early days know that our first endeavors were themed shows, complete with huge sets that we labored over for weeks. Gradually we began to lose the more vaudeville/variety acts to concentrate on burlesque performance. We did some regional touring, which involved us all piling into a rented cargo van, holding our costumes and props on our laps, and singing along to Bon Jovi for hours on end. We operated much like community theatre, in that any money brought in from performing went to finance the next show. We even started an annual Chili Cook Off to help pay production costs on shows (well, and because we really like chili). Performers have come and gone within the troupe as people began new careers, started families, or just plain decided to hang up their boas.
The last couple of years have been great for us. We were able to rent a rehearsal space of our very own, which was a pretty big deal after years of practicing in kitchens and basements. We found an Atlanta home at The Village Theatre, and we can’t even begin to express our gratitude to the incredibly talented and funny people there. We’ve even been able to take home a little money now and then from performing. We’ve gained new fans and friends along the way, and we adore each and every one of you.
Some of the performers you’ve grown to know and love are leaving Effie’s to work on a new project, and we wish them all the luck, sparkles, and false eyelashes in the world in their new endeavor. As soon as they get up and running we’ll let you know where you can find them. It’s like getting two great groups of performers for the price of…two great groups of performers! More troupes putting on shows can only mean more fun for audiences!
The remaining members of Effie’s Club Follies have decided to rejuvenate our approach as performers by trying some new ideas AND taking some cues from our history as a troupe. We’ve realized that, while we’ve had an amazing journey so far, some of our most rewarding experiences have been from shows that were produced to benefit others. We put on a benefit show for Project Safe back in 2007 that raised over $1400 to help victims of domestic violence. In 2008 and 2009 we performed in the annual Boybutante Ball to benefit AIDS Athens. Effie’s has always been a group of performers collaborating to put on a show. We believe there’s a way to combine the type of performance that we love with our desire to not only give back to the community that has supported us, but also to reaffirm and enhance the collaborative spirit in which Effie’s was founded.
And to that end, Effie’s Club Follies is taking a little time to regroup, revitalize, and put together our next show. We’ll still bring you the types of bawdy, irreverent, and downright weird burlesque numbers you’ve either come to love or at least be less frightened of. But we’re also looking to bring something new to the party. Our goal is to return to our origins and develop the style of themed shows we were initially known for; however, this time a portion of the proceeds from each show will be donated to a specific non-profit group. We hope to act as producers for other types of performances around town as well, and we’ll be looking for folks to get involved! Please stay tuned for a redesign to our website, as well as further announcements about upcoming events.
We’re proud of where we’ve been, and we can’t wait to see where we’re going. Thank you for your continued support of Effie’s Club Follies. And we mean that from the bottom of our glittery, pasties-and-g-string wearing hearts.