Photo Credit: Ana Maria Hernandez
Canadian born comedian and artist Jacq Frances moved to New York City in 2012 where she began performing and producing works under her stage name, Jacq the Stripper. Her first book, The Beaver Show: The Crass and Inspiring Saga of an Enterprising Megababe (2015) launched her career as a multidisciplinary artist, storyteller and entrepreneur.
Using her wit, illustrative proclivities and million-dollar smile, Frances brought joy and levity to the misunderstood life and work of strippers everywhere. After meeting a washed-up comedian during the day shift in Times Square, she set her sights on stand-up comedy, producing and headlining Venus Fly Trap, a monthly comedy show in New York City’s Greenwich Village from 2014-2020. She went on to publish STRIPTASTIC! A Celebration of Dope-Ass Cunts who Like Money (2017) and How to Not Be a Dick in a Strip Club: A Patron’s Guide (2017) among others before being invited to act in and consult on the film Hustlers (2019) starring Jennifer Lopez. This would change everything.
Frances now lives in Los Angeles and is publishing works, films, and art through her independent studio and art collective, Art Camp Productions. Divorced in Paradise – Frances’ 6th book and 4th comedy tour – is officially available for purchase as she tours across the US & Canada. Her first film, Tuesdays with Brian, which she wrote, starred in, directed and executive produced, premieres this fall.
We caught up with Jacq to dive into her inspiration for the book and how tour is going so far!
1) Jacq! We are thrilled to be interviewing you today. How is tour going and which city has been your favorite spot so far?
Thank you! I’m so happy to be making your acquaintance. The tour has been wild and wonderful; everything all at once. Each city has its own charm, but I really felt a lot of love and support from Portland, as I have for many years. Portland is weird and down to clown, and very supportive of the arts.
2) So you just released your 6th book. Can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to write the book and how the creative process either differed or stayed the same as compared to your previous books?
The book is called Divorce Illustrated: A Fairy Tale for Toxic Femmes. It’s an amalgam of watercolor, portraiture and collage. My art saves my life every day. Divorce is really challenging and stressful, and a great way to deal with stress is through art. The book is a collection of the art I made that helped me leave a really toxic situation. Sometimes it’s hard to speak the truth, but rendering it with arts and crafts is both relaxing and cathartic. This book is totally different from my other ones, as the mediums have changed, but the sentiment is always the same: just do it. Let it come out of you. It’ll make sense when it’s done.
3) LGBTQ+ marriages are beginning to join divorce statistics – can you expand on your thoughts about why we’re seeing more LGBTQ+ divorces now more than ever before?
50% of marriages end in divorce. The other 50% end in death. The average marriage is 8 years, and DOMA was overturned 9 years ago, so statistically speaking, gays are just average. We got the right to marry which also grants us the right to a divorce, too.
4) Your book includes watercolors, photography and collages – why do you choose to incorporate a visual element to your work as well?
I’ve always been a visual artist, since I was 2 years old when my mum got me a watercolor set in my stocking for Christmas. Art is how I relax, how I spend time with myself. Writing is also art. I write with my paints. To me, writing and painting are one in the same: creative self-expression.
5) If you’re comfortable expanding on it, what about your divorce made you want to celebrate it rather than the typical approach of sweeping it under the run or staying silent? Was it important for you to confront the taboo around divorce rather than running away from it?
Leaving a toxic relationship should be celebrated. It’s so common, and being ashamed of it only perpetuates the stigma and doesn’t help us get free. It’s important to talk about it. It’s important to highlight how freeing it is to say no, and to choose yourself.
6) What are you hoping readers and fans get out of your book? How are you hoping to make an impact?
I hope they are inspired to make their own art and to leave their own toxic relationships if they find themselves in one. I really just want us all to be free. I just make art because I have to. It’s who I am. The impact isn’t really up to me. All I can do is be myself and how people react is beyond my control.
7) What is next for you? Do you have any plans post-comedy tour that you’re willing to discuss?
I’m going to make gay action movies. My first film, Tuesdays with Brian, debuts this fall. I can’t wait to share it with the world.