Pandora Scooter
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Pandora Scooter

New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | SELF

New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2003
Solo Spoken Word Comedy

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"The Rap on Intolerance"

The rap on intolerance
Sexuality a hot topic for spoken-word artist Scooter

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hip-Hop: Out, Loud & Proud

BY JAY LUSTIG

STAR-LEDGER STAFF

Pandora Scooter is both a spoken-word artist and an activist. She will combine these interests Saturday at "Hip-Hop: Out, Loud & Proud," an evening of spoken-word and rap performances that will take place at the Chase Room of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Scooter, who lives in Middlesex County, explored her sexuality and railed against homophobia on her 2004 album "Carpe Dyke," and hosts an open-mic night called "Out of the Box" on the third Friday of every month at the Pride Center of New Jersey in North Brunswick. She organized "Hip-Hop: Out, Loud & Proud" as a showcase for artists of varying sexual orientations and an opportunity to encourage tolerance.

We spoke to Scooter, who will host the event and also perform, and ShadoKat, of Scotch Plains, another performer. Joining them will be Tim'm T. West, t'ai freedom ford, River Huston, and Deadlee.

Q. What was your thinking in putting together this lineup?

A. (Scooter) Since everybody's pieces are going to be dealing with sexuality in one way or another, it was important to me that we got a diverse grouping. We have the gamut in backgrounds, we have the gamut in styles, we have the gamut in sexual orientations. We're going to have an audience participation element as well, and a panel discussion with the artists.

Q. What topics do you think will come up?

A. (Scooter) I was just reading this interview with Deadlee, and they were asking him about being an out hip-hop rapper, and how that's affected his career, and whether or not he's gotten props for that. And he was saying he thought he was going to get mad props for it, but it turned out ... not so much. There are some people who are really down with it, but a lot of people who are hating.

Dealing with sexuality, and doing a night like this where you have a conversation going on between different artists through their work, I would imagine that that's going to generate some response from the audience about what their thoughts are about hip-hop and spoken-word and sexuality.

Q. The subject matter wouldn't seem that unusual for a spoken-word show. But when you add the hip-hop element, it seems really provocative.

A. (ShadoKat) If we do a spoken-word thing, it's like a safe haven, and not really addressing it to the people who need to hear it. It would be like doing a rally about social change within a cadre of people who are into social change. Something like this is making people address it more head-on. Especially within the hip-hop community, where it's taboo.

Q. Will there be, as part of this show, straight artists?

A. (Scooter) Yeah, ShadoKat.

(ShadoKat) A lot of times it comes a little better from someone who is straight, to access that topic, and change their mind a little bit.

Q. To what extent will the show involve music?

A. (Scooter) There will definitely be some (backing) tracks. I know Deadlee uses tracks -- he's definitely a hard-core rapper. Do you use tracks?

(ShadoKat) I won't at this show, but I do here and there, depending on what kind of show it is, and what I'm looking to perform.

Q. I know you do spoken-word, but do you see yourself as a hip-hop artist?

A. (ShadoKat) Definitely. I consider hip-hop to be a culture that includes music and dance, and poetry and spoken-word, and a million other things. My style is so significantly influenced by hip-hop that I don't think I could be classified as anything else.

Q. Pandora, do you see yourself as a hip-hop artist?

A. (Scooter) I do. I feel like I've been hugely influenced by hip-hop artists. NWA was like the (ultimate) for me. And Tupac, and Ice-T, and Queen Latifah.

Q. Have you ever done more traditional hip-hop?

(Scooter) No. My thing is very much about being pared down. About me and a mic and the audience.

Q. If part of the goal of this is to encourage the hip-hop world to start thinking about these issues ... is it really possible to do that in an underground way?

A. (ShadoKat) Definitely. Hip-hop is so influenced by what goes on on lower levels -- not necessarily on national TV and everything like that. Artists or DJs talk about what's in the streets, and what the streets are talking about. What goes on under the radar has a huge influence on the culture, overall.

(Scooter) It's a person-by-person kind of thing.

Q. As a hip-hop fan, have you been put off by the way some hip-hop artists deal with sexuality?

(Scooter) Yeah. But I get annoyed at television in the same way, because it tries to distill everything down to this uber-simple 22-minute package. I think life is more complex than that. On the same tip ... I tend not to shun an artist entirely just because he or she has said one thing that's pissed me off.

It just makes me louder when I hear somebody say something like "I ain't no fag," or putting down queer folks, or women -- or putting down anybody, really. I just figure, I have to put my stuff out there to balance it out, so that the people who are looking for that message get that message, too.

Jay Lustig may be reached at jlustig@starledger.com

Who: with Pandora Scooter, ShadoKat, Tim'm T. West, t'ai freedom ford, River Huston, Deadlee

Where: The Chase Room at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, One Center St., Newark

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

How much: $16. Call (888) 466-5722 or visit www.njpac.org - Star Ledger (NJ)


"Baraka Sele, VP of Programming"

Our audience was blessed by Pandora's performance here at NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center). She is absolutely awesome!
- Personal Statement


"Cheryl King, Producer & Artistic Director - Stage Left Studio"

Pandora Scooter presented "Samuraization" in my theater in January of 2006, in a six-week run that grew to 8 weeks, due to popular demand. Pandora is an incisive thinker, a philosopher, and a humorist. She presents deep insights with a wink, and provocative questions with gentleness. Her tongue-in-cheek imitation of Yukio Mishima is hilarious, and yet her respect for this towering figure is palpable. It is delightful to see our American shyness regarding death confronted, and Pandora does it with style. Pandora is a consummate professional, always prepared, and always adaptable to whatever circumstances surround her performance. Additionally, and importantly, she always filled up the theater with happy audience members. I could not ask for a more satisfying relationship than the one I have with Pandora Scooter. - Personal Statement


"FEAR JUNKIE"

Pandora Scooter...masterfully entertains.

The editors highlighted my show, FEAR JUNKIE, as one to go see. - nytheatre.com


"Out in Front"

Pandora was featured as a woman who is "OUT IN FRONT" by Curve Magazine, a magazine with national distribution. The article, titled SEX and DEATH, featured her work in raising consciousness for the similarities that bring us together as human beings. - CURVE MAGAZINE


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

WHO. Winner of the SpokenKnowledge 2008 DNC Contest for her anti-racism piece "Other." Cast in reality spoken word television show, RELE. Endorsed by International Folk Poet Alix Olson and hailed as a Spoken Word Rock Star, Pandora Scooter has performed in NYC, Washington DC, Jackson, MI, Richmond, VA, Boston, San Francisco and, most recently, she brought down the house in Austin, TX. She also features at New Jersey Performing Arts Center every year in HIP HOP: Out, Loud and Proud. Writer of five solo-shows, hailed by nytheatre.com as a "masterful entertainer" and by Out in Jersey as "a Force of Nature."

Pandora Scooter entertains, inspires and makes people laugh til it hurts. Pandora is also an unyielding advocate for peace amongst all people and carries this message throughout her work both the hilarious and the sober.

Pandora identifies as a QUEERMAMASAPIEN, and is pro-people, in all their glorious individualizations. She speaks fluidly and lucidly on behalf of misfits and 'fits,' of all walks and talks. Her hilarious spoken-word rhymes and rants thrill and inspire audiences up and down the East Coast. She's been put into categories including everything from stand-up comedy to hip-hop to folk poet to performance artist. Her work defies conventional labels, just as she does herself.

And hands-down, she's the funniest Atheist/Amerasian/Dyke spoken word artist you've ever seen.

WHAT. She has performed at venues including: New Jersey Performing Arts Center (the sixth largest Performing Arts Center in the USA) for Planet Hip Hop 2 & 3, as well as for HIP HOP: OUT, LOUD & PROUD, a sold-out show she conceived of, curated and hosted. Baltimore Pride 2005, Mississipi's OUToberfest 2005, Capitol Rainbowfest (Trenton, NJ's Pride Celebration), Cornelia Street Cafe's Pink Pony Series (NYC), Nuyorican Youth Slam (NYC), Phase 1 (Washington DC), TruthSerum.Org at the Milky Way Lounge (Boston) as well as featuring at numerous open-mics throughout New Jersey and Philadelphia.

On the college/high school circuit, Pandora has performed at George Washington Univesrity, NYU, Farmingdale State College (NY), Rutgers, Newark; Rutgers, New Brunswick, Mercer County College, Brookdale Community College (all NJ), Millenium High School & Manhattan Marymount College (NYC), Solebury School (HS, New Hope, PA) Boston University, James Madison University (VA), and University of Connecticut.

Pandora's two solo shows, FEAR JUNKIE and SAMURAIZATION have played to crtical and box office success. FEAR JUNKIE: An Exploration of Fear, Consumerism and Why I Sleep with the Lights On, was developed at New York Theatre Workshop's Larson Lab and then went on to short runs at Where Eagles Dare Theatre Company and Asbury Park Black Box Theatre. The show earned a star rating for being noteworthy from the editors of nytheatre.com.

SAMURAIZATION: One Woman Learns to Have her Sushi and Eat It, Too was developed at Asbury Park Black Box Theatre, went on to an extended run in New York City's Stage Left Studios and then moved to Rahway, NJ where it was presented by Joe Mancuso in association with the Union County Arts Center at El Bodegon's Salon space. SAMURAIZATION won Pandora a grant to support its development and production from the Puffin Foundation.

Influences include Carol Burnett, Eddie Izzard, Margaret Cho, Dr. Seuss, Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner, Ellen Degeneres, Laurie Anderson, Arrested Development, Bertolt Brecht, Tracy Chapman, Caryl Churchill, Ani DiFranco, T.S. Eliot, Maggie Estep!, ICE-T, Quincy Jones, Charlie Mingus, Alanis Morrissette, N.W.A., Suzan Lori Parks, Prince, Reno, and Tennessee Williams.

WHY. I believe the world needs as much connection between people as possible. I'm out here to connect with as many people as I can - and to let people know it's ok to connect with each other. To let them know that it's ok to be everything they are and want to be - in all the complexities and confusions that make life what it is: one big, crazy, beautiful messy love storm.

Band Members