Northeast Times

Meet the Love Goddess

Judy Tenuta is the self-proclaimed Love Goddess and Princess of Panty Shields. An actress, comedian, author and producer, she will be performing in New Hope this weekend.

On stage: Judy Ten­uta will ap­pear at The RRazz Room, at The Ra­mada in New Hope on Fri­day and Sat­urday, May 2 and 3.

For the Times

Judy Ten­uta is the most fam­ous per­son who has ever lived. And if you don’t be­lieve it, just ask her.

And she’s even more.

“I am the Love God­dess and Prin­cess of Panty Shields,” pro­claims the wise­crack­ing, ac­cor­di­on-wield­ing Petite Flower who ex­celled dur­ing the golden age of char­ac­ter com­edy in the mid-1980s, and is sure to bring back lots of fond memor­ies when she ap­pears at The RRazz Room, at The Ra­mada in New Hope on Fri­day and Sat­urday, May 2 and 3.

An act­ress, comedi­an, au­thor, pro­du­cer and now even an or­dained min­is­ter, Ten­uta, 57, was born in Oak Park, Illinois. One of nine sib­lings, she said, “Throughout my whole child­hood, I could nev­er hear my­self talk. It wasn’t un­til I got to high school that I real­ized I had a voice.”

It was also dur­ing those high school years that she also real­ized she could act.

“Per­form­ing star­ted then, and it was really from not be­ing heard at home. But I will tell you that I had fun with my sib­lings, and my par­ents, who, though strict, were great. It was not a ter­rible child­hood at all.”

Ori­gin­ally plan­ning on be­com­ing an artist, when she went to the Uni­versity of Illinois, she de­cided she’d rather pur­sue theat­er.

“I like art,” she vo­lun­teers, “but when you’re an artist you’re isol­ated. You can paint for hours and hours and nev­er know if it’s something people will like — or buy.

“But when you do live com­edy or theat­er, you get an in­stant re­ac­tion, which I prefer. So I soon real­ized I wanted to be out there in front of an audi­ence.”

Hop­ing to be­come a per­former, at the age of 20 she moved to New York and began the round of au­di­tions.

“But they were hor­rible,” she said. “They were like cattle calls. And I didn’t want to wait in line for 70 hours just so I could end up in the back line of some chor­us. I wanted to do my own show, and so that’s what I even­tu­ally did.”

Not only did she do it, but she be­came a strong pres­ence on stage, tele­vi­sion and film while ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a large fan base.

She ap­peared in The Va­gina Mono­logues and Men­o­pause the Mu­sic­al, and has had her own stand-up com­edy spe­cials on Show­time, HBO and Life­time. In fact, Ten­uta was the first fe­male stand-up com­ic to win “Best Fe­male Comedi­an” at the Amer­ic­an Com­edy Awards, and is a two-time Grammy nom­in­ee for her com­edy CDs.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the self-de­scribed “Aph­rod­ite of the Ac­cor­di­on” has ap­peared on Gen­er­al Hos­pit­al, Corey in the House, Ma­ter­i­al Girls and much, much more. She also pro­duced and starred in her own film, Des­per­a­tion Boulevard, about a former child star who stops at noth­ing to make a comeback.

“And guess what? I even star­ted my own re­li­gion called Judy­ism. And as an or­dained min­is­ter, I can even marry people, and some­times at shows, I do. If some­body wants to get mar­ried, I’ll do it. If they want to be pun­ished like the rest of us, it’s my pleas­ure to per­form the ce­re­mony.”

Now in show busi­ness for 33 years — “Which is strange since I’m only 35!” — Ten­uta said she really en­joys when people come up to her to let her know how much they en­joy her and her shows.

“My goal is to bring joy to people. There are enough prob­lems out there for people to deal with on a daily basis. I just want to make them happy,” she con­cludes. ••

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 1-888-596-1027. 

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