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Columbia College Chicago
Tamale Sepp
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Tamale Sepp

Spring 2009 Student Fellow
Chicago, IL

Tamale Sepp
Photo by: ASquared Photography

Tamale Sepp is a comic performer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago. She holds a BS in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Technology Management from the University of Arizona, and was the first person to graduate with honors in either major.  She earned her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago and was awarded the Departmental Merit Award upon entry.  Tamale explores performance through her comedy, gender performance, movement based work, and multi-media installations that explore gender, ritual, and social themes.

A graduate of Second City’s Conservatory and the I.O. Chicago training center, she writes her own material and uses improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy to inform her work.  Curve Magazine named her America’s Seventh Funniest Lesbian in America for 2008.  In 2004, Tamale premiered her first one-woman show entitled Painted Mirrors to a sold-out crowd.

In addition to comedy, Tamale explores performance through gender expression.  She performs burlesque with countless local and international dancers and troupes, including the Sissy Butch Brothers, Chicago’s first queer burlesque troupe.  In 2007, the Sissy Butch Brothers made history with two sold-out shows at the Vic Theater where Tamale and Margaret Cho shared a stage.  History was also made at both The International Drag King Extravaganza and The Great Big International Drag King Show, where Tamale was the first femme to host either event, and bring fire performance to their stages.

Her movement-based work includes fire dancing and tribal belly dance.  Her work in this area earned her an invitation to perform with and host the Temple of Poi Civic Center Showcase, a groundbreaking fire show in San Francisco.  She was named one of Chicago’s Top 30 under 30 twice by the Windy City Times, one of the top five gay people to know in Chicago by the Chicago Reader in 2007, and she is the Official Comedy Gal for the L Stop, Chicago’s premiere community for Chicago Lesbians.  Her interdisciplinary work in 2009 earned her the Albert P. Weisman Award at Columbia College for her project entitled Bound and Determined, and inclusion in the Manifest Festival as part of the TIC TOC performance showcase.

Her collaborative work includes “The Lola Project”, a full length drag and burlesque show based on themes of industrialization and immigration in 1920’s Chicago; The Windy City Blenders, an international outreach project building bridges with queer performers overseas; and various smaller projects with producers seeking her artistic partnership.  During her Fellowship, she furthered her study in numerous areas of interest, further developed her second one-woman show, and completed her MFA thesis Bound and Determined.  A full-length performance was added to the multi-disciplinary project, adding an additional element to the sculptural, installation, and projected media elements of the existing piece.


Sepp has recently performed in various showcases throughout the country including: the Windy City Burlesque Festival, Queer Queens of Qomedy in Chicago, Tamale Presents LOL (with Vickie Shaw and Julie Goldman), Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, FemmeCon2010, and with queer artist “Bitch”. Sepp has also appeared at the Dublin Lesbian Arts Festival as the international guest of honor and the International Drag King Extravaganza in Tucson, Arizona. In 2010, Sepp completed her MFA program at Columbia College Chicago. Her graduate thesis has been presented at IDKE (the International Drag King Extravaganza), DLAF (Dublin Lesbian Arts Festival), and was showcased at the Leather Archives and Museum as part of International Mr. Leather.  Currently, she is running for International Ms Leather and making a documentary about the experience while continuing to build her comedy career.  She is scheduled to graduate from Annoyance Theaters improv comedy training program in June of 2011.

For more info on Tamale, visit: www.tamalerocks.com