Quick Q+A: Mike Fotis + Strike Theater

strike theater

Even though MPLS + STPL has established scenes for comedy, storytelling, and spoken word, the different showcases frequently bounce around between a few regular venues or piggyback on other events. That’s all about to change in a big way with the launch of Strike Theater, a brand new venue in Northeast MPLS kickstarted by Allison BroerenJoe Bozic, and Mike Fotis that caters to and combines the three styles of material and performance into one cool space.

Ahead of this weekend’s grand launch and gala rewards parties at Strike, we checked in with co-founder and Director Of Fill In The Blank Awesomeness Fotis about their incredible fundraising, the weekend’s shows, their rogues gallery of initial performers, and more. 

Secrets of the City: Is the Strike Theater kickstarter—which was actually met, and even surpassed!—the most successful kickstarter of all time? What are your fundraising secrets. (Please tell us!)

Mike Fotis: It definitely the most successful kickstarter of all time…that I’ve been a part of.

Seriously though, it was successful because we’re trying to create a space for original comedic work, storytelling and spoken word. That type of space doesn’t exist and it seemed like people were excited to help make that vision come true.

How many “Mike’s sexy eating” kickstarter rewards do you need to fulfill?

About 10. I’ve recorded them a few times. One time I lost the hard drive they were on and the other time the files simply crashed. I got to get back on it. But there’s a chance my eating has gotten TOO sexy for technology to handle.

The new theater is located in the Thorp Building, also home to Tattersall Distilling. Aren’t you very, very worried that the proximity will either inhibit productivity or make you all very very creative?

So far, in my experience, it has made me VERY VERY CREATIVE.

How do you see the intersection of sketch comedians, storytellers, and poets here in MPLS + STPL, especially performance space-wise?

I think it will be really interesting and rewarding because not only is a physical space necessary to create new and fun work, but it will allow for relationships and collaborations to form that otherwise might not have. Basically when creative people are allowed to be around other creative people, really good things tend to happen.

We’re excited to finally have a theater space that can do whatever the hell it wants because it’s politically untouchable—what other favors will Strike Theater leverage out of Javier Morillo besides his opening weekend set?

Hahaha. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Javier is an amazing storyteller and partnering with the SEIU is exciting because the members of the union will have a place to tell their stories and create their work and we think that’s really important. Also, this type of partnership is unique and a sign of how arts orgs can find ways to exist and succeed in a very expensive world.

Will Strike Theater become the Sixth Humor of Four Humors’ troupe?

No, but we sure do love them and look forward to working with them a lot.

There’s a bunch of other great performers lined up for opening weekend and the vibe is going to be crazy. What are you most looking forward to? What should attendees most look forward to?

I’m most looking forward to standing in the back of the theater with Allison and Joe during the show and taking a moment to enjoy seeing something that has taken a long time to come together finally come to life. Attendees should look forward to a really fun night filled with a lineup that is weird and hilarious and amazing. It’s groups paired with groups that normally wouldn’t be paired together and I think that’s really beautiful.

Even if you didn’t back their kickstarter, tickets for the Friday and Saturday night opening night(s) festivities for brand spanking new Strike Theater are still available to you.

You can also check out our Quick Q+As with other busy bees helping to build up Twincy’s arts and culture scene here.

Twinc Cheat Sheet: It’s Just A Giant Damn Mess What Is Even Going On

Botany Coffee

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the arts and the culture and the entertainment and food and drink and the people and the places here in MPLS + STPL, so we’ve put together this list of stuff that we’re using as talking points this week and sharing them with you to pretend like they’re you’re own.


Who: The heart of the MPLS Democratic Party

Quotes from long-time DFLers in a sort of profile on Jacob Frey and the MPLS mayor’s race by Mpls.St.Paul mag made some waves at the end of last week. The lines, especially Sylvia Kaplan’s “These activists, they’re new, they’re untrustworthy”, show a deep divide between up-and-coming young activists trying to move local politics (which means moving the DFL, who run the show in Twincy) and the established guard who fund everything and have supported long-standing officials. Regardless, will Frey be the next Mayor? We guess doubtful. Since there’s instant runoff voting, we haven’t talked to anyone who has him as a second choice, which really matters.

When: This Saturday at Burgers & Rosé

The Bartmann Group is re-imagining Cafe Maude with Chef Asher Miller and you can check out the spot at their sneak peek this Saturday night. The $32 ticket includes the food and a rosé and red wine tasting, and there’s a cash bar if you want to keep drinking.

Where: Surly’s new pizza place

Speaking of food changes. Did you hear that Surly’s super famous Chef’s Table with Jorge Guzman is closing? Did you hear it’s now going to a Neapolitan pizza spot? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

What: New Coffee shops

Lots of comings and goings in the red hot world of Twincy coffee. We haven’t yet been to Northern Coffee Works (from the folks behind Angry Catfish), we’re planning on a stop soon to Cafe Astoria on Grand by West 7th, we liked the tunes at Wesley Andrews (by MCAD), and we loved the new Botany spot on 38th St that’s down the road from where the new Sisters Sludge will open and Keen Eye will close (as of today). It’s take a few cups of coffee just to get to all these places.

Why: The Bike Lanes vs. Construction debate

If anyone knows the person who said “Hey, we’ve got construction on 26th St and 28th St, let’s fully closed the parallel Franklin a few blocks away”, please let us know so we can dump a (cheap) beer on them. And guess what? You can also support bike lanes and biking while saying the construction is out of control because it is. We recommend that you still go out to stuff, just give yourself an extra 20 minutes if you want to go anywhere.


Summer Beer Dabbler Recap

summer beer dabbler

August: ’tis the season where Oktoberfests and summer shandies can hold hands in happy harmony. Both were poured in plenty at the Summer Beer Dabbler, which returned to CHS Field for its ninth year (who’s already excited for year ten, yeah?). Party guests include 135 breweries and DJ Tiiiiiiiiiip, Graveyard Club and Dwynell Roland provided the soundtrack. We sent our beer festival trend correspondent Isabelle Wattenberg so imbibe in the fun and here’s what she (mostly) remembered:

Rainy day dabblers came out poncho-ed, baseball capped and full of energy. We even saw some bare legs; it is the summer Dabbler, so we’ll be damned if we don’t drink in shorts.

Everyone was in a really good mood—attendees and brewers alike. Good vibes all around. Had a bourbon barrel-aged cherry lager that was positively mwa. Seriously smooth imperial stouts too. And Against the Grain from Kentucky, my homeland (well, one of them anyway), had a booth there: v. pleasant surprise.

Pretzel necklaces are getting out of control: string cheese, apple jacks cereal, Ziploc bags of homemade trail mix. Also spotted: one festival-er carrying around a Costco-sized jar of pretzels.

People will clap when you break your sample glass. There’s a reason sample glass coozies are now (smartly) a thing.

The foam ranneth over at several tents: We found ourselves slurping through a frothy sample numerous times. Mayhaps the staff were just in a hurry to get as many pours as possible out before the skies started to open (which they never really did).

One notable newcomer to the brewery booth lineup: spiked sparkling waters. Fizzy, sweet, and alarmingly subtle alcoholic notes.

Quick Q+A: Daniel & The Real Feels + Classic Entertainment

daniel real feels

How did local rockers Daniel & The Real Feels develop their die hard fan base? Is it their undeniably classic throwback dancey sound? Their overall good vibes? Daniel’s energetic Jagger-like moves? Likely all of the above, all coated in a generous helping of hot lick magic.

Ahead of Friday’s release party for Daniel & The Real Feels’ new album Classic Entertainment—an accurately named collection of songs that also includes a video for “City Girlfriend” directed by Alec Zender—we sent some Quick Questions over to Daniel Olson and Alec Robertson to hear more about the record, the release show, and their stretching routines.

Secrets of the City: What’s new with Classic Entertainment? Any big departures from the last album or more of the same feel good throwback groove? Please tell us that the new album still has the dance beats to keep your dance-y fans happy!

Dan: With Classic Entertainment we decided to record the majority of the music live, all together in the same room. We recorded with August Ogren who runs this awesome studio called The Petting Zoo in NE Minneapolis. It was a wonderful place for us to tap in to some of the sweaty rock and roll vibe of these songs.

Though we feel a dancey element is still found in this set of tunes, we also gave in to our love of guitar licks and vocal harmonies. We teamed up with our old friend/former bandmate/now producer/mixing master Aaron Sunde who’s got a studio based out of Los Angeles and he mixed and mastered the album. We went for an out-front vocal, high energy sound that hopefully gives a nod to power pop acts of the late 70’s early 80’s . . . we also wanted a sprinkle of a little Rocky Horror on top.

How has years of playing together affected the band and your music-creation process, if at all?

Dan: We all grew up together in Fergus Falls, MN. We tend to get sentimental about that fact and we wanted to create an album that was a true collaboration. We hope the listener can hear those deep roots as they listen to Classic Entertainment. We also brought in some fabulous guest musicians to round out the friends/family open door atmosphere.

Alec: Like Dan said, we all grew up together and we’ve also played in each other’s other projects over the years. We also all write songs on our own which I think helps us to be able to craft songs together in a fun way. I think we all really like approaching the music creation process with a sense of togetherness, goofiness, and friendship that we hope is apparent in all of these songs.

We can’t think of a better fit than D&tRFs plus Worldwide Discotheque for a feel good dance party, but you also teased some surprises, can you give us any hints?

Dan: I think a general air of romance will be wafting about in the air so don’t be surprised if you fall in love while watching some classic entertainment.

Alec: We also have Real Feels beer koozies! Oops. I’m terrible at surprises.

You’ve got a big weekend with the release party and then Ssing Ssing at the Cedar. What’s next after this or will you need a break to rest your hips?

Dan: We can’t wait to be part of the show The Cedar show. We are hoping they take us back with them to South Korea. If that doesn’t pan out we have some shows scheduled in Minneapolis, Fargo, and greater MN this fall.

Alec: I don’t think Dan has ever rested his hips. We are also starting to track for a new EP that should be out this fall so be on the lookout for that.

What’s your favorite feel?

Dan & Alec: The one we got when we received this email from Secrets Of The City . . . JOY.

Oh, those guys! You can catch the release of the new record Classic Entertainment at the Nomad on Friday. Music at 9 PM. $5 door.

Quick Q+A: Gigi B + Cherry Moon Press

prince pins

One of our favorites forms of Prince love, and the favorites of many fans and collectors, has been the enamel pins made by notable local tweeter Gigi B aka @_omgigi_ as Cherry Moon Press. On Saturday, Cherry Moon Press pops-up at B. Resale with several different pin designs—from 3121 perfume to “Purify Yourself” to the 3RDEYE look and more—and the shop will also host a guest DJ spot by Talia Knight to make the shopping trip that much more a party. Ahead of the fun, we checked in with the Pin Queen with some quick questions. 

Secrets of the City: Are you surprised at all by how much Prince’s iconography lends itself to pins?

Gigi B: Not really. Everything he did during his life was iconic and he’s just as iconic in the afterlife. He was so ahead of his time his music and style is eternal.

How did you start making the pins—was this the next natural step after winning best tweeter?

Well of course, but also I have collected pins and buttons my whole life. I have collected Prince pins and tour buttons like 10 years or so. I’ve been collecting pop culture pins for over the past year or so. I love the pin culture on Instagram everyone is so creative, but when it comes to Prince enamel pins out there I can have only so many love symbol pins. I wanted to make Prince pins I wish other people had made already so I did. I love that some of them are obscure references to very detailed, I put a lot of thought into them each and every one of them.

How hot were the First Ave gold Prince stars?

They were insane. They sold out so quick I couldn’t reorder them fast enough. I made it as my first pin because I liked it and I thought my friends would too, but I had no clue how it would take on a life of it’s own. I’ve been asked not to sell it anymore, it’s a bummer but also i’m super happy that it was my first pin that’s how most of my purple family found me!

Which is your personal favorite? The Simpsons pin?

I do love the Simpsons pin! I think it’s a cute nod to Prince’s place not only in pop culture but also meme culture as well. He was very aware of his . . . meme-ability? I don’t know if that’s a word, but you know what I mean. My favorite pin at the moment is probably 3121 perfume. I love it be cause it’s super obscure. People always say “Oh I remember that!” or “Omg Prince had a perfume?!”—I love how a little piece of jewelry can evoke an emotion like that. I believe that’s why my purple family shops with me because I am a fan just making pins and I actually put thought into the pins themselves. Many of them have massive collections and they’re so great. I wanted to add unique pieces to my own collections and feel super honored to be apart of theirs now as well. Oh I also really love Beautiful Loved Blessed. That song is from the 3121 album, it’s a great reminder no matter what’s going on in the world today we’re still those 3 things.

Are there other designs you’re looking for the future? Prince’s buns in his yellow ass-less pants? When will Jerome get the pin he deserves?

Haha, I have so many ideas and as addictive as buying pins is . . . so are getting them made! I try and put out 3-5 designs month and I’ve been open since April. I love dropping a bunch at once to give people options because we all have different tastes. I try and keep them in stock as much as I can but some have been selling out so quickly. Like the first round of that Simpsons pin for example. I had it made mostly for me and like 5 friends, if other people bought it that was a bonus. That pin sold out in less than a week! So now I make sure that’s never low in stock it was definitely a sleeper hit.

Btw, what about other non-Prince products? For example there’s no good Charlotte Flair swag, even though she’s the best athlete currently in the WWE.

Ummmmmm WRONG BUT OKAY. I will definitely make other pins. I don’t know if it would be under the name Cherry Moon Press or when it will be but I have so many ideas . . .  I’m assuming I would make another store front? I’m just not sure yet. I also am not a Charlotte fan so you’ll need to get your Charlotte fix somewhere else … WOOOOOOO 😉

1-4 PM. Free. B. Resale, 2613 Nicollet Ave, MPLS;