A Queer Cardboard Community



A beard is only as strong as its wiriest hair, and the company's family features some of the wiriest hairs out there.

The Beards are grateful to work with such talented directors, artisans, and performers and to be supported by its close circle of stakeholders. To grow that long, luxurious Beard you need the support of some good folks. Thank you to the people who help keep us in glitter & hair care products.

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ASSociate Artists

US (Anthony Martinez Briggs)
Cookie-Diorio-by-Caio-Bruno_late-night-snacks (1)
PC_ Cass_Meehan_Jcondagreensparkle
mary get pegged (1)
Rebecca Kanach
Messy Doula

ANTHONY MARTINEZ-BRIGGS is a 2018 F. Otto Haas Award finalist, Wilma HotHouse company member, curator (Asian Arts Initiative; Bearded Ladies; ILL DOOTS), teaching artist (PYP, Wilma Education, Village of Arts and Humanities), actor/deviser (Applied Mechanics, Ninth Planet; Bearded Ladies; and the Wilma Theater, among others), writer (2019 theater residency: Kimmel Center; Code Blue, Code Black Planet, and co-adaptation of Romeo and Juliet: Wilma Theater; Bearded Ladies Follicle grant recipient for UNTITLED), and Barrymore Award-nominated sound designer (Arden Theater, Simpatico Theater, Passage Theater, Swarthmore College, & Bienvenidos Blancos: Team Sunshine Corp). They are also known as “Us”: emcee and original member of the band ILL DOOTS, seen at The Wilma Theater in An Octoroon and in Flashpoint Theater’s Hands Up: 6 testaments, 6 playwrights (Barrymore for Original Music) as well as music venues across Philadelphia and the US. Their most recent albums The Mess and 'age' are available on all streaming platforms. Stay tuned in at and follow @ILLDOOTS on social media.

COOKIE DIORIO is a Philadelphia-based drag performer, a classically trained vocalist, a songwriter, an activist, a husband, music teacher and lover of all things sparkly. She mastered walking in 5 inch stilettos in the night clubs of Boston, achieved her hair fantasy by studying vintage videos of Grace Bumbry and founded the giving project Art of the Heel. Cookie grew up in historic Auburn, NY with gospel in her ears, civil rights in her blood and many songs in her heart. She trained at Ithaca College in the voice studio of Angus Godwin and learned the many different skills of western classical music from master teachers such as Carol McAmis in vocal pedagogy, Lawrence Doebler in choral arts, Dana Wilson in composition and Patrick Hansen in opera coaching. While Cookie has been in and out of the drag scene since 2002, she began performing regularly in the Philadelphia area as host of the Art Song Repertory Theater Company’s salon series “Saturday Afternoon Drinking Songs” in 2013. Since, she has produced the shows Fire In My Bones: A Gospel Jubilee, Beauty From Our Sorrows, Telling Herstories, Forces of Nature, Music: The Food of Love and I, Too, Sing America. She has also been soloist for events, galas, concerts and on the cabaret stage.

DANIEL DE JESÚS is a painter, composer, and songwriter versed in the worlds of visual & sonic tapestries. de Jesús’ work follows medieval and baroque archetypes, infused with Latin American stylings with a penchant for Pre-Raphaelite yearnings. de Jesús finds inspiration from historical figures like mystics, scholars, artists, and martyrs; all of these are their muses.

Daniel de Jesús has nine studio recordings of their music and performs with orchestras and rock bands in the region and worldwide. Their current projects include collaborations with painter and performance artist David Antonio Cruz, singer-songwriter Courtlyn Carr, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Pig Iron Theater, and play writer, Andrew Albert García.

JACKIE SORO is a Philadelphia-based artist, performer, and teacher. Her onstage work centers largely in the feminist performance art sphere, in collaboration with local artists and theater companies to create both original ensemble works and solo performances. Her recent projects include Ninth Planet Theater Company’s collaborative film project honey honey, Killjoys Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House (Icebox Project Space), The Bearded Ladies Cabaret‘s original musical Contradict This! A Birthday Funeral for Heroes (LaMama Experimental Theater), and The Arden Theater Company's Barrymore Award-winning production of Fun Home (Joan). Offstage, Jackie creates jewelry and fiber art under the moniker @glamatronix, writes zines and comics, and coaches young adults in music and performance with Girls Rock Philly.

JESS CONDA is a Philadelphia based performer, producer, teaching artist and cultural connector. From 2003-2013, Jess performed with BRAT Productions, a former non-profit theater company known for their influence on Philadelphia's early "Fringe" performance scene. From 2013-2017, she worked as Artistic Director, serving a mission to produce original rock-theater performance while providing creative opportunities for emerging Philadelphia artists. In 2019, Jess co-hosted The Barrymore Awards, a nationally recognized award program for professional theater productions in the Greater Philadelphia area. As a performer, her Regional Theater Performance credits include: Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Pig Iron Theatre, Shakespeare in Clark Park. Cabaret Performance credits: Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Martha Graham Cracker, The Peek A Boo Revue. Touring backing vocals: Peter Matthew Bauer; opener for The War on Drugs and Delta Spirit. Jess is a three-time Barrymore nominee for Outstanding Ensemble in a Play. In 2019, she received a Barrymore Nomination for Outstanding New Play for Those With Two Clocks (then known as A Hard Time), co-written by Conda, Mel Krodman and OBIE Award winner Jenn Kidwell for Pig Iron Theatre Company. Jess was one of Philadelphia Magazine's Best Stage Talents to See This Season, 2013. She is currently Learning and Unlearning while working both an artist and as a K-8 Educator. She lives on the unceded Lenni Lenape land currently known as Philadelphia.

MK TUOMANEN is a performer and writer who has been working with the Beards for 10 years. Beards credits include No Regrets: A Piaf Affair, Bastille Day, Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, Andy: A Popera, Bitter Homes And Gardens, Bearded Barnes, Do You Want A Cookie and a writer for Contradict This! MK's plays include Peaceable Kingdom, Saint Joan Betrayed, Hello! Sadness! and Marcus/Emma or Marcus Garvey And Emma Goldman Have Hot Hot Sex. They are the recipient of the Haas Emerging Artist Award, The Virginia Brown Martin Award, and a commission from the Toulmin Foundation. They are a company member of Applied Mechanics ( and lives in West Philly with a cat named Sarge.

REBECCA KANACH is a Barrymore Award-winning costume designer. In New York, her work has been seen at the Lincoln Center, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, La MaMa, The New Ohio, and Joe’s Pub. Regionally, her work has been seen at companies including The Arden Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre, The Wilma Theater, Opera Philadelphia, and Bristol Riverside Theatre. Academic work includes designs with Swarthmore University, Rutgers-Camden Campus, and Temple University. Rebecca is the co-founder and resident costume designer of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, and a company member of Lightning Rod Special, whose performance of The Appointment was listed as one of the New York Times’ Best Theater of 2019.

VERONICA CHAPMAN SMITH is a classically trained soprano who has performed with opera companies and orchestras across the country while keeping firm roots in her hometown of Philadelphia. Veronica has sung roles with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Birmingham, Opera Philadelphia, and Opera Colorado to name a few. Veronica can be heard as part of the ensemble The Crossing on the Grammy award-winning recording for Best Choral Performance, Gavin Bryars: The Fifth Century (2018) and the Grammy nominated recording of Julia Wolfe’s Fire In My Mouth (2020).

While Veronica acknowledges that it has been a privilege to be part of many wonderful productions and organizations, the lack of representation and true equity in the classical world has caused her to start using her voice in exploration of her Black identity within a predominantly White artform. Veronica uses classical music and historic speeches and quotes to create performances that speak to her experience as a black woman in the world.

MESSAPOTAMIA LEFAE (she/her) is queer cabaret artist based in Philadelphia, PA. Through personal monologue, lip sync, contemporary dance, devised one-on-one performance, vulnerability and comedy, Messy cultivates unique opportunities for audience members to receive individual attention, empathy, caregiving, belonging, romance, raunch, selfishness, joy, unconditional love, and permission to let go. Her work is avant-garde and designed to heal trauma, build self-esteem, generate love, encourage gender freedom, nurture queer community, and validate trans feelings.
In the 2022 Fringe Festival, Messy created one-on-one Peep Show performances at the Bearded Ladies’ Late Night Snacks Cabaret in collaboration with John Jarboe, Jo Vito Ramirez, Liz Atkinson, and Bless Rudisill, which connected her with dozens of individuals via headphones and direct eye contact through a peephole. In the 2019 Fringe Festival, Messy and designer Christopher Ash created immersive, projection-assisted performances inside a vintage camper at the Bearded Ladies’ Late Night Snacks Cabaret. Messy has performed with the Beards in Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary, Color Me Bearded at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Do You Want a Cookie? in the 2018 Fringe Festival.


Though the Beards appreciate spontaneity and improv as much as the next theater troupe that practices an art form based largely on spontaneity and improv, we also appreciate having a home.

And though our native turf is Philadelphia, we wouldn’t be able to grow and evolve without the support of our longterm hosts and sponsors. While the Bearded Ladies try to mine a wide range of material from the cultural milieu of each of their productions, they also attempt to capture the spirit of their partnering institutions and hosts. Whether it’s championing a populist voice before the walls of Eastern State Penitentiary on Bastille Day or pushing the boundaries as operatic auteurs in Andy: A Popera, the stages that host the Beards provide an influential sense of support that runs deep.

The Wilma Theater


The Philadelphia Museum of Art


Opera Philadelphia


Eastern State Penitentiary



The Barnes Foundation