Actress, director and writer Brie Henderson finds ideas in unexpected places, like Kansas City Comic Con and Menorah Medical Center.
Last year, Henderson channeled her ulcerative colitis diagnosis, a disease where the colon becomes inflamed, and colon removal into a comedic, one-woman show. The play, “Poops I Did It Again,” marked her first time performing self-written material at the Kansas City Fringe Festival.
“I did everything myself. I entered Fringe, I hustled and I got the fliers designed,” Henderson recalls. “I was going through surgery while I was doing all of that.”
Audiences connected with her perseverance and honesty. After debuting “Poops I Did It Again” in Kansas City, Henderson toured Los Angeles and New York City. No matter where she went, the same reaction awaited her-- and became her inspiration for this year’s Fringe entry, “The Taming of the Poo.”
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"People would corner me and tell me their poop stories-- like total strangers,” Henderson laughs. “So I thought, ‘You know, it might make kind of a fun show.’”
The subject material is risky and Henderson relishes the chance to break unspoken rules. Take show's cast: in an industry she calls “cliquey,” Henderson adamantly features newcomers.
“Sometimes, if you’re not in the ‘cool kids club,’ you don’t get seen or you don’t get a chance. A lot of these people are new to me. They said, ‘I haven’t been on stage,’ and I said, ‘I don’t care. This isn’t Shakespeare.’”
The cast meets and rehearses at a local law office where Henderson works. She dubs herself the “Girl Friday receptionist.” In a sea of suits and blazers, Henderson can be spotted wearing T-shirts with sassy slogans, glittery makeup and winged, butterfly eyelashes. Occasionally, she rocks a tutu.
If it sounds like a wardrobe fit for a fairy, you guessed Henderson’s latest side hustle. When she’s not rehearsing or working, she makes YouTube videos as her sometimes ditzy, always glitzy alter ego, Slutterbell, the Misfit Fairy.
In the videos, Slutterbell laments the struggles of working out, relationships and PMS, approaching everyday, human problems with a quirky, fairy twist. For example, when she’s scared, her hair turns white. The videos incorporate friends, her mom and her pet pig, all with fictional fairy names. Recently, 90.9 the Bridge D.J. Irish Dave acted as her therapist.
Henderson's alter ego stemmed from a spontaneous trip to Kansas City Comic Con, where she stumbled upon cosplay models “standing around looking bored.” She saw the opportunity to bring a different spin to the genre.
Though Henderson hopes to get sponsors and perform at events as Slutterbell, for now, she’s just trying it out. Her attitude toward her showing at this year’s Fringe Fest is no different.
“Fringe is a testing ground. And Kansas City’s great, because it’s not judgy… this is a good, loving environment where you can say, ‘Okay, this joke didn’t land. We’ll take that out and rework the script,’” she says.