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2024-02-27 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine How Ryan Raftery is Bringing Anna Wintour, Martha Stewart, and Kris Jenner Together

How Ryan Raftery is Bringing Anna Wintour, Martha Stewart, and Kris Jenner Together

Ryan Raftery as Martha Stewart
Photo courtesy of Ryan Raftery

Drama dynamo Ryan Raftery is a man of many famous faces. He has written and performed one-man shows lampooning everyone from Ivanka Trump and Calvin Klein to Andy Warhol. With the help of costumes, wigs, impeccably accurate makeup and weeks of exhaustive research, Raftery embodies these well-known figures. His fantastical musical mini biographies of each celebrity are part Carol Burnett with Broadway razzamatazz and a dose of vintage SNL humor. “I don’t think of myself as an impressionist,” Raftery tells me on the eve of his opening night. “But I think I nail their personas on stage.”

The New York Times calls Raftery “the Shakespeare of pop culture.” A diehard New Yorker, the performer is bringing three of his most popular characters — Martha Stewart, Anna Wintour, and Kris Jenner — together in his new show, the Titans of Media Trilogy.

Raftery as Anna Wintour
Photo courtesy of Ryan Raftery

Why this trio of women?
Anna was my very first show. I took a job as an assistant at Coach in PR and one day, we had to bring the collection to Vogue.  I can remember the feeling of the air being disturbed throughout the office, knowing that Anna was on the other side of the door where we were sitting. I was inspired to write a show about someone who holds that amount of power over an industry and more widely our culture. When she put Kim and Kanye on the cover of Vogue there was a massive backlash against her. People said she should be fired, which made my ears prick up as a writer. That’s what my Anna Wintour musical is all about — Anna finding out that her boss wants to see her at the end of the day, and she spends the length of the show ruminating about her career and choices.

Martha always fascinated me as someone who sold attainable perfection and the fact that she went to prison literally gave her story a Shakespearean angle. I researched the hell out of her. Kris Jenner might be the one of the most influential marketing minds of our time. Right up there with PT Barnum, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs. People may not like what she sells, but the Kardashians are still relevant 17 years after the premiere of their first reality show. And that is due to one person and one person only: Kristin Mary Houghton Kardashian Jenner.

Did you make any fun discoveries about these forces of media as you researched them?
They are all very interested in relevancy. It’s obviously essential to any brand, but each woman courts it in different ways. Anna does not want to be a celebrity but understands her role in the brand of Vogue and therefore works to promote it. The world has gotten more casual in many ways, maybe even lazier and that is something Martha abhors. She can’t convince us to stay in the kitchen for three hours anymore when Rachael Ray can promise you a great meal in 30 mins or less, so Martha has evolved and forged partnerships with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Uber to stay relevant. And Kris… it goes without saying that she literally runs a think tank out of Calabasas that exists for only one purpose: getting people to talk about her family and making money.

Raftery as Kris Jenner
Photo courtesy of Ryan Raftery

The hair and make-up are spot on.
Utterly. Especially Anna. She is that bob and sunglasses silhouette. She’s Darth Vader and Hillary Clinton in one!

It’s a fine line between satire and bruising someone’s fragile ego.
I am not interested in hurting anyone’s feelings and really do believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I do a lot of research and I think it’s clear when I am inventing things for comedic effect, like when Kris Jenner goes to Laos in my show for an experimental fertility treatment because she needs more kids to sell.

I heard Anna knows about your send-up of her. That sounds terrifying.
I think Anna was amused in her own way. I’ve heard that she said I “didn’t get the fashion right.” She’ll be pleased to know that I have totally revamped the costume for this run, and we fucking nailed it. Martha is very, very aware of the show and was told by her people not to come. I have my reasons why I think that is the case, but she should know that I am an ardent fan, and this show comes from a place of massive admiration. I had the chance to tell her that to her face and it was a real “pinch me” moment. Kris’s PR team came, and I think they enjoyed it and Khloe posted on Instagram, which was very cool.

The Titans of Media Trilogy is on now through March 17th at Joe’s Pub. Click here for more information.

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