When underground fashion designer Jodi Thomas and theatrical director John DiDonna hit upon the idea of collaborating, they had no idea that their joint venture would grow into one of the most unique and devilishly entertaining production companies in Central Florida. But PaPow Productions persisted through 15 fringe-fashion events, and the latest, "The Tingling Brothers Anti-Babe Circus of the Odd," not only explores the darker side of pret-a-porter but cements PaPow's reputation as an unparalleled production team.
A thematic and character-driven performance, the "Anti-Babe Circus" revolves around a fiendish traveling carnival that emerges from the bowels of hell every 100 years. The performance starts with an seemingly normal circus that takes a turn for the demonic in a series of acts designed around a splendidly eclectic range of underground music.
Thomas' eye for fashion developed early, and she started designing her own clothes as a teen-ager. She began fielding requests for her own designs and soon had her hands full making clothing for a growing list of customers. Having no outlet in which to sell them herself, she proceeded to put together a fashion show at the Winter Park retro-progressive/industrial venue Club Z in August 1996. The event was a very basic, catwalk style show -- one with enough attitude and originality to catch the eye of DiDonna, who invited Thomas to co-produce a show at Theatre Downtown in the fall of 1996. The two went on to create a series of shows, including the Marquis de Sade-themed "Fashionably Ever After," and also produced several smaller shows and charity events.
"Anti-Babe" originates from Thomas' dislike for misogynistic terms, and "PaPow" from her love of the comic book character Tank Girl. PaPow has become a loose-knit family of leftfield artists and models. "We're a force to be reckoned with," says Thomas. "We're here to stay. We're not going anywhere."
PaPow has spawned much interest and some imitations. "We're getting a lot of calls from people to produce shows," says DiDonna. "The main thing is to always be sexy and always campy. As far as we're concerned the two can't be separated."