The L.A. based “Diva Of Secret Societies” Practices White Tantric Yoga, Hangs Out With Clowns at The Fool’s Guild, Skydives and Speaks On Behalf Of Tree People When She’s Not Kissing Exotic Animals
Keeping pace with the intensely creative, jubilantly frenetic performing career of Christina Linhardt is a bit like playing pinball with a wild spirit that can assume any new role her muse inspires. One minute, she’s a hip h’opera singer (as on her new song and video “Bedlam Boyzz”), the next an exotic ethnic dancer (performing at luaus, Cinco De Mayo and St. Patty’s Day festivals), and later a performance artist exploring the passions of fairies, ghosts and witches in a festival dedicated to German song and literature.
Known by some as the “Diva of Secret Societies,” she’s performed everywhere from the L.A. County Museum of Art and the Atlas-Wiltern Building to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, the Los Angeles Cathedral (as a solo angel for Cardinal Mahony), The Magic Castle and Key Club. At home in L.A., she’s renowned for her interpretations of avant-garde and new music in concerts often accompanied by Cirque Du Soleil acrobats and Ringling Brothers clowns. She captured this side of her life beautifully on her critically acclaimed independent debut album Circus Sanctuary.
Linhardt is also an internationally known act. Her “Classics To Cabaret” show is a favorite among European Royalty and diplomats and she headlined at the opening of the Grand Concert Hall Parksalle in Saxony, Germany in 2005; more recently, she flew down to Guantanamo Bay to perform as the coquette opera singer with the VampHear Circus.
The versatile singer and performer combines the best of all her worlds on her latest musically freewheeling collection Voodoo Princess, which was inspired by her mystical journeys to the Caribbean, most notably Jamaica. Further exploring her passion for the magical arts that she had as a child growing up in Europe and Los Angeles, she searched for esoteric knowledge everywhere from the tropical islands to the Middle East to Southern Africa.
Somewhere along the journey, she discovered true love and created another exotic persona, Voodoo Princess, for herself. Besides treating adventurous listeners to a swirl of cool disco grooves and reggae flavorings sprinkled with a touch of Bollywood here and a smattering of Grand Opera there, Linhardt invites them to swim literally “Under The Sea”–her dozen piece band includes two of the woodwind soloists from Disney’s The Little Mermaid Soundtrack, flutist Dave Shostac and oboe player Tom Boyd.
She’s already getting a massive response to the music videos she has posted on YouTube for two of Voodoo Princess’ most compelling tracks, the (notable Broadway dancer) Pip Abrigo-directed “Bedlam Boyzz” (which also stars her favorite “clown,” Michael Tuba Heatherton, a former singing ringmaster for Ringling Brothers, in a dual role as a psych patient and psychiatrist) and the Ken Collins-helmed “Wolf At Bay,” which uses clips of an exotic dance Linhardt did with a 40 lb., ten foot snake at a New Orleans styled New Year’s Eve party. In addition to her video success, Linhardt is also receiving radio airplay for both albums, recently interviewing at a Maui radio station and achieving several radio spins for “Ave Maria” and “Bring a Torch” on Secondary Adult Contemporary Radio.
This sort of activity is par for the course for the singer, a world traveler and curiosity seeker who is known for kissing exotic animals on the lips–from a fruit bat in Bali to elephants, cows, pigs and a camel. Linhardt’s other hobbies find her reaching high and low to discover the latest incarnation of herself–White Tantric Yoga (she also performs at yoga centered spiritual conferences), skydiving, planting trees and giving talks for Tree People, and street fighting (Krav Maga).
Playfully dubbing herself the “Justin Timberlake of contemporary tropical opera” for bringing sexy back to the classical tradition she grew up studying, Linhardt says, “Every song is about a unique life experience I have had, and all have been adapted from somewhere else. I’m usually drawing from a classical traditional piece and putting my own spin on it and writing new lyrics. ‘Bedlam Boyzz,’ which derives from an anonymous 1600-era poem called ‘Tom O’Bedlam,’ is the perfect example of wanting to make something new from something very old. I added modern beats and my own Victorian insanity feel to it with the chatter of men in the background. There is something so classic about music that has stood the test of time, and it’s been a dream of mine to bring back classical music but with special touches to jazz it up.”
Another fascinating track of this type on Voodoo Princess is “Redwood Theatre,” an Andrea Bocelli-type pop-opera piece that draws from Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” and centers lyrically on a place in Northern California where she hung out with the founders of Tree People. Linhardt originally got involved with the organization when she planted a tree in the name of her ex fiancÃ©e, the Crown Prince of Saxony. This past Christmas, she did a radio campaign for “Bring A Torch Jamaica’s Good Brethren,” a calypso-fied adaptation of the classic French holiday song that she also once sang at a Dickens Faire in San Francisco. The singer’s other cultural, time travel hybrids include “Bengal Prince (Danny Boy”) and “Erlkonig (ElfKing),” a rock and roll interpretation of a famous German art song by Schubert.
Using the term “Renaissance Woman” to describe Linhardt’s happy schizophrenia would seem clichÃ© if it weren’t so spot-on. She was once, after all, employed by the Patterson Family, founders of the original Renaissance Faires, as their Mistress of Revels, Lady of Misrule. She is also known for leading the New Renaissance Folk ensemble Mad Spirit, which was created to compliment “The Young And The Restless” star Eric Braeden during his evenings of Shakespeare monologues. For her work in clown and miming, she was also chosen the 23 King of the Fools Guild for Southern California, one of only two female “kings” in the organization (or “disorganization”)’s quirky history. The Fools Guild began in the late 70s at the Renaissance Faire and has existed as an extended family of individuals who identify with the artistic, spiritual or philosophical nature of The Fool.
As a dancer, Linhardt has traveled solo into remote regions of Africa to absorb grass-roots customary rhythms and dances, often learning directly from local villagers. Earlier this decade, she was managing director of the Open Gate Theatre Ensemble, performing a varied array of Eastern and ethnic dances, utilizing an unusual form of puppetry. Closer to home, she does every kind of dancing, from Spanish to Irish to Hawaiian; last summer, in July and August alone, she performed at over 70 luaus.
While she’s not performing as a musician on Voodoo Princess, Linhardt is also an accomplished flute player who began her musical career as a child flutist in the Jr. Philharmonic of California, the All-Star Southern California Honor Band and as principal flute for the Meremblum California Jr. Symphony; at various times, she played in orchestras behind such eclectic artists as “Weird Al” Yankovic, Richard Simmons, Al Jarreau and Buddy Ebsen. Before focusing on voice and dance professionally, she studied acting and movement at Oxford University in England, French at the Eurocentre in Paris, German at the Goethe Institute in Berlin and received a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Arts from USC, with a minor in theatre arts. As an actress, she appeared opposite Oscar-winner Maximilian Schell in “Faust Comes to Grand Avenue” with the Los Angeles Opera.
Follow that crazy pinball now…you just never know where Christina Linhardt’s muse will take her next. On April 11, she is having a birthday/investor party to promote her sensual opera video “Lakme,” produced by Visual Garden Productions. The video, starring Linhardt and Los Angeles opera singer Gina Graziadio, will be released at the party, which will be held on a palatial Mediterranean style private estate. On May 22, she is doing her concert of Fairies, Ghosts and Witches in German song and literature at the Goethe Institute in Los Angeles. In June, she will be performing a play with the mentally ill, substance-abusing veterans she works regularly with, and in late summer, she will be appearing as the lead in the opera M-16, about a girl who gets raped and gives birth to an assault rifle.