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Miss Pussycat

A whimsical, thought-provoking puppeteer, visual artist, and musician, Miss Pussycat's work is equally at home in secret nightclubs, galleries, and dive bars. With their brightly colored, mischievous designs, her puppets look like they jumped out of a 1960s storybook. Her puppet shows deal with social issues in subversively witty ways, making them the perfect complement to Quintron's electrifying concerts. Along with performing at his shows and on albums ranging from 2005's Swamp Tech to 2020's Goblin Alert!, Miss Pussycat's musical releases include albums from her puppet band Flossie & the Unicorns and the raw electronic soundtracks to her puppet shows and films, which were collected on 2015's Anthropomorphizer. In the 2010s and 2020s, numerous solo exhibits of her work reflected the scope and the enduring playfulness of her vision. Born and raised in Antlers, Oklahoma, Panacea Theriac began creating at an early age, inspired by her father's paintings and her time in her church's Christian Puppet Youth Ministry. After studying art in college, in 1993 she moved to New Orleans, where she staged puppet shows in her house and ran the Pussycat Caverns, an underground nightclub. It was there that she met her creative and romantic partner, Quintron, with whom she began collaborating in the mid-'90s. In 1995, she joined him on tour for the first time, playing maracas and singing backing vocals. The pair settled in New Orleans, with Miss Pussycat working as a seamstress and Quintron as an elementary-school science teacher. The following year, Miss Pussycat 's puppet band Flossie & the Unicorns and Quintron shared a split single that appeared on Bulb Records; the band's debut album Secret Mission also arrived that year. In 1997, Miss Pussycat and Quintron founded the Spellcaster Lounge in their basement, and started their own label, Rhinestone Records, to release their output. At the dawn of the 2000s, Miss Pussycat juggled her own projects with her work on Quintron's albums and concerts. Flossie & the Unicorns' second album L M N O P appeared in 1998, the same year that Quintron released These Hands of Mine. During the European tour for that album, the pair recorded a session for John Peel's BBC radio show. In 2000, Miss Pussycat appeared in Quintron's infomercial for the Drum Buddy, an electronic percussion instrument that converts light into analog rhythm patterns (Drum Buddy owners include Nels Cline and Laurie Anderson). Miss Pussycat premiered her first puppet movie, North Pole Nutrias, in 2002; the following year, she appeared on Quintron's Are You Ready for an Organ Solo?, while Flossie & the Unicorns issued their third album The Animals' Clubhouse. Along with the release of the puppet film Caveman Caverns, in 2005 Miss Pussycat collaborated with Quintron on Swamp Tech. Named for the duo's blend of garage rock, funk, R&B, and New Orleans party music, it featured new music from Quintron and an accompanying puppet movie by Miss Pussycat, Electric Swamp. Just before the duo went on tour to support the album, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. While both Quintron and Miss Pussycat were fine, their house sustained water damage and the pair lost instruments and puppet-making supplies. Quintron and Miss Pussycat continued with the tour, which included a series of benefit concerts to help them rebuild in the wake of the disaster. In September 2006, they were able to reopen the Spellcaster Lodge. Miss Pussycat then issued the puppet video collection Trixie and the Treetrunks Season One in 2007. From January to May of 2010, Miss Pussycat and Quintron recorded at New Orleans' Museum of Art and City Park; the results were the double album Sucre du Sauvage, which arrived in early 2011. For the next few years, Theriac focused on her puppetry and visual art. The story of Trixie and the Treetrunks continued with 2012's film The Mystery in Old Bathbath. Her 2013 art installation Anthropomorphizer at New Orleans' Contemporary Arts Center resulted in 2013's Cookie Carnival Baking Contest, which featured 100 new puppets that she made on site during the exhibit's three-month run. The following year, she and Quintron were each awarded a Rauschenberg Residency at Florida's Captiva Island. In 2015, the album Anthropomorphizer collected the soundtracks to several of her puppet shows, many of which she created with an old four-track recorder. Miss Pussycat debuted her short film Frenchy and Jett the following year at the New Orleans Film Festival. Originally created for Disney, its story involved a magic piano and Peaches, Big Freedia, and Chris Parnell were among the voice actors. Her 2017 projects included illustrating Quintron's surreal travelogue Europa, My Mirror, and an exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. In 2019, the Galveston Arts Center held The Puppet Worlds of Miss Pussycat, an extensive exhibit of her puppets as well as videos, photographs and sculptures of the characters from puppet shows including The Western Village Shopping Village, Clothes Made by Small Furry Animals, and The Happy Castle of Goblinburg. She and Quintron also developed the side project First, a punk band designed to be the opening act at shows. In October 2020, Miss Pussycat and Quintron issued their first album together since Sucre du Sauvage. Recorded with Oblivians and the Reigning Sound's Greg Cartwright at Gainesville, Florida's Pulp Arts studio, Goblin Alert! was also the first Quintron album recorded with a full band (bassist Danny Clifton, drummer Sam Yoger, and talk box master Benni). Around the time of the album's release, Waxahachie, Texas' Webb Gallery debuted Panther Creek, another major solo museum exhibition of her artwork.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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