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John Epperson (aka Lypsinka) Discusses His Role in 'Black Swan'

Those of you who have seen Black Swan will remember Epperson's scene. He writes about his audition for, and his real-world connection to the "Jaded Piano Player" he plays in Black Swan, for The Daily Beast:

Epperson We all have our own Black Swan, that creature inside each of us who is waiting to spring its blazing essence on the unsuspecting world. Mine is, indeed, The Fabulous Lypsinka. My White Swan self was—and to some degree still is—a shy, frightened, sensitive sissy boy from the small town of Hazlehurst, Mississippi. I was not so shy or frightened, however, that I couldn’t work up the courage to apply for a job as rehearsal pianist at American Ballet Theatre soon after I arrived in New York City in 1978. Two years later, I was a member of the company and in the studio with Gelsey Kirkland, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anthony Dowell, Natalia Makarova, Alicia Alonso, Rudolph Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Margot Fonteyn, Cynthia Gregory, and Sir Kenneth McMillan. In her 1986 memoir, Dancing on My Grave, Gelsey did not refer to me as the Jaded Piano Player, only “the pianist” who witnessed the heart-wrenching real-life scenes in which she struggled with Baryshnikov, and—perhaps most of all—her own inner Black Swan.

And now my somewhat worldlier White Swan self can be seen in Aronofsky’s artful horror film, finally walking out on poor, frustrated Nina at her most Nina-esque. Yet my character is one of the few people in the movie who seems to take pity on Portman’s character, urging her not to work too hard. Finally, though, he becomes fed up with her in that same scene and delivers the line, “I have a life,” that audiences find amusing, giving them a brief moment of nervous laughter.

Epperson says Darren Aronofsky had no idea who Lypsinka was, until he presented him with a New York magazine article: You’re hot!” exclaimed Aronofsky as he leered at the photo.

My Black Swan Star Turn [the daily beast]

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  2. Hazelhurst Mississippi ? Isn't that where Emmet in QAF is from ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 21, 2011 2:51:25 AM

  3. Loved the Bette Davis impersonation this performer used to do years ago.

    Posted by: brian | Feb 21, 2011 3:13:49 AM

  4. @JackFknTwist OH I'm so happy I'm not the only one who noticed that! QAF is one of my absolute favorite shows and Emmet is just precious.

    Posted by: SKOC211 | Feb 21, 2011 3:52:35 AM

  5. Very nice post. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Posted by: Business Funding | Feb 21, 2011 5:42:17 AM

  6. Yup. Emmett was a Hazlehurst sissyboy too!

    Posted by: Dick | Feb 21, 2011 7:31:09 AM

  7. Just saw Black Swan last night. It's great, like Showgirls mixed with Suspiria. Destined for cult status.

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 21, 2011 8:05:45 AM

  8. I didn't like Black Swan. I thought it was homophobic.

    It's amazing that it portrays the New York Ballet yet there is not one single gay man depicted in the whole movie. Shame on Darren Aronofsky, the director. He comes across as homophobic towards male-male sexuality.

    Posted by: brian | Feb 21, 2011 8:10:49 AM

  9. Black Swan is homophobic? If anything, it is a film about accepting your sexual orientation, as Nina's despair revolves around her inability to accept she is gay.
    Darren Aronofsky doesn't need to have ballet dancers claiming to be gay or straight. It isn't integral to the plot.

    Posted by: Sarina | Feb 21, 2011 9:23:18 AM

  10. How could it be homophobic? The movie was quite clearly about a ballerina and the women in her life, and how they represent the different, warring sides of who she was. Her mother represented the quest for perfection and correctness. Lily was her urge to live on the edge. The man playing the prince was hit on by Lily to show Nina's fear of being replaced, or usurped by that passion.

    The lack of gay men was due to the ... um ... lack of MEN in the movie. Not like there was a scene with all of the principal male dancers talking about their girlfriends. The impresario being a lecher was movie shorthand (using a common trope to suggest things without having to show it).

    Also, while there are a lot of gay men in ballet, there are also a LOT of straight men, especially from foreign countries.

    I'm always confused when gay men claim homophobia from any movie that doesn't show THEIR life experience on screen. Male sexuality was obviously scary to Nina, and the movie was seen through her eyes, so why would the movie depict gay male sex?

    Posted by: Duvalin | Feb 21, 2011 10:54:07 AM

  11. I don't remember seeing him in the movie. Could someone fill me in as to what scene he is so famous for?

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 21, 2011 3:14:15 PM

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