Messapotamia Lefae, better known as “Messy,” is a post-gender surrealist, sartorialist, and dance artist. Born in Rhode Island, she received dance training at Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY), The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (Toronto, ON), Wissahickon Dance Academy (Philadelphia, PA) with Nancy Malmed, and at the Performance Garage (Philadelphia, PA) with Alexei Borovik.
Since moving to Philadelphia in 2010, Messy has performed at the AIDS Fund Philly’s GayBINGO as a Bingo Verifying Diva and has volunteered at special events for nonprofits like the William Way Community Center, Action Wellness, Philadelphia’s Gay Men’s Chorus, InLiquid, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, and Philly AIDS Thrift. She has served as Secretary on the Board of Directors of PhillyCAM (Philadelphia Community Access Media) and DP Arts Consortium. She was one of the core organizers of Philadelphia’s Phreak N’ Queer Art & Musical Festival and has hosted and produced a number of cabaret shows throughout the city. Now she works as the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania’s Administrative Assistant and Notary Public.
In 2017, she performed in the “Vagina Monologues” directed by Bethany Asplundh and Ebony Pullum at the Sedgwick Theater (Philadelphia, PA). She has performed in Bearded Ladies Cabaret’s Bastille Day reenactment at Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, PA), in an immersive cabaret called “Color Me Bearded” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in John Jarboe’s Get Pegged cabaret series at La Peg/Fringearts (Philadelphia, PA). Messy recently performed in Opera Philadelphia’s “Dito and Aeneaes” alongside Martha Graham Cracker and Stephanie Blythe at the Theater of the Living Arts (Philadelphia, PA).
Messy creates and performs in wearable sculptures and puts together macabre allegorical dance films. She has been developing a multimedia performance technique, the auto-duet, to perform alongside herself. Relying on dance improvisation experience and classical training, she is often cast in character-driven physical acting roles, as a backup dancer, or as a living set-piece – when she’s not cast as the most interesting supporting characters in the show. Lefae has been exploring sadness, horror and the occult through her work as a performance artist and dance filmmaker. Messy challenges others to experience self-expression in the absence of gender norms and to embody abstract ideas as a daily practice.
Lefae has collaborated with songwriter Tom Wilson Weinberg and hosted intimate cabarets featuring local musical talent.
In 2016, she played Eve in an original play called “Paradise Lost in Space” directed by Multiform and Omri at Radical Faerie Camp Destiny (Chester, VT).
She has performed in local ballet company Pages to Pirouettes.
In 2014, she was featured in the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus’s (PGMC) “Proud Mary’s” at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Philadelphia, PA).
Messy and DJ Ricky Paul hosted the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest at the Swedish and Danish embassies in Washington, D.C. She has performed in Ricky Paul’s irreverent theatre troupe, the Dumpsta Players.
In 2012, she performed in BRAT Production’s “The Diary of Lisa Q” directed by Madi Distefano at Plays and Players Theater (Philadelphia, PA).
She and Lance Pawling (a.k.a. Tasker Morris) created an immersive performance art installation “The Bereaved” at NAPOLEON Gallery (Philadelphia, PA) in 2012.
In 2011, she was named the “Best Performance Artist You Might Think is Hammered” in Philadelphia Weekly’s Best of the Best.