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Bag Lady Sue begs for laughs

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Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010 5:44 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS - A drunken old woman dressed in other people’s castoffs wanders onto a stage and ... if this sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, well, actually it is part of the joke.

Bag Lady Sue is not your typical stand-up comic — in appearance or subject matter.

Ugly, brash and offensive humor packed with adult language and related topics are Bag Lady Sue’s specialty. She loves yelling the crass and crude sex secrets that would level a sexual harassment charge in normal situations.

The frumpy, rude bag lady is actually a curly blond comedienne named Suzanne Austin, hailing from Colorado. Austin has been a comic since the ’80s. While working as a stripper at a burlesque club, she and her mom took a walk in downtown Pittsburgh that provided the genesis of her act. Together they encountered an old homeless lady, yelling at passersby, making them laugh. After Austin passed over some of her own cash, her mother dared her $50 to do the same bit on the burlesque stage. In the bag lady’s first five minutes, she earned $300.

“People just love her,” she said of the unlikely comedic character she created. She said the get-up, including a 19-year-old dress and eyebrow-penciled tooth, reminds people of a crazy old grandma that you just have to love. Her show centers around a crass way of teaching men and women to be less inhibited with each other.

“It’s dirty, but I get away with it,” she said. “The character pulls it off.”

She said that sometimes the lessons she teaches in her unique way pay off for couples. She has gotten e-mails thanking her for saving people’s marriages.

Dressing as a homeless person is not politically incorrect to Austin. She makes a point to donate to many charities with her shows’ proceeds. Ironically, the one time she remembers getting grief for her character’s portrayal was while standing in line to donate to a homeless shelter.

Since the creation, Bags, a nickname of sorts, has performed with the likes of Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd and at motorcycle and troops rallies across the country. Austin has appeared in Hustler magazine and will be featured in an upcoming Biker magazine.

This won’t be Bag Lady Sue’s first trip to Alaska. She has been coming for many years, and loves the state. “If my daughter didn’t hate the cold, I’d move to Alaska tomorrow,” she said.

This year her fiance will be performing along side her in Fairbanks as “Benny the Bum.” They plan to have a bit of banter and pop out of their shabby costumes at the end of the show.

Contact News-Miner intern Reba Lean at 459-7572.

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