American puppeteer. Wayland Flowers performed and built puppets for Suzari Marionettes, Nicolas Coppola, Bil Baird, and Aniforms after he moved to New York from Georgia in 1963.
Wayland Flower’s 1971 Off-Broadway show Kumquats, billed as “the world’s first erotic puppet show”, marked Madame’s first professional appearance. Madame was a bawdy rod puppet, a grande dame with a sharp wit: the alter ego of Wayland Flowers.
In 1972, Madame appeared as a lounge act in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and attracted enormous crowds, and soon Wayland Flowers was appearing in New York nightclubs. In club performances Flowers was visible, and not particularly concerned with being considered a ventriloquist. In 1974, Wayland Flowers and Madame appeared in the film, Norman, Is That You?, directed by George Schlatter. For the next ten years Flowers and Madame were star attractions at American clubs and casinos, especially in Las Vegas and Atlantic City (New Jersey).
Wayland Flowers and Madame occupied the centre square on the television show Hollywood Squares, and their clever wit and adult humour pushed the limits of acceptable content for television. Flowers and Madame had their own television talk show, Madame’s Place (1982), broadcasting 150 episodes.
Madame is now in the collection of the Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta, Georgia.
(See United States of America.