The Love Goddess
Funny lady Judy Tenuta won an American Comedy Award in 1988. Her act is principally structured around a persona known as “The Love Goddess.” Other nicknames attributed to the comedienne include “Multi-Media Bondage Goddess,” “Aphrodite of the Accordion,” “Fashion Saint,” “Petite Flower,” “Princess of Panty Shields” and “Empress of Elvis Impersonators.” During her routine, Tenuta sometimes entertains audiences with her accordion and by singing goofy songs while encouraging fans to convert to her own personal religion, “Judyism.” She also wrote the book “The Power of Judyism” (Harper-Collins). A multiple Grammy nominated artist, Tenuta was handed the nominations for her albums “Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians” (1994) and “In Goddess We Trust” (1995). As an actress, she appeared in “Butch Camp” (1996), “Desperation Boulevard” (1998), “10 Attitudes and a Date” (2001), “Material Girls”(2006) and “Hanging in Hedo” (2007). She also did some voiceover work and appeared in TV game shows.
Outside the spotlight, Tenuta is a supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and often participates at rallies. She was once married to the comedian Emo Philips.
Childhood and Family:
Judy Tenuta was born on November 7, 1956, in Chicago, Illinois, but was raised in Oakdale, Illinois. She married fellow Chicago comedian Emo Philips (born on February 7, 1956) on August 8, 1988, but they later divorced.
Chicago native Judy Tenuta began her career in comedy clubs in the early 1980s. She released her debut album in 1987 (“Buy This, Pigs!”) and appeared at the “Comic Relief II” fundraising special. Hitting the stage in long flowing “goddess gowns,” she made her early TV appearance in “Woman of the Night,” which was hosted by Martin Short in 1988, where she performed with comediennes Ellen Degeneres and Paula Poundstone. Also in 1988, she won an American Comedy for Best Female Comedian. The next year saw Tenuta appear in the film “White Hot,” which was directed by and starred Robby Benson. She had previously appeared as an office girl in the comedy film “Deep Throat Part II (1974).
Tenuta went on to build her reputation on stage and as her popularity grew, was featured on a number of TV talk shows, including “The Howard Stern Show,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The Joan Rivers Show” and “The Donnie and Marie Show.” She also headlined one hour comedy specials on Showtime, Lifetime Television and HBO during the late 1980s and early 1990s. After receiving the role of Sergeant Farfalloni in the comedy film “Love Bites” (1993), Tenuta launched “Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians” in 1994. Recorded live at the C.S. W Gay Pride Festival, the album earned the performer a nomination at the Grammy Awards. She received another Grammy nomination for her work on the 1995 album “In Goddess We Trust.”
Tenuta remained busy working at nightclubs throughout the late 1990s and provided her voice for such animated programs as “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” (1996) and “Duckman” Private Dick/Family Man” (1994-1996, as Edna). She also portrayed Madame Judy the Psychic in five episodes of “The Weird Al Show” (1997) and starred as Samantha Rottweiler in the Alessandro De Gaetano directed “Butch Camp” (1996). She then had a featured role in Bob Koherr's “Plum Fiction” (1997) and starred in and produced the film “Desperation Boulevard” (1998), which featured performances by Michael Lerner, Erin Moran, Will Shriner, Weird Al Yankovic and Emo Phillips. In addition, she participated as a celebrity contestant on the game show “Match Game” (1998), hosted by Michael Burger. “The Power of Judyism,” an audio CD version of her book of the same name, was released on January 29, 1999.
In 2001, Tenuta took on the role of a group therapist in the independent movie “10 Attitudes and a Date,” which starred and was co-written by Jason Stuart. From 2003 to 2004 she appeared on the game show “Hollywood Squares.” She then served as a celebrity co-host for the talk show “Queer Edge with Jack E. Jett & Sandra Bernhard” in 2005 and portrayed Jayleen in the film “Flirting with Anthony.” She went on to portray Margo Thorness in the Hilary Duff vehicle “Material Girls”(2006) and appeared as Mrs. Weinberg in the comedy “Hanging in Hedo” (2007). On January 27, 2007, she guest starred in an episode of the series “Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.” Tenuta’s upcoming credits include costarring as a nun in the comedy “Sister Mary” and as Zinnia in “Going Down in La-La Land” (2011).
American Comedy: Comedy Club Stand-Up Comic - Female, 1988