She’s difficult to miss at nearly 7 feet tall in heels, dressed in lederhosen, hanging from a ceiling swing and yodeling.
They call her the Austrian Amazon.
Manuela Horn is the “official swing girl” at Oktoberfest, now in its ninth year. It’s a weekend of dining, beer quaffing and dancing, with live yodeling and entertainment from Horn and several other entertainers. The festival continues Sunday from 9:45 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Washington State Fair Event Center in Puyallup.
Horn has been a bit of a local celeb since Seattle’s Teatro ZinZanni recruited her from a Bavarian nightclub act in 2002. She moved to Burien, met her husband, had two children and settled here.
She’s made her living the last several years appearing at Oktoberfests from Puyallup to Leavenworth. She’s even got a claim to reality television fame — she made David Hasselhoff’s jaw drop when she auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” in 2009 (more on that in a bit).
On Friday and Saturday, Horn performed two-hour showcases. On Sunday, she will perform from the swing and introduce musical acts. She’ll also be stationed at her booth with her homemade electric sheep, which she might just ride through the festival.
We asked a few questions about her life as a nightclub performer who doubles as a stay-at-home mom by day.
Q: How did you get the Oktoberfest Northwest job as the swing girl?
A: They put down on the job description “Looking for swing girl” four years ago. I wrote them and told them I would swing for them. They were like, “Yeah, OK.” They hired me and gave me a microphone and I did 15 minutes, then I did 45 minutes the next set. That’s when they asked me to return as a headliner the next year. They loved it.
Q: For someone who’s never seen your performance, can you describe it?
A: I would call it a ginoromous adult-child birthday party because it has balloons, bubbles, conga lines, singalongs and silly dances. I teach the audience the dirty chicken dance.
Q: You are going to have to explain what the dirty chicken dance is.
A: We invented the dirty chicken dance a week ago. We thought there should be an adult version of this.
Q: Does everyone have to dance when they watch you?
A: It’s an audience participation kind of show that’s different from all the other shows you go to. You’re part of the party and the show, you sing along and you dance along. We have games. I yodel to Top 40 hits.
Q: You yodel to Top 40 hits?
A: Yes, it’s a singalong with a yodalicious twist. I take Top 40 and rewrite them. One song (instead of “Moves like Jagger”) is “I Got The Moves from Jager (meister)” and when I sing Lady Gaga, instead of “Poker Face,” I do “Polka Face.”
Q: Does singing along make the beer taste better?
A: Yes. The beer flows better down your throat if you shout out once in a while.
Q: Of all your characters, your Yodeling Dominatrix persona — the character who forces the audience to have a good time — probably is the most famous because you performed as her for the television show “America’s Got Talent” in 2009. David Hasselhoff seemed mesmerized. What was that experience like?
A: It was really fun. I was pretty confident, but I felt nervous like every other contestant on the show. When I started yodeling, I felt their power and reaction and I went naughtier and naughtier with it. It’s safe to say I made David Hasselhoff drool. I can put that on my résumé.
Q: You perform as Gretchen at the Oktoberfest Northwest, not the Yodeling Dominatrix?
A: For Oktoberfest, it’s a Gretchen-goes-Gaga type of character. I’m trying to be the Lady Gaga of Oktoberfest. I’m very sexy and loud, and my whole show is sexy and loud. My characters in dinner theater includes a gangster, a Catholic school girl. All these characters are in the show including the Yodeling Dominatrix.
I have to admit, I can’t come up with anything better than the Yodeling Dominatrix. It’s such a nutty concept, and it’s hard to top. I can’t come up with a crazier idea.
Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270