Paul L Martin has been working in the world of variety entertainment for 30 years since he curated his very first ‘variety show’ in his home town of Littlebourne near Canterbury, Kent at the age of just fifteen in aid of Leukaemia Research Fund.
After 4 annual shows and a total of £5,500 raised for various charities, Paul moved to London and trained in musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where he also won a singing scholarship. Since then he has performed in musicals, plays and on television but a constant and growing passion for cabaret, vaudeville, revue and music hall has dominated his career, whether it be as a performer, promoter, agent or producer.
Drag has been a recurring theme in Paul’s work, cutting his teeth at the world famous Madame JoJo’s in 1999 as Trinity Million. Other drag creations include the mermaid Coral Reef and Paulus. He made his New York debut in 2005 at both Don’t Tell Mama and Birdland and debuted in Australia in 2006 at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne. Martin has also performed in the Supperclub, Rome, La Charlotte de L’Isle, Paris, The Sugar Club, Dublin and in various venues in Berlin as well as cabaret clubs up and down the country.
As an actor, Paul has played Sylvia St. Croix in the UK premiere of the musical ‘Ruthless’ for which he won Musical Stage’s ‘Best Actor in A Musical award; was in the original cast of ‘Beautiful and Damned’ choreographed by Craig Revel-Horwood; was invited to join the Dundee Rep for their 10-year anniversary season playing The Beadle in Sweeney Todd, and created the role of Philip Salon for the Boy George musical Taboo in its workshop stages.
For fifteen years, Paul had close ties to the cult London cabaret venue The Battersea Barge, producing many cabarets for them including the hugely successful talent contest ‘Cheese ‘n’ Crackers’, Diva Nite and their annual adult pantomimes, which he variously produced, wrote, directed and starred in alongside cabaret favourites including Sarah-Louise Young, Dusty Limits, Laurie Hagen, Piff the Magic Dragon and Fancy Chance. Paul’s work on the Barge gave early opportunities – and often the very first gigs – to successful artistes like Sara Pascoe, Holly Walsh, Kate Smurthwaite, Shazia Mirza, Euan Morton, David Menkin, Frisky & Mannish and Eastend Cabaret, to name but a few.
For ten years, Paul ran the entertainment agency Excess All Areas (formerly Better Chemistry) and under this banner he spearheaded the annual Cabaret Convention and London Cabaret Awards, which played host to cabaret performers, promoters, and practitioners from across the UK and Ireland and rewarded the most dedicated, talented and inspiring members of the cabaret community. Paul was awarded ‘Best Producer (Cabaret)’ by fringe report during this time. His expertise has been sought to judge many talent competitions including National Burlesque Awards; Drag Idol for Royal Vauxhall Tavern; Pride’s Got Talent; Musical Comedy Awards and Burlesque Idol at The Hippodrome Casino.
His work as event host and Ringmaster has created long-lasting working relationships with Home Live Art and their Alternative Village Fete at the National Theatre; the award-winning Festival of Thrift in Darlington and Redcar; The Urban Village Fete for Wayne Hemingway and Hemingway Designs; the Ukulele Festival of Scotland, and seen him play key roles in the LOCOG Staff Wrap Party at the Copperbox for the 2012 London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Battersea Park.
Paul works as a teacher and facilitator, specialising in cabaret and acting through song. As well as presenting Cabaret Specialist week for the MTA since its first intake of students, he regularly runs his own short courses and workshops and has been involved with the Singers’ Cabaret Workshop with co-founder Jamie Anderson; the Actors Centre, London; Arts Educational Drama School, East 15 Drama School and ALRA, and in 2018 he ran sold-out masterclasses at the Chicago-Paris Cabaret Conference at Chicago Old Town Folk School and DePaul University Music School. He also contributed to Gary Williams’ book ‘Cabaret Secrets’.
On television, Paul has judged look-alikes losing weight on the six episodes of ‘Bigger Than…’ for Sky Living, mentored retired performers back into the industry for Mary Portas’ C4 programme ‘Mary’s Silver Service’ (unaired episode) and appears prominently as ‘Paulus’, the hard-to-impress member of ‘The Hundred’ judging panel on ‘All Together Now’ from Remarkable Television for BBC One, alongside Geri Horner and host Rob Beckett for the six episodes of series 1 in 2018 and ‘All Together Celebrities’ which aired on Christmas Eve 2018, and the six episodes for series 2, which aired in 2019.