Getting Down With Texas Burlesque Festival 2014

•04/21/2014 • 1 Comment

~ Written and Photographed by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

 

The most amazing MC for TXBF, Cora Vette-Denver, CO

The most amazing MC for TXBF, Cora Vette-Denver, CO

Legend Ms. Toni Elling

Legend Ms. Toni Elling

Current BHOF King of Burlesque: Ray Gunn-Chicago, IL

Current BHOF King of Burlesque: Ray Gunn-Chicago, IL

Once again, for the fourth year in a row, I attended the annual Texas Burlesque Festival. By now there is no doubt that I have a deep love for TXBF and for the city of Austin. I was able to perform on the first night as Man Johnson in what I call the “Zipper Act”, and I of course took photos the other nights. Produced by Terri Raridon and Coco Lectric (the fantastic performer and co-founder of the Austin-based Jigglewatts Burlesque troupe), TXBF is now in its seventh year. It certainly was another successful festival – particularly with headlining star power like Perle Noire, The Stage Door Johnnies, special guest and Legend Toni Elling, plus three nights of exhilarating, sexy, funny, and provocative performances.

TXBF hands out awards in the form of lovely ‘Barbie dolls’ designed by Black Mariah for winners on competition night; here’s a list of who took one home this year:

Best Costume: Blaze-Dallas, TX

Best Use of Prop/Novelty: Black Orchid-San Antonio, TX

Most Original: Paco Fish-Parts Unknown

Best Ensemble: Tifa Tittlywinks & Emma D’Lemma-Houston, TX

Best Tease Factor: Franki Markstone-St. Petersburg, FL

Best Solo: Ruthe Ordare-Vancouver, B.C.

Best Costume: Blaze-Dallas, TX

Best Costume: Blaze-Dallas, TX

Best use of prop: Black Orchid-San Antonio, TX

Best use of prop: Black Orchid-San Antonio, TX

Most Original: Paco Fish

Most Original: Paco Fish

Best Ensemble: Tifa Tittlywinks & Emma D'Lemma-Houston, TX

Best Ensemble: Tifa Tittlywinks & Emma D’Lemma-Houston, TX

 

Best Tease: Frankie Markstone-St. Petersburg, FL

Best Tease: Franki Markstone-St. Petersburg, FL

Best Solo-Ruth Ordare-Vancouver, B.C.

Best Solo-Ruthe Ordare-Vancouver, B.C.

I plan on trying to get to as many festivals as possible in the next year (and will of course share photos and results along the way), especially since there are many new festivals popping up in addition to the more established ones across North America. The Lone Star State itself currently boasts four burlesque festivals and counting, including the San Antonio Burlesque Festival happening in August. SABF will be headlined by Michelle L’Amour, Waxie Moon and Legend Shannon Doah. (Submissions for that festival are open till May 10 click HERE for information).

Perle Noire-NYC, NY

Perle Noire-NYC, NY

Jett Adore-Chicago, IL

Jett Adore-Chicago, IL

Coco Lectric-Austin, TX

Coco Lectric-Austin, TX

Stage Door Johnnies-Chicago, IL

Stage Door Johnnies-Chicago, IL

Chola Magnolia-Austin, TX

Chola Magnolia-Austin, TX

Jasper St. James-San Antonio, TX

Jasper St. James-San Antonio, TX

Lowbrow Luuabies-Dallas,TX

Lowbrow Lullabies-Dallas,TX

Ruby Champagne-Los Angeles, CA

Ruby Champagne-Los Angeles, CA

Divertida Devotchka-Dallas, TX

Divertida Devotchka-Dallas, TX

Bethany Summersizzle-Austin, TX

Bethany Summersizzle-Austin, TX

Jet Noir-Oakland,CA

Jet Noir-Oakland,CA

Ruby Lamb-Austin, TX

Ruby Lamb-Austin, TX

Harlet Davidson-Austin, TX

Harlet Davidson-Austin, TX

Ginger Snaps-Austin, TX

Ginger Snaps-Austin, TX

Queertini Time-Austin, TX

Queertini Time-Austin, TX

Lady Jae-Houston, TX

Lady Jae-Houston, TX

Roxie Moxie-Austin, TX

Roxie Moxie-Austin, TX

Sherry Bomb-Austin, TX

Sherry Bomb-Austin, TX

Fat Bottom Cabaret-Austin, TX

Fat Bottom Cabaret-Austin, TX

Gaige-San Antonio, TX

Gaige-San Antonio, TX

Goldie Candela-Austin, TX

Goldie Candela-Austin, TX

Caramel Knowledge-Los Angeles, CA

Caramel Knowledge-Los Angeles, CA

Big Al Dente & Kinsey Scale-Kansas City, KS

Big Al Dente & Kinsey Scale-Kansas City, KS

Di' Lovely-San Diego, CA

Di’ Lovely-San Diego, CA

Eva Mae Garnet-San Diego, CA

Eva Mae Garnet-San Diego, CA

Honey Cocoa Bordeaux-Denton, TX

Honey Cocoa Bordeaux-Denton, TX

Nina La Voix-Brooklyn, NY

Nina La Voix-Brooklyn, NY

Best Ensemble: Tifa Tittlywinks & Emma D'Lemma-Houston, TX

Best Ensemble: Tifa Tittlywinks & Emma D’Lemma Throwin’ it Down

The Jigglewatts

The Jigglewatts-Austin, TX

Producers Coco Lectric & Terri Raridon thanking the crowd

Producers Coco Lectric & Terri Raridon thanking the crowd

 

 

Jasper McCann on 2014′s “Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland”.

•04/14/2014 • 1 Comment
Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland opens April 16. (Photo by Scott Butner)

Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland opens April 16. (Photo by Scott Butner)

 

Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland  kicks off this week at the Triple Door, and there’s no one better qualified than Jasper McCann (one half of the production duo Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann Present) to so eloquently outline what’s changed with Alice since the show’s inception.  Here we share Jasper’s own thoughts on the show and what one might encounter down the rabbit hole:

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~ Written by/Shared by kind permisson of Jasper McCann

Since its inception in 2009, Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland has been, for the most part, largely untouched by us as director/producers, with very little cast turnover and very little alteration. Certainly there have been little tweaks here and there: when Indigo Blue took on the role of the Mad Hatter in 2011, we retooled the Mad Tea Party to include Paris Original and Trojan Original as the Doormouse and the March Hare. The Butterfly number became a duet, and last year we introduced the Knave of Hearts into the mix. But over six years, we have never really looked back at the source material or made major alterations.

Well, this year is different.

We have had a lot of changes in the cast, and as such, Lily and I really wanted to allow the energy of the performers that are new to the show (or that have been in the show but who are now performing different roles) to give their respective characters new life. As such, we decided that this year was a great opportunity to look at the show overall and really refine it. So there are a number of changes.

First, the cast. We have two new Alices. Holly Pop will be playing “Real World Alice” (sometimes called “Good Alice” or “Blonde Alice”). Holly has been with us for a few years now, and is one of the few performers we work with that is in all three of our shows. The role of “Looking Glass Alice” (also known as “Dark Alice”) will be played by Mimi Me. Mimi is new to our world and was an understudy Snowflake for Land Of The Sweets this year. When Cookie Bellini was ill for the first week of the show, Mimi filled in… and we immediately fell in love. When she and Holly worked together, they had an indelible chemistry between them, which made them the natural choices for the Alice roles.

Tory Tiara has joined the cast of Alice this year as well. Early on there was some question as to what role she would be playing, as casting for some of the principle roles was still shaking out. Then Lily had the brilliant idea of casting Tory as Mary Anne, the woman about whom White Rabbit sings his blue tune “Pool of Tears”.

Inga Ingénue is our new Queen of Hearts! We couldn’t be more pleased. Her character work is second to none and she throws herself into whatever role we present to her. I don’t want to ruin the surprise of her number, but let’s just say that it will be a significant departure from the original.

Isobella Bloom (formerly Kylie Koyote) is our new Drink Me. Isobella has been in the show as a chandelier since 2012. She and Veruca Sapphire have splendid chemistry and the two of them are going to have more involved and challenging work playing the waitresses this year.

Juwana Heart and HonoLuLu Honey (members of Tribella) are taking on more roles as well, Juwana will be one of the Tweedle Sisters opposite Babette La Fave and LuLu will be donning the mantle of The White Queen opposite Lily in “Checkmate!”.

Washington’s own Red Delicious is joining us as a chandelier. We normally only see Red in the wintertime when she plays Tulips the Housekeeper in Land Of The Sweets, and any time around Red is delightful, so to have her with us in the springtime is a rare treat!

And last, but not least, as you know Ray Gunn will be joining us to play Cheshire Cat. Who knows what that will look like! I can’t wait.

The Story: I’ve rewritten the script to change the motivation of the Alices. We are making note of the fact that Inga was formerly Alice, so there is a little self-referencing there. Our new Alices want to be a Queen from the get-go, and The Queen of Hearts is the owner of The Looking Glass. We will see the way that former Alice became corrupted by evil in a new extended version of the Jabberwocky number. There are a few twists and turns to get Alice close to her goal with the help and advice from the staff of The Looking Glass, who are hoping desperately for a new owner to take over so that they no longer have to fear for their lives. Overall the narrative (in our opinion) is much stronger and much more defined, and we’ve allowed ourselves to explore some of the darker aspects of the original text, where in the past we shied away from including the scary stuff.

The Dances: With a lot of new cast members, Lily has had her hands full teaching choreo, but as you know, she always delivers! With new cast members (as I mentioned before) there are new opportunities to look at the characters and make changes or additions. The Alices have lots of different choreography this year to accentuate their “mirrored” relationship, the Chess number has been changed significantly, and Tory Tiara’s “solo” (another “spoiler” that I’m not going to let slip) is completely new and really elevates the drama of the White Rabbit’s blues. The entirety of the Queen of Hearts number is new and very thematic, right down to the new gown (being designed and built by the one and only Erik Andor!). Jabberwocky will also be entirely new as well, and much, much darker… but I can’t say too much about it. Don’t want to ruin the surprise.

 A Song: We have removed the Strip Poker pantomime and replaced it with a new, all original song called “You’ve Got A Full House (Counting On You)”, sung by Eat Me and Drink Me! When we realized what a set of pipes Isobella had, and knowing full well Veruca’s experience in musical theater, writing a duet for them seemed mandatory. So I wrote the song and then arranged it with my friend James Chapple, who helped me arrange and score the original songs for Burlesco DiVino: Wine In Rome.

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For photos and more behind the scenes peeks at Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland, visit their website HERE.  Tickets are also available via the Triple Door’s website, HERE.

Jasper McCann (Photo by Scott Butner)

Jasper McCann (Photo by Scott Butner)

 

 

Rock Candy Burlesque in Icing On the Cake: Twice as Sweet.

•04/10/2014 • 1 Comment

~ Written by/ All photos by Heather Schofner Photography

Olympia’s  Rock Candy Burlesque held Icing on the Cake: Twice As Sweet, the first of two anniversary shows, on March 29 at the Rhythm and Rye in Olympia. They celebrated their troupe’s birthday in delicious fashion, with turkey, strawberry shortcake, cupcakes, and lots of shimmying and twirling.  Crystal Tassels (who is incidentally, a Burlesque Seattle Press Contributing Writer) was special guest performer for the first show.

The second Icing show followed on April 5, and the ladies really brought the house down. Foxy Bitters of Twin City Tease was the guest performer, and it marked her last show in Washington before moving to Utah.

Here’s a selection of images from the anniversary shows:

Momo LaVein heats things up in the kitchen (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Momo LaVein heats things up in the kitchen (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Momo LaVein (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Momo LaVein (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Momo LaVein (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Momo LaVein (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Ms. May B. Naughty as Strawberry Shortcake (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Ms. May B. Naughty as Strawberry Shortcake (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Ms. May B. Naughty (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Ms. May B. Naughty (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Crystal Tassels, featured guest performer for the 3/29 show only, performs a boozy number to the crowd's delight (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Crystal Tassels, featured guest performer for the 3/29 show only, performs a boozy number to the crowd’s delight (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Crystal Tassels (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Crystal Tassels (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Guest performer Crystal Tassels and her chicken dance (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Guest performer Crystal Tassels and her chicken dance (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Peachy LaFever's curves in some vintage attire. (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Peachy LaFever’s curves in some vintage attire. (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Peachy LaFever (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Peachy LaFever (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Perlita Picante shares a sexy new way to enjoy cupcakes (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Perlita Picante shares a sexy new way to enjoy cupcakes (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Riveting Rosey and her blue fans (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Riveting Rosey and her blue fans (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Riveting Rosey (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Riveting Rosey (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie and her mad tea party (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie and her mad tea party (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Vyxen VonWolfie (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Zsa Zsa Bordeaux the titillating tapper, tap dancing and twirling (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Zsa Zsa Bordeaux the titillating tapper, tap dancing and twirling (Photo by Heather Schofner)

 Zsa Zsa Bordeaux (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Zsa Zsa Bordeaux (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters guest performs with Rock Candy Burlesque (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters guest performs with Rock Candy Burlesque (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Foxy Bitters (Photo by Heather Schofner)

Our lady in Italia: Vixen Valentine chats with Dixie Ramone of Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival.

•04/06/2014 • 2 Comments
Dixie Ramone (Ela Von Dutch Photography)

Dixie Ramone (Ela Von Dutch Photography)

~ Written by special guest contributor, Vixen Valentine

Last November, the first Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival was launched at the Teatro Centrale Carlsberg in the heart of Rome. With two nights of burlesque entertainment from not only around Italy but also Europe, burlesque enthusiasts saw an eclectic array of burlesque routines that always ended in a lively dance party. I was able to catch up with Dixie Ramone, one half of the production team known as The Missunderstanding (along with Albadoro Gala), who produced the event, to get her take on burlesque in Italy and the inspiration for the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival.

Vixen Valentine: How long have you been performing and producing burlesque?

Dixie Ramone: I have started in 2009, mostly at the Micca Club in Rome, I’m among the very first performers to appear in Italy. Albadoro has a more recent start, 2011. We have basically started big together, with the 2013 edition of the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Award, although both of us have been involved in teams that produce events.

Vixen: What first attracted you to burlesque?

Dixie: I always wanted to be a dancer, my dream was to be in Broadway shows but to do that I should have moved to New York when I was young and I basically didn’t have the guts. Nevertheless I have never given up on dancing and I’ve been in a contemporary dance company, I’ve done shows with some groups of African dance and at some point I was working as a belly dancer. Tired of having to deal with club owners, I was looking for new inspiration and you know when they say “things always happen for a reason”… I saw by chance my first burlesque show and I fell in love straight away! I thought: this could be it, I can totally do this!

Vixen: What was the first burlesque show you ever saw?

Dixie: It was in 2008 at the Micca Club in Rome. It really blew my mind.

Vixen: I understand that this was the first year of the International Burlesque Festival. What inspired you to produce the show?

Dixie: There were many reasons why I had been thinking about producing a festival in Rome. I travel a lot and I take part in festivals all over the globe, I was always mad back home because I knew we were lacking something. So I thought: it should be me to bring this to the city where I work and live. Rome is a capital but not an international city, the way I expect an international city to be. Especially in the burlesque scene we need more ‘internationality’. This was another reason why I wanted to have as many foreign performers as possible. And also, traveling a lot I’ve been making a lot of friends and I’ve been helped greatly in this work, I feel I want to pay back in the same way, I want to be able to invite my colleagues to Rome, because it is a beautiful city. I’m quite experienced and I felt I was the right person to undertake this mission, I want to contribute in the growth of the burlesque community in Rome and in Italy in general and maybe this was the main reason. I’d like the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Award to be an yearly appointment for the Italian and the European burlesque community, that will put Italy on the same level as many other cities in the world. The cooperation with Albadoro Gala, that gave life to the duo The Missunderstanding, proved successful given the extreme different personalities and skills of the two of us.

Teatro Centrale (Photo by Giuseppe Porisini)

Teatro Centrale (Photo by Giuseppe Porisini)

Vixen: What was the highlight for you over the weekend?

Dixie: Having The Reigning Queen of Burlesque for the first time in Italy was a highlight. I guess in general the quality and the fact that we tried to have artists with different styles was of key importance, because I wanted to show Rome that burlesque can have various faces. From the point of view of the artists, we tried to provide as much comfort as possible. So there was a troupe that filmed the whole festival in super high quality and all the performers got a high quality video of their show and they were all put in a hostel that was not far from the venue, and this helped making connections stronger and made their lives easier while in Rome.

Vixen: What was a challenge you overcame to produce the festival?

Dixie: The whole thing was a challenge for me, since it was the first event I have ever organized! and I must say I started really well!

Vixen: Do you find the burlesque scene in Italy different from the United States and if so, how?

Dixie: It is very different! Obviously it depends on various factors, the first of all is time. Burlesque in the USA has been existing for years, whereas it is still a young form of art in Italy. Probably this is the most important factor. During the years the USA have been able to experiment, the artists have had the time to get together, share experiences, and little by little build up a community. This is what is mostly lacking in Italy, we are still at a stage where each of us worries about one’s small piece of land, whereas in the USA artists know that to make something big you have to have a big and motivated team. Style is different too, in Italy we are mostly classic performers, side show and new burlesque styles are not developed yet. It is a cultural factor and maybe it is also because we know that the audience might not be ready for everything, so we are sort of scared to try. It’ll take time…

Albadoro Gala (Photo by Fabienne Bello)

Albadoro Gala (Photo by Fabienne Bello)

Vixen: What is your favorite part of producing and performing in Rome?

Dixie: Performing in Rome is not my favorite generally speaking, neither is it performing in Italy. I’d rather travel to new places. Anyway what I liked about producing in Rome is the thrill and the adrenaline of knowing that I’m trying to do something new that I’m sure people need but that might be a complete disaster for all sorts of reasons. I like to produce and invite foreign artists to Rome because I enjoy seeing the way they react when they are there, it is very useful to me to know their feedback about the shows and the audience here.

Vixen: What is your burlesque goal for 2014?

Dixie: My burlesque goal for 2014 is to produce the second edition of the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival, trying not to lose money from my own pocket this time :) My other goal is to keep traveling which I’m being quite successful in, since I started the year with a fantastic trip to New York and my beloved New Orleans. I’d like to keep on traveling and performing and teaching and to produce other shows in Rome. Another big dream is to be part of a big show or maybe create one…why not?!

 

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According to the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival Facebook page, there will be a second festival this fall. To learn more about the festival or to keep up to date with application deadlines you can follow the Caput Mundi International Burlesque Festival through Facebook and their website:
https://www.facebook.com/CaputMundiInternationalBurlesqueFestival
Website: http://www.caputmundiaward.com/

 

Singing and stripping with Queenie O’Hart.

•03/31/2014 • 1 Comment
Queenie O'Hart (Photo by Jen Sanders)

Queenie O’Hart (Photo by Jen Sanders)

 

~ Written by/ interview by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

There’s a new monthly burlesque revue in Ballard called Revelry, produced by burlesque artist Queenie O’Hart. Queenie, like so many other performers here in Seattle, got her start at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque back in August 2012. Since then Queenie has been very busy on the burlesque stage, singing and stripping in shows such as Tuesday Tease, Behind The Blue Door, Minxes of Middle Earth, Every Sequin is Sacred, The Burl-X-Files, Better Off Nude and the list goes on. Because I love exploring peoples’ histories in burlesque (especially those fairly new to the scene), I had to sit down with Queenie to find out all about Revelry and her burlesque world.

POC: How did Revelry come about?

Queenie: I was at a rehearsal for Accio (A Burlesque Tribute to Harry Potter) and it just ended up being me and Sailor St.Claire. We started talking about burlesque in the Seattle area and she started saying that there needed to be more monthly and weekly revues so that more people could do acts that weren’t themed and things like that; so people could get around more. Maybe give the 101 graduates a little more room to move around and see things. And so that’s really how it started. I kind of took that idea and went with it.

POC: So you ended up choosing a Monday night every month?

Queenie: Yes the first Monday of every month at the BalMar in Ballard.

Sailor St. Claire (POC Photo)

Sailor St. Claire (POC Photo)

 

Revelry Host Matt Langston (POC Photo)

Revelry Host Matt Langston (POC Photo)

POC: What’s the show like?

Queenie: The whole premise, the way I approach the performers is, “What acts do you want to see more of on stage? What acts do you want more audience members to see?” So you can change each month. You can change it up and do two new acts if you want, or you can do the same two. It’s really for the performers to do the acts they want to do.

 

Eva Fairwood in Revelry (POC Photo)

Eva Fairwood in Revelry (POC Photo)

Tootise Spangles (POC Photo)

Tootise Spangles (POC Photo)

POC: Have you performed in them?

Queenie: I haven’t yet. I like sitting back and being able to run everything, so that everything can go really smoothly (laughs).

POC: When you perform burlesque do you sing in every act?

Queenie: I do sing in every act I have.

POC: I was actually at your Burlesque 101 recital back in August 2012 and what I noticed right away was that you clearly had stage time before that. It was obvious in the way you presented yourself. What’s your background on the things you studied (like singing)?

Queenie: I actually haven’t studied singing.

POC: Really? So what was your background as far as performing?

Queenie: I did plays in high school then after I graduated I moved to Boston and worked for a theater company out there called Big Colony Productions, and I did some shows with them and then moved back here. Then I went to massage school and I kind of took a break from theater. I did do a play reading for The Northwest Playwrights alliance but that was about it.

POC: Well where did the singing come in? Were you a natural?

Queenie: My mom said that when I was real young and pretty much up to high school, I was tone deaf. I listened to a lot of Broadway musicals. My dad got me Evita and Sunday in the Park with George on record and I would just sing with those as often as I could and try to pick it up.

POC: Did you have some sort of guidance on how to practice?

Queenie: Bernadette Peters!

POC: Yeah?

Queenie: Oh yeah. Bernadette Peters. Patti LuPone.

POC: So you listened to them?

Queenie: Yes and I’d try to match it as best as I could.

POC: So it wasn’t until senior year in high school that people said “that’s pretty good”…?

Queenie: I was a huge drama nerd in high school. I knew that I had gotten the hang of it when I didn’t want to miss our spring show which was Guys and Dolls and I wanted to audition, so I asked my mom to listen and she said that I actually had gotten much better and that I should try out for musicals.

POC: By the time you took the Academy of Burlesque class, what had you done in the previous few years?

Queenie: I had done some musical theater, a lot of chorus stuff, kind of in the background. I liked to get really drunk and do karaoke so that’s where that started.

POC: What made you take the Academy of Burlesque class?

Queenie: My dad used to watch the “Something Weird” videos of all the old-timey performers, so I had seen a couple of those and I thought those were fun and interesting and then Hattie HellKat [Fall 2011 graduate] actually told me that she was taking the course and so I was just like, “Wow I didn’t know that existed.” So I decided to sign up too.

POC: Had you ever even thought about burlesque before?

Queenie: I hadn’t, but I have zero shame so I used to get naked all the time no matter what.

POC: While singing karaoke?

Queenie: Well that’s a different story.

POC: It depends on how drunk you got.

Queenie: Right. It depends on how drunk I got and how receptive the crowds were.

POC: There’s a couple things with taking a class like this. One is taking your clothes off. Obviously you didn’t have a problem with that…

Queenie: No.

POC: …but there’s also the other thing, of performing. Was there any type of nervousness, any type of doubt with that?

Queenie: I definitely felt like…I think everyone who takes the 101 class has a moment where they say, “I can’t fucking do this!” and wants to flip a table. I definitely went through that because it was really crazy with the costume and everything…I had Inga Ingénue and Shanghai Pearl [as instructors] and they were really good about helping us get through and talking us down off the ledge. I was doubtful about being able to put it all together. As I don’t sew or do any of that, putting together a costume was really scary for me and definitely just getting up on stage and trying to sing and take off your clothes and remember where you’re supposed to be moving and trying not to have that bewildered look on your face. Definitely interesting.

POC: Did you know you were going to sing in the 101 class right away?

Queenie: Yes. I definitely was not a singer when I was younger and I always really wanted to be.

POC: During the process of taking the class did you think it would be a one-time thing?

Queenie: I kind of figured I’d keep doing it. I got really tired of doing actual theater because let’s face it, some directors can be terrible dicks.

POC: What was the next thing you did?

Queenie: I started with Rock Candy Burlesque. They’re down in Olympia. And then I was taking the 202 [Academy of Burlesque] at the same time. Then I did the October show, Sweet Screams with Rock Candy. First show I did after that was Carnival with Vixen Valentine. Then Captain Royale with Violet DeVille and then it snowballed from there.

POC: What is burlesque to you?

Queenie: I think that burlesque is an art form where you get to be your choreographer, your own musician. You can be all of the things you want in a theatrical production and you can make it your own. You can make your own fucking music video to whatever song you want and you can make it awesome. I love that.

POC: What have been some of your inspirations this past year and a half (whether or not they’re burlesquers)? What’s something that you see in a show and you say, “that’s what I want to do”?

Queenie: Inga Ingénue’s Minnie the Moocher. Every time I see that I get so excited. It’s so amazing. And that is the thing where it’s like: that’s what I want to aspire to be.

POC: And what are some of the things you’d like burlesque to aspire to be?

Queenie: I want it to continue to grow and be this awesome thing and become a little more socially acceptable without people saying, “Oh my god you are so brave.” I want people to do what they want to do and have venues to put on the weird fucking acts that they want to do that aren’t necessarily themed. That’s what Revelry is.

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Revelry is every first Monday in Ballard at the BalMar. Next show is April 7th, click HERE for info.

 

revelry_2 Barry Blankenship

Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque

•03/21/2014 • Leave a Comment

Princess Lucky Buttons' fan dance floor work (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Princess Lucky Buttons’ fan dance floor work (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)



~ Written by Jessica Price

Life with Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque just looks fun. The untamed collective always seems to do things with a just a little bit more panache than most: you might find them wiggling with impersonators at Elvis’ Birthday Bash (a 14 year Olympia tradition), celebrating Repeal Prohibition Day (again…another fine Olympia tradition), or getting wet and wild at a fundraising car wash in downtown Olympia to get the entire gang to BurlyCon. TUSH! feels one quarter modern, one quarter vintage, and the rest all a mishmash of scrappy individualism seemingly characteristic of Olympia’s vibrant arts community (yeah, that’s right…Seattle doesn’t get to have all the fun, ladies and gentlemen).

The troupe came together somewhat randomly back in 2009 with the name TUSH! and an ambitious Craigslist ad (Nani Poonani and Bettie Beelzebub were among the earliest members). “The troupe just kind of fell together naturally after that- we have members from Burlesque 101 and we have members with other backgrounds in dance, theater and other performance,” Bettie told me in one of our first exchanges a few years back. Their mission statement pretty much sums it up:

TUSH! is a collective of creative, vivacious, sexy and outspoken women, brought together by the shared vision to rebel against commercial standards of beauty. We represent an authentic and unconventional array of body types, ages, colors and cultural identities in a powerful, intelligent and humorous way. TUSH! strives to empower women, validating each individual representation of beauty and celebrates the diversity that defines what is sexy.

With three or four large scale productions per year, new acts are developed with everyone’s creative input for months in advance, aligning with whatever theme the ladies deem most inspiring. The cast is flexible and far-reaching among the core “sisters” (could it be they’re actually blood sisters? It wouldn’t be surprising). If someone sits out a show, they’ll pop up in the next one. Frequent guests from other South Sound burlesque troupes such as Rock Candy Burlesque, Twin City Tease, and Gritty City Sirens often share TUSH’s stage. The ladies have also been known to do a little cultural exchanging with Portland performers and kindred spirits like Seattle’s Stripped Screw (Hattie Hotpants & Nani Poonani will appear in Disney After Dark when it lands in Olympia April 12; Hattie will join Gritty City Sirens’ for Adventures in Oz April 19, and Nani appears in Twin City Tease’s Smitten March 22).

If you happen to live in Olympia and catch the ladies during their non-burlesque hours, Hattie can often be found sharpening her improv skills, Nani models, does photo styling, and mixes exquisite potions and elixirs at Wiggle Perfume & Sundries, and Prudence Payne just helped to open Dillingers- a beautiful 1930s style speakeasy bar right in the heart of downtown. Bettie has recently joined the newly formed Oly chapter of Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers (or CLAW, if you’re into slick acronyms), where she’ll be wrestling as “The Vegan Villain”. They’re always up to something just a little out of the ordinary…

Says Hattie Hotpants: “2014 for TUSH! is about reflection, revision, purpose and a new commitment to excellence. Five years in, all collective members are in different places than when we began—personally, professionally and as performers. Our continued local success and the incredible support of our hometown, coupled with changes in membership, have led TUSH! to a moment where we must expand our perspective and continue to grow. I’m pretty excited to see where we go from here! As members begin to branch out more, touring and appearing in shows outside of Olympia, we always return to the troupe ready to get better. We are so fortunate to be in the BQ community, and thankful–f*cking grateful–for our peers. Not only as friends, artists and colleagues, but as teachers and inspirations!”

About those photos… last month’s Love: Nothing In Moderation almost sold out Olympia’s historic vaudeville house, the Capitol Theater, at nearly 700 seats. The show featured special guests Luna Landing of Centralia’s Twin City Tease, Karli Stewart, Aerialist, and Kymberly Zyl of Olympia’s Tallhouse Arts Consortium.

Here’s a selection of photos from that show (all photo credit belongs to Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography):

Wednesday Du Monde's glove removal (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Wednesday Du Monde’s glove removal (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Karli Stewart  (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Karli Stewart (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Karli Stewarts soulful aerial routine (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Karli Stewarts soulful aerial routine (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani's amusing take on the traditional balloon act (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani’s amusing take on the traditional balloon act (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Special guest Luna Landing of Centralia's Twin City Tease (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Special guest Luna Landing of Centralia’s Twin City Tease (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Kymberly Zyl of Tallhouse Arts Consortium shows off some chair magic (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Kymberly Zyl of Tallhouse Arts Consortium shows off some chair magic (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani's gorgeous red gown  (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani’s gorgeous red gown (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani's POST-strip red gown (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Nani Poonani’s POST-strip red gown (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Bettie Beelzebub in a "Devil Conjuring Shimmy"  (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Bettie Beelzebub in a “Devil Conjuring Shimmy” (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Bettie Beelzebub gets it from behind- Devil marionette operated by performance partner "West Coast Oliver Clothesoff" (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Bettie Beelzebub gets it from behind- Devil marionette operated by performance partner “West Coast Oliver Clothesoff” (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Wednesday Du Monde's floor work, with Valentines Day stage decorations by member Ginger Smack (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Wednesday Du Monde’s floor work, with Valentines Day stage decorations by member Ginger Smack (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Princess Lucky Buttons of Olympia's Own TUSH! Burlesque performs her S+M Fan Dance (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Princess Lucky Buttons of Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque performs her S+M Fan Dance (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Princess Lucky Buttons S+M fan dance (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Princess Lucky Buttons S+M fan dance (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Curtain call - Nani and Wednesday "bump" to "Love Rollercoaster" (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Curtain call – Nani and Wednesday “bump” to “Love Rollercoaster” (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Hattie Hotpants does her curtain call walk (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Hattie Hotpants does her curtain call walk (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)


TUSH's "Panty Wranglers" - Lu Lu Longlegs and Gloria Hallelujah - disco with the Devil during curtain call (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

TUSH’s “Panty Wranglers” – Lu Lu Longlegs and Gloria Hallelujah – disco with the Devil during curtain call (Photo courtesy of Israel Caine of Lock and Key Photography)

Pre-Performance Rituals: Psyching Up to Strip Down

•03/15/2014 • 1 Comment

~ by Crystal Tassels, Contributing Writer

The world of theater is bursting with rite and ritual. Whisper the name of Shakespeare’s Scottish king inside a theater and you will quickly find yourself ejected from the venue, then commanded to spit, swear and stomp three times to protect the production from otherwise certain catastrophe. Whether this is because thespians are naturally superstitious, or because of the unpredictability of live theater, or because there is a pantheon of ruthless theater gods that demand tribute is anybody’s guess.

The burlesque community has some rituals of its own. While some performers may have carried these traditions over from previous stage experience, not all burlesque artists have theater backgrounds. Still, many performers have routines and practices that they MUST undertake to ensure a good show, lest their pasties pop, costumes malfunction, energy suffer, et cetera.

I asked my glittery comrades in arms what rituals they feel compelled to complete before the curtain rises. From 38 respondents, I isolated 82 instances of 45 different activities, which range from the purely practical to the downright goofy. (Flirty Sanchez hopping around and singing, “I’m gonna poop my pants,” stood out as particularly serious.) With the help of my state-of-the-art data analysis tools (a spreadsheet), I developed the following super scientific categorical breakdown of activities.

table 1
Most of these responses came from my very own home-sweet-Seattle, but there were also contributions from the sparkle tribes in Texas, Pennsylvania, British Columbia, and California for which I am eternally grateful. Thank you all SO much for contributing to science by responding to this very important survey.

And now, because pie charts mean business, the results.

B3-13-2014 5-02-53 PM

As you can see, almost a quarter of respondents do something to center themselves mentally before stepping onto the stage. (Producer, performer and Nerdlesque scholar Jo Jo Stiletto’s pre-show pep talk consists of quietly chanting, “I am a motherfucking sorcerer,” to herself.) Many performers take a moment to mentally remove themselves from the clutter and chatter of backstage to still their minds and solidify their intentions.

Approximately 20% of all respondents pee, poop, or consensually grope someone prior to performing, which makes me giggle.

One metric that surprised me was that, of all 38 respondents, only one reported stretching. (Last year at BurlyCon, the incomparable Perle Noire informed our class that she requires two to three hours just to stretch before performances.) Tootsie Spangles, of inter-arts gang The Libertinis, was the only survey respondent that reported stretching at all. Tootsie and her frequent partner Hattie Hellkat “do partner stretching, which looks as dirty as it sounds,” before performing duets together.

To examine the overarching themes behind these exotic sparkle rites, I broke the data down even further:

table 2

Chartjpegborder

As you can see, the majority of pre-performance traditions revolve around getting in the zone mentally. Physical movement and awareness came in second, although I have a feeling that many performers do stretch before performing but don’t consider it a rite or ritual.

Many respondents wrote that they shake before going on stage (including paragon-of-fierceness Iva Handfull). Coping strategies for shaking include taking a shot of whiskey*, shaking out the body to loosen up and encourage circulation, and doing pushups. Former Mayor of Seattle Burlesque EmpeRoar Fabulous deals with nerves by doing, “a swirling Stevie Nicks dance,” in which, “[I] let my body just go wherever the hell it wants to.”

The scientific conclusion of all of this analysis seems to reinforce a fact the world has long known: that showgirls and showboys, while exotic, lovely and perpetually covered in glitter, are divinely cerebral creatures that imbue their art with thoughtful purpose. (And they also pee. Often.)

*(Author’s Note: I shake like a leaf while waiting in the wings. While a shot of whiskey would definitely make me feel warm inside, it would also make me wobble right out of my heels.)

 
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