Scratching that itch with Miss Kitty Baby.
Seattle burlesque is a unique, beguiling universe- one that is teeming with bold statements, brazen pronouncements, and hopeful showgirls/boys around every corner. It’s sometimes a tricky business trying to determine who can live up to their eloquent names and really deliver that elusive blend of entertainment and self-expression that scratches that itch just right. There are shows each week showcasing all kinds of performers, all kinds of ideas- some fully formed; some still in the making. When we get a little complacent as audiences or as performers, I believe the best remedy is a short, sharp pinch in the fleshy part of your favorite soft tissue. One of the performers that delivers that delicious pinch (with both hands) is Seattle’s very own Miss Kitty Baby.
Miss Kitty Baby is an active supporter of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, and she has a show planned for September 22 that will remind you why you got a crush on burlesque in the first place. But we’ll get to that in a moment. First, in the words of Heidi Klum: let’s “have a little chat” with Miss Kitty Baby:
Burlesque Seattle Press: Hi Kitty Baby! So just to give a little background, when did you get started in burlesque?
Miss Kitty Baby: My first performance was in 2005 for an annual Toys For Tots fundraiser put on by the Rooks Car Club. We thought a few burlesque acts would give it a ‘boost’.
BSP: The last time I saw you perform, you did a sizzling act to “I’m a Woman” (who was that version by? It’s a takeoff of the classic by Muddy Waters, right?) and that song really stuck out to me in combination with the way you showed such strong ownership of your moves. How do you choose music?
Miss Kitty Baby: That song was by Koko Taylor. I love music that Scott Ewalt [NY DJ and boylesque historian] calls ‘greasy’. I am deeply into music that makes me want to rip my clothes off and do a dirty bump & grind…then I create an act where I remove my costume and well, do a dirty bump and grind.
BSP: And how did you develop your commanding and unabashedly sexy performance style?
Miss Kitty Baby: When I was rehearsing my very first burlesque act, I remember strongly feeling that I wanted to translate to the audience “I own you.” It took my body and stage presence a while to catch up, but now that I am there, I feel I can really deliver what I originally set out to do when I first started in striptease. Unabashedly sexy – Well I’m a triple Leo with 36DD’s. I’d say it’s really just in my blood. My hot blood.
BSP: Where did you pick up that Legend-like thigh slapping move? It’s so sexy and powerful every time I see you do it…like an exclamation point punctuating your acts…
Miss Kitty Baby: I wish I could say it comes from watching old videos, but most of the footage I have is a little tamer. The music I like to bump & grind to is say, mid-50s to mid-60s. A time when I imagine the dancers moved to the music the way I move to the music. Unapologetically sexy.
BSP: What do you think makes a performer truly great?
Miss Kitty Baby: The desire to be a great entertainer and in turn getting great joy out of entertaining.
BSP: What advice would you give to new and intermediate performers on how to become truly memorable?
Miss Kitty Baby: Put your heart into what you do. Community and your audience are just as important as your act on stage. Integrity in your art will shine through and stand out.
BSP: Do you think it’s about ideas, or stage presence, or a magical combination of the two?
Miss Kitty Baby: Definitely a magical combination of the two. An act based on a very simple idea can be delivered with a knock-out punch. If a performer is invested in and passionate about an idea this will translate to their presence on stage.
BSP: Now for your show! Let’s talk about the concept first…
Miss Kitty Baby: When producing my Legends Challenge show this past February I was being very impatient with how ticket sales were only trickling in for a Thursday night show. The causes surrounding the Burlesque Hall Of Fame are very important to the burlesque community, but I think that importance may not always be as apparent to the fans. I daydreamed of an ‘easy sell’. I said to Iva Handfull, “I want a show in September, on a Saturday night, at Re-Bar, I want to make it a goofy competition and I want Ernie Von Schmaltz to host. Do you think people will come?” I had the Re-Bar booked within a few hours. I’ve gotten terrific responses from the performance community to compete and volunteer. I’ve got a group of sponsors beyond my imagination. I have sold a generous amount of tickets. I really do hope it’s a success and something that we can do annually.
BSP: Now let’s talk about the cause. You’re a huge champion of the importance of recognizing and honoring our burlesque Legends (and the wild history of untamed women in general) and of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, which preserves their history. How is this show involved with the Burlesque Hall of Fame? Why does this continue to be a relevant cause?
Miss Kitty Baby: We will just be making a general donation to the Burlesque Hall of Fame with the proceeds from this show. There are always things like rent, archiving supplies, and preservation of our memorabilia that can benefit from our donation. The relevance of this is that burlesque has a unique grasp on our history in a way not many art forms or subcultures do. It was also a special request from the stage of the Hall of Fame Reunion this year that we in the burlesque communities act as ambassadors for spreading the word for the need to support the Burlesque Hall of Fame. I also really appreciate the ambassadorship of our very own Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2011, Miss Indigo Blue. I feel we can all follow her example of spreading the word as much as possible. There are many burlesque fans out there who are surprised to hear it exists at all: www.burlesquehall.org
Seattle Burlesque Olympics, produced by Miss Kitty Baby, takes place Saturday, September 22 at Re-Bar and features:
Sports Announcer: Ernie Von Schmaltz
Celebrity Judges: Miss Indigo Blue and Waxie Moon
The 2012 Seattle Burlesque Olympics Team: Ernie Von Schmaltz, Jamie Von Stratton, Flirty Sanchez, Bella Bijoux, Whisper De Corvo, Olatsa Assin, Paris Original, Cherry Killer Tomatoes, Boom Boom L’Roux, Lady Drew Blood, Taffetta Vee, Cherry Tart, Jovie DeVoe, Ivy DuPri, Eddie Van Glam, Dessi Devine, Tony Tapatio, Holly Bordeaux, Kylie Koyote, EmpeROAR Fabulous, June Cleavage, Pidgeon Von Tramp, Seraphina Fiero, Randi Rascal, Kutie La Bootie, and Man Johnson.
Generous sponsors include: Atomic Cosmetics, Pidgeon Coop Productions, Fig Tree Catering, ELD Images, Stripped Screw Burlesque, Pinky Shines Designs, Aces & Anchors Productions, Midnight Menagerie Productions, and Pole Fitness Seattle.