Lada Redstar: the “Hot Pinup from the Cold” performs at Lily Verlaine’s Nightcap June 8.
Lada Redstar sits across the table at her friend Lily Verlaine’s studio, listening intently to the dinner conversation around her while imperceptibly multi-tasking. She’s quietly focused on twisting a cherry stem into a tiny knot with her tongue, and at the next pause in conversation triumphantly produces a neat little bow. She laughs in delight at the new tricks a lady can pick up when she puts her mind to it – especially when it’s a bit of a dare.
Exquisitely beautiful and juicy in all the right places, Lada’s skintight deep teal dress wouldn’t be out of place on Madmen’s Joan Harris; her hair is a vibrant red inspired by Rita Hayworth (Lada’s #1 ladylove). All vintage pinup flourishes aside, Lada Redstar – fresh from her Burlesque Hall of Fame win in the “Best Debut” category – is a thoroughly modern woman.
Hailing from Sarajevo, Lada’s title-winning debut at BHoF was her first ever American performance, although she’s been honing her skills for years. She took home the World Burlesque Crown at the 2012 World Burlesque Games in London, and has toured Europe and Australia extensively since her humble beginning performing at a rock show in 2005 (Eyelash + “special guest” was the first and last nameless billing Lada received).
It was at a festival in Italy that her path to BHoF began. Seattle cabaret emcee and musician Armitage Shanks was performing at the same festival, and the two became friends over the course of the week. Armitage gave her a cd of his band Circus Contraption, and upon hearing the track “Insectavora”, Lada was smitten. She knew she needed to create an act specifically for the song. Armitage, keeping in touch long distance, was delighted to help secure permission from the composer and the track’s singer to use the song. The fantastical “Insectavora (The Queen of the Bugs)” – the act that would win her titles at BHoF and the World Burlesque games – was born.
Fast forward to 2012: Lada and Lily Verlaine were both on tour in Australia, booked to perform a ten day run of shows together. “If it hadn’t been for Lily, I wouldn’t be here now,” Lada explained. The pair of outspoken, adventurous women became fast friends and within one hour of the deadline for submissions Lily persuaded Lada to complete her BHoF application. The run of Melbourne shows hadn’t started yet, but Lily knew from her own experiences competing at BHoF that Lada was something extraordinary. “She just presents so gorgeously,” she said. “This year, as I wasn’t submitting…I had the opportunity to be graceful and supportive. The least I could do was say ‘girl, just hit SEND!’”
After the run of Australian shows, the two stayed in touch. As luck would have it, that fateful application led to a booking for Lada in Vegas. Lily flew in from New Zealand, Lada from Australia – and the two hunkered down to prepare for Lada’s turn in the 23rd Annual Tournament of Tease. The preparation leading up to the event was the most nerve-wracking of her life, Lada confided. “Then when I was backstage, I became calm. I enjoyed it so much.” As she took the stage and waited for her music cue, she could barely contain her excitement and accidentally cried out “I’M SO HAPPY TO BE HERE!!!!!” in the dark. Then came the music, and Insectavora took home “Best Debut”.
Lada’s unbridled excitement was infectious. “It brought a tone of spontaneity and genuineness to the competition,” Lily recalls of the moment. Such an uncorked outpouring of thought is very much in keeping with the woman that Lada is offstage. She’s extremely observant, intelligent, and articulate; possessing a zeal for life that radiates wherever she is. Lada’s also passionate about the untamed women of classic striptease, particularly Blaze Starr. “I love her so much,” Lada gushes. “I just love those performers that make you feel like they’re just having sex with you on stage…she was just crazy, and I love that. I was always into that imagery…that image of a woman.”
Growing up in Europe, Lada soaked up as much vintage striptease and 40s-60s pinup material as she could, pouring over dozens of books and all the video footage she could find. She idolized Rita Hayworth, as well as her Yugoslavian grandmother, who was not only a pinup model but fought in the Eastern European resistance against the Nazis. The unique power a woman possesses to be both strong and exquisitely captivating made a mark on Lada. Through burlesque she found a way to express that image of a woman and conquer a worldwide audience. “I’ve been really blessed and really lucky that people have come to me, and asked me to perform,” she says. “I believe you just do things with passion and good vibes, and smiling…and people will like that.”
Not a bad trajectory for a performer that was once billed as a nameless guest star back in 2005. ”That was ten years ago,” Lada laughs. “I was looking like a beautiful peach.”
Catch Lada Redstar this Saturday, June 8 at 11pm at the return of Lily Verlaine’s Nightcap at the Triple Door. Will she do “Insectavora”? You’ll just have to see…
Get tickets and read about Nightcap’s performers by clicking HERE. Lily Verlaine, Paris Original, Waxie Moon, Sara Sparrow, Iva Handfull, and Jasper McCann will join forces for one decadent late night rendezvous.