Shakespeare never saw this coming: Boobs and the Bard.
“The sparkly influx into my life has been really delightful.” – Scarlett O’Hairdye
~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)
Scarlett O’Hairdye of Unnatural Redhead Productions brings us a new themed burlesque show this Friday and Saturday (November 1-2) at The Jewelbox Theater at The Rendezvous: Boobs and the Bard – A Shakespeare Burlesque!
Scarlett is definitely no stranger to themed tribute and nerdlesque shows. In the past year alone she’s performed in The Burl-X-Files, JOYStick! Level 2, Behind the Blue Door: A Dr. Who-Inspired Cabaret, Accio Burlesque! A Burlesque Tribute to Harry Potter, An Evening at Merlotte’s: Burlesque Inspired by True Blood, I Love the 80’s! A Totally Gnarly Burlesque Tribute as well as her last production The Sugar Frosted Crunchy Flake Friday Evening Cartoon Hour and just a few weeks ago, Bechdel Test Burlesque. Due to her keen appreciation of Shakespeare and absolute passion for burlesque sparkliness, it was only a matter of time before she brought Boobs and the Bard to the burlesque stage.
“Boobs and the Bard was something that came up about a year and half into my burlesque producing and performing career. There is just a lot you can draw from with Shakespeare, and doing a Shakespeare themed show.” Scarlett says.
Before we talk about stripping to Shakespeare, I like to get into the history of how ordinary citizens succumb to the sparkly and irresistible world of burlesque. So I met Scarlett at Cafe Pettirosso amongst the very loud clinking and clanking of silverware and coffee cups. We both had mint tea (don’t print interviews always make it a point to tell you what the subjects are drinking/eating?) and I set out to get the lowdown on Scarlett’s burlesque origins and glittery associations.
POC: What was your introduction to burlesque?
Scarlett: I actually went to a friend’s recital (at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque 101) in the fall of 2010, and I saw everybody perform and I was like, “I need to do this, this is a thing I need to do.” I couldn’t sign up for winter at that point so I registered for spring of 2011… I registered for spring real early; and then I was thinking about it a lot. My first [non-recital] burlesque show was Stripped Screw’s Christmas show that year. I started going to more shows and I signed up for a variety of dance classes too because I was just really excited about wanting to do everything I could to prepare for it. It was also kind of trying to do something that would distract me from the fact that I wasn’t taking the burlesque class yet.
POC: Did you have any previous experience with performance?
Scarlett: I actually grew up doing community musical theater. My very first play was Showboat and I had the line “Momma, momma, here come the captain.” So I had a lot of theater experience. Also, in early high school I got into going to Anime conventions and cosplaying. So I was sewing a lot of my own costumes and going out in somewhat public venues in crazy outfits and uncomfortable footwear for a couple a weekends a month. I was comfortable onstage and I was comfortable with the idea of wearing weird costumes in front of people. There’s definitely a certain hurdle to get over the idea of actually taking off that weird costume in front of other humans, but I like to joke that I traded my dignity for some magic beans when I was a little kid and that the beans weren’t actually magic. I find life’s a lot more fun if you don’t worry about embarrassing yourself.
POC: What excites you about burlesque/nerdlesque?
Scarlett: I really enjoy getting to self-cast. I think it’s great that in burlesque you can choose to play a character you wouldn’t normally get cast for in a play if you were auditioning for somebody else. I really enjoy just the whole DIY aesthetic. You can do everything from the ground up. You have complete creative control over something you’re creating. Having done art professionally for other people for a really long time, it’s really refreshing to do things entirely like just what you want to do and not necessarily concerned with whether it’s going to please the client. And I really like seeing people use their 3-5 minutes on the stage to do something new and interesting and maybe tell me a story that I didn’t know I was going to be told when I came in.
Scarlett: I think that applies to nerdlesque just as much as it applies to regular burlesque. I feel that nerdlesque is useful as a marketing term; a themed show just tells people what direction the show is going to go once you’re in there. But there’s nothing inherently different from a Star Wars themed show than there is to a show that’s just a mix of classic and neo-burlesque. It’s just the Star Wars one probably has some in-jokes in it.
I want to do acts that I can perform anywhere that don’t require a backstory for the audience; that’s one of my goals for 2014. I want to do acts that you wouldn’t look to qualify them as a nerdlesque act but I want to do them without giving up my nerdiness and my awkwardness and my enjoyment of being funny and a little bit silly on stage.
POC: You mentioned that you fell into producing by accident. How did that happen?
Scarlett: My 101 class actually decided that we wanted to create a troupe. We all really liked performing so much [that troupe, Sass Boom Bang Burlesque, had two shows in the summer and fall of 2011]. After the fall show most of the people in the troupe were like, “I just don’t really have the time for this, I can’t devote as much time to this as this needs.” But by the time we made that decision I had already booked Iva Handfull for what was going to be our February show and I didn’t want to cancel that booking. So I had these dates and I had this headliner… I’ll just open this up and produce a show. It went pretty well and then people started asking me when my next show was going to be and I was like, “Oh ummmmmm, May?” and then I kind of just kept producing.
POC: It looks like you will be very busy in 2014…
Scarlett: I’m moving into producing on a bi-monthly basis for my own shows in 2014. I felt that once I got to the point that I was selling out single night shows, then I can do a double night show. If I’m selling out my single night shows this consistently then I can produce bi-monthly instead of quarterly. I will have 5 shows that are going to be solely Unnatural Redhead Productions in 2014. The December show is going to be in association with Jo Jo Stiletto Events and then me and Sailor St. Claire are talking about co-producing a show (potentially in November) and then me and Randi Rascal are thinking about doing something together for May.
POC: You’re also quite the costumer to the burlesque crowd.
Scarlett: I was reluctant at first to actually make costumes for other people because I wasn’t sure my sewing chops were up to the task. But people would ask and I would look at what they wanted and I would break it down in my head and say “Okay, I think I could actually do that.” Then people would hear that I did costuming and would come to me and I would just look at what they wanted and I would say “Yeah, I think I can do that.” And I have turned “Yeah, I think I can do that” into an actual…something that is making the majority of my income now. That was unexpected but delightful.
POC: What’s it like performing with your husband, Bolt Action (who you met at an Anime convention right)?
Scarlett: Yes. Working together has been really great. He’s just always up for whatever I kind of need him to be up for. And basically that started out because for the first troupe show that my 101 class did, I wanted to do this personal trainer act but I needed a personal trainee and nobody in the troupe could really do it because they were working on their own acts, so I was like, “Sweetie, do you want to let me manhandle you on stage?” and he was like, “yeah I guess.” And then he had a good time and somebody asked him to do a solo act for a nerd theme show that fall. He had this idea to do an Aquaman routine and it’s probably become his signature act.
POC: Your wedding back in May was a burlesque extravaganza.
Scarlett: It was. My wedding was attended half by family, friends, and knitters, which is my other big group here in Seattle, and half by sparkle people. The sparkly influx into my life has been really delightful.
POC: Back to Boobs and The Bard, can you tell me a little about your fondness for Shakespeare?
Scarlett: We all had to read Shakespeare and there were definitely some plays I was more interested in reading than others. My favorite was probably “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”. I read it willingly and on multiple occasions. My next favorite is “Twelfth Night”. I have an appreciation for somebody who has written so much and written with such a variety of characters. For the show, I’m super excited that I was able to arrange Iris Explosion to come out from New York to be my headliner. I actually contacted her on a recommendation from Jo Jo Stiletto who said she had an awesome speak and strip from the end of “Much Ado About Nothing”. She has three Shakespeare pieces so I said to her, “You’re closing the show, here’s the feeling I would like the end of the show to have. Which one do you want to do?”
To find out which one Iris chose, you must come to the show. In addition to Iris Explosion, the cast includes: Jesus la Pinga, Scarlett O’Hairdye, Bolt Action, Queenie O’Hart, Tootsie Spangles, Hattie Hellkat, Solange Corbeau, Olatsa Assassin, Sailor St. Claire, Trojan Original, Paris Original, The Luminous Pariah, and will be hosted by Rebecca Mmm Davis.
Man, if only Shakespeare were like this in high school.
Get tickets HERE.