Catching up with Stripped Screw.
My, how we’ve missed chatting with Stripped Screw, Seattle’s irreverent girl gang known for it’s heart of darkness and razor sharp wit. 2013 was a busy year for the ladies; they’ve been hard at work on their stable of constantly evolving annual productions, scads of solo and other troupe endeavors, and an ever-expanding following. All this while cementing their place as one of Seattle’s most notable and successful troupes.
“Have you ever wondered what happens in the Magic Kingdom after the sun goes down?” asks the promo material for Disney After Dark, which returns next month for no less than six whopping shows at the Columbia City Theater (move over Angelina, Bella Bijoux made a stunning Maleficent before you did). But before that, the ladies get lascivious with Valentine’s show Hard Love, also at the Columbia City Theater- the oldest vaudeville theater in the state of Washington, and the troupe’s home base. We caught up with founding member Violet Tendencies this week to chat about the two upcoming productions and what lies ahead for Stripped Screw:
Burlesque Seattle Press: What are Stripped Screws’ plans for 2014? Hard Love is next up (Valentine’s evening at the Columbia City Theater), and a few new twists are in store for the show I see…
Violet Tendencies: Stripped Screw is very excited for 2014!! Our goals this year are to travel more, both as solo artists and as a troupe. We are kicking it off with a return to Olympia’s Capitol Theater with Disney After Dark on April 12th and are working on bringing other shows to other regional cities later in the year. As always, we aim to improve and tweak our annual shows (Disney After Dark, Undressed to Kill and The Best Burlesque Pageant Ever) with new acts and the occasional new guests. Finally, we are excited to expand on our Hard Love shows, which vary in style and give us the opportunity to bring in new guests and explore new act concepts that just don’t fit in with our other show themes.
BSP: Disney After Dark is just around the corner as well. This show has been super successful- can you tell us a little about the new characters and the evolution of DAD?
Violet Tendencies: 2014 is our 4th year with Disney After Dark and we are very excited to switch up the set list this year. The Disney mine of characters is deep and varied and we wanted to showcase even more of our fantastic local performers. Our audiences appreciate the new acts and we also like to keep things fresh! Troupe members are also debuting some new acts this year and we are set to have the best DAD yet. As far as the evolution of DAD, our original storyline of cross-dressing Prince(ss)es and the ultimate storybook ending have taken on a new political relevancy with gay marriage laws being signed into effect in many states as well as more and more countries around the world. While we love being able to tie acts and characters together and bring newer films into the show, our audiences really respond to the good old-fashioned characters like the classic Disney Princesses and Villains.
BSP: The troupe is nearly five years old now, correct? How has the troupe developed over time?
Violet Tendencies: Right! We formed in August of 2009 and our first show, Uncivilized, was on Friday the 13th of November. The troupe members and dynamic have changed over time, with one of the most exciting changes being Stella D’Letto moving from our original founding stage manager into a full performing and producing troupe member. We have always run the troupe as a democracy and it’s exciting right now to have performers with diverse skills and styles, as well as solid solo performer resumes, who work so smoothly together.
BSP: It’s tough to build an image and even tougher to get that magical combination of talent, creativity, dedication, and a solid foundation to create a long-running burlesque troupe, but you have done it with bells on. What lessons have you learned along the way? What’s your secret to making it work?
Violet Tendencies: The secret to making it work is WORK! That and patience, good communication skills and finding people that you gel with all topped off with the continued shared desire to be better and make more.
BSP: I read that Seraphina is off to Chicago for the Windy City Burlesque Festival this June…that’s great exposure for her, and for the Stripped Screw family. What are the other ladies up to? Any side projects or festivals coming up?
Violet Tendencies: Yes, we are so excited!! Between the five of us, we have applications in to a number of other festivals and our local Nerdlesque presence is going to be great this year. Here we go: Stella, Seraphina & Drew are Unnatural Redhead Productions, in association with Randi Rascal, presents: The Real Folk Blues: Burlesque inspired by the music of Cowboy Bebop.
Stella is in for all four nights and Seraphina is teaming up with Bella Bijoux for two nights at That’s Fucked Up. Stella has also been cast in Smooches and Science Presents/in collaboration with Sailor St Claire presents The Danger Zone: Burlesque Inspired by Archer, she is co-producing a Tori Amos inspired show with Jo Jo Stiletto in late spring, and Stell(R) Films (Stella and her husband Ryan Watson) are partnering with Sin’N Linen on a mini web-series & Stell(R) will be producing their first burlesque show in the fall.
Drew is in a show put on by the Sockit Wenches (her Roller Derby team) this Saturday, Pink Kryptonite presents Undresseded Development: a Burlesque Tribute to Arrested Development and is on the roster at the Pink Door.
Seraphina is off to the Nerdlesque Festival (NYC) and the Windy City Burlesque Festival (Chicago), and she is with the Naughty Show at WCBF… and she and Iva Handfull are gearing up for their two-woman show Relentless in July with special guest Ray Gunn.
Kutie is going back to her musical theater roots with a side project this spring playing 10 different roles in one production! Twelfth Night Productions A… My Name Is Alice April 4–13.
I am delighted to be on the Pink Door roster this year as well as being cast in the Tori Amos show. My personal goals are to travel for festivals and shows, and to get out and experience new scenes!
BSP: And now for a fun, non-news question…if you personally could work with or even perform a fantasy duo act with someone, anyone in burlesque- who would it be?
Violet Tendencies: Julie Atlas Muz!! I first saw her many years ago in the (sadly defunct) Sex Workers Art Show doing her “You Don’t Own Me” rope routine and have been inspired and quite madly obsessed with her ever since. I see her dance background as the ideal launching point for all the wild, political, magical and mad things that she does and I would sweep a million stages to do a duet with her!!
BSP: Can you tell us a little about your dance training? I know you recently mentioned that you worked with Bruce Wells of Pacific Northwest Ballet, who I interviewed a few months ago…
Violet Tendencies: I trained on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet for 9 years (studying under Bruce Wells) then continued on with an apprenticeship at American Repertory Ballet on the East Coast and then a brief stint at Cornish College of the Arts before I decided to spare my body any more injuries! Over the course of my dance career my focus was Balanchine-style ballet and I also studied, flamenco, Fosse-style jazz, modern and choreography.
See Stripped Screw’s next two productions:
Hard Love: Valentine’s Day with Stripped Screw Burlesque, February 14 at Columbia City Theater, get tickets HERE.
Disney After Dark returns for 6 shows March 22/23/24 and 28/29/30 at Columbia City Theater. Get tickets HERE.