Eddie Van Glam gets ready for Las Vegas.
~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)
Each year in June, thousands flock to Las Vegas to be part of Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. They’ve come to see four nights of glitter-filled magic on stage in The Orleans Hotel. The Saturday night 24th Annual Tournament of Tease is the highlight of the weekend as burlesquers compete in several categories, the pièce de résistance being the “Reigning Queen of Burlesque” category. This year a number of Seattle burlesque artists are performing at BHoF and at the Saturday night tournament. BSP is getting down with these performers to ask them about being involved in this year’s BHoF.
Seattle’s Eddie Van Glam will be competing for “Best Boylesque”, along with Paris Original and Trojan Original (the fourth competitor in the “Best Boylesque” category is Mr. Gorgeous from NYC). One of the first times I saw Eddie Van Glam was at a Tempting Tarts show as a volunteer from the audience, where he then was serenaded by Jinkx Monsoon. Later in the year we took the Academy of Burlesque’s 202 class together. Since then Eddie has been involved in many productions, most recently The Naked Show, A Burlesque Affair to Remember, Thriller: A Burlesque Horror Story, Tuesday Tease, and he performs regularly at The Pink Door. I asked Eddie a few questions and about his origins in burlesque and what it’s like being involved in this year’s BHoF.
POC: What’s your performance background?
Eddie Van Glam: My background comes from two very different (but two very similar) artistic platforms: theater and pro wrestling. My love for theater performance goes back to over 25 years ago when my mom would play her favorite show tunes at breakfast every morning while I sat on my booster seat at the dinner table eating cereal. Watching soon became “not enough”; I wanted to do it too. I was 9 when I started acting in stage productions and in college I did musical theater. Around the same time I started performing, I also found pro wrestling. I admired the wrestler’s Adonis physiques & drawn to the hyper-masculine ballet they presented. They were comic book superheroes come to life. Much like trying my hand at theater, I became a wrestler 8 years ago. That journey brought me to performing burlesque 4 years ago.
POC: What was it specifically that brought you into burlesque?
EVG: I vividly remember my first account of burlesque. It was St. Patrick’s Day 2008. I went out to a variety show in Seattle with some friends. To be truthful, I had never even heard of burlesque before. Upon watching the performer, Evilyn Sin Claire, I was hooked. It was magic. After that night, I started looking for more shows to attend. I began studying it, falling for the beauty & freedom of the art form. By 2011, I had become friends with Evilyn and one day she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you do boylesque? Do you even realize your pro wrestling entrance is a burlesque act?” Stunned by the revelation, I thought about what she said. After some consideration, I decided to go for it and I enrolled in Miss Indigo Blue’s [Academy of Burlesque] Boylesque 101.
I was very nervous going into 101, I am a very shy person, and I was nervous what my classmates would think of me and my take on the question “What is Boylesque?” Traditionally, 101 students are taught the “art of the striptease.” But I wanted to do something different. Prior to my first day in class, at my day job as a hair stylist I had a client who told me she got hot watching her boyfriend put on a suit. While building my persona, I felt the best way to introduce “Eddie Van Glam” to an audience for the first time was a reverse reveal into a full tuxedo.
From the 101 in March of 2011, I soon found myself struggling. Audiences were unfamiliar with hyper-masculine males in burlesque and I suffered for it. Audiences would boo or scream obscenities at me and it hurt really bad. I had such a love for this platform to express and share myself, but audiences weren’t ready for it yet. One of my 101 classmates talked me into doing the 202 and I am glad they did. I found the spark again and haven’t stopped since.
POC: How do you feel about being a BHoF performer, and what are your feelings on the competitive aspect?
EVG: To say “I feel truly blessed,” would be an understatement. It’s an honor just to be chosen to perform (I know it sounds cliché, but it’s really true.) To me, BHoF Weekend is the pinnacle of our industry. It’s our Academy Awards, our Super Bowl & Olympics all rolled into one. It’s where you see the most innovative & talented performers. They’re game changers. I am humbled to be chosen, because it means I must be doing something right. In terms of the definition of “competition,” I feel it’s a double-edged sword. I, myself am a very competitive person. It keeps me on my toes and gives me drive to grow as a performer. I don’t use it to tear others down or allow myself to be consumed by it. I believe in healthy competition, but I also feel it can be unhealthy if you let it. This is the time for all of us to motivate one another to be the best version of ourselves. This is where we help bring our art form to the next level. Healthy competition allows that.
POC: How are you preparing? (mentally, physically, etc.)
EVG: I’m building towards a very exciting moment. I’m not doing anything different than I normally do, but I’m enjoying the journey. The pay off is getting to be on that stage in June in front of my friends, my peers, my family & the Legends who have paved the path for me to be able to perform. My goal is to give them all a performance of a lifetime.
POC: Who have been some of your burlesque heroes?
EVG: When I first started doing burlesque, I really found myself drawn to and inspired by the performers Waxie Moon (who I was privileged to be trained by,) Evilyn Sin Claire (of Sinner Saint Burlesque,) The Stage Door Johnnies (who doesn’t love them?!) & burlesque Legends Velvet Ice and Eartha Quake. They each have an amazing presence onstage and inspire me in different ways. I didn’t know men did burlesque until I saw Waxie Moon. He is such a larger than life persona that captivates me every time. His execution is done with such surgical precision, all the while maintaining that infectious smile of his. I’m also super jealous of those legs! Evilyn is a modern day, Punk Rock Janis Joplin. She’s real and raw. You can really feel what’s she’s presenting. There’s something to be said about 3 dynamically different men with different styles who come together in such harmony: The Stage Door Johnnies. I love Ray Gunn’s sensuality, Jett Adore’s playfulness and Bazuka Joe’s creativity. It’s a perfect recipe. Velvet & Eartha have inspired me in so many ways. They’ve personally encouraged me when I have had doubts about my performances and their feedback from their experience as performers is invaluable. I really treasure the relationship I have with them.
POC: Any final thoughts?
EVG: Three of the “Best Boylesque” competitors are from Seattle. Yes, I want to win, but more importantly I want that trophy to come home with one of us. Seattle has had a big contingent of winners this year (Jinkx Monsoon, Macklemore, Seattle Seahawks, & pro-wrestler Daniel Bryan.) Myself, Paris & Trojan are going to show why Seattle is a hub for male burlesque. It’s high time that a King resides here.