Ernie Von Schmaltz Drives His Van To Vegas
~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)
In our continuing coverage of the lovely Seattle burlesquers performing at this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame, we bring you “The Man, The Myth, The Mustache”: Ernie Von Schmaltz. Ernie will be performing at the BHoF kickoff show, “Movers, Shakers, and Innovators”. Both Ernie and his cousin Elsa are no strangers to the BHoF stage. In 2007 Elsa/Ernie was a member of The Von Foxies, who took home “Best Troupe” that year. Since then Elsa/Ernie has been a regular in the Seattle burlesque world performing in a variety of shows both as a performer and an MC (most recently, in Better Off Nude: A Burlesque Tribute to 80’s Cinema, The Naked Show, That’s F*cked Up 5! and The Moisture Festival). Ernie also teaches at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque (where I had the privilege of being under his tutelage…twice).
I asked Ernie a few questions about BHoF.
POC Photo: How different do you think BHoF is from when you and The Von Foxies won “Best Troupe” in 2007?
Elsa/Ernie Von Schmaltz: BHoF has grown by leaps and bounds; not just in attendance and recognition as the premiere burlesque event, but also as a much needed PR and fundraising vehicle for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum. There have been growing pains along the way but each year the event also seems to get smoother and better organized. BHoF has also really changed in the types of performances you are likely to see onstage. While I remember the first few years I attended, my first year in 2005 was the last year at the goat farm (in Helendale, California) having a wider variety of skill levels, costume quality and presentation, the recent year’s performances seem to be more polished, have more rhinestones, and in general more calculatedly competitive.
POC Photo: Have you performed at BHoF since then?
EVS: I have performed as an ensemble member in Indigo Blue’s step-down act in 2012, and as well as for The Von Foxies’ step-down act in 2008 at The Palms. They were two vastly different experiences; Indigo’s step down act took place at the pinnacle moment of the weekend, right before the new “Queen of Burlesque” was to be announced. The room was positively charged with electric anticipation, both about Indigo’s act, which remains one of my most favorite performance moments ever, and about who the new queen was going to be. It was fantastic to be a part of such a pivotal moment. Contrast that with The Von Foxies step down act, which took place outdoors on the pool deck of The Palms with outdoor lighting, wind, traipsing through the pool area in costume. Security was tight, so no cameras were supposed to be allowed, and it was during Sunday day, when the feeling was more of a lazy hangover sunburn, not so much of a high flying fancy night vibe. It was also at the end of the weekend when, and I believe I can speak for a moment for the burlesque community in attendance that year, we were all pretty fed up with the venue and its treatment of us as a community. It made the group synchronized pee in the pool later that day ever so rewarding!
POC Photo: How do you feel about performing at the “Movers, Shakers, and Innovators” showcase?
EVS: I feel positively freakin’ excited and proud to be performing in the “Movers and Shakers” show! This is my 10th year doing burlesque, and to be recognized as a mover and shaker at this point in my burlesque career feels awesome.
POC Photo: How are you preparing for your performance, mentally, physically, etc.?
EVS: I’ve been eating only raw steak for a month, doing one armed pushups and have hired a personal trainer that will slap my abdominals or buttocks when I do crunches hanging upside down from a bar….ha!
I’ve had a couple of the costume pieces re-made, thank you Jamie Von Stratton! I’ve been doing some peer reviewing with Iva Handfull, Velvet Ice, Serafina Fiero and her husband Rick, Jo Jo Stiletto and Lady Drew Blood; that process was awesome! I’ve also been hitting the gym a little differently to strengthen my ankles and calves for all that fake Irish dancing I’ll be doing. Lastly, I’ve been visualizing myself on that big stage in Vegas, the lights hitting me and me delivering something from my heart that makes the world laugh, applaud, then leap to their feet.
As for other thoughts about this magical weekend; for me this event is my burlesque pilgrimage. Its the longest running event with a direct lineage to the history of this art form. Every year I laugh, I cry, I learn, I’m inspired and I return to my little corner of the world transformed and moved to do more.