A farewell to Wild Cherry.
Today many of us are deeply saddened by the news of the death of New Orleans burlesque legend Wild Cherry. Some of the most touching tributes we’ve seen have been firsthand accounts from performers that grew to know and love her in recent years (Trixie Little posted some beautiful memories early this morning, as have many, many others).
Back in 2013, Coco Lectric did a tribute act to Wild Cherry at the Texas Burlesque Festival and POC was in attendance. In looking back, we wanted to share an excerpt from that story, in which Coco sums up what the experience of working with her was like and how intense and physical she was. (We also encourage you to read THIS excellent biographical piece on Wild Cherry by Rick Delaup, which many of us have read and re-read many times over the years, as information on her was so hard to find).
As Coco recounted to POC in April 2013…
“I don’t really know where to begin when it comes to my Wild Cherry tribute performance. When Cherry and I spoke about it this past September, I immediately became thrilled and nervous! Hailing from New Orleans, Wild Cherry worked the touring circuit from the late 1950s through the 70s. There are no videos of her during her touring years, but her incredible performance style and before-her-time abilities made me want to share her career with audiences and fellow performers. She was such a physical performer, using tumbling techniques, balance and exotic floor work. The first day we met for her to train me she had abdominal isolations and foot work ready to go. The gracefulness of her arms was the first thing I noticed about her when I saw her perform for the first time, and there she was teaching me to do it! She was very sure to include her signature moves from her signature piece, a number in which she spun, gyrated, isolated her movements and traveled across the stage in the splits in a teal costume.
I met with Wild Cherry a few times, but each time was packed with so much knowledge that I had to take notes and run home to practice. Through the year I learned to invest in a good set of knee pads, a thicker yoga mat and some really good gel to keep my own signature Bettie bangs slicked back so I could wear Cherry’s signature ponytail.
In my attempt to truly do justice to Cherry’s tribute, I did my best to maintain her style and personality. She didn’t smile often, she would zone out at times during this piece and really get into the music; she was tiny and tough…”