Interview by Divertida Devotchka. Photos: Shoshana of Through the Looking Glass Studio
Q: In addition to your extensive modeling experience, you also host a number of online/mobile shows. How did you get into that and how long have you been doing it? What is the best part about these gigs? The most challenging part?
I found my niche with hosting/interviewing after I moved to Los Angeles. I was approached by a web-based TV show called Altitude TV (recently bought by Revolver TV). I went in and did some green screen tests for them. When they offered me the job, I was surprised and a little nervous. I never really pictured myself doing that kind of thing. I always had my sights set on modeling. But it was rewarding to take on a new adventure and challenge. And as it turns out…I absolutely fell in love with hosting! It’s an amazing experience to interview people who have accomplished so much, are so driven to continue to succeed, and who are so passionate about what they do. I get to meet people and do things that people dream of … and I get paid for it! I am one lucky girl. The most challenging part of the job is scheduling. Trying to line up the perfect window of opportunity for everyone to meet and spend a couple of hours whenever they are already so busy can be hard.
Q: You just got married in April of this year, correct? How’s married life?
It is going very well! I was never one of those girls that really pictured herself getting married. Whenever I met my husband it was seriously love at first sight. As cheesy as that sounds, we both dove right into the deep end. Six months after knowing each other he proposed to me, and a year later we got married! There is no one else on the planet I would want to be married to. He is awesome. It’s weird to see your future in someone else! I never could see past a year or two with other boyfriends (sorry guys) but honestly with him I can see forever!
Q: You’ve been modeling since age 12 and just returned to Dallas from a stint in LA. What are some of the major differences between working and living there as opposed to here? What made you decide to return?
LA will always hold a dear place in my heart…from a distance. I loved living there! It was fun, exciting, and the opportunities and experiences I had were awesome! Before moving, I traveled to LA quite a bit for work. But living there… you’re in the hustle and bustle of the city – constantly dealing with fake people, getting parking tickets for everything, inhaling smog…and the TRAFFIC!!! It’s a tiny city with a lot of opportunity, but there are too many people fighting for those opportunities and they’ll do anything to “make it”. Don’t get me wrong – I love California! I am blessed to have lived there as long as I did and accomplish what I accomplished in my career, but moving back to Dallas has made me a much happier person! I moved back to Dallas last year simply because Brad and I got engaged and having a long distance engagement was not something we wanted!
Q: Your dog Monroe is featured with you in several of your photos and he’s obviously a big part of your life. I also saw that you’ve done some work with PETA. Would you consider yourself an animal activist? Why or why not?
Oh man! That little guy is the apple of my eye! Monroe is a Blue Merle Chihuahua! He is about to turn four. I don’t have any kids of my own but I feel as if I gave birth to him. The Peta 2 shoot was AWESOME. I was so stoked when they asked me to be a part of it. It was an anti-fur ad for Fred Segal. We posed with live bunnies and did a small interview on buzznet. It was featured in AP Magazine, as well as other publications. I wouldn’t say I am an animal activist. I don’t have any plans to blow up any facilities or do anything extreme, but my heart is very connected with animals. I don’t like abuse or animal testing.
Well, professionally I would like to continue to focus on and expand my TV hosting career. Maybe one day you’ll see me on MTV or VH1! In my personal life, I just want to grow old with the hubby, have babies, and live to be 87!
Q: You have some interesting tidbits about you on your website, such as the fact that you can play the saxophone, you don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, and you can quote almost every Wu Tang Clan song. Care to share more about any of these things?
HAHA! Well the Wu-Tang story is short and sweet. When I was in 10th grade, I had a friend named Raul. He had this “W” drawn really big on his notebook, and I asked him what that was. He explained all about Wu-Tang and the 36 chambers. Then he pulled out his Walkman and played some songs for me. At the time I was heavy into old school punk rock, so it was pretty funny to see me jamming out to Wu Tang. I just really connected with the Wu. Haha!
As for the other stuff – I just try to take good care of myself. I’ve never been a smoker and I’m not really a drinker. I haven’t had a soda or anything carbonated in 10 years. I don’t do much dairy (no milk), and I take a bunch of herbs and vitamins to keep me healthy for as long as possible.
Q: Anything you’d care to add?
Feel free to check out my interviews with some awesome bands at www.RoyalArtistClub.com and my blog at www.RoyalArtistClub.com/RACblog
2010 Best Solo & Audience Choice Winner at Texas Burlesque Festival:
Angi B Lovely drops in to chat about titles, aerials, gypsies, Maury Povich, and disco camping.
Interview: Shoshana. Photographs: High Art Studio and Benn Britt.
Catch Angi this month at Viva Dallas Burlesque on August 6th, with the Lollie Bombs August 13th and 14th, and in September at The New Orleans Burlesque Festival!
Q: You originally came on the burlesque scene in Dallas, well…by helping to start it. Tell us about those early days as a co-founder of the award winning and beloved troupe- The Lollie Bombs.
It wasn’t entirely glamorous in the beginning I must admit. We often performed on tiny, badly lit stages, mostly at bars and changed in storage rooms with no mirrors.
Trying to educate an audience that had no idea about burlesque was no easy thing to do, especially when most of us didn’t have a basis of comparison ourselves, because of this we took a lot of risks. Some of our early work included botoh pieces, gas masks, beat poetry, drag queens, and guy members… anything went. Eventually we figured out a formula that worked, but there was a lot of trial and error.
Q: In addition to your work with the Lollie Bombs, you have also come onto the radar as one of the only aerial artists in Texas on the burlesque scene. How did you first become interested in aerials and what was your training?
As a child I was always climbing to the highest point I could get to; I would often get stuck in trees, or spend hours on the roof. During recess I would spent my time alone hanging upside down and figuring out ways to flip off the bars. I never had any fear of falling, and enjoyed the comfort and quiet of being alone in the air. It was always in the back of my head that aerial art was something that I wanted to do. I took a few classes here and there, but it wasn’t until after my grandmother died that I made the commitment to go for it in a very serious way. She wanted to be a trapeze artist and had always wanted my mother to join the circus. I always wanted to be an aerialist too, so in a way I feel I’m living both of our dreams.
Q: Your aerials, hula hoop performances, fire performances, and work as a performance artist has taken you to all kinds of venues and performances outside of the burlesque scene. In addition to burlesque, what are your other performance interests?
I love ballroom dance. I have a special love for swing dancing, lindy hop most specifically. I also studied musical theater early in my college career and still have a huge interest in that area. Also, with literally dozens of disciplines with in circus art, I feel I’m just scratching the surface.
Q: What do you say to folks who say that your aerial numbers are not true burlesque?
I’m not entirely sure what “true burlesque” is to be honest. This seems to be a genre that is continually reinventing itself. I do theatrical striptease with a gimmick. Some girls strip with a feather boa, I strip in the air. I don’t see how one is more “burlesque” than the other. Indigo Blue once told me “we can spend a lot of time talking about what burlesque isn’t, but I’m not sure how productive that is”. Like her, I’d rather focus my energy on being inclusive, not tearing each other down.
Q: Tell us how it felt winning the title of Best Solo at Texas Burlesque Fest, as well as being a finalist for the title of Performer of the Year at Hot Rods and Heels.
Winning best solo at TX Burlesque Fest was pretty surreal- I had not expected to even be competing at all. It was only after tying for crowd favorite with Gravity Plays Favorites Friday night and was invited back to compete Saturday. This was my third year at TX Burlesque Fest and I’ve never been included in the competition, only the showcase, so winning something my first year competing was an incredible honor, especially with all the enormous talent that was involved in this year’s show down. It’s a moment I will treasure for a long time.
I stopped performing and moved to Houston during the time that Burlesque really exploded in Dallas, so moving back I was relatively unknown. Even the people who had remembered me from The Lollie Bombs might not have thought of me as a solo performer, so I felt I really had a lot to prove. When I was nominated by my peers as a finalist for Performer of the Year it solidified in my head that I had been accepted into the community, and had made a name for myself as a solo performer.
Q: I joke that you’re a gypsy, but it is true that you come from a long line of performing and visual artists. Tell us a little about your background.
My grandmother on my mother’s side was always drawing and sketching. My mother was a ballerina, and my mother’s brother is an actor, sculptor, puppet maker and Renaissance man in general. My father’s mother was an actress and a dancer as well, having minor roles in movies like Singing in the Rain.
Q: I hear that Maury Povich plays a role in your daily life- What’s with the Maury addition?
Kind of a guilty pleasure I guess. I practice aerials everyday from one to three, which also happens to be when Maury is on, so usually I’m watching Maury 10 feet in the air. My trainer and I get a good laugh, it’s bonding for us.
Q: Ok, another oddity- disco camping?
Yes, It’s like regular camping only you bring your whole house, your costume wardrobe, and a big ass disco ball. Pants are optional, participation is mandatory.
But seriously, Disco camping is a phrase I use to refer to events I attend that are based on the 10 principles of Burning Man. Being involved in this community has definitely helped to shape who I am as a person and a performance artist, I’m continuously finding new inspiration and platforms to express myself through these venues.
Q: Artists seek to challenge themselves as a general rule, with so many performance styles under your belt, is there anything you haven’t conquered that you’d like to?
Oh plenty! I have a huge appetite for learning new things and like keeping my audience on their toes. Belly dance, hand balancing, and roue cyr are what come to my mind immediately. I’d also like to learn to play an instrument, something quaint -maybe the ukelalai. I’m also interested in learning the production side of performance, like lighting design, set and prop building, costume design and sewing skills- really being a one woman show.
Q: What are your three biggest indulgences? Three biggest fears?
I fear never truly mastering one craft because my focus often switches so quickly. I also fear the deterioration of my body as I get older resulting the loss of my ability to dance. The third may sound silly, but I have a huge fear of being by myself at night where I cannot see all the entrances and exits of the house- it can be crippling at times.
My indulgences are: costumes, snobby beer, and sleep.
The Layman’s Guide to Burlesque Classes in Texas.
By : Shoshana
Whether you were inspired by attending a local burlesque show, and want to hit the stage yourself, or you are just looking for a creative workout there’s a local burlesque class and instructor that is just right for you. The trick is finding the perfect fit.
Ginger Valentine uses her 15 years of dance training to serve as headmistress of Ginger Valentine’s Burlesque Charm School. Novices and seasoned performers welcome.
Monday & Wednesday evening classes are held at The Ruby Room (Fair Park in Dallas) and sessions include “Bumps and Grinds” and “Classic Burlesque Striptease”. You may buy classes in series, or drop in for $20.
Tuesday is “Burlesque Shimmy and Tone” at Move Studio in far north Dallas.
Miss Malicious of The Lollie Bombs and Texas Performer of the Year 2009 teaches “Burlesque 101” at 7pm every Monday evening at Lady of America Gym on Mockingbird at Abrams. Malicious covers everything from classic burlesque moves and basics to full burlesque routines. Class is free with gym membership ($30/mo) or drop-in for $15.
Delilah Muse, nationally renowned flamenco dancer, has dove head first into the world of burlesque! Her “Get Your Sexy Back” Burlesque class at United Dance Academy caters both to new mothers wanting to get back in shape & expectant mothers looking to stay sexy and fit during pregnancy. Classes are on Saturdays. $55 per Month or $15 per class.
One of Dallas’ oldest cabaret troupes, The Velvet Kittens teach a wide variety of cabaret style and burlesque classes at the Verandah Club in Dallas. Classes and workshops change monthly. Four Class Series is $60 regular registration.
Honey Cocoa Bordeauxx has been on the stage since age two. She brings her expertise to the Green Space Arts Center every Monday night for Burlesque Aerobics. Classes are $10 for TWU or UNT students and $15 for non-students.
Honey will also be starting at class at Sole Groove Dance Fitness in Flower Mound later this month!
Austin Academy of Burlesque’s headmistress is none other than Miss Coco Lectric, co-founder of The Jigglewatts and Hot Rods and Heels Texas Performer of the Year 2010. Lectric covers everything from classic techniques with boas, gloves, and stockings, to advanced choreography and full routines. Classes range from $10-$15 and are on a drop-in basis and are held at Galaxy Dance School and Lucila’s World Dance Studio.
Grace Truvant founded Lady Grace Academy, Houston’s first school of burlesque just over a year ago. The classes are taught in series and students may choose from a wide variety of subjects such as “Classic Moves of Burlesque” (Truvant is a New York School of Burlesque associated instructor), “Advanced Burlesque: Creating Your Character”, and “Exotic Essentials”. Fees variety based on studies choosen.
Q: What’s your earliest art memory? Do you remember the first piece of art you created?
My earliest art memory was when I was in the second grade; I drew a picture of Elvis holding a mic. My art teacher was very impressed and hung it in the cafeteria. That was the first time people actually noticed that I could draw.
Q: When did you discover oil as your medium of choice?
I discovered oil as my medium of choice my senior year in high school.
Q: I recently bought an Audrey Hepburn piece at Viva Dallas Burlesque. Did you use other mediums as well as oil paints on canvas? Airbrushing perhaps? Can you describe your method?
Yes, I do use many other mediums in my work. The Hepburn that you purchased was painted with spray paint. The method I use is spraying the paint through a huge poster board cut out stencil. This is the same concept of silk screening, pushing pigment through a filter to mass produce work.
Q: Local burlesque entertainers seem to show up as muses in your work often. What is it about them that inspire you?
Well, the female nude body is the most common subject in my work. My work glorifies the woman; it transcends her into a untouchable goddess. So when I was introduced to the burlesque seen here in Dallas, it clicked in my head. The burlesque entertainers have so much in common with my work- strong, beautiful, confident, untouchable women that have so much power.
Q: You take commissions as well. How does commissioned work differ from your own creations?
Yes I do commissioned work. My commissioned work differs from my own creations a little because I am working with a customer. The painting has somewhat of a guideline and is more or less a portrait; where as my personal work may be somewhat abstract and show more feeling.
Q: Why do you work exclusively in black and white?
I work exclusively in black and white because I feel that the pieces have more of a timeless appeal. I feel that color is more of a distraction to what I am trying to get across.
Q: I know cars are important to you. What’s your favorite car, what’s your current ride, and do you work on them yourself?
Yes, automobiles are a big part of my life. I have too many favorite cars and trucks to name, but I lean towards muscle cars, rat rods, and any Chevy short bed. My current rides are a 2003 Silverado which is bagged; it’s my cruising low-rider. My other truck is a 1977 Silverado; it’s my street rod weekend cruiser.
Q: What does the future hold for you personally? And for your work?
I plan on learning more mediums and expanding my work to the next level. I want to make huge pieces that are 10 feet tall that will make an even greater impression.
By: Ladonna Hearne
“I know that one of the most important steps in make-up application is blending. I want to invest in a good set of make-up brushes without spending a fortune. Have any suggestions?” Amanda, Dallas
You are correct! The first step in achieving a flawless makeup application is using a good set of brushes. This is especially important for blending eye shadow. A good brush will end up doing most of the work for you!
You can find good brushes in many places- I recommend MAC, Sephora, or Coastal Scents. I have even seen some good ones from Wal-Mart and Target, but you do have to know what to look for to get a decent cheap brush. A good brush should be very soft. You’ll want to avoid synthetic fibers as they are coarser and stiffen with use.
It is important to keep your brushes clean. Do this by using a brush cleaner, which can be purchased pretty much anywhere makeup is sold, or use a mild shampoo and water. Rinse well. When immersing your brushes in water, always keep the bristles pointed down and lay them flat to dry. This prevents water from getting into the ferrel- the metal part of the brush holding the bristles.
On a limited budget, you can get away with just five brushes.
My top five essential brushes are:
MAC 116 brush – use this firm but fluffy brush in a circular buffing motion to blend foundation seamlessly into skin. For areas that need more coverage, use a pressing motion then blend with the tip.
Eye shadow –
MAC 224 brush – This is the best brush for blending eye shadow as you apply it! Use a tight buffing motion combined with a back and forth windshield wiper motion. You can get a lot of detail with this brush by controlling the amount of bristles that touch the skin.
MAC 239 brush – this brush is great for controlled and dramatic application of shadow on the lid and blending the lower lash line.
Eyebrows and Liner-
MAC 266 brush – Helps create precise perfect eyebrows or use to define the lower lash line by “stamping” shadow between the lower lashes. You can also use this brush with liquid and crème liners.
Lip Brush! – Any lip brush makes a huge difference with control and precision of lipstick, especially with bright and dark colors
With summer travel season upon us, we decided it was the perfect time to start this Monthly Feature that we’ve had in our pockets for a while now. We will feature a new Burlesque or Pin-Up Haunt every month. Have a local legend of haunted theaters, celebrity burlesque ghosts, or the like? Shoot it over to email@example.com we’d love to hear from you!
Burlesque & Pin-Up Haunts
The Palace Theatre – Columbus, Ohio
By: Divertida Devotchka Photo: George Faerber
The Palace Theatre in Columbus, Ohio opened in 1926 and was originally a vaudeville house, the construction of which was personally overseen by Edward Albee, a well-known vaudeville impresario. According to the Palace Theatre’s website, from the 1930s through the 1950s, the theatre was the most active venue for live shows in the city of Columbus. Many of the biggest names of the era graced its stage, such as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Jack Benny, Glenn Miller, Harpo and Chico Marx, and last but certainly not least, both Mae West and Gypsy Rose Lee. In 1989, the theatre was purchased by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, known as CAPA, which also owns and operates several historic theaters in the city.
Internet research on this venue does reveal several anecdotal supernatural experiences there, but according to CAPA publicist Rolanda Copley, no one is aware of a haunting in their theatres. Some Columbus residents disagree with this assessment. Nellie Kampmann has done extensive research on paranormal activity in the Columbus area and her book, The Haunted History of Columbus, Ohio will be printed next fall by The History Press. Kampmann’s take on the theatre is quite different from that of their publicist.
“I’ve never been able to warm up to the place myself,” Kampmann said. “I am psychically sensitive, and there’s always been something about it that has felt very cold and unwelcoming to me. It didn’t surprise me when I found out that it had a reputation for being haunted.”
According to Kampmann, the theatre’s ghost made its first appearance at a reopening party after CAPA renovated the theater. “The festivities included a séance to contact Harry Thurston, the magician rival of guest of honor Harry Blackstone, Jr.’s father. Instead of reaching Thurston, something unexpected happened. One side of the medium’s face suddenly sagged, and she had difficulty speaking,” said Kampmann. “The ghost that she was channeling claimed to be the spirit of a stroke-ridden man who had died in the theater.” Some believe the man had been murdered, but no one is sure exactly what happened. It is said that many people experience a “suffocating presence” in the balcony where the man was reported to have died.
Kampmann said that the cleaning staff has also reported strange happenings. “They use a vacuum cleaner that straps on like a backpack in order to give them more mobility when cleaning the stairs. One day, one of the cleaners was vacuuming when the vacuum stopped,” Kampmann said. “She checked to see if maybe she had accidentally yanked the cord out of the socket. It was still plugged in. Then she checked the on/off switch and found that it had been turned to “off.” She flipped it back on and went back to vacuuming.” This same sequence happened again, and the cleaner turned the vacuum back on and continued working. “Five minutes later, the vacuum suddenly stopped again,” Kampmann said. “She looked around and decided that the theatre was clean enough!”
Want more burlesque haunts? Marilyn Monroe’s Ghost
By Hella Goode
What would you do if a random woman walked up to you and asked you if you had found God? You’d probably brush her off. Bettie Page walked the Jesus walk for many of her latter years, unrecognized and hardly recognizable, even participating in the Billy Graham Crusade. She felt she had quite a bit to reconcile, but nude modeling wasn’t really what she wanted to wash clean.
In fact, Bettie was known to say that nude modeling came naturally to her and that it was only once Adam and Eve sinned that they needed to wear clothes. Bettie did not regret most of her modeling, however, the government probing into Irving Klaw’s photography; accused of being pornographic and derogatory could have made Bettie begin to feel a bit dirty about her work. The photos taken of Bettie in various dominatrix outfits and gear were not blatantly sexual and did not involve nudity, yet filth is in the eye of the beholder. Just as a mother nursing her child in public can be seen as beautiful and natural by some, yet overexposed and even a turn-on by others, the images of Bettie became seen as something to be ashamed of.
Bettie modeled for fun, for the money (which paid better than her prior secretarial work), and for attention. She had never had a stable home life, unconditional acceptance, or stability, and strangely, her modeling-risque at the time, gave her all she sought after.
Bettie Page, born Betty Page on April 22, 1923 to Walter Roy Page and Edna Marie Pirthe in Tennessee, had no idea that her childhood longing for attention and acceptance would help bring about a cultural revolution.
She was the second of six children, and as any innocent child does, she needed attention. She wasn’t getting much of it. Her father wasn’t around much and wasn’t pleasant when he was. He was abusive and in and out of jail. Her mother became so desolate that she sent Bettie and a sister to live in an orphanage until she could afford to have them back. Yet, Bettie kept smiling and enjoying the simple joys of life. She and her brothers and sisters competed at keeping a chicken feather in the air using their breath, and she dabbled in art with the oil from her fingers. Bettie would always find a way.
Then, in 1950, while strolling along Coney Island, a random photographer snapped her photo. His name was Jerry Tibbs, and he had just discovered black gold. Although yet to have her signature bangin’ bangs that would be emulated for generations to come, she was still pretty and charismatic. The bangs came later as a suggestion to keep her face from appearing too long.
Bettie was a hit! She appeared in numerous magazines including Playboy, a move which would prove unexpectedly helpful later in life. Her career shot as high up as the Rocketeer, whose girlfriend in the movie was inspired by Bettie’s look. This is the part of Bettie’s life, from 1950 to the beginning of the 60’s, that we know the most about.
Then, just as Jesus disappeared for a few years, so did Bettie Page. Until recently, little was known about what she did for so many years. She was often assumed dead. Then she popped up as a Golden Girl of the faith. Turns out that between her three failed marriages she had become part of the Christian faith and devoted herself to God. Also a motivator in her newfound Christianity, her trouble with her temper. Bettie had been arrested for the attempted murder of her landlady after a fiery dispute. She was deemed mentally instable and diagnosed with schizophrenia. She served out many months in an institution, trying to heal herself.
During these turbulent years she had no way of supporting herself, not realizing that others were rolling in green by selling her images. Yes, the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies, had Bettie blowing up years and years later. Playboy’s Hugh Hefner extended his hand to Bettie, helping her bring in some profits from her images, most of which she did not own the rights to. After the government’s investigation of Irving Klaw, she was surprised any of the images still existed.
Bettie had no desire to create new images though. She wanted to be remembered even in life for her heyday moments, those glorious images of Jungle Bettie, fetish Bettie and the gorgeous Playboy shot of her, naked hanging the ornament on a Christmas tree. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to see her growing old. Meanwhile, Bettie was more popular than ever, with countless websites, books (including the great The Real Bettie Page: the truth about the queen of pin-ups by Richard Foster), and movies about her, including 2005’s The Notorious Bettie Page, starring Gretchen Mol.
That’s how Bettie chose to live her last quiet years, with psalms on her lips, her signature bangs (peppery gray) on her face, and memories in her head. A rarity amongst the legends of her day, Bettie did live a long life. At the age of 85, on December 11, 2008, Bettie Page passed away as a result of pneumonia and a heart attack in Los Angeles. Impossible to forget, rest in peace, Bettie Page.
So, next time someone approaches you thinking you look like you need a bit of faith in your life, look closely, you never know who you might find.
August is Shoshana’s birth month. Help us celebrate with a cocktail similiar in flavor to birthday cake! Go ahead, have a few- they’re “tini”.
1 1/2 ounce vanilla vodka
1 ounce half-n-half
1/2 ounce almond liqueur
a little lemon zest
Pour all ingredients into a shaker full of ice. Shake vigorously & strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Prefer chocolate cake? Check out last year’s birthday shot here.
Wednesday 16th June 2010
It’s the day of my burlesque debut. My god, I am nervous. I haven’t been on a stage since my primary school, I remember putting myself out there and showing the world how different I was. It was then people started to bully me for being different and because of the bullying I hid, to fade into the background. I envied childhood heroes and how they shone through the crowd; I spent my time daydreaming about fairies and goblins living in a make-believe world, or old fashioned actresses being elegant and glamorous.
At home, it was a different story. I had a fantastic garden, almost like a storybook forest, with a cute vegetable garden (perfect for my vegetarian ways), and flowers of every kind everywhere, and right at the back my mummy had made me my very own little stage, where I put on my own productions to my teddy bears. I always got a standing ovation! I also had a massive dress-up box with the craziest costumes ever, including feathers, hats and heels, showing that some things never change! I also got to sit in the garden and listen to my mummy telling me tales about my great-nanny Iris Nelly, who is the main reason why I love the forties so much. Thinking about the strong, pin curled woman looking over me as my guardian angel always made me feel confident inside.
I spent my teenage years pondering why people work their way up the ladder of cool; whilst being physically and mentally bullied for being, short, chunky, alien faced, flat-chested, or whatever other excuse possible. I soon sank into depression and developed an eating disorder. The bullying I got then was so severe that my mummy pulled me out and self taught me, even though she doubted herself she’s saved me, she’s the real super woman. We had some fantastic lessons, including one where we dressed as the homeless and went to a shopping complex to gauge the reaction that we got. The next day we went to the same shopping complex dressed as models, and the reaction we got was so much different, teaching me that I shouldn’t worry what people thought of me as long as I liked myself. Well, tonight I’m showing the world who Dolly is, and I hope they like me as much as I do! Oh help me, Iris Nelly!
It’s Show Time
Watching the other performers with my nerves racking and my knees shaking, I hardly noticed when a hand slipped into mine and helped me onto the stage, my mind going blank to what I had planned. When I looked at the audience, my gut just screamed ‘Hell Yeah!’ and I launched into my routine, altering and improvising some of the routine based on the reaction of the audience.
I loved every second of it! I got a huge buzz off of the noise the audience made. The flashes of the cameras showed that people actually wanted to take a picture of me! My dream was coming true- and maybe one day this girl could be what she wanted to be: an alternative pin-up burlesque performer! My confidence soared, and I felt happy and comfortable being me for the first time ever.
After doing my routine, I climbed off-stage and searched for my mummy. When I finally found her, she gave me the biggest cuddle and her eyes said “You’ve done it, Dolly!” Outside, I was surrounded by the people I’ve been missing out on my whole life. I had finally reached the first step to my dreams, and since then I haven’t stopped climbing. I have found myself, and I like who I am, and now with more photo shoots and routines planned in the future, I know what I can give and what to deliver. I’m Dolly, and I’m here to stay!
Interview & Photographs: Shoshana, of DallasPinUp.com
Q: You describe your style as “avant garde”. What do you choose this term and what do you hope viewers will walk away with from your performances?
The word avant-garde is defined as new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts.¹ Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.² I simply feel this explains what I do, who I am, and what I aim to achieve as a performer. It’s a motivational term that expresses my desire to go above and beyond what’s safe, comfortable or expected.
While I don’t personally see a lack of innovation in the scene at all, I feel being avant-garde speaks to the style and execution of creativity. In my case I utilize modern/alternative music, costuming and concepts over the beloved classic choices in many routines. I have something to say that extends far beyond my sex appeal or dance abilities; although a great deal of it hasn’t been seen on stage yet. Describing myself as avant-garde is a reminder to not be scared about going “there” and sharing that experience with others.
I cannot yet specify what I wish viewers will walk away with from my performances, but it’s my hope that I will be embraced for my beauty, brains and balls.
¹ Oxford English Dictionary
Q: In addition to your “alternative” views on burlesque, you also have some alternative personal views. Can you explain your desire to “create the world’s largest swapping environment” while “shacking up with your huge polyamourous family”?
Ha! I see when those two phrases are set side-by-side it’s quite suggestive. However, in my case “swapping” is a reference to stuff, not people and partners. One of my entrepreneurial pursuits before burlesque was creating an NPO where I hosted parties for (mostly) women to exchange all their excess stuff with one another. Even though I switched gears, I have every intention of continuing that work on a much larger scale because it’s tragic how wasteful and resourcefully careless we are on this planet.
As for the other mention, I am a bi-sexual, polyamorous woman. While I am married to a wonderful, gorgeous man I adore, it is my ultimate desire to have multiple partners in open-but-committed extended relationships that result in a huge family with oodles of super-kids and pets running around on our eco-farm village. I’m definitely a modern hippie.
Q: Though you have extensive formal dance training, you opted for the world of burlesque as opposed to say, joining a touring dance company. Can you share with us how you picked your path in the dance world?
When I first fell in love with dance as a child it was upon the discovery that dance was a language, and it became a conversation I could have with myself to learn more about who I was. It was a secret place that I could disappear to and feel more truth and honesty than I did in the real world. As I grew older and navigated the dance domain further, it got farther and farther from what I wanted it to be.
After high school I knew I would not be happy in any of the traditional homes for a dancer, and decided to withdraw. I trusted I would find or make my own way. I had first found The Wall in Deep Ellum, where I cut my freestyle chops, then belly dancing at my local YMCA, and finally burlesque. It’s in this community that I have the freedom I was searching for.
Q: It’s been quite a year for you! Since leaving the Velvet Kittens, your former troupe, you have been a solo performer for just about a year now and were recently earned the Newcomer Award- One to Watch at Hot Rods and Heels as well as being selected from a pool of hundreds to perform at Viva Las Vegas. Have those recent experiences influenced your burlesque outlook or feelings on competition within burlesque?
It has been an exciting year full of new experiences for sure, although familiar at the same time since I’ve been performing successfully most of my life. Still, in a new community you don’t exactly know what to expect so I feel very lucky to have been so welcomed and recognized!
I continue to feel that there should be better ways to recognize performers than having them be formally judged in competitions, but I am grateful for being selected and the opportunities that stem from that of course!
Q: As well as the highs, you’ve had some lows this year. As a result of a random and violent attack several years ago, you spent some time early this year in surgery. How’s your health now?
Well the low was really 8 years ago when it happened and in the past year I’ve been very lucky with the two surgeries I’ve had so far. I have two more planned as of right now but my costs have been completely covered so that’s a huge relief. I also chose a naturopathic physician I just love and their whole team is wonderful; they take very good care of me. It’s one step at a time and while I don’t know exactly what the end result of all the work will be, I have been able to focus on healing and have every reason to be optimistic about it.
Q: In addition to aspiring to be “a world renowned burlesque star”, also have “successful indie singer/songwriter” on your list of lifetime ambitions. Any chance we’ll be hearing you sing anytime soon?
I hope so! I’ve been singing and writing songs since I was 8 or 9, but I developed a major case of stage fright. I can be brought to tears singing so easily (damn emotions) and letting my music be heard feels like the most vulnerable and exposed I’ve ever been. But, I’ve been practicing with my husband and friends so it’s in the works. I have a signature act and song called “My Name is Bunny” that I’d love to get on stage- it’s upbeat and adorable, so I won’t cry.
Hopefully everything we’ve discussed so far (which is a shitload)! I will continue performing and modeling, although I will be slowing down a bit. The acts I want to put on stage next are all pretty much going to take a while to prepare.
Even more of a consideration than that however, is my recent decision to return to school and get my degree in Environmental/Sustainable Architecture. This is a very big deal and will mean a move and performing only during summers once I’m enrolled. That is ideal for me though, as I need a healthy dose of scholastic endeavors to balance my artistic activities.
A future full of love, laughter, learning, philanthropy, art, community, creating, travel and other such great things- that’s the plan!