The multi-talented Kitten on the Keys sits down to talk New Orleans, Cannes Film Festival, red carpet shenanigans, skinny-dipping, Satan’s Angel, interpretive dance for the Lord, and her favorite moments in her performing career.
By: Divertida Devotchka Photos: Larry Utley
First and foremost, major congratulations are in order for being featured with Cabaret New Burlesque in the French film “Tournée” which recently won Best Director for Mathieu Amalric at the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival! Did you have any inkling that the film was going to be so well received? What was your reaction when the award was announced?
TOURNEE won the Foreign Press Award and Best Director for Mathieu Amalric! What a gracious gent; he flew us back from Paris to Cannes so we could join him onstage when he won the award. He’s a class act, that Mathieu. I had no idea what a big deal his film would be! I feel very grateful to be a part of it all. Honestly, I still pinch myself. It was a true Cinderella going to the ball dealie. Mathieu’s project had been in the works for a LONG time. He had been scouting dancers at Teaseorama , NY Burlesque Fest, and other venues- he did his research. When I first heard of his screenplay in 2007 I was convinced he was going to “borrow” the acts and personas of the cast of Cabaret New Burlesque and have skinny French actresses who smoke too much learn our schticks. But no- Mathieu is a true artist who wanted to harness raw talent. The French love the film with its mountains of inner turmoil. I have the photos to prove I was there in Cannes and it TRULY does not seem real! (I did a lot of OH MY GODS and WOWS.)
You walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival along with your cohorts Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, Mi Mi le Meaux, Evie Lovelle and Roky Roulette, correct? Care to share your red carpet experience with us?
Well, I had to double-Spanx my womanly bulges that night. (Felt like I had my thighs and lady bits in a medieval torture device. Ouch!) I am so proud of my burlesque pals and I am very grateful I had this experience because nothing like this will ever happen to me again! We all had our own red carpet styles. I was going for a 1930’s bias cut look, Mi Mi was sophisticated, Dirty went Mrs. Roper, Julie forgot her panties, Evie was a goddess and Roky ROCKED it! We were very popular! The French Minister of Culture told us we were the hit of the Film Festival! WOW! We went to lunches on yachts and partied in a castle.
Did I tell you Tim Burton was the head juror for the Festival? I heart his blue-tinted nerd glasses and he hearted us. The Paparazzi were a bunch of swarming mosquitoes; they travel in packs like wild dogs! I have never seen so many HUGE lenses barking up my tree. As award winners -we went to many fancy dinners in swellagant pricey hotels. On one occasion, after appetizers of salty peanuts and Pringles we found ourselves eating dinner next to George Lucas! (He has a wombat on his head.) Benicio Del Toro meowed at me for a couple days and took a real shine to leading lady Mi Mi le Meaux. I shared styling tips with Kirsten Dunst (she was in head to toe Chanel) in the ladies lounge and drooled over Javier Bardem backstage at the awards ceremony! I stared at Salma Hayek and marveled just how awesome her bodacious curves are (my geriatric punk rock boyfriend has a thing for her cleavage).
In the retro chic Villa where we stayed in Cannes I had one of the silliest ménage a trios times rooming with Evie Lovelle and Roky Roulette. I laughed so hard my sides ached and I do believe I piddled at some point. Our orange and blue Brady Bunch-meets-Evel Knievel wall paper and matching pillow shams hurt my eyes. I knicked a roll of designer chi chi hot pink toilet paper from the outhouse on the Croisette. (Don’t tell Interpol.)
We’re so excited to hear that you’re the “femcee” for the 2nd Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival’s Queen of Burlesque showcase on September 18 at Harrah’s New Orleans. How was your experience last year at the festival? What are you looking forward to the most this year?
The New Orleans Burlesque Festival was one of the highlights of my performing year 2009. I am thrilled to be returning! Having a live band back the Queen of Burlesque Contest was sensational! I am a second generation burlesque musician – I started my career in burlesque singing and playing piano in a burlesque band in San Francisco so this means a lot to me! Live music is such a treat.
There are so many fabulous performers this year- and I LOVE hearing the legends celebrate this classic form of adult entertainment. I love the swampy and swarthy mysterious air of New Orleans. Plus I can’t wait to see Satan’s Angel burn the place down! Katrina? Oil Spills? Voodoo? Hell, Satan’s coming to visit! Between the 2 A.M. skinny-dipping with Catherine D’Lish and Evie Lovelle and the 24-hour access to chicory coffee and beignets at Café Du Mond, how can a gal go wrong? (I have a nudity and sugar problem.)
You have several songs featured on the soundtrack to Tournée, as well as several solo releases. How and where can our readers purchase your music?
Pinch me some more! OUCH! Yes, I am lucky to be in the Tournée Soundtrack. Kitten butchers Aerosmith and Radiohead! I have copies of the French Import CD available for $17.00 including shipping and handling within the United States. I cannot believe I have so many musical offerings out now! I have several DIY CDs available on CD Baby and iTUNES.
Being bi-polar comes in handy while putting together tunes to record- a little bit cabaret, a pinch of punk rock, some flapperosity and a heapin’ helping of ballsy blues. My CDs, “Kitty Muffins,” “(It’s Not A) Pretty Princess Day,” and “Salty Meat Girl” are all online. I have 2 other CDs but they are sold out! (If you bribe me with shiny things I can make ‘em available!) (For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org, Paypal accepted. For our European pals, Amazon.fr and iTUNES.fr carry the Tournée Soundtrack.)
Unless I’m mistaken, you’ll be returning to France with Cabaret New Burlesque this October, correct? What other upcoming events and projects are you currently planning?
Yes, the Show Cabaret New Burlesque with the latest cast returns to France in October 2010! Delighted Kitty Hartl is bringing us back to France! Le Lieu Unique is a cultural center in Nantes, France, which is where the original show started back in 2004. At one point some of the cast had a 3-month residency there so I hope to run into a lot of familiar faces! I am working up some new songs, like “Madame Marajuana,” something I hope everyone can relate to! I am having a super duper time putting together obscure and fun earworms to perform at a variety of piano bars in San Francisco and beyond. I am also working on the set list and busting open my piggy bank to record my next CD.
“Does This Piano Make My Ass Look Big?”is the title of my one woman show, full of songs! sequins! sass! I have had one wacky carnival ride of a life full of a variety of oddball characters and A.D.D.-addled adventures. This more-or-less autobiographical show is based on songs I have written over a period of years. My three female role models Alice Cooper, Freddie Mercury and Liberace help me out through the tough times. A magical litter box of HOPE flies from the sky and allows me to purge and bury my problems. Several videos portray the different stages in my life played by a variety of San Francisco underground musicians. Sample story lines include:
When I was young I was in an interpretive dance troupe for the Lord. We were called the Earthen Vessels. Our brown leotards infuriated the Church Elders. When the air conditioning was on full blast our budding nubile breasts were a little too happy for Jesus.
I was in a band called Sugar Baby Doll with Courtney Love. During a drug fest she tried to rip my jewelry off and put ice cubes up my rear.
I am a second-generation burlesque musician. My father, drummer Oz Ramsey, was born cross-eyed. He left home at the age of 15 in order to pay off a debt to a band leader who had paid for an operation to correct his vision. My daddy was the youngest guy in the jazz trio on the Midwest Burlesque Circuit, accentuating the bumps and grinds of the dancers. He has some truly bizarre tales that include nude women, trained birds, jokester musicians and some mineral oil-laced bird seed.
Your bio states that you perform regularly with various San Francisco Bay area circus troupes. How did you get your start in the circus show circuit?
My hustle in SF is to be as varied as possible-I consider myself a VARIETY ARTIST. I play several instruments in a bunch of styles and have a crazy wardrobe to boot! We have the world famous CIRCUS CENTER in San Francisco and I have been hooked up with different producers for several years. One of my close pals runs Velocity Circus in SF; I am the Ring Mistress, A Singing Life-size Barbie Doll, Accordionist, and I accompany contortion and aerial acts with classical piano. I often work with sword-swallowers, geeks, fire breathers and I stilt walk/roller skate and play accordion and ukulele- anything for a buck! Vau De Vire Society- a circus/performance hybrid, has hosted me a few times. We did VeGoose in Las Vegas and Outside Lands Rock Festival in a 1909 Belgium Speigeltent last summer.
I had the privilege of seeing you play piano for jazz legend Little Jimmy Scott at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in 2009. It was an incredibly moving show. What are some of your most memorable performing experiences in your career?
Playing for Jimmy Scott was a religious experience- glad you enjoyed it! Luke Littlel made that happen. I feel so lucky! I truly value my elders and all I can learn from them. I was an untrained music “therapist” in rest homes. That was such a cool job! Here is a quick list of some memorable gigs:
Always LOVE working with Baby Doe and Teaseorama.
I did PLAYBOY radio in L.A. with Catherine D’Lish and Dita.
Performing in Birmingham, U.K. at the Candy Box Burlesque.
Co-emceeing a Burlesque Show on a boat in Helsinki with Finland’s Queer Fear Factor Winner.
“Meating” Ron Jeremy at a gig while dressed as a pig.
Having Roky Roulette deep throat my chocolate pudding-covered foot while singing my song about toe sucking called “Bare My Sole.”
I was tongue tied while interviewing Tura Satana on stage at Exotic World in the Old Days. Interviewing Liz Renay and Ricci Cortez was such a treat too! Calling those special ladies on the phone and chatting for HOURS is something I will treasure forever!
Going on tour with the DAMNED with Missy Malone and Mi Mi le Meaux all throughout the U.K. and Ireland.
Performing in The Wau Wau Sisters show in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Having the members of Mini Kiss slap my ass to my song “Leather Daddy” in France at the Isle De Nantes Festival.
Opening up for the scatological Extreme Elvis and picking up my pay the next day. (He is notorious for using “body fluids” in his shows.)
Playing piano and glockenspiel for Dr. Elmo (of “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer” Fame. It’s the #1 Christmas Song in the U.S. for 25 or more years; it beats out “White Christmas” all the time.)He still does not know the words or chords even though he has made MILLIONS from recording this one song.
Touring with Devotchka and Catherine D’Lish in 2003’s Burlesquefest .
David J from Bauhaus has me play David Bowie songs for him to sing to sometimes and he had me perform for his wife’s birthday. I was terrified of pissing off the elders but her Mom kept copping a feel and told me I had a nice “bum”.
By Divertida Devotchka
You’ve been a dancer since the age of three. What was your first experience with dance and in which styles of dance do you have experience?
My first memories of dance are of being in class. I had wonderful teachers growing up; they made me fall in love with it. We had a big recital every summer and it was something I really looked forward to, more than anything else all year. The stage, the lights, the costumes, the dancing, the applause! The bulk of my dance training is in ballet, tap, and jazz, with abbreviated training in modern, lyrical, clogging, hip-hop, musical theater, Irish step dancing, and belly dancing. I love it all.
You moved to New Orleans from the Midwest in 2002, and by 2003 you had started your burlesque career. How exactly did you get started?
My fiancé and I were living uptown and our neighborhood bar was also a laundromat! So we would go there to do our laundry and hang out and we became friends with the staff there. One day the manager said she was going to start a burlesque troupe and wanted me to be in it, and I was like, “what’s that?” Well, she went on to explain a bit and I thought “oh no, I can’t do that. I can’t take my clothes off in front of people, but I’ll still come to the shows.” So my fiancé was their stage manager and I helped with whatever I could and cheered them on every week. After a while it became harder and harder for me to just sit and watch and NOT be onstage. So I joined the troupe the “Steamin’ Mimis”. My very first act was a tango inspired dance, and I only stripped down to a full corset, ruffle panties, and fishnets.
Unlike most performers who tend to stick to one style (be it classic, neo, etc.) you seem to dabble in all styles. What are your thoughts on folks who insist that classic performers should stick to classic burlesque (and that neo-burlesquers should only do neo?)
I think I HAVE touched on every style at one point or another. If someone insisted that I should only do one style, I might think they were being a bit selfish at first, but maybe they’re complimenting me on performing a specific style particularly well. I guess it could go either way, but I feel that it should always be up to the performer. If you love neo, keep doin’ it! If you’re comfy in classic, keep doin’ it! Do it your way and have fun! But since we’re all creative people, sometimes “sticking to” a certain style can lead to feeling “stuck in” that style. My advice is to try each one on and see what fits, maybe all of them will.
In one Fleur de Tease dance you choreographed, you and 2 other performers do a spot on ode to Bollywood-style dancing. In another, you do a mash up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Beastie Boys “Intergalactic,” complete with an alien dance-off. You’ve stated that your Darth Vader striptease is one of your favorite routines to perform, and you also have more classic boa/glove/gown strips to music like Ray Charles. From where or whom do you draw your influences? Do you find it difficult to come up with fresh and exciting material or are you the type that always has a million new ideas stewing on the back burner?
I’m definitely influenced by all types of dance and all types of music. For me, most of the time a skit idea will come from a song. Sometimes it comes from a specific costume piece, or a show theme, or a random idea that gets bounced off someone else, which is exactly how the Intergalactic dance-off came about! Natasha Fiore (my alien cohort in that number) and I used to work together at a day job and we would throw around wacky ideas all day, and some of them stuck, like the space dance. And I get inspired by watching my fellow performers; we have some really talented burly girls here in New Orleans! Sometimes it does get difficult to come up with new material, I get dancer’s block, or I can’t figure out just what to do for that theme show. But oh yes, I’ve got ideas that have been on the back burner for a while, mostly due to lack of funds. But it’s okay, I’m hopeful that I can pull them out of limbo in the near future.
I’m really happy to be included in the fest again this year. Last year I missed out on the daytime activities, so I’m looking forward to attending some of the classes and panel discussions. And of course I’m excited to perform and to meet the other performers and watch them do their thing.
What other events or upcoming projects do you have in the works?
Well, I’m really excited to be heading to Dallas to perform at the Lakewood Theater on October 1st as a special guest for Viva Dallas Burlesque! And I’ll probably be hitting the road with Tony Clifton/Comic Relief for a few dates in October as well. With Fleur de Tease, we’re preparing for a big “Wizard of Oz” show, September 11th & 12th. We’re gearing it towards New Orleans (instead of Kansas) so it should be fun, and we’ll be performing at the Voodoo Music Experience again this year on Halloween Day. With the Storyville Starlettes, we’re having a show at the Shadowbox Theatre on October 24th. It will most likely be a Halloween theme that could veer towards serial killers and/or scary movies. And we’re planning a Facebook themed show soon, so look out!
Please share 3 little known facts about yourself.
–I once chased down a purse snatcher to retrieve my friend’s purse, even after being threatened with stabbing.
–I have love affairs with absinthe, Twizzlers, and bacon, but not at the same time.
–I can get any song out of my head by singing “Red Red Wine” to myself. It works!
By: Divertida Devotchka
New Orleans burlesque legend Wild Cherry grew up travelling the carnival circuit with her family, and her first performances were carnival girlie shows. She began dancing in New Orleans night clubs in the late 1950s. “I just wanted to make a living, because I had not had any formal schooling.” explains Cherry. Her stage name was given to her by a club owner who found it was befitting of her feisty personality. Cherry danced in various clubs throughout the French Quarter over the years and has fond memories of dancing, drinking, and of course, fighting. According to Cherry, there were certainly some clubs she didn’t stay at for very long. “I worked at some clubs with bad reputations- girls fighting a lot, and some managers even hit the girls. That never happened to me though,” Cherry said. “Maybe because my name put them off, I don’t know.”
There’s known to be intermittent cattiness and drama in some aspects of the burlesque scene, but Wild Cherry says things are nothing like they used to be. “There wasn’t a lot of that catfight stuff. Nah, these girls were pretty rough,” Cherry said in an interview with Rick Delaup, producer of New Orleans’ own Bustout Burlesque and the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. “And if they did decide they didn’t like somebody, in theaters I’ve seen, they would take a rolling pin and a light bulb, and grind that glass up fine like a powder and put it in your face powder. They would put shoe polish in the eye mascara tube. They could get really rough. They didn’t play.”
I found the “crushed glass in the face powder” gag to be rather shocking, so when I asked Cherry about it in our interview, she casually replied, “Well, I was glad I didn’t use powder, for one thing! I used pancake makeup instead and I suppose I would have seen crushed glass in that.”
In recent years, Wild Cherry has performed in several of the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend Legends showcases, as well as performing occasionally with New Orleans troupe Fleur de Tease, and she’s also done a comedic monologue in some Bustout Burlesque shows. She’ll be appearing again at this year’s New Orleans Burlesque Festival, where she will participate in panel discussions and sign autographs. I asked Cherry for her opinion about the current boom in modern burlesque. “There are girls out there who are bringing back the classic style and I’m excited about that,” Cherry said. “There are troupes all over doing that now, thank God. But I’m dead set against most of the new Bourbon Street. So many girls just go on stage and stroll around begging for money. Most of them don’t even dance, and some of them may be good at working the pole, but soliciting money has no part in burlesque.”
According to Cherry, burlesque isn’t the only thing that she has seen change over the years. She was known for being “scrappy” and argumentative, and admittedly used to go looking for fights some nights as an outlet for her rage. “I don’t go looking for trouble like I used to. People who knew me before would definitely think I’ve mellowed out over the years,” Cherry said. She may be calmer these days, but the old Cherry is still in there, and is known to make an appearance from time to time, much to the chagrin of her family. “I haven’t been in a good fight in years, but I wouldn’t back down from one even today, doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman. A few years ago I embarrassed my granddaughter in Wal-Mart because I was threatened by two young women and I said, ‘Let’s take it outside.’ Of course, the girls backed down.”
Layman’s Guide to New Orleans Burlesque
By: Femme Vivre LaRouge
I can hardly think of two things that could hold more promise of a delectably good time than New Orleans and burlesque. There is quite a lot going on in that fair city’s burly-q scene and we think you should know about it! To that end, we have put together this concise guide of New Orleans’ foremost troupes and where you can catch their acts.
Although the New Orleans Burlesque Festival was formed in 2009 to showcase the more traditional side of the city’s (and beyond) best burlesque, there are fabulous shows in the area that are done in both the classic and neo-burlesque style.
Bustout Burlesque, produced by Rick Delaup (who we also have to thank for organizing the New Orleans Burlesque Festival) has been painting the town red since 2005. It was the first show to feature live jazz accompaniment for the entire set and continues to do so, making for a truly electrifying atmosphere. A little comedy and a great deal of glamour make this show a very authentic trip down memory lane by way of Bourbon Street. This powerhouse group has had some great successes. Included are the production, “Cointreau presents Dita Von Teese with Special Guests, in association with Bustout Burlesque” and giving rise to burlesque star, Perle Noire, reigning Queen of Burlesque. They can be seen monthly at The House of Blues and other venues, such as Le Chat Noir, from time to time. You can learn more about this lovely and lavish production at www.bustoutburlesque.com
Reverend Spooky LeStrange & Her Billion Dollar Baby Dolls, a rotating cast of local dancers and out of towners, venerate cultural icons, both classic and cult. With a literary flair, their past “Church of Burlesque” events include ‘sermons’ on True Blood, banned books, and comic books. They dance to “heal your troubled souls and uplift your yearning hearts” at various venues around the city. The Reverend Spooky herself has been performing at festivals around the country since 2004. She named her troupe as homage to a group of street walkers who, during the mid-twentieth century, would parade together in Zulu on Fat Tuesday, carrying bottles of champagne and wearing garters full of money. Find out more about their fantastic affairs at www.myspace.com/billiondollarbabydolls
Another New Orleans favorite is Fleur de Tease. This troupe keeps very busy, performing every Friday at Boomtown Casino for The Burlesque Ballroom, presented by Trixie Minx and Irvin Mayfield. They will also be presenting The Wizard of Oz at One Eyed Jacks September 11 and 12, for the fee of $15, or $20 for reserved table seating. In addition to several other shows listed on their calendar at www.fleurdetease.com they also share their tricks of the trade by hosting Burlesque 101 classes. Directed by Trixie Minx (also a dancer), this is a true variety show, encompassing circus, magic, vocal, and aerial acts, as well as burlesque.
Slow Burn Burlesque has been igniting audiences with their sideshow panache and punk rock attitude since 2009. While still paying their respects to yesteryear, they use modern music and “the dialogue of today to push the boundaries of the art form.” Their cast of characters includes a comic emcee, magicians, fire performers, and of course, burlesque beauties. Their upcoming extravaganzas include “Pretty Not Practical” on September 4th, at Howlin’ Wolf, for $10 advance, $12 at the door, $15 for VIP, and Roxie le Rouge Presents: The Appeteaser, dinner and a show at The Elephant Room in Lafayette. For more information, visit their fabulous website at www.slowburnburlesque.com
One more group to delight your senses is the Storyville Starlettes. Billed as the longest running burlesque troupe in New Orleans, they are named after New Orleans’ famed historic red light district and have kicked their glamorous gams up at several local establishments. Learn more about them at www.myspace.com/storyvillestarlettes
Also not to be overlooked is Grindin Diamonds Productions, a casting company that can provide your party or event with go-go and burlesque dancers and female characters. Explore what they have to offer at www.grindindiamonds.com
Q: What are some ways I can become a better performer? I want to get into more shows, and I’m not sure how to be more appealing to show producers. – Laina
I try not to make strict rules when it comes to burlesque. Burlesque is an art form I do not want to put in a box, as its growth and development is the very heart and soul of the creative process. The freedom to grow is exactly how great ideas become great performances. One key to performers who seem to get lots of bookings is well developed performances that are well executed. Here are some tips for giving your performances marketing potential.
Limit your props- Stage space and backstage area will vary drastically from venue to venue. The more props you include in your act, the more complex of a performer you will become. Weight and set up of your props should also be a consideration. When developing props, always remember that at the bare minimum, a stage kitten may be the only person available to set up your props. Your props need to be light and quick to set up. A kitten may have only a few moments to set your stage for you, so your props need to be light and easily moveable. If your props are in pieces and have to be put together, be responsible and do that before the show begins. Leaving prop building to your stage manager or stage diverts the production staff’s attention away from the overall execution of the entire show. Test the item for quality as well. You and your props need to be as low maintenance as possible.
People as props- In my experience, this is a recipe for disaster. Using random people, backstage crew, audience members, your cousin Fred, performers who have finished their number already, or anyone else who was not booked as a paid performer for your number or has rehearsed this number with you, should not be onstage in your number.
Let me explain how it looks from the audience. Everyone will see the performer who was introduced, and then another person, smiling, but has a definite look of “I have no idea what will happen next” look on their faces. We see people who are wearing clothing or costumes that have nothing to do with your act, and as a result, it creates an uncomfortable energy in your audience feeling concern for what is actually happening. Your audience will focus on anything that clearly doesn’t appear to fit with your costume, theme or overall look.
People props will in the end, take attention, focus and the spotlight away from you and the continuity of your performance. Keep your stage entourage to performers who have rehearsed with you extensively in your routine. Thrown together casts will only appear thrown together.
Costumes- Costumes and theatrics are what makes the show in burlesque, and separates the art form from the traditional strip club. Jo Weldon even teaches a class called “Your costume is your choreography”! Burly-q-ers should take care in selecting items for a costume, and making the item unique to the stage and to the number. Costumes should reflect the performance, and remove elegantly (there are exceptions to that statement if the idea is deliberate) and effortlessly.
The biggest mistake I see dancers make onstage is costume pieces that are underwhelming, either by being undecorated, unmatched, or worse poorly sewn (even hot glued in some cases). Your lingerie should not look like you wear it anywhere else but stage. Unique, in every aspect of a burlesque performance makes the audience feel special! Never assume your audience doesn’t care, or won’t notice haphazard costuming. They notice.
Your costume pieces are a direct reflection of the amount of time, effort, and care a dancer outs into the routine, but executing their removal is directly reflective to the amount of time a dancer spends rehearsing her routine. Grosses of rhinestones, fine satins, and excellent costume designers do not make great burlesque dancers, but practice and flawless execution do.
Editing your ideas and concepts – We all have a laundry list of ideas some born out of inspiration, special interest, or even our own personal comedic taste. I encourage every dancer to keep a small notebook handy to write down those ideas. Much like brainstorming term paper ideas in English class, dancers should brainstorm their ideas for validity, relativity, and marketability. Write every idea down, but go back later and edit your thoughts.
Some ideas seem brilliant at the time, but later come across as trendy, overworked, irrelevant, or only amusing in certain company. With the ideas you think may develop, consider your audience and how they will react to your performance. Ask yourself if the concept is current or mainstream enough that your audience will understand what you are conveying. A dancer simply cannot alienate his/her audience as the connection between the dancer and the audience watching is the only reason your audience will come back.
Lastly, consider where you can perform this new concept. Concepts that are specific to holidays, seasons or audiences (sci- fi) are going to be more limited than general concepts that can be relative to any audience. I also encourage dancers to develop performances in all styles of burlesque that they can. Classical, Neo, and comedic routines in a dancers repertoire make any dancer more marketable to a producer. Offering a variety of styles for your clients or producers is much like being multilingual!
Be on time and communicate with your staff. Even I struggle with this. Make sure you arrive on time to your venue at the requested call time. Life in the big city is crazy so if you are trapped in traffic, your plane is late, you forgot your stockings and have to stop somewhere……..make sure you communicate with the appropriate staff members of your show where you are in regards to arriving to the show.
It’s not only important to the staff and the fluidity of the show, but other dancers notice tardiness as well. You don’t want to be known as the “Hottest Mess in Burlesque”. Never leave for your show without the phone numbers for your producers or stage manager on hand. Anything can happen and being prepared to communicate in case of an unforeseen emergency is the best policy.
Make sure you communicate all of your needs, props needs, lighting cues, and send your music to the producers BEFORE the day of your show. No one likes surprises, and leaving those very important details until the day of the show is nearly a guarantee that your needs will be over looked, or miscommunicated.
by Hella Goode
Pole dancing originated-you guessed it-from the Polish! Not really, it was practiced to keep warm and to entertain Santa Claus on the North Pole…
Just kidding, there are a few very different theories though, on how pole dancing came about.
The first one is probably the most logical pole dance. Although not intentionally erotic, the Maypole dance did have sensual roots. This pagan ritual was a fertility dance dating back to around the 1100’s, with the pole representing (but not obviously resembling) the typical phallic figure. Basically, people danced in a circle around the pole, often holding ribbons that were attached to the pole. This was done on May Day every year until Christianity became the mainstream.
Other areas of the world were also learning to dance with poles. In India, there have been non-erotic forms of pole dancing or exercising since around the same time as the Maypole. Men would do yoga on a wooden pole to improve their strength, called Mallakhamb. Another variation is called Mallastambha which used an iron pole for building strength. Mallakhamb is still done today but only by males.
Pole dancing took a sexier turn in the heyday of traveling tent shows. Each act was housed in a tent. Poles holding up the tents tended to be in the way of the dancers performing inside, so a few innovative ladies began to use them as props, swinging and dancing on them from time to time.
The pole really began to be used for pole dancing as we know it today, was reportedly first used by Belle Jangles as she danced in Oregon at the Mugwump club in 1968. However, this was not the norm and did not catch on right away. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that strippers really began using the pole regularly. The rumor is that pole dancing first became the rage in Canada, and then spread throughout the US.
Today poles are making their way from strip joints into mainstream fitness program, even being given a less scandalous name, the fitness pole. They have yet, however, to shake all of the stigma of their past. What is left to see is whether or not they will stay in the spotlight or, like many a fad, return to whence they came….and whether or not Polish girls will dance on them again (ha!)
The people of New Orleans sure know how to mix a drink! This recipe was invented in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, who named the drink after the French name of the French Quarter. Recipe taken from Looka
THE VIEUX CARRÉ COCKTAIL
1 ounce rye whiskey.
1 ounce Cognac.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.
Half-fill a double Old Fashioned glass with ice, add ingredients
and stir to mix. Garnish with a stemless cherry.