New York burlesque performer Peekaboo Pointe, “the Fastest Tassel Twirler from East to West,” talks low brow art forms, modern dance, Nancy Reagan and D.A.R.E., starting over and festival friendships.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Q: You earned your BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from George Mason University and as a classically trained modern dancer you studied under Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris Dance Group and others. Your early background is in ballet and tap, and you also had a “rare and unusual tour of Cuba studying Afro-Cuban Dance with the group Cutumba.” When and how did you go about incorporating burlesque into your repertoire?
A: I was actually always interested in lowbrow art forms, and especially fascinated with strip clubs and strippers. Although I mainly studied the more classical performing arts, I couldn’t get enough of the sleazier side of performance. I saw so much more in the raunch than I think the average strip club patron saw. I have always believed that there was an art there that most of our society didn’t see. I think stripping is important.
It was when I moved to New York in 2002, when I was dancing for a modern dance company, that I discovered that there were people in the city performing Burlesque. I had studied the history of Burlesque in my Dance History course in college…but was blown away when I saw there was this tiny group of women bringing it back in the city. I jumped in head first, not knowing what I was doing, and pretty much never looked back! I found so much more in performing burlesque than I had ever found performing modern dance.
Q: I read the most fascinating candid blog post of yours from last August in which you credit Nancy Reagan and the D.A.R.E. program for your career as a stripper. I absolutely loved reading it; your honesty was so refreshing. You said, “… I knew that someday I would be a stripper, and that there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. I knew at 10 years old that you didn’t have to be a junkie to be a stripper.” Could you briefly share the background of your story and the context of this quote for our readers?
A: In that blog post, I am tracking my desire to be a stripper back to my earliest memory of learning what it was and when my fascination started. Like I said before, I have always been fascinated with strippers, lowbrow art, and the seedier side of life. My first memory of this part of me was in 4th or 5th grade when the DARE program came to my school and a woman recounted her horror drug story, all I heard was that she was a stripper, and I wanted to be just like her! It was at that moment that I knew one day that I would do that…I didn’t know that it would be 20 years later, but I knew it would happen!
I started performing burlesque in 2003, but I didn’t work at a strip club until 2009. And I loved performing in both areas of stripping!! Although, there’s actually very little connecting them other than dancing naked, I feel like they really complimented each other. My strip club work really fed my burlesque performance in a positive way. I do have to say that I would never recommend it to anyone, but I am so grateful for the years I spent working in both avenues of stripping! (Editor’s note: Read Peekaboo’s entire original blog post here, if you like.)
Q: You’re headlining and teaching at the Purrlesque Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina on January 18th-19th and then you’re also a headliner at Toronto’s Girrrlesque Show on January 26-27th. It sounds like you’ll be very busy this month. What else does January have in store for you?
A: I do have a busy month! But that’s actually been pretty normal for me lately. I travel on average at least one weekend a month! I love to travel and visit other burlesque communities. It makes my soul happy to teach workshops and meet other performers. I love it.
As far as what else is in store for January…there’ll be a focus on resting up, snuggling with my kitties, taking dance classes, and of course doing my regular shows in NYC.
Q: February 1-3 is the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival, where you’ll be a featured performer and instructor. What are you looking forward to most about the festival?
A: I’m really looking forward to spending time with friends that I don’t get to see very often! And hopefully there’ll be lots of snow!!! I love the snow, so I’ll be very disappointed if I go to Minneapolis and it doesn’t snow.
Q: Are there any other upcoming projects or events you’d like to tell us about?
A: Yes! I’m so excited about it! I’m working on an evening length dance show that blends my background in choreography with my love of stripping. It’s a large project a couple years in the making, that’s interactive, narrative, personal, and really, really sexy. Stay Tuned!
Q: While reading your blog, I also learned that last fall you and your husband of 5 years divorced, and because you live in New York City, trying to find a new apartment to “start over” is not really a practical solution. I loved your attitude with your approach to completely reinventing your apartment and reclaiming it as your own. You decided to move out and move back into the same apartment in a sense – packing all your stuff, cleaning thoroughly and rearranging all the rooms and redesigning everything. Could you tell our readers about your process (I especially loved your Stripper Painting Tips!) and how it helped you during that transition?
A: I try to keep a positive outlook on life, even though it’s really hard to do sometimes. Especially when dealing with something as life changing as a divorce. I knew that the change was for the best, and that I had to make the best out of a hard decision. And if my space felt the same as it did when my husband lived here, then how would I ever move on? And so, I decided to make it as fun as possible. I have never lived alone and this was really exciting for me! I had some friends help me with this, and I pack up all of my stuff…literally…put pretty much everything in boxes then I was able to paint the apartment all new colors, then bought a new couch and a couple other pieces of furniture, new linens, and donated a lot of old stuff, then I moved back into what really did feel like a brand new apartment. It felt like mine. It ended up being a really positive experience during a time that was really difficult. Then, after my apartment was all put together and I was settled into my space, I got a new kitten to be friends with my fluffy white cat! It turned out to be a really great year! (Editor’s note: Read about her entire process here in her original blog post.)
Q: Your performance résumé and accolades are impressive and you’ve traveled extensively. Care to share some of your fondest memories from your burlesque career (either onstage or off, locally or touring?)
A: Oh man, I don’t know…I love ever moment of my career, I don’t even know where to begin!
This past summer’s tour of Australia with the Australian Burlesque Festival sticks out as one of my favorite recent moments. I always love traveling no matter what the gig, but this summer I was partnered up with another performer who I had never met before, Anna Fur Laxis. I knew that we were going to be rooming together for a few weeks, and I was really hoping that we were going to get along! You never know how those situations are going to work out, but I honestly could not have asked for a better tour roomie! The first night in our room together we stayed up almost all night talking forgetting about our horrendous jetlag. I made a friend that tour that I will hopefully have for the rest of my life! We had so much fun together for the entire trip, and even got tattoos together! Then, when we met up with the other 2 headliners Coco Framboise and LouLou D’vil it became even better. It really was like we were filming the feel-good-chick-flick of the year about showgirls bonding on the road. It was fantastic!
Q: Do you have any advice to offer for aspiring performers?
A: My biggest advice for new performers is to take risks! Don’t imitate what you’ve seen before- make something new, make it your own!! It’s our job as artists to innovate and excel the art form.
And… it doesn’t matter how many rhinestones you have…You should be able to entertain and enchant your audience with no costume at all. If it doesn’t work without the costume, it doesn’t work. It’s all about your passion for what you are doing onstage, if you’re passionate and you love what you do, your audience will love you too!
Q: What’s next for Peekaboo Pointe?
A: I want to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, performing and creating. I love what I do! I’d love to tour Asia…
This month we’re delighted to feature a few selections from a photo essay by Italian photographer Valentino Varan Vesarach. He talked with us about his style, method and his experience documenting the 2012 Perth International Burlesque Festival. (All photos and captions by Valentino Varan Vesarach.)
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Q: You were born in Bangkok and then moved to Sydney, Australia after living between Bali and Italy. Travelling is your current pursuit, as well as your photography, which is rooted in your approach based on the basics of lighting, colors and an intimate relationship with the subject. Can you please tell our readers about your style and methods?
A: Style: The key to all of my works is the research and the relationship with the person to establish what I call “CONNECTION” with the subject. This relationship with the photographer and the subject is like a dance, I try to let myself be carried by the events and follow what I feel in every moment, trying to find out who I’m shooting. In this way minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, I have a deeper intimacy with the subject. During a project you can take the most beautiful picture of the Series after a few minutes, but as time and days pass, especially with the situations encountered, the relationships and interactions that change will generate different levels of Photographs Emotions.
Method: Although we are in 2012 I’d like to have us remember the origins of Photography. I’m a Young Artist who loves innovation and technology, but my photographic approach is “Traditional” and above all “Practical”. I talk a lot about ” LIGHT “and invite all to reflect that the Camera is just A BOX … where through a hole (Lens – which should be the implementation of our EYES) we get a certain amount of Light.
For all my Documentary works I observe some rules:
One Camera One Lens: This involves a little advance planning based on what you want to go to photograph and what you want to show. The reasons are simple: Total ductility in any situation, the Camera always on hand and the finger always on the button of the shot. The use of a single lens for each work also provides the same “point of view” and that I thought was more suitable to show our subject / subjects.
Only Prime Lenses, no Zoom: There are several reasons, but some of the most important are: Prime lenses are very flexible in low light condition, have a degree of clarity/sharpness and surrender of “reality” much more close to the real world that we are capturing. Finally to return to previous speech… If I suppose that my lens is just nothing more than my EYE, if you want to see something from nearer or more far away, I’ll do two steps forward or backward, but I’ll certainly not turn a wheel in my head to bring an object closer or further away!
Always and in all conditions I use only natural light. No Flash or any kind of support lights. How could I show what I see if I assume that I wanna change it before taking the picture??
Q: I’m especially interested in your photographic essay project called “The Kingdom.” You describe it as part one of a two-part series called “The Roman Empress.” This essay gives the viewer a behind the scenes, intimate look at the 2012 Perth International Burlesque Festival. Please tell us about the development of this essay and your experience documenting the festival.
A: I spent Approximately 20 days since she landed at the Perth airport until I took her to the check-in cue before the departure, along with the performer Dixie Ramone (The Empress). All this has led me to live a global experience inside the Perth International Burlesque Festival. Then from a well-defined starting situation subsequently developed thousands of other situations, especially on Tour Down South with the Crew, I got carried away so I photographed and caught all the moments where I felt stimulated. In the end I found myself with a lot of material that I liked, but was part of a wider story, so I decided to put together the series The Kingdom and showing the Festival in its entirety, just as I have lived. It was a sublime experience.
Q: The second part of your ‘Roman Empress’ project is titled, “The Empress.” Can you tell us more about that?
A: The Empress is the Series that tells about the Australian experience of the performer Dixie Ramone inside and outside the Perth International Burlesque Festival. It’s a Series full of emotions that in 25 photos reveals what I was able to catch about the character of Dixie Ramone (who I had never met before then) and also show this fast-changing relationship between us during those 20 days together… but I do not want to spoil the surprise!
Q: What’s next for Valentino?
A: In September 2012 I started to work on a very personal Series called “Nothing is Forever”. I’m still at an early stage and very thoughtful.
I can however say few general things. The subject is a Russian girl, I’m shooting in Black and White with an old 1972 35mm camera given to me by my Uncle and I’m using a 50mm lens. It’s a Series full of contrasts, a bit like a mirror of my soul in the relationship with myself and the other peoples. The Series travels between opposite edges, alternating sweetness to pure sexuality, passing from moments of extreme happiness and satisfaction to drastic apathy.
Regarding my carrier, now that I moved to Sydney I hope to get some good and challenging commissions from artists, people and magazines that are on my same wavelength, and also I really would like to have chance to make a few exhibitions, no matter where in the world they are. I’ll be ready to follow my heart and my feelings…like always!
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: A huge thank you to all those who believed in me and all those who appreciate my works and my genuine feelings towards Photography. A special thanks to Art Director and Designer Pino Usicco and to my Mentor the London Photographer Sam Harris, without whom I would not be from the artistic point of view the man I have become.
Thanks to Pin Curl Magazine for giving me this interview.
Lillith Grey has been lighting up the stage for over five years as a burlesque and fetish performer, musician, and emcee, and can frequently be found performing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education, and is currently completing her Ph.D. in psychology. She has worked as a psychotherapist, educator, and social justice advocate, and currently teaches at a local university while working on her research. She travels extensively, teaching classes and workshops on a variety of subjects including relationships, communication, trauma, body image, sexuality and gender, and diversity issues. Lillith is also active in the Leather community, serving on the NLA-International Writing Awards committee and as a co-chair for the Women’s International LeatherFest. Visit her at www.LillithGrey.com for more information.
Have a question for our advice columnist? Please title your email “Lillith- _subject___” and send to editor [at] pincurlmag [dot] com
It’s that time of year again! The closing of another holiday season filled with sugar-crusted sweets, savory meats (or meat-like soy products), and long lazy nights leaves many people wondering what happened to their willpower. These days of ambitious promises and critical self-reflection may be the best time to seek a new understanding of who you are and how your life is going, but it’s all too easy for our thoughts to become mired in the negative, focused on what we don’t like about ourselves and how we wish we were different.
I absolutely hate hearing people complain about how much weight they gained over the holidays, particularly when it’s followed up by a “so my new year’s resolution is….” [insert some comment about dieting/exercising/surgically altering body]. One of the greatest joys of the season is that we allow ourselves to enjoy nostalgic treats, we drink a little more, eat a little more, laugh a little more, and imagine a little more… I don’t see that season as a loss of willpower, I see it as a willingness to set down the self-critique long enough to let a little fun in. And I don’t think it’s fair to look back and regret, or try to classify that experience in terms of failure. It was fun, wasn’t it? Stop trying to convince yourself to regret it!
But now it’s resolution season, so we look forward to who we think we want to be. All too often, though, our goal setting is based on the ways we feel we’ve failed, which is simply the wrong way to set a resolution. Not only do we often have skewed perceptions of ourselves and our bodies around this time of year, resolutions based on perceived failures are steeped in failure from the beginning! So, dear readers, please consider making this year’s resolutions from a place of growth, of excitement and anticipation… of hope!
Stop resolving to fix the wrong, start resolving to add more right! Take a look at your life – what feels good? What’s going well? What do you want more of? If you can’t find anything, resolve to create something! Ignore those pesky self-doubts and the voices in your head that constantly criticize you – those voices are liars, and they are fed regularly by media and other social influences. It’s up to you to feed the good voices, the right ones. Find them and nourish them.
A specialist in behavior modification will tell you that to sustain a resolution you have to establish some sort of positive reinforcement to go along with it. If you go to the gym every day, for example, you get to buy yourself a new shirt at the end of the month! Did you starve yourself like a good girl? A non-fat cookie for you! This cycle of self-denial and conditional approval does not make us feel better because it still includes the possibility of failure – a failure of the self. Fortunately, the beauty of the positive resolution is that there is no failure: just by making the resolution, you’ve already take a step forward. And reinforcement is already built in – as you increase goodness, more goodness will find you.
Once you’ve decided on your positive resolutions, surround yourself with them! Use bright markers and construction paper to write them out, or make a graphic that you can set as your computer wallpaper. Go for a walk and find beautiful stones that remind you of your resolutions and keep them on your dresser. Exchange lists with a friend and check in with them from time to time. Post it on Facebook and ask people to comment when they see you doing them. Put a note near your steering wheel, or make one of your resolutions your password for something you use regularly. Surround yourself with your intentions and they will become real.
Need some ideas? Here you go:
Resolve to give yourself credit when you do something awesome
Resolve to smile at a stranger every day
Resolve to express gratitude
Resolve to remember the good things about someone
Resolve to practice radical self-care
Resolve to send thank-you notes (or emails, or wall posts, or texts)
Resolve to increase play time
Resolve to touch yourself more often
Resolve to eat things that sustain your amazing body
Resolve to hand-write a letter occasionally
Resolve to tell people what they mean to you
Resolve to “like” more stuff on Facebook
Resolve to try something new
Resolve to have more sex
Resolve to only buy clothes that fit
Resolve to try something you’ve secretly wanted to do
Resolve to listen to your body
Resolve to teach someone something you know
Resolve to find a swing set at least once a month
Resolve to pay more attention
Resolve to round up when tipping
Resolve to make peace with someone
Resolve to practice patience
Resolve to only say positive things about people’s bodies
Resolve to grow a plant
Resolve to increase personal insight
Resolve to get more sleep
Resolve to point out good things about people in public
Resolve to practice radical acceptance
Resolve to nourish and care for your body
Resolve to increase humility
Resolve to move your body more (walk more, take the stairs)
Resolve to give tiny gifts
Resolve to tell every performer something nice after a show
Resolve to use the word “love” on a regular basis
Resolve to breathe deeper
Resolve to take yourself less seriously
Resolve to give second (or fifth) chances
Resolve to reconsider ideas
Resolve to connect more personally with a child
Resolve to drink more water
Got more ideas? Leave them in the comments below!
It has been my absolute delight to receive your letters, comments, questions, and good wishes over the past year, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the coming year. May your world be filled with an abundance of blessings, hope, light, and inspiration.
So you wanna tour? You want to get out see new performance styles, learn and grow as a performer, make business connections, and get your name out there. Part I of our Guide to Touring will give you some resources for doing just that. Part II will run in next month’s issue and guide you through what to expect as an out of town performer and how to make the trip as affordable as possible.
Approach #1 – The Tried and True Method: The Festival Circuit
As Coco Lectric puts it, “It’s very hard to cast someone you’ve never met or seen [perform] live.”
The festival circuit is the most popular method of getting your name out there and also the most expensive. Lula Houp Garou shared some of her strategies in a recent interview with us, and while they are *so* worth reading, she sums it up with, “Have I recouped all the money that I have spent on festivals? Not at all. Do I still consider the investment to be worth it? Absolutely.”
The new 2013 Burlesque Festival Guide is out and there are over 30 festivals in the U.S. alone, and unless you have unlimited resources and a very empty calendar of obligations it is impossible to hit ‘em all. So how do you decide?
Midnite Martini’s approach: Focus on the mid-sized festivals. “I have done the really large festivals and everyone is so nervous and there are so many people it’s hard to make real connections or be noticed, or really remember the acts that you should notice. I really enjoy the smaller festivals as they are more laid back and there’s more opportunity for a whole lot of networking.”
Coco Lectric’s Approach: “I have a list of the major festivals that I want to hit each year, and festivals I have enjoyed in the past, and I do those. I make sure to make it to BHoF every year.”
Donna Denise’s Approach: “ I do as much as I can. I want to be able to go to them all, but I have to narrow it down to places I want to perform in more often.”
Tips for making the most out of festivals:
- Do go to as many of the shows as you can and make sure to compliment the acts you genuinely enjoyed. Try to focus on other performers’ acts and needs as much as your own. You want to impress the producers of course, but you also want to impress your fellow performers both on stage and off.
- Do go to all of the workshops, classes, after parties, and all of the other extras. You are surrounded by new people- make the most of all of the new connections. If there are other shows going on around town outside of the festival , check those out as well if possible.
- Do follow up when you get home. Add people on Facebook, drop them an email and let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them. Keep in touch.
Make a list of all of the cities you know with a large burlesque scene, or a scene in which you are particularly interested in performing. Now make a list of all of your out of town friends, relatives, exes- anyone who has a couch on which you can crash. See where you converge. You have a sister in Dallas you say? Great- let’s start there.
Step 1- Take your vacation days from the day job to go visit your sister, and plan your trip around a time when there are a lot of shows (a long weekend perhaps).
Step 2- Research the local scene. Who’s who among the producers and performers? What kind of shows are being produced and in what kind of venues? Which acts do you have in your arsenal that will fit well?
Step 3- Reach out. In a well-crafted email explain that you are coming to town and would like to perform. If you’ve already met who you are reaching out to, remind them of where. Let the producer know that you are familiar with his/her work, what you like about it, and which acts you have that are good fits and where they can learn more about you and said acts.
Step 4- Know the expectations. If you get a bite, make sure you find out the following: Are you able to perform in other shows on the same night/same weekend/etc? Would having you teach a workshop be something enticing to the producer, or just more work for them?
Step 5- Get referrals. If the producer who booked you doesn’t mind, or if they cannot book you during the time you’re in town, ask for referrals. Try to get a short list of other folks in Dallas whom you should contact, as well as surrounding cities. It’s time for the Piggy Back.
Approach #3- The Piggy Back
Whether you’ve used the festival approach or the whoring approach, the piggy back is a valuable strategy. So you’ve been booked in Dallas, but you’d like to do more in your week away- enter the Piggy Back.
Grab your map of Texas and look around. If you have a car or can afford to rent one, it’s a straight shot to hit the San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Corpus Christi scenes. It’s now time to repeat Steps 2-5 from above for each of these cities. If you play your cards right, the dates line up and the stars align, you could feasibly schedule four shows in four cities in four days- which makes you- officially on tour!
Now what to expect when you get there? Check back next month for Part II.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Q: Congratulations on the publication of your new book, Burlesque Beauty, which was published in December by Tomahawk Films. You must be so excited! I understand that it was a two-year process putting it together. Could you share some of the book development process with our readers? Was it difficult to find a publisher?
A: Burlesque Beauty has taken exactly 2 years to come together and it all started when Chris, a photographer & graphic designer I had met at some Burlesque events and indeed where I had performed at various locations around the south, (including several big events at The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu), emailed me to say he had an idea for a photo-led book on the Burlesque scene. However, he & his writer friend Brian, (whom he had asked to pen the words to his pictures), wondered if they could both come and meet me to discuss their plans and get my opinion as both a performer & producer and to possibly offer an opinion as to whether what they were thinking of producing ’would actually float’ as a commercial proposition.
I did indeed meet them and was enthralled by what they were planning: basically a close-up look at Burlesque in the New Millennium by featuring 8 wonderful girls currently on the UK & European circuit, but rather than just a ‘general look’ at the scene Chris wanted to do a photo-shoot & in-depth interview with each girl to really get their ‘story’ of Burlesque, (and have Brian research the history behind it all), and so both illustrate the beauty of the art-form and to really explain to those ‘new’ to Burlesque what it was all about in terms of its history and who these girls were, how they had also come to Burlesque and why. To my delight, this was exactly the type of book I had wanted to find whilst researching the world of Burlesque before I ‘dipped my toes’ some three years ago!
Towards the end of our meeting they asked me if would like to be involved and though I was most flattered, I said I would love to help them produce the book but should not be featured in it as there were many far more experienced dancers that I thought should be in ahead of me. However, over a period of weeks & months both Chris & Brian gradually wore me down and I eventually agreed to also be one of those 8 featured artistes as well as their ‘consultant’, though for a long time afterwards I must admit I still felt I shouldn’t actually be in with the other artistes. Upon seeing what we have now achieved I must admit that I am now thrilled to also appear amongst such talented and beautiful ladies in it as a performer in my own right… and so glad they kept pushing me!!
As a small 3-man (or 2 men & 1 woman) team, once we were up and running with our idea we did not want to then be at the mercy of a big London publisher in it ‘just for the bucks,’ but luckily Chris knew a small film company based near Winchester: Tomahawk Films, for whom he had previously done some design work and discovered they also had a small specialist publishing arm and we were really excited when they said they’d like to publish Burlesque Beauty on our behalf.
Q: The book focuses on a “brief snapshot” of burlesque in the U.K. through the works of 8 carefully selected burlesque artists – Ally Katte, Amber Topaz, Anna Fur Laxis, Carrie-Ann O’Dell, Domino Barbeau, Khandie Kisses, Mysti Vine and you – Sensu’Elle. It must have been so difficult to narrow down the selections! How did you and your colleagues decide on the content? Can you tell our readers a little more about what they can expect by purchasing your book?
A: So in addition to Chris & Brian kindly asking me to be involved we set about looking for 7 other performers across the country: Ally Katte, Amber Topaz, Anna Fur Laxis, Carrie-Ann, Domino Barbeau, Khandie Kisses and Mysti Vine, who were absolutely fantastic and all readily agreed not only to be photographed by Chris but to also be interviewed, in depth, by Brian.
During our chats with them, all 7 girls really opened up and generously imparted so much professional information and fantastic tips as Burlesque performers that we hope aspiring Burlesque artistes will be able to actually use Burlesque Beauty as an inspirational hand-book to help with their own performances. Every one of the girls featured was an absolute star and in our opinion, each fully illustrates and epitomises the ‘real beauty of Burlesque’.
As you’d imagine we had a really tough job trying to narrow down just 8 performers from the multitude of wonderful Burlesque artistes currently across the UK. That was possibly the toughest part of the project as there were so many wonderful performers we wanted to feature. However, we eventually managed to whittle down our initial list to this eclectic mix that, though each were totally unique in their own way, all combined to give the picture of the ‘true femininity’ of Burlesque whilst also dispelling the myth that modern Burlesque performers have to be a blonde, 20-something size 8! For as we all actually know the wonder of Burlesque is that there are no hard and fast rules about who can become a Burlesque artiste, encouraging any girl to perform it, and perform it well and with verve & enthusiasm…and our book, I feel reflects that important fact!!
Q: You’ve been performing burlesque for 3 years, correct? And for two years of that you’ve been working on the book? How on earth do you balance everything? Are there are other projects that you have in the works?
A: As for my own chapter and my contribution to Burlesque Beauty, as a performer I have only been on the Burlesque stage since 12th September 2009, but whereas a number of our girls featured are full-time professional, touring dancers I am actually a Company Director by day as well as being a wife & mother, so for me Burlesque is very much a wonderfully glamorous and rewarding hobby.
However that is not to say I don’t take it very seriously, as I do (and then some!), as over the last few years I have taken to producing my own Burlesque shows, another reason that Chris & Brian were so kind enough to urge me to become a part of their project as they also wanted to harness my knowledge of what went on ‘behind-the-scenes’ of Burlesque production as well as out front on stage!
As such I have also become a Burlesque teacher and am really delighted to see some of my pupils successfully taking to the stage and now performing in their own right and I hope that, through my involvement & participation in this unique little photo-led book, I can also encourage and inspire many other ladies either to take up this alluring vintage entertainment that is enjoying quite a revival once again or at least encourage them to some of our shows and experience the enjoyment of modern Burlesque performed ‘live’!
I am pleased to say that both Chris & Brian have also travelled a long road with their research for this book and the three of us are now looking both towards producing further volumes of Burlesque Beauty, (to include & incorporate the other many & varied forms of Burlesque currently being performed across the country), whilst to my great excitement also actively considering producing our own shows under the Burlesque Beauty banner..!
So I think the future looks really good for Chris, Brian & myself at the moment, for not only have we produced something in this book that we are all incredibly proud of, but we are also having a ball and enjoying each other’s company. We genuinely have had such great fun working with the ladies we featured and so we hope the future will be just as creative & laughter-filled and we can really build on this, our first Burlesque Beauty book.
By: Kitch Coquette
With just a 40 minute drive up I-75 you can leave the loud hub-bub of Dallas behind and find one of the sweetest little towns in Texas. McKinney Texas — if it weren’t for your right-wing, tea-totaling politics and lack of synagogues, I’d buy myself a quaint little home in your historic district, walk to your great restaurants and bars, and maybe even open up a little pie shop of my own. Now I’m sure some of you will point out the gas-guzzling SUVs, the spoiled rich kids, and the ever-increasing McMansions. How could this be the perfect Texas town, you ask? To set the record straight, I only recognize the east side of town. In my most humble opinion, anything on the west side of I-75, with its conspicuous consumption, might as well be crossed off the map.
Okay, let me step off my soap box and get down to business. On McKinney’s historic town square there is a small restaurant and retail store called Petina Greens. The chef at Petina Greens buys produce from the farms surrounding McKinney. The menu rotates daily based on availability of seasonal local produce. That is where I tried my first blueberry white chocolate chip cookie. And it shook me…to my very core. Well, that might be a slight over-statement, but it did inspire me to try to recreate the recipe for myself.
So at around 10:30 pm on Tuesday night, I set out to create the greatest cookie in the universe. I researched several recipes and then played around with the ingredients. After covering myself in flour and spilling half the blueberries on the counter—victory was mine. The cookies actually tasted better than the ones at Petina Greens! The slightly tart blueberries, the salty white chocolate, and the bite of lemon come together to create one hell of a cookie. Enjoy!
Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup Crisco
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. double strength vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
Zest of one large lemon
What You Do:
1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
2. Beat together Crisco, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Mix together dry ingredients and stir into Crisco mixture.
4. Stir in white chocolate chips, dried blueberries, and lemon zest.
5. Roll dough into small 1 1/2 inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Take out when tops turn light brown. They may look slightly undercooked, but they will continue to cook out of the oven. Cool on sheet for a few minutes before removing to cool on rack.
Welcome to the Burlesque Roundtable. (Did you miss the first? Or the second?) The hope is to create an open dialogue to discuss relevant burlesque questions in an honest manner. Have a question you would like to propose or two cents you would like to throw into the ring? Please do so via comments; we would love to hear from you!
Q: What is billed “classic burlesque” is actually a really small portion of burlesque that was popular in the US from 1920-60. Burlesque performances of that time were set to modern music of the time and not all of it was glitzy- some was “exotic,” “comedic,” “satirical,” etc. Why then in the modern burlesque revival does “classic burlesque” have to fit in such a narrow window, and is neo-burlesque to modern music that pushes societal norms, and plays to a modern audience actually more in the spirit of “classic burlesque”?
Jo Weldon (NYC) I call it “showgirl burlesque.” I personally am a fan of striptease and while I’m happy to acknowledge that striptease was not always a part of burlesque, it’s what I care about the most. It’s the part that was first when burlesque circuits died down, while the comics and musicians and other variety performers had the opportunity to move into radio, television, film, and family entertainment if they wished. I agree that in the mid-twentieth century the performers were also topical, comedic, themed, and used the celebrities and pop culture of their era. However, the biggest difference is that in their time there wasn’t an entrenched retro culture, or such a long and photo-documented and video documented history to hearken back to, so they were less likely to have a distinction between old-school and contemporary burlesque. There were full-on nostalgic recreations such as Sugar Babies and This Was Burlesque, but the audience they sought wasn’t the same.
Roxie Moxie (Austin) This is a big divide in some sectors of the community but I really think should just be a matter of personal taste. “Classic” bump and grind burlesque is not my favorite genre, but it’s counting angels on the head of a pin to start arguing about the merits of neo-burlesque vs. classic. I don’t care much for death metal music, but I recognize the people who love it REALLY love it. And the people who love classic burlesque should continue to love it if that’s their thing. There are a million shades of (sparkly) gray when it comes to burlesque performances – to get caught up in neo vs. classic is shortsighted and not giving enough credit to the flexibility of the art.
Trixie Minx (New Orleans) It always makes me laugh when people ask if I’m a classic or neo performer. Does it really matter what you call it? Isn’t it all burlesque in the end? I have many opinions on the subject but honestly as long as the audience gets a chance to see a sparkling pastie or a twirling tassel they will probably be happy no matter how you title your specific style of burlesque.
Miss Violet O’ Hara (Dallas) I think film and media have had a lot to do with those definitions. It’s up to us at the local level to educate our fans and communities about the long, rich and diverse history of burlesque.