Burgundy Brixx, Vancouver’s burlesque queen, talks mentorship, Kitty Nights, Canadian immigration, and advice for traveling the festival circuit.
For the complete interview and more beautiful exclusive images of Burgundy, pick up your Winter 2013 Best of Pin Curl print edition, available mid-December here!
Interview: Shoshana Portnoy
Q: You explained in an interview that when you moved from Boston to New York City in 1998, you didn’t know what burlesque was until you stumbled across a listing on Craigslist for the New York School of Burlesque and before long, Jo Weldon, you enrolled as a student and Jo became your mentor. Can you share with our readers a little about that relationship between mentor and student, and the importance of having a mentor? What are three things you learned early on that you attribute to that relationship?
A: To be honest, I don’t think I ever officially asked Jo permission to officially call her my mentor, but we fell very naturally into a wonderful relationship that was based in mutual respect. Jo was always as generous with her advice and replies to my questions, as she was very encouraging of my early work, and continues to be an invaluable resource and friend in this stage of my burlesque life. She made performance opportunities available to me very early on that I would never have gotten on my own at that stage, and introduced me to many of the major players of the NYC burlesque community in an enormously welcoming way. Having the opportunity to perform so often with top-level performers at the beginning of my burlesque journey was invaluable to my early development as a burlesque artist.
Q: You mentioned in the BurlesqueStars.net interview that at one point you thought Kitty Nights Vancouver had plateaued, and since many new shows had come onto the scene there, you thought it might be time to close the doors, saying “Maybe we’ve served our purpose”. What is your #1 purpose with your showcase? What do you think the Kitty Nights show offers that other Vancouver shows don’t? What’s the secret to the super long successful run?
A: While there are numerous other regular shows in Vancouver now, most of them are still troupe-based. Kitty Nights still remains as one of the only shows in town that is a crossroads for performers of all different troupes, which means each week is always exciting for both the audience and for me. You never know what you might see each week, and I think that really appeals to people’s sense of delight. I work hard to book a diverse selection of performers in every show. And the as the quality of Vancouver’s performers has grown, that is reflected in the continued quality of Kitty Nights. The format of the show is effective, my husband is an amazing host, our DJ (currently the effervescent Cherry OnTop) keeps the party rolling after the show and I work hard to respect my performers both personally and financially. Keeping the outreach to new audiences is hard work, which is no secret, but something many people may not see. My daily burlesque life is filled with more graphic design, promotion and administration than with creative pursuits related to my performances which I would love to have take priority someday.