Our Best of Winter 2011 with the infamous Lola Van Ella on the cover, is out now! Here’s a sneak peak at her interview with Divertida Devotchka and photo shoot with Shoshana For the entire interview & photo shoot, including a tear out poster, you’ll need the print edition! Issue release party Friday, Dec 2nd at Viva Dallas Burlesque!
Lola van Ella, the Derriere Beyond Compare, talks St. Louis burlesque, the Beggar’s Carnivale, being entertained, and embracing the crazy.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
I recently watched a beautiful promotional reel for Jumpin’ Jupiter, and I’ve been following updates on the progress. Please enlighten our readers about your involvement at Jumpin’ Jupiter, which is billed as a “neo supper lounge.”
I am proud to say that VanElla Productions is very heavily involved with the Jumpin Jupiter. It’s a gorgeous new burlesque and supper club here, with amazing food and the swankiest environment. It’s just gorgeous. I’ve known the owner for about 10 years and we would always talk about how cool it would be if he could open up a show club that I could perform in. I didn’t actually think that would happen, but I’m incredibly thrilled that it did. It’s been a lot of hard work, a little stressful at times, but now we have a solid supper show and late night burlesque show every weekend that has been selling out and getting rave reviews. The venue is fantastic, with a beautiful red velvet curtain, great lighting and a nice stage. It’s kind of a dream come true to have a place like this in St. Louis.
Another exciting project in which you are involved is The Beggar’s Carnivale. Tell us about your role in the show and about any recent developments. The show is doing some touring now, right?
I’ve never been more excited about another project. The Beggar’s Carnivale has become the largest regular event here in St. Louis and Sammich the Tramp and I produce it together. We are true partners in this. We plan out the shows together and Sammich dreams up the story and a lot of the ideas and essentially directs the show. It is a very collaborative process with our whole cast as well, which includes lots of physical comics, aerialists, fire artists, burlesque dancers, jugglers and a really cool band. I’m really humbled by how large the production has become. We have over 60 people involved in each show including the cast, crew and volunteers. Recently, we’ve added a really cool black and white set and a big carnival midway with games, sideshow tent and vendors. We are also traveling a bit. We’re so excited to be coming back to Dallas!
In an online interview from last spring, when discussing the notion of performers sticking to only traditional classic burlesque, you said, “It would get boring. If art doesn’t change and grow with the times, it will die.” You also recently had a discussion with our editor about the changing climate of burlesque and the return of vaudeville-inspired performance. Could you elaborate on your thoughts on the direction that you feel burlesque is going, or rather, the direction you think it should go in order to avoid artistic death?
Well, firstly, I love a good piece of classic burlesque. When done right, it’s beautiful, sexy, and downright delicious. However, I do think that burlesque has evolved into a performance art that is embracing not only striptease, but really good performance. I see more and more incredible dancers, singers, and acrobats in burlesque. I think more and more, audiences are looking for variety. They want spectacle, skill, wonder. I think audiences crave a truly live experience. Something more than just a show, they want an event. An experience. Burlesque when it started, with its roots in vaudeville, was much more like this. The dancers were more of a novelty, a specialty act, which made them all the more exciting, because they were in the midst of comedy and variety acts and everyone was itching to see the beautiful girls finally come out and wow the crowd. I love the strip. I love burlesque, but I love it more when I’m surprised by it. When it’s titillating, interesting and unexpected. I think audiences are feeling the same way. Regardless, above all, people just want to be entertained; truly and honestly entertained.