Editor’s Note: This just a small part of the interview & photoshoot, for the full reveal (literally) get your hands on a copy of the Best of Spring 2011 online or at our Issue Release Party at Hot Rods and Heels 2011!
Miss Coco Lectric, crowned Texas Performer of the Year at Hot Rods and Heels 2010, talks titles as currency, travel, and the burlesque community evolving.
My goodness a lot has changed for you since Pin Curl last spoke to you. You were crowned Queen of Burlesque in New Orleans last September. How have titles changed things for you?
The biggest change is being held to a higher standard every time I hit the stage. When someone introduces you as the Queen of Burlesque, the audience sets their expectations a little bit higher. They’re expecting to be blown away. I don’t know if I’ve always been able to live up to this higher standard, but I’ve certainly tried.
Producers have also had a good excuse to hire me for their shows, since the New Orleans festival, which has given me the good fortune of making burlesque my full-time job. Having titles is like currency in this business and everyone wants to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. I’d become accustomed to performing for an unassuming audience, and these days they prepare themselves to see something spectacular. I have to bring it just a little bit harder every show to live up to their expectations.
Congratulations on being voted number 13 in 21st Century Burlesque’s Top 50 for 2010! We’re so thrilled to hear the news, what’s your reaction?
I was thrilled! I didn’t lobby for votes and I really didn’t expect to see my name on the list at all. I don’t know what happened, to be honest. I was watching the list and cheering on my pals, for sure. After it got to the top twenty performers I figured that I didn’t have a chance. I feel truly honored that so many people even know that I exist, let alone like my work. I’m still sort of in shock about it and I thank 21st Century Burlesque for always having such kind words to say about me. They’re doing great work to get the word out about so many talented performers and promote burlesque around the globe, and that’s priceless.
I’m told you’re focusing more on the education realm at the moment. As headmistress of the Austin Academy of Burlesque, do you mean teaching more, taking more classes/workshops, or both?
I love teaching and I love learning, so I plan on doing a lot of both. Learning from the legends and contemporary performers is key to keeping burlesque alive and well. It allows the community to grow and shape the art. Burlesque performers are like a family in a lot of ways, only we’re not born into it as much as we’re brought in by learning from the life and art of those who came before. I’m proud to be a part of this family, and by teaching I get to help other burlesque performers and students with the lessons I’ve learned from the greats.
In your last Pin Curl interview from July 2010, when asked about being the only Texan to perform at Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in Las Vegas you said, “I was nervous that if my performance wasn’t so great, they really wouldn’t take Texas seriously. I’m hoping I made a big enough splash this year that they consider more Texas performers next year.” Considering that you’re performing in the Reigning Queen of Burlesque competition at this year’s BHOF weekend, it would be safe to say you made quite a splash, don’t you think?
I’m delighted to be performing in the competition this year. It seems as though the selection committee is looking a little harder at Texas performers, which is exciting to all of us in the Lone Star State. Congratulations in particular to my friend and colleague Ginger Valentine, who was chosen to perform in the debut category this year. I have high hopes that we’ll rock Saturday night and encourage performers from out of state to come to Texas and perform with us, too.
As always, you’re a remarkably busy woman. You said in your most recent Pin Curl interview that you were making festivals a priority, and boy did you ever! You’ve traveled all over the place this year, including Key West, LA, San Diego, Chicago, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Las Vegas, all over Texas, and plenty more that I likely missed. How do you manage to keep everything balanced?
This year I’ve had no choice but to take everything one step at a time. It’s wonderful that I get to do what I love, I wouldn’t change a thing, but I’ve had to remind myself more than a couple of times to breathe. I also remind myself that if I ever get tired of doing burlesque I can just stop, but I don’t think I’m in danger of that. It’s still the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind as I fall asleep. It’s my absolute dream job and I am so thankful that I can tour so much and make friends with performers all over the world. I suppose I manage to balance the craziness because this is my chosen profession and lifestyle and I’d like it to stay that way for as long as the universe allows.
The Jigglewatts, the Austin burlesque troupe you co-founded, was voted best burlesque troupe in Texas at Hot Rods and Heels last year and is also a finalist for the same award in this year’s event. How have the Jigglewatts evolved in recent years?
We’re constantly evolving because we recruit such great performers. Miss Ruby Joule and I love being solo performers, but having a group is so rewarding and allows us to reach more people. Selecting new Jigglewatts is a process, and in the five years we’ve been producing shows we realize how important it is to have a troupe full of headliners who all just happen to get along. We need to keep the cast small and everyone needs to be confident in their abilities and recognize how valuable their individual talents are to the group as a whole. This year we added Jolie Ampere Goodnight and Ruby Lamb to our cast and 2010 Jigglewatts Pearl Lux and Goldie Candela will be performing again with us very soon. We recognize that as a group we’re so much more powerful and entertaining than we are individually. The Jigglewatts mission has always been to support the beauty and talent in other women, and it might be a little hard to do that without showcasing as many different beautiful and talented performers as we can.
Anything you’d like to add?
The burlesque world changes and grows constantly, and with its increase in popularity there’s an opportunity for the community to come closer together and there’s also more potential for the genre to grow. It’s our responsibility as the current burlesque community to work together and help it become the best and most wonderful thing it can be. I understand that there’s been some concern about the recent increase in the popularity of burlesque and a lot of us are afraid that it will morph into something new and different and unappealing to those of us in the field now. I feel strongly that if we stay true to our studies and our roots and we keep our eyes open to the world around us, we will be able to help guide the art form as it develops. We just have to continue to support each other.
Oh, and I love Pin Curl! Thank you for all the great things you do in the community, and for working so hard to promote burlesque as the wonderful art form it is. See you May 21st!
Find the full interview & photo shoot here!