New York’s Italian Stallionette Angie Pontani, Queen of Burlesque Miss Exotic World 2008, talks wedding planning like a boss, Coney Island, droids, Burlesque-A-Pades, beach parties, Go-Go-Robics, sequin cowgirl costumes and memory lane.
For the complete interview and more beautiful exclusive images of Angie, pick up your Spring 2013 Best of Pin Curl print edition, available mid-May here!
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Q: Our last interview together was in June 2011 and my, so much has happened for you since then! Perhaps most notable is your marriage in February to jazz musician Brian Newman! Congratulations! The wedding images we’ve seen are breathtaking, but we’d love to hear all about your big day! I’ve read that since you’re both in show biz, you approached wedding planning much like planning a show. Did you find it difficult to stay on top of everything in addition to your careers or was the process second nature to you due to your experience as a producer? Were there frustrating moments along the way and if so how did the two of you handle them? Is there anything you would have done differently if you could do it over? What was your favorite part? (Or parts?)
A: The wedding was fabulous and planning it was just as fun. I think coming from my production background, it was inevitable that I approached the wedding with the production/showbiz side of my brain. The only difference with this was that I didn’t have to worry about press and promotion and that I was co-producing with my mom! That had its challenging moments, like when I banned flower centerpieces and she sneakily called the florist and ordered them. I come from a big Italian-American family and there is this kind of standard that our weddings are held to – you need a church, a big wedding hall, Italian Wedding Soup, tons of wine, a good DJ and a nice bursa to walk around and collect envelopes in. Brian and I love a lot of these elements, but we also really wanted to make the wedding our own, something that our families would love but that represented us too. Our location was amazing – The Grand Prospect Hall. It’s a historic hall in our neighborhood that was built in late 1892 as a “temple of music and amusement” by John Kolle, over the years it’s been an opera house, a theater, a Masonic lounge, a speakeasy, a film set (Cotton Club), and so much more! It is gorgeous and unique, exactly what we wanted, less than ten blocks from our house. Since the hall was so huge, we were able to incorporate everything we wanted, we had an on-site ceremony officiated by Pastor Paul Milholland of Trinity Lutheran Church. The amazing Steven Hammel was our artistic designer and basically turned the ceremony room into a stage/church. We had a 16 piece big band made up of a lot of Brian’s musician pals, and then segued into my cousin Bruce Mancia DJ’ing. It was a fantastic colorful crowd of family, friends and colleagues. I think my favorite moments aside from saying “I do” were just being on the dance floor and looking around, watching my crazy cousin Larry dancing with all my friends and seeing our parents having so much fun. There was so much love in the air and on the dance floor, it was magical. I keep going back and looking at the pictures and pinching myself for being so lucky to have so many amazing diverse people in my life, family and world. Balancing the wedding and normal work was a challenge; I had my costume designer Garo Sparo working on my gown and a new costume in tandem! My printer was printing invites and show posters, and Brian and I were practicing our first dance and some new acts. It was a real multi-tasking few months. We even had a show the night before our wedding in Virginia; that was a little crazy, but honestly, I really wouldn’t do anything differently, except I would have eaten more night of. We had a 2-foot cannoli in the dessert room and I didn’t even get to see it!
Enjoy Angie’s wedding photo gallery below! (Click images to enlarge.)
The bi-coastal Jacqueline Hyde talks production, branding, tea, and pep talks.
Q: You are the producer and a performer in the upcoming Valentease which is sponsored by Bust magazine and includes an epic line-up featuring Angie Pontani, Indigo Blue, Jo Weldon, Harvest Moon, and so many more! Tell us a little about why you’re so “giddy” as your blog puts it, about the upcoming show at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
JH: I am giddy because I didn’t actually think I could get this collection of performers. I wanted Valentease to be that of applicants and personally hand selected entertainers. I wanted to give those who were “new” or “newish” to the community an opportunity to perform with established entertainers; allowing for a dynamism that is unlike any other.
The cast of Valentease is a “dream cast” to me, and sensually unique. Valentease will showcase a variety of performers rising stars to industry recognized veterans. I am giddy because of the overwhelming interest by these entertainers in this unique love centric show. I think Cupid hit me with a couple of bows and arrows here.
Q: You hilariously refer to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania as the “Switzerland of America”. Why do you say this?
JH: Actually “Switzerland of America” was not coined by me! It was coined by North Easter Pennsylvania era at the time of the industrial revolution surrounding coal. Jim Thorpe, originally called Mauch Chunk, was a major hub in the anthracite coal mining days. Jim Thorpe was an area that at the turn of the 1900′s had 13 millionaires in it. Today Jim Thorpe still has many of the original architecture and is rich with history of the coal mining days. Jim Thorpe is nestled in the Poconos in the heart of three mountains and has the essence of a little town in the middle of the Alps!
Q: You live in Edmonds, Washington just outside of Seattle, and produce shows in Pennsylvania, including the monthly “Silk Tease”. How did you become bi-coastal and how do you sustain having a business on each coast?
JH: I actually get this question a lot! I actually moved to Pennsylvania for an opportunity that was presented to me. While that did not work out quite as planned, what was built were the relationships with the area I had moved to. I fostered those relationships in the area via email, social networks and phone.
What is not really known is that I have actually produced shows not only in Seattle and Pennsylvania but in Paris as well. It is a matter of building relationships, finding markets that are untapped, and engaging with people in a variety of ways. I have a business manager who helps me tremendously, and have worked with him to create an action plan for the East Coast targeted areas that I want to work with. I have handed off the EC to him to work on my structured plan, as I continue to build up the WC presence… we meet up in the middle – lol. It is a full time job for sure.
Q: Speaking of your businesses, you own and operate Jacqueline Hyde Emporium where you custom create your own line of teas. How did you fall in love with tea, and what goes into producing custom blends?
JH: I fell in love with tea when I was little. But the concept for expanding Jacqueline Hyde as a brand one cold November morning in 2010. I wanted to be able to have “TEASe” parties and bachelorette parties that could be held in the afternoon or in the day. A place that would allow for the pun of TEASe to play out. A throw back to my preferred era of Victorian / Edwardian times when burlesque was socially different and where tease was just a hint of an ankle and a different level of saucy intelligence. Each named box of tea represents an act I have or a production I produce. TEASe shows are coming this summer and fall all over the country… so watch out!
Q: In the opening post of your blog, you write of the importance of having a good team of people working for you. We often get letters from readers about this issue. What advice would you give performers, producers, teachers, to help them decide when the time has come to hire a team (even a team of one to start) and how to let go of the need to do everything yourself.
JH: Having a team of people to help distribute the vision is vital to the success and growth of any business. Since I treat “Jacqueline Hyde” as a business, I of course have a business plan that is focused on driving my business forward. The business of all-encompassing entertainment. By partnering with individuals who have strong skills to support a variety of pieces in your plan, helps to distribute the workload, and helps to focus your attentions on other pieces for decision making. The biggest advice I can provide is to make sure you have a strong, strong budget. A realistic budget. You want to focus on an entire year of planning, rather than just one specific thing. Everything needs to budgeted down to even your applications to festivals to rhinestones, should a performer really want to succeed and move forward. It is also wise that have a non disclosure agreement between those you engage with on any level with any creative ideas. PERIOD! Creative theft is popular, protect yourself.
We all still want to do everything ourselves. You should know, or have conceptual knowledge, of the things you need to put in place. It is vital to not just let someone do something for you. You maintain the artistic control, the business control and for crying out you control the money decisions! You have to be willing to experience failures with people, as well as make the key decisions for letting people go should you so need to. Many people say, get your friends involved. I say… learn to separate yourself. This sounds silly, but you have to be willing to tell your friend their failures and detach from them business wise if you need to. Nepotism can be your greatest failure if you do not have the strength to change something that is going away from your vision. Many people do not necessarily like it, but I am friends with people I work with, and socialize accordingly, but I have learned over the many years of the entertainment industry the art of “separation” of friends and business. It is hard for some to do this.
Q: Speaking of writing, you announced your upcoming book Live it. Breathe It. Own It. – The Book of Pep Talk. Can you give us a sample of one of your awesome pep talks?
JH: Live it. Breathe It. Own It. has been something in the workings since 2007, when I faced one of the most challenging years ever. Since then, knowing I could survive “drama” I began looking at how I could translate that into a positive. LBO, as I call it, is my mantra for solving things, making life better, and to be free of as much drama as possible. Pep talks mostly are on individual basis, I start by questioning a person, challenging a person, and then making them believe! Yes, you can make someone believe if you believe.
Here is a sample “Pep Talk”… Scene (picture it) … a performer (Jane) really has been down lately, they don’t see themselves as someone who can make a splash in to the performance community. This would be how I would respond…
Look, Jane, you are an amazing individual with so much heart in your performances. People have come to see you perform in this show, that is noteworthy. If you want to go bigger and badder and make that name for yourself, you will have to live with choices from here on out. Ask yourself if you are living your experience. Are you enjoying this moment of being dressed up in your costume? Have you told yourself in the mirror that you are a freaking rock star and that you have something to offer? Are you taking in this moment to your heart with every breath? That you are inhaling the moment of glitter? Now mind you Jane, Glitter is not friendly up the nose, so make sure that when you dust yourself, that you don’t literally take it in. (Friendly laugh). Now, you are about go on sweetie, and you are nervous because you care. But go out there and OWN that stage. Own the moment. Own your change. Own the experience that you are providing for yourself and for others. Remember, that audience is here to see you. Remember that you are amazingly awesome in every way. Remember you can achieve if you want it badly enough.
Now, my book helps take people through the process of LBO. It is hard for many to digest a process of change or the motivation for making their world theirs. It is all about changing bad situations into good situations by changing your mind. I don’t tell anyone to forget the past, but to remember it, as it has defined them to who they are today. You can only learn from life. Breathe in the present with experiences, and enjoy life to the fullest. And you have to own all responsibility for successes (and failures) because this way you have a well-balanced life. Think of LBO as the vitamins of life.
Live It. Breathe It. Own It. will be available on my website(s) in late February early March, and the pep talk tour will be starting this summer (2013). Look to www.jacquelinehyde.com for connections about LBO.
Q: A question we often get from our readers is how to impress producers. As a producer, what are three tips you can give performers to get more bookings?
JH: Have a true press kit. I am sorry but Facebook doesn’t do it for me, in fact it makes me angry. Entertainers that truly want to be known and recognized need to manage their world like a business. That means have a website, have a press kit, have presence. Additionally, if producers have application portals (like I do) make sure to take time to fill out the form, attach photo and have video. Don’t assume that they will be able to find your email. If you are selected by that producer to work with them, don’t give them attitude, be on time, get your stuff in when asked, and realize that they are stressed out most of the time, thus we can’t babysit you. Sounds horribly mean, but it is very true. My 25+ years in the entertainment industry made me realize that perception is everything and if you are not “put together” in a variety of ways, well, you don’t really have your stuff together and you don’t want it badly enough. Be professional. Consider it a real job, after all we are paying you for your services.
Q: What’s next for Jacqueline Hyde?
JH: Well that’s a secret, but what I can tell you is that it there will be a lot more shows all over the country and in Europe that collaborate with others on for producing. Expansion of my Emporium to have more products for performers at reasonable rates, such as rhinestones. Additionally, there will be new wearable items that are going to be available as well. This summer I will be traveling to Paris again to perform with Sugar Da Moore, and I am looking to capturing another title somewhere in some avenue of everything I do. Mostly, the Pep Talk Tour will be keeping me busy on the weekends, as I really want to focus on giving back to individuals, and giving them the opportunity to challenge and commit to themselves and their dreams. Possibly in three years, I will actually open a venue of my own, the business plan is almost complete, its just a matter of talking to the right people.
This year marked the 10th annual New York Burlesque Festival, where they continued the tradition of awarding Golden Pasties awards to various members of the Burlesque community for their contributions. We’d like to thank the amazing Angie Pontani for providing us with the list of winners so that we could show them some love!
THE PERFORMER YOU WOULD CALL WITH YOUR ONE QUARTER FROM JAIL
MURRAY HILL (NYC)
THE PERFORMER WITH THE MOST IMAGINATIVE STAGE NAME
EVIL HATE MONKEY (NYC)
THE PHYSICAL FITNESS AWARD, FOR THE PERFORMER WHO KICKS IT HARDEST IN THE GYM
BUNNY BEE (CO)
THE CUTEST GEEK IN BURLESQUE
DANGRRR DOLL (NYC)
THE PERFORMER MOST LIKELY TO START A BAR BRAWL
STORMY LEATHER (NYC)
THE HOTTEST FRESHMAN
LOLA SPITFIRE (CO)
THE PERFORMER YOU WOULD MOST LIKE TO HAVE A SLUMBER PARTY WITH
BOO BOO DARLIN (NYC)
THE CLASSIC PIN UP AWARD
BETTINA MAY (NYC)
FANCIEST FEET AWARD, FOR THE PERFORMER WITH DANCIEST MOVES
THE LONG HAULER AWARD, FOR THE PERFORMER MOST LIKELY TO BE STRIPPING AT 90
TEMPEST STORM (NYC)
THE TRUE BLOOD AWARD, FOR THE PERFORMER MOST LIKELY TO GLAMOUR YOU WITH TEASING EYES
ANGIE PONTANI (NYC)
THE BEEFCAKE BOYLESQUE AWARD
MR. GORGEOUS (NYC)
THE MACGYVER AWARD, FOR THE PERFORMER WHO CAN FIX ANY COSTUME MALFUNCTION, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE AND WITH ANYTHING
THE PERFORMER MOST LIKELY TO START A HAREM
JO BOOBS WELDON (NYC)
SEXIEST SHIMMY & COOLEST QUAKE AWARD
PEEKABOO POINTE (NYC)
PERFORMER MOST LIKELY TO SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
JULIE ATLAS MUZ (NYC)
International burlesque sensation and former Miss Exotic World (2008) Angie Pontani talks glamina, keeping the drama for your mama, the smell of hot glue, vintage industrial sewing machines, and the New York Burlesque Festival.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Born a Jersey girl and dancing since age 4, you moved to New York at 17 to study dance and theater at NYU, but admittedly found the program to be “really super boring” and became a burlesque performer “almost by accident.” Tell us about that first performance at the Dutch Weismann Follies and how it changed your life.
Dutch Weismann Follies absolutely changed my life. It was everything that I imagined show business would be exquisitely crammed into this exclusive underground show. They turned a NYC railroad apartment into a speakeasy and created the most gorgeous costumes I’ve ever seen basically out of curtains. It taught me that you can make anything happen. During the first show, I was a nervous and excited wreck. I felt like it was a big accident that I was cast, my dancing skills and experience were way below the other gals, I was also shorter, underage and totally naive. I was totally faking it, watching the other gals and trying my best to mimic them! I had three rehearsals to learn three routines and didn’t even get a fitting in my costumes until about an hour before curtain. I clearly remember sitting back stage with the fantastic cast trying to figure out how to glue my lashes on and how to get those huge headdresses to stay on. The buzz of the audience was electrifying and the smell of hot glue filled the backstage air. I love that smell. It’s almost as comforting to me as the smell of my grandmom’s kitchen on a Sunday. About 13 seconds after the curtain came up on the opening number, I had an absolute Janet Jackson costume malfunction! The minute I threw my arms in the air for a dance move, the girls came out! The costume was a tad too small I suppose, but I managed to get through the number with a lot of spinning and stuffing in. That was it for me, I haven’t performed in any other type of show since and I suppose I wasn’t so bad because I quickly went from being in the chorus line to having several feature acts- I even sang in one. That show was absolutely magical, from the costumes, story line, music, choreography and cast. I am lucky to have been a part of it and can’t wait for Dutch to mount another production! Even after the show closed in a perfect cloud of scandal, as all speakeasy shows should, many of the cast and crew pushed me to keep performing and helped me when I started the Pontani Sisters.
What are the pros and cons of having a manager? At what point should a gal decide to get a manager?
I don’t really have a manager so much as I have 3 amazing booking agents that I work with, one who does my solo performances, one who books my full show Burlesque-A-Pades and one who handles all my work in Italy. They are all much more than basic agents to me and help me with career decisions, press and really anything else I ask them advice on. I am very hands on with my career and work really closely with my agents on everything. The choice to use agents was really made for me when I couldn’t keep up with bookings and focus on my act at the same time. I’m into fast response and being on top of things. When that became impossible because of my travel I got serious about getting representation. The choice to get an agent or manager is a big one and certainly one that someone should consider when they get to the point that they can’t keep up with their work load, but you really need to find someone that you trust and jive with, someone who understands your act and won’t book you into an event that isn’t for you. They are after all a representation of you, so it’s important to get someone who gets you! I also rely on my family a lot and they are always happy to give me their opinions, especially my sister Tara who started the Pontani Sisters with Helen and me.
How long have you been co-producing the New York Burlesque Festival? The festival will have its ninth birthday this fall, and we’d like to know- what have you learned from your role in the festival?
I’ve been co-producing the New York Burlesque Festival since its inception 9 years ago. I’ve learned a lot from that event, it’s not easy to organize 150+ performers, each with unique needs. With these big events, and with every show, it’s about advancing the information, being clear in communication, being organized and having a great team. People are traveling from all over the world for 4 minutes on one of our stages in the big apple. We want to give them and the audience the best experience possible. To do that we advance all the information with each individual performer, the venue tech teams, our stage manager and sound coordinator, the host, the whole crew. It’s all about pre-empting any issues as well as having a fabulous crew, so that when something does go wrong everyone knows what to do. We also search high and low for great venues with nice high stages and clean sight-lines; my favorite is B.B Kings in Times Square! We also will be at Brooklyn Bowl, The Highline Ballroom and The Bell House this year; these venues are all top notch. Additionally, we have a total zero drama policy. Keep the drama for your mama, we are here to do a great show.
Last fall, you said in your CNN iReport interview that one of the most difficult things about being self-employed is ensuring that you stay employed. Many people don’t realize that though you have what some would consider a dream job, it’s a constant struggle to get more work, and that you work 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Do you find that people misjudge the amount of work required to being a full-time performer, producer and choreographer? How do you manage all of that without going crazy?
Well, I think you have to be a bit crazy to be in showbiz. But absolutely, most of my non-entertainer friends don’t even consider my career a real job. They think it’s all good times, parties, traveling and gallivanting. While that is part of my job, 97% is total work. During my “off” days, I am working on upcoming tours, shoots, shows, videos, keeping my site and press materials current, creating new costumes and maintaining my working costumes, thinking up new shows and keeping up with myself! Going to the gym and doing my nails are things that are career requirements to me. When I am in show mode on tour or doing a string of performances, it’s typically a chaotic and sometimes grueling schedule. Plane to tech to show, van to tech to show, plane to tech to show, etc…. That is the schedule and it can go on like that for weeks on end, throw in early morning interviews, time changes and sleep deprivation for fun! You need a lot of glamina (glamour+ stamina) to have a career in burlesque. It’s also tough on family relations sometimes, I love my family and being away so much can be a challenge. This year I’ve missed Easter and Mother’s Day dinner, I’m probably the first Pontani to ever do that!
In the same CNN interview you were quoted saying, “A good burlesque show is when the audience can get lost in the show.” What suggestions do you have as a producer and performer in terms of how to guarantee that your audience “gets lost” in the show?
As a producer, you need to think about more of the technical aspects, aside from getting a great crowd and keeping your performers happy in the green room. Good lights, a proper stage with good sight lines- these things make a good show great. As a performer, you should be thinking and caring about these things as well, but you also have to practice. I like to practice my routines like crazy. I don’t ever want to think about what comes next, I like for it to be instinct so that I can be up there running on instinct and having fun, not panicking about my next step or garment removal, which is also why it’s important to practice in costume. Know your costume in and out and where the weakest points are in case of a tear away emergency. It’s a little insane I know, but when I rehearse, I will first get my basic act down, know my markers in the music and where different things should happen, then I will turn in every direction and do the routine, I’ll do it in the dance studio which is a hard wood floor, then my living room which is shag carpet, then I’ll do it in my tiled entry way and then I do it with all the lights out and my eyes closed. If you can handle that, you can handle any warbled stage or other mishap you might endure.
You, as well as your sisters, have played a significant role in not only the New York burlesque scene, but the burlesque revival in general. Though I’m sure there are many, what are some of the big changes that you’ve noticed taking place in recent years as far as the revival is concerned?
The form seems to be perpetually evolving and changing. Mostly it has grown, there were a hand full of us in the beginning and now there are tons of performers. I also see a lot of sects forming, classic, alternative, punky, comedy, pop, contemporary, themes… people who take burlesque and adapt it to their sensibilities teaming up with other like minded folks and creating full shows. The biggest change is the growth of the scene, it’s amazing to watch and be a part of as well.
Unlike some other performers whom I’ve heard describe burlesque as an almost exclusive hyper-glamorous art form, you seem to stress the realness and audience connection when you describe burlesque, which I find not only much more realistic, but it also shows that you’re rather down to earth. You’ve said that burlesque “is being able to manifest this ideal image of glamour but at the same time create almost an accessibility to the audience where they connect with you… it’s ultra-glamorous, but not off-putting. It’s not like a red velvet rope feeling… We put a lot of effort and money into looking glamorous and fabulous but there’s a realness to it that I think people can connect to… it’s not unattainable.” What do you think is the key to being both ultra-glamorous and making a real connection with the audience?
I think a big part of the key is not taking yourself too seriously. I am very serious about serious entertainment, but there is a balance. I don’t want people’s perception of me to be this false ideal, that’s just not who I am. I love glamour and corsets and 5″ heels and 20 pound gowns and my glass bath tub, but with enough time and effort anyone can have those things. The reality is I also love vacuuming and sitting on my stoop on any given day for hours chatting with my neighbors. I think of Dolly Parton as the ultimate ideal of this philosophy, she is both glam, amazing, wildly talented and a total diva in her own way, but she is also real and real about what is fake. I hope I’m making sense, I have a tough time with these questions because to me burlesque is what it is, and it’s showbiz. I’m not much for analyzing. If you are good at what you do and have a sincerity and love for show business, it comes across and that’s the joy and excitement the audience feels.
I noticed from some of your Facebook posts that you have at least one vintage sewing machine. What are the benefits of using an older model? Any drawbacks?
I have two vintage machines, both hand me downs from my family. One is a huge Viking Huskvarna industrial machine from the 40′s, the other is a 50′s table top Singer. I’ve got a modern singer as well, but I rarely use it. The old machines are quite indestructible and look a lot better too. I don’t make my own costumes anymore, but when I did, I used those vintage machines. My Viking will sew through anything, fingers included. It is a dream with heavy fabrics. The drawback to the vintage machines are repairs, I actually recently put my Viking in storage, there was only one man NYC who repaired that type of machine. He did house calls and came and tuned up my machine once a year, sadly he passed away and I can’t find anyone who can really get her going since! I’ll never get rid of her, in fact I think I will probably end up hiring a mechanic to come and replace the motor and other parts one day. Even though I don’t make my own costumes anymore, I sew quite a bit. I tailor most everything I buy and I make a lot of my own clothes. I love to make my friends homemade gifts for holidays and birthdays, like vintage aprons in really fun novelty prints.
What big projects are you working on at the moment?
There is a lot in the works right now, we are in full swing planning for the 9th Annual New York Burlesque Festival which will take place September 29th – October 2nd right here in the big apple. I am also working on a new touring show with Los Straitjackets, the Rock ‘N Burlesque Spectacular, that will be a two week tour in late October, we will also have a Burlesque-A-Pades tour back on in the winter and I’m going to be releasing some new DVD’s this Fall, including a new Go-Go Robics. I am really excited about that one!
Dallas Burlesque Festival, billed “The Sexiest Show in Big D” took place last month at the Historic Texas Theater in Oak Cliff, one of the oldest sections of Dallas. Only two years old, the festival, produced by Elisa Davis, Ginger Valentine, and Black Mariah, grew by leaps and bounds over its inaugural year. While ticket sales for 2010 were about the same as 2009, the festival spanned two nights, which meant all festival goers had the luxury of their own seat. The sold out production grew to host over 50 performers spanning seven states and two countries. The DBF gals also decided to add a featured performer to the line-up, Angie Pontani of New York headlined the festival. Due to the 1000 plus attendees in 2009, the media was ready this year and gave Dallas burlesque lots of attention the week prior to the show.
While Friday night’s showcase was hectic and had some technical setbacks (the wrong music was cued up and took seven minutes of silence to fix, at which point the crowd became agitated, the producers were also thrown a last minute curve ball when the fire marshal was called in due to questions about the venue’s safety, which resulted in ticket holders being turned away.) By Saturday night the Dallas Burlesque Fest crew, in a large part due to stage manager Nick, got all of the kinks ironed out. Saturday night’s performance was nearly flawless, and the energy of the crowd was amazing! Pin Curl was on hand to ask festival attendees to share their experiences. Here’s what we learned:
Jessica Dawn, from the audience perspective:
I arrived Friday night eagerly anticipating the event. Both Pixie and I were excited to attend as audience members instead of working the event, either off or on stage. When I arrived, there was confusion at the door with the different lines you needed to be in and though it was a cold night to be left waiting a half hour for the house to open- it was neat to listen in to those in line with us and what they were anticipating the event. The Friday night showcase was performers bustin’ out the crowd favorites. The show was a little rough with a couple of snags which the emcee, radio personality Jesse- handled with flare and aplomb. I had a friend with me who had never been to a Burlesque event before and she (of course) fell in love.
Saturday night was less line confusion but still a long cold wait for the house to open. A group behind me that had not been to a burlesque event before worried whether or not it would not be worth the wait. I reassured them it would be, but I’m not quite sure they believed me.
I have to say Saturdays showcase was FABULOUS. Many of the acts, routines and performers, were new to me, which was quite a treat. The production on the second night was much tighter and seemed to run very well from the audience perspective. The sound quality this year was a vast improvement from the year before as was the closer attention to crowd control. It was easy to see that the team had learned a lot from last year’s event and applied it skillfully to this one. At the end of the show I did run in to the couple that had stood with me in line and I asked them if they had thought it was worth the wait in the cold. Their faces lit up with smiles, assuring me it had been and they were very excited about next year’s show already.
Jessica Dawn’s favorites? Angie Pontani’s veil routine Friday night, and Roxie Moxie’s Saturday night routine, about which she remarked- a Vodun who kills herself at the end- gotta love it!
Jessie, the festival’s emcee
Terror aside I had a ball at Dallas Burlesque Festival. Emceeing such a huge show over the course of two nights was totally out of my realm of experience…as a dj I am usually hidden in a small studio where it is just me and a mic. It is a totally different animal to be thrust in front of a paying crowd AND have to be entertaining; which is probably why I spent both days TREMBLING and slightly horrified. But once I was in the Dirty Martini/Ellingson inspired Wonder Woman gown it was all right.
Highlights for my role include the Cat Butt Gum intro for Athena Fatale, seeing Angie Pontani’s dazzling bongo number live, ohhhhh and Lily Wilde’s explosive dance routine…. that was MOM upside down for sure….WOW! Small wonder she earned a standing O.
Mostly I LOVED the goofball Jigglewatt boys who kept screaming “GOD BLESS AMERICA“ during Fridays show. That was actually helpful because the crowd was kind of rough and unresponsive. They gave me someone to focus on and to play with. I got them good on Saturday when I wore the lacey see-thru Immodesty Blaize gown with the Swarovski merkin. They were screaming again as I came out on stage so I looked down at my bedazzled merkin and then, stared right at them and said “you know… if my cooch were a rifle it would go BLANG BLANG!” and I blasted a few very pronounced rat-a-tat-tat pelvic thrusts in their direction…the incredulous yet radiant look on their faces was worth its weight in rhinestones. Hilarious. They were cool too because they helped us raise some additional money for Patriot Paws Service Dogs and comedy attempts aside, that was really the passion that fed my participation in this wonderful event.
I am eternally grateful to Ginger Valentine, Elisa Davis & Black Mariah for inviting me to be a part of Dallas Burlesque Festival. I would love to do even more on the scene and in any capacity be it as an emcee, pantie wrangler, seat-pointer-to-er, program hander outer, dressing room fixer upper etc… the ENERGY and the art of burlesque really captures the primal essence of what it is to not only be feminine but also to be powerful without having to apologize or downplay it. Burlesque celebrates the female body in ALL of its forms and that is an electrifying combination that is as beautiful as it is intoxicating. I am woman hear me RAWR!
Vivienne Vermuth, performer in Friday night’s showcase and make-up artist Saturday night
At 6 pm on Friday Feb. 5th, the Texas Theater was fairly quiet, except for the low hum of crew bustling about setting up. The only signs that the biggest burlesque event in Dallas was about to happen was a white screen, that had clips of Bettie Page and Tempest Storm rolling. They smiled their Mona Lisa smiles, as if they knew the festival was going to be amazing – and they were right!
Burlesque festivals – To the dancers, it means a chance to hone their skills, strut their stuff, and meet other like minds from other parts of the nation/world. To the audience it means a chance to see a WHOLE LOTTA STRIPPIN’ GOIN’ ON, and a lot of different interpretations of burlesque, from classic to modern and beyond. This was my second run at DBF, having performed in the inaugural fest the year before, and I was determined to leave my big, glittery pawprint! This year I performed in the Friday night showcase with a new sea-inspired routine to Styx’s “Come Sail Away”, complete with glittery Guitar Hero controller, and helped backstage as a makeup stylist alongside LaDonna Hearne and Ruby Redlocks for the fashion show models on Saturday. This allowed me to enjoy the fest from all angles, and meet people on all sides of the show, as well enjoy the entire showcase on Saturday.
Without a doubt, this years’ fest certainly had something for everyone. There were great local artisans showing off their wares . Being in line with offering all side of burlesque, the fest featured pole dancers from The Girls’ Room in Dallas on stage before the shows, and local models took the stage in fashion shows both nights for Electrique Boutique and Jupiter Moon 3 custom corsets. The burlesque acts also varied greatly; some of my favorites included Viva La Muerte’s (Chicago) tribute to Creepshow, Angi B. Lovely’s (Dallas) aerial silks, …The emcee for both nights was the lovely Jessie Jessup, and she kept the audience laughing and cheering on the ladies onstage. The audience was outstanding, and I think Dallas has gained a new legion of burlesque fans!
The biggest and sincerest applause goes out to the entire cast and crew who put this together, and to the three producers (Elisa of the Ruby Revue, Ginger Valentine, and Black Mariah) for putting on this fest and upping the ante with each year. All in all, the show was a rousing success, and I know I walked away from it feeling fantastic! Met some great performers, got to talk to a lot of fans, and generally had a great time! Can’t wait til next year – can you?
Rouby Joule, Performer
I was honored to perform in both the 2009 and 2010 Dallas Burlesque Festivals, and though the 2009 show was a smash hit, I thought this year’s show took it to another level. I love how the Dallas community of photographers, producers, designers, models and performers comes together to support this festival, and this year it seemed more focus was channeled toward the performances themselves. It was wonderful to have such a seasoned and capable tech crew running sound, lights and stage managing. The theatre itself was a bit on the chilly side, especially in the dressing rooms, but it’s a historic building after all. It was a small price to pay for such a beautiful stage. Having some reserved seating for the performers was a big plus, as we learn so much from watching each other, and from feeling the energy of the crowd all around us! The audience was very enthusiastic and responsive, seeming to gobble up every act like candy. I got to perform both Friday and Saturday nights, and the show and crowd on both nights was outstanding. Some new fans even made the trip from Houston for the show. I must say that having female producers who are also performers gave a rare spirit of camaraderie and heart to the entire event. We were all invested in it together, body and soul.
Jennifer, Jupiter Moon 3 Corsets, Vendor
Dallas Burlesque Festival was an absolute blast. Even as a vendor, I had a great time. The energy was fantastic, people were really enjoying themselves, and the performers were top notch. I am so glad it was a two night event, because with that many people in attendance, it would have had to run all day to cram them all in to a one day event! I personally had my best night vending, twice over; I was a happy camper! I also had a fashion show to kick off the evening, and I couldn’t have been happier. I had eight great ladies modeling for me, and it went off without a hitch, especially for not having a single rehearsal! It was a great little fashion show, and the crowd really seemed to enjoy it. All in all, it was a fabulous show, I have only heard wonderful things, and I sincerely hope to do it again next year!