Lady Lark of Bomb City Pretties talks burlesque in the tiny town of Amarillo, TX.
Q: What is the population of Amarillo?
Amarillo has around 200,000 people and far more cattle!
Q: Please tell us a little about the beginning of Bomb City Pretties? When/where/how? Describe your style.
Amarillo got its first inkling of burlesque around the mid 2000’s with the Whiskey Makin’ Mamas and the Sinderellas. A now-defunct, edgy theater group, Avenue 10, brought back burlesque in 2011 by doing burlesque shows to try and raise money to support their theater troupe. This morphed into the Red Room Girls, the longest running burlesque troupe in Amarillo. With that many hens in the kitchen there were bound to be artistic differences and eventually everyone split off into three different troupes. Red Room Girls, Galatea Burlesk, and The Bomb City Pretties.
The Bomb City Pretties were founded in 2012 and have been going strong since. We are the all singing, all dancing, all tall troupe in town. (274″ of glorious long legs combined!) We really have a unique and varied style. We have acts ranging from elegant classic burlesque to sideshow grinder numbers, Opera to rock songs to show-tunes, and everything in between.
Q: Do you have a local burlesque community to speak of?
We actually do. We have a Burlesque Coalition which has past members of the troupes and independent performers, as well as belly dancers and variety acts. We have three active burlesque troupes,a belly dancing troupe, a sideshow and burlesque troupe, and one independent boylesquer! Our own DomestiKate has also been working with Siren St. Sin, headmistress of the Lotus Blossoms, El Paso, TX, on forming a Southwest Burlesque Alliance that we’re very excited about!
Q: Do you travel often to see burlesque?
Yes! This year The Bomb City Pretties have really been focusing on expanding our bubble. We were able to make it to the Southwest Burlesque Showcase in Albuquerque, NM and the Texas Burlesque Festival this year as well as some smaller shows in the surrounding areas. I was recently asked to perform in Wichita, KS, Our Belladonna Muse was able to go to the Las Vegas Festival along with some of the other performers in town. DomestiKate is going to BurlyCon this year and travels to New Orleans when she can. BCP is also planning a trip down for the New Orleans Festival this year. It really is the only way we are able to take classes and further ourselves at this art form. Every time I, Lady Lark, go see a show, I find inspiration and learn something new as well as meet other performers and see how things are done elsewhere. You can only learn so much from YouTube!
Q: How have your audiences responded to your shows? Was it slow growth in audience numbers or a big boom from go? Is there a pattern among your audience (mostly male or female/ age/ socioeconomic class)
In the beginning with Avenue 10 there were protesters and the religious fanatics. This is the Bible Belt after all. However, everyone that we have talked to about burlesque here is always excited and surprised we have it. We are still growing and it takes time. A large majority of Amarillo is still unaware that we have burlesque here. We have been trying to expand our audience base but it is hard to find venues here that will host us as we grow. Our audience is a pretty interesting mix, as we have people from all walks of life, from the punk rockers, the cowboys, the opera stars, the educated to the high school drop outs. We generally have about half and half women and men at our shows.
Q: Is education an uphill battle? Have you had any push-back involving your town at large/venues/ or the law? Any Blue Laws to work around?
Education is an uphill battle. A lot of the venues we talk to don’t want to host us because they think it’s sleazy or will bring them trouble from the community. It’s especially hard being in the Bible Belt. I, personally, have had many people pray for me once they find out I’m a dancer, and most people just don’t know what burlesque is. As the Bomb City Pretties have grown our biggest struggle is finding venues to host us. We have been so fortunate to have Jason and his crew at the 806 Coffee Shop. Without them burlesque in Amarillo would be non-existent.
Q: What are the pros and cons of running a burlesque troupe in a smaller town?
Most of the things about running a troupe in a smaller town are double edged swords. We are lucky to get to bring a different art form to the Texas Panhandle, but it involves a lot of education of what burlesque actually is and is not. We have smaller venues and crowds, which can create an intimate environment for performances but have a harder time booking the larger venues. We have a really small community here and everyone knows each other. It’s great because we can all help each other out and learn from each other. The best thing about a small town is that it’s easy to get involved. If you want to learn about burlesque or be involved with a show, all you have to do is ask.
Q: Texas is a great state for burlesque (Four Texans are competing for Reigning Queen of Burlesque this year), but generally when you think Texas burlesque, you don’t think Amarillo? Do you feel under-recognized? What are three things you want everyone to know about burlesque in Amarillo?
I don’t feel under-recognized. In today’s society we really expect that instant gratification, but seeing our community grow as performers and artists over the past several years, I don’t think we were ready for recognition until recently. Good things take time and we have been cooking up something great. Even the fact we have been asked to do this article is proof that we are getting there, slowly but surely.
If I could tell people three things around Amarillo Burlesque it’s this:
- Hi! Yes, we are actually here and thriving!
- We have a beautiful community with varied art forms. There is something for everyone here!
- Amarillo hasn’t ever seen anything like this before and we’ve struggled to get where we are today. We are still growing and learning. If you have something to teach, bring it here and you will find eager ears and hearts.
Q: You are sandwiched at a half way point (or easy stop off) between some solid burlesque cities. Have you worked out a circuit to take advantage of traveling performers yet?
We are getting there! We were super lucky to have the beautiful Goldie Candela come through last fall as she was doing a mini tour. It was amazing, the crowds loved it and she was able to teach us a class as well! We have talked to several other performers from all over the southwest about coming up and performing with us. Perla Foxxx from Dirty Deeds Burlesque in Albuquerque will be joining us for a show in May. Any traveling performers reading this, we would love to have you! Come perform with us, come teach us, let’s play!
Q: What are three troupe goals for 2015?
To keep learning and improving ourselves and our art form. To travel more within Texas and out of our state. And finally, to see one of our girls, or our troupe on the stage at next year’s Texas Burlesque Festival. Watch out Austin!