Interview & Photographs: Shoshana, of DallasPinUp.com
Q: You describe your style as “avant garde”. What do you choose this term and what do you hope viewers will walk away with from your performances?
The word avant-garde is defined as new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts.¹ Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.² I simply feel this explains what I do, who I am, and what I aim to achieve as a performer. It’s a motivational term that expresses my desire to go above and beyond what’s safe, comfortable or expected.
While I don’t personally see a lack of innovation in the scene at all, I feel being avant-garde speaks to the style and execution of creativity. In my case I utilize modern/alternative music, costuming and concepts over the beloved classic choices in many routines. I have something to say that extends far beyond my sex appeal or dance abilities; although a great deal of it hasn’t been seen on stage yet. Describing myself as avant-garde is a reminder to not be scared about going “there” and sharing that experience with others.
I cannot yet specify what I wish viewers will walk away with from my performances, but it’s my hope that I will be embraced for my beauty, brains and balls.
¹ Oxford English Dictionary
Q: In addition to your “alternative” views on burlesque, you also have some alternative personal views. Can you explain your desire to “create the world’s largest swapping environment” while “shacking up with your huge polyamourous family”?
Ha! I see when those two phrases are set side-by-side it’s quite suggestive. However, in my case “swapping” is a reference to stuff, not people and partners. One of my entrepreneurial pursuits before burlesque was creating an NPO where I hosted parties for (mostly) women to exchange all their excess stuff with one another. Even though I switched gears, I have every intention of continuing that work on a much larger scale because it’s tragic how wasteful and resourcefully careless we are on this planet.
As for the other mention, I am a bi-sexual, polyamorous woman. While I am married to a wonderful, gorgeous man I adore, it is my ultimate desire to have multiple partners in open-but-committed extended relationships that result in a huge family with oodles of super-kids and pets running around on our eco-farm village. I’m definitely a modern hippie.
Q: Though you have extensive formal dance training, you opted for the world of burlesque as opposed to say, joining a touring dance company. Can you share with us how you picked your path in the dance world?
When I first fell in love with dance as a child it was upon the discovery that dance was a language, and it became a conversation I could have with myself to learn more about who I was. It was a secret place that I could disappear to and feel more truth and honesty than I did in the real world. As I grew older and navigated the dance domain further, it got farther and farther from what I wanted it to be.
After high school I knew I would not be happy in any of the traditional homes for a dancer, and decided to withdraw. I trusted I would find or make my own way. I had first found The Wall in Deep Ellum, where I cut my freestyle chops, then belly dancing at my local YMCA, and finally burlesque. It’s in this community that I have the freedom I was searching for.
Q: It’s been quite a year for you! Since leaving the Velvet Kittens, your former troupe, you have been a solo performer for just about a year now and were recently earned the Newcomer Award- One to Watch at Hot Rods and Heels as well as being selected from a pool of hundreds to perform at Viva Las Vegas. Have those recent experiences influenced your burlesque outlook or feelings on competition within burlesque?
It has been an exciting year full of new experiences for sure, although familiar at the same time since I’ve been performing successfully most of my life. Still, in a new community you don’t exactly know what to expect so I feel very lucky to have been so welcomed and recognized!
I continue to feel that there should be better ways to recognize performers than having them be formally judged in competitions, but I am grateful for being selected and the opportunities that stem from that of course!
Q: As well as the highs, you’ve had some lows this year. As a result of a random and violent attack several years ago, you spent some time early this year in surgery. How’s your health now?
Well the low was really 8 years ago when it happened and in the past year I’ve been very lucky with the two surgeries I’ve had so far. I have two more planned as of right now but my costs have been completely covered so that’s a huge relief. I also chose a naturopathic physician I just love and their whole team is wonderful; they take very good care of me. It’s one step at a time and while I don’t know exactly what the end result of all the work will be, I have been able to focus on healing and have every reason to be optimistic about it.
Q: In addition to aspiring to be “a world renowned burlesque star”, also have “successful indie singer/songwriter” on your list of lifetime ambitions. Any chance we’ll be hearing you sing anytime soon?
I hope so! I’ve been singing and writing songs since I was 8 or 9, but I developed a major case of stage fright. I can be brought to tears singing so easily (damn emotions) and letting my music be heard feels like the most vulnerable and exposed I’ve ever been. But, I’ve been practicing with my husband and friends so it’s in the works. I have a signature act and song called “My Name is Bunny” that I’d love to get on stage- it’s upbeat and adorable, so I won’t cry.
Hopefully everything we’ve discussed so far (which is a shitload)! I will continue performing and modeling, although I will be slowing down a bit. The acts I want to put on stage next are all pretty much going to take a while to prepare.
Even more of a consideration than that however, is my recent decision to return to school and get my degree in Environmental/Sustainable Architecture. This is a very big deal and will mean a move and performing only during summers once I’m enrolled. That is ideal for me though, as I need a healthy dose of scholastic endeavors to balance my artistic activities.
A future full of love, laughter, learning, philanthropy, art, community, creating, travel and other such great things- that’s the plan!