2010 Best Solo & Audience Choice Winner at Texas Burlesque Festival:
Angi B Lovely drops in to chat about titles, aerials, gypsies, Maury Povich, and disco camping.
Interview: Shoshana. Photographs: High Art Studio and Benn Britt.
Catch Angi this month at Viva Dallas Burlesque on August 6th, with the Lollie Bombs August 13th and 14th, and in September at The New Orleans Burlesque Festival!
Q: You originally came on the burlesque scene in Dallas, well…by helping to start it. Tell us about those early days as a co-founder of the award winning and beloved troupe- The Lollie Bombs.
It wasn’t entirely glamorous in the beginning I must admit. We often performed on tiny, badly lit stages, mostly at bars and changed in storage rooms with no mirrors.
Trying to educate an audience that had no idea about burlesque was no easy thing to do, especially when most of us didn’t have a basis of comparison ourselves, because of this we took a lot of risks. Some of our early work included botoh pieces, gas masks, beat poetry, drag queens, and guy members… anything went. Eventually we figured out a formula that worked, but there was a lot of trial and error.
Q: In addition to your work with the Lollie Bombs, you have also come onto the radar as one of the only aerial artists in Texas on the burlesque scene. How did you first become interested in aerials and what was your training?
As a child I was always climbing to the highest point I could get to; I would often get stuck in trees, or spend hours on the roof. During recess I would spent my time alone hanging upside down and figuring out ways to flip off the bars. I never had any fear of falling, and enjoyed the comfort and quiet of being alone in the air. It was always in the back of my head that aerial art was something that I wanted to do. I took a few classes here and there, but it wasn’t until after my grandmother died that I made the commitment to go for it in a very serious way. She wanted to be a trapeze artist and had always wanted my mother to join the circus. I always wanted to be an aerialist too, so in a way I feel I’m living both of our dreams.
Q: Your aerials, hula hoop performances, fire performances, and work as a performance artist has taken you to all kinds of venues and performances outside of the burlesque scene. In addition to burlesque, what are your other performance interests?
I love ballroom dance. I have a special love for swing dancing, lindy hop most specifically. I also studied musical theater early in my college career and still have a huge interest in that area. Also, with literally dozens of disciplines with in circus art, I feel I’m just scratching the surface.
Q: What do you say to folks who say that your aerial numbers are not true burlesque?
I’m not entirely sure what “true burlesque” is to be honest. This seems to be a genre that is continually reinventing itself. I do theatrical striptease with a gimmick. Some girls strip with a feather boa, I strip in the air. I don’t see how one is more “burlesque” than the other. Indigo Blue once told me “we can spend a lot of time talking about what burlesque isn’t, but I’m not sure how productive that is”. Like her, I’d rather focus my energy on being inclusive, not tearing each other down.
Q: Tell us how it felt winning the title of Best Solo at Texas Burlesque Fest, as well as being a finalist for the title of Performer of the Year at Hot Rods and Heels.
Winning best solo at TX Burlesque Fest was pretty surreal- I had not expected to even be competing at all. It was only after tying for crowd favorite with Gravity Plays Favorites Friday night and was invited back to compete Saturday. This was my third year at TX Burlesque Fest and I’ve never been included in the competition, only the showcase, so winning something my first year competing was an incredible honor, especially with all the enormous talent that was involved in this year’s show down. It’s a moment I will treasure for a long time.
I stopped performing and moved to Houston during the time that Burlesque really exploded in Dallas, so moving back I was relatively unknown. Even the people who had remembered me from The Lollie Bombs might not have thought of me as a solo performer, so I felt I really had a lot to prove. When I was nominated by my peers as a finalist for Performer of the Year it solidified in my head that I had been accepted into the community, and had made a name for myself as a solo performer.
Q: I joke that you’re a gypsy, but it is true that you come from a long line of performing and visual artists. Tell us a little about your background.
My grandmother on my mother’s side was always drawing and sketching. My mother was a ballerina, and my mother’s brother is an actor, sculptor, puppet maker and Renaissance man in general. My father’s mother was an actress and a dancer as well, having minor roles in movies like Singing in the Rain.
Q: I hear that Maury Povich plays a role in your daily life- What’s with the Maury addition?
Kind of a guilty pleasure I guess. I practice aerials everyday from one to three, which also happens to be when Maury is on, so usually I’m watching Maury 10 feet in the air. My trainer and I get a good laugh, it’s bonding for us.
Q: Ok, another oddity- disco camping?
Yes, It’s like regular camping only you bring your whole house, your costume wardrobe, and a big ass disco ball. Pants are optional, participation is mandatory.
But seriously, Disco camping is a phrase I use to refer to events I attend that are based on the 10 principles of Burning Man. Being involved in this community has definitely helped to shape who I am as a person and a performance artist, I’m continuously finding new inspiration and platforms to express myself through these venues.
Q: Artists seek to challenge themselves as a general rule, with so many performance styles under your belt, is there anything you haven’t conquered that you’d like to?
Oh plenty! I have a huge appetite for learning new things and like keeping my audience on their toes. Belly dance, hand balancing, and roue cyr are what come to my mind immediately. I’d also like to learn to play an instrument, something quaint -maybe the ukelalai. I’m also interested in learning the production side of performance, like lighting design, set and prop building, costume design and sewing skills- really being a one woman show.
Q: What are your three biggest indulgences? Three biggest fears?
I fear never truly mastering one craft because my focus often switches so quickly. I also fear the deterioration of my body as I get older resulting the loss of my ability to dance. The third may sound silly, but I have a huge fear of being by myself at night where I cannot see all the entrances and exits of the house- it can be crippling at times.
My indulgences are: costumes, snobby beer, and sleep.