California’s Red Snapper talks performing for Tarantino, going all the way, continuing education, and doodlebugs.
Interview: Vivienne Vermuth
Q: In your three years as a performer, you’ve had some amazing experiences (including
performing for Quentin Tarantino!) Can you share some with us?
I’ve performed in some amazing and strange places, including a dive boat and a former bowling alley. I performed in San Diego twice as part of Penny Starr, Jr.’s Supernova A Go-Go during Comic-Con weekend. That audience loved seeing their favorite sci-fi characters strip. I also produced my own burlesque show for about a year, writing burlesque sketches with modern sensibilities.
The Quentin Tarantino experience has been the most amazing so far in my career. I’ve been performing in the Quentin Tarantino-themed burlesque show that is the brainchild of Monday Night Tease! producer and dear friend, Lili vonSchtupp. Tarantino knew of our show and invited us to perform for him and his friends at a private event last fall. Mr. Snapper and I do a burlesque version of Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest from Pulp Fiction. Tarantino called our performance “spot on.” It was phenomenal to have the opportunity to perform for someone who had such an impact on my aesthetic tastes with his films. It’s not every day that one gets to do that.
Q: You are known as Red Snapper, the “Go All the Way Girl.” What’s the story behind your name and tagline? What would you say you are best known for?
I was named by my father and my husband, which is funny since many people talk about female empowerment in burlesque. My dad has always called me Red as I’m the only redhead out of six children. When the time came to pick a name, my husband suggested Red Snapper because it sounds fun, peppy and a little naughty.
The tagline came from my fearlessness in life and performance. When I decide to go for something, I’m all in. As a child I’d leap and ask questions later. As a performer I take risks and they tend to pay off. And I’m naked a lot. The “Go All the Way Girl” just seemed to fit.
I’d say I’m best known for my education. I’ve studied with many incredible burlesque instructors from all over the United States. I spent eight months studying burlesque before making my professional debut, and it’s been a whirlwind since.
Q: So, anyone who knows you/has met you knows your extreme love for John Mayer and your pup Doodlebug! What are some of your other loves?
I love my husband dearly. We’ve been together since we were teens, and he’s extremely supportive and enthusiastic about what I do. He’s an active participant in the Los Angeles burlesque community as a host, comedian and striptease artist. He’s pretty swell.
I also love food. I grew up in Arkansas and I really miss Waffle House and Cracker Barrel. I spend a nice chunk of time studying menus and imagining how delicious each dish must be. My husband knows the best way to get me to go somewhere new is to show me the menu first.
I love listening to my parents’ old LPs on Sunday mornings. I remember listening to these albums as a child. The sound quality is different, other parts of the music pop on a record than on a compact disc. Music was a huge factor in my house growing up that all six kids can play at least one instrument.
Q: On your website, you have written that continuing education is extremely important to you as a dancer. I know you have set some amazing goals for yourself this year, what are they, and how do you plan to achieve them? How do you feel achieving these goals will help you grow as an artist?
My educational goal is to take at least 100 dance classes this year. I have to take about two classes a week to achieve this goal. I take classes with my pole teacher covering floor and pole work. I also take classes at the Moose Lodge as my schedule permits. I may enroll in a few series classes for weeks so I can keep up the momentum. I plan to slip in Pilates and yoga classes as well since they complement dance training. I didn’t start intense training as a dancer until 2006, so I have a lot of catching up to do when my colleagues have been studying for decades. My 100 dance class challenge will improve my dance technique and inspire future acts.
My touring goal is to dance in six states and four festivals this year. Texas was my January trip. I’m performing and teaching at the Southwest Burlesque Showcase in February. I’m dancing in Las Vegas with Mr. Snapper in March. I’ll be in Boston for the Great Burlesque Expo in April. I’m hoping to hit my birth state of Arkansas this year and a couple other places. I love meeting new people and finding out about their burlesque scenes.
I spent a nice chunk of December working on my five-year plan so I can better focus on my career. I’m in it for the long haul.
Q: At time of press, you have performed over 213 times all over the country! Longevity is rare in this business, any words of wisdom to burlyq gals and guys wanting to continue and nurture a career in this path? Anything to avoid?
Study as much as you can to contribute to your career: dance classes, costume construction, theatre. I took a class on law and media last fall so I’d know my First Amendment rights as a dancer. Find mentors and learn from them. Be generous when newer performers seek guidance.
Don’t be a diva. Treat fellow performers and producers with kindness and respect. Don’t act like a crazy person backstage. Don’t work drunk and don’t bring drugs to the venue. You’re still being paid to work and you want to be booked again.
Love your audience. They’re the ones ultimately employing you. Above all else, entertain the hell out of them. Every performance opportunity is a unique intercourse between performer and audience. It’s a blessing to do this for a living.
Q: What can your fans expect to see from Red Snapper in the future?
I’m returning as the official poster girl for Burlesqueland, the Los Angeles festival based around a certain Southern California theme park. I’m also bringing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the burlesque stage.
Mr. Snapper and I are cooking up some new takes on classic numbers. I’m teaching independently in Los Angeles, and I’m taking my Brolesque class (just for dudes) to Albuquerque and Boston this year.