Jolie Ampere Goodnight talks family, circus, music, relocating, regional burlesque scenes, and love.
Q: Although you were born and raised in Texas, you got your burlesque start with Hell on Heels in San Diego, performing for years in California before returning to Texas to perform. How do the two scenes differ?
A lot of the difference between the two scenes is about aesthetic. The San Diego scene is mostly very traditional. I find that outside of San Diego people are using music and costumes from all decades. San Diego’s performers use mostly concepts, music, and costumes from decades no later than 1960. This works well there though because I think San Diego audiences really want nostalgia more than anything, perhaps because of the military heavy audiences, perhaps because of the nostalgic nature of the history of California. San Diego performers tend to be more purists, while Texas seems to be constantly pushing boundaries. Personally I love both scenes because I love both attitudes.
Q: There was a short lull for you after the move in which you were finding it hard to make the connections necessary in Texas to start performing again, and now you gracing stages all over Texas. Describe that experience for our readers and what advice would you give to performers who have recently relocated?
It was of course a bit of a struggle in the beginning. I had worked so hard in San Diego and when I found myself starting all over again I felt discouraged. However once I started auditioning more and making myself recognizable to the community, everything fell into place. Suddenly people really started to believe in me and support me. My advice is to never stop believing in your worth. Attend shows, audition, make connections, put yourself out there as much as possible, keep working hard! I put all of my goals up each week on a chalkboard and cross them off as I achieve them.
Q: Within a year, you went from “new kid in town” in Austin to winning “Best Tease” at Texas Burlesque Festival in April. Tell us about the experience.
My first burlesque show in Texas was with Viva Dallas Burlesque at the Lakewood Theatre and for the first time I was really nervous and it showed in my performance. I walked away from that show so disappointed in myself that I decided to really take my performances to the next level. I’ve spent the past year challenging myself to be not only more sultry and dynamic but also to give as much of myself to the audience as possible. I firmly believe that the more you give to your audience the happier they are. But the most beautiful thing about it all is the phenomenal support I receive from The Jigglewatts and the rest of the community. I feel so blessed and grateful.
Q: You are known for your amazing sultry voice, paying homage to the jazz classics of your childhood. What are your current music projects?
The past few months have been interesting because what I’ve been working on is somewhat of a departure from my beloved jazz standards. I’m working with Fred Gras of The Lovers on an album that combines elements of lounge, trip hop, and jazz. I find it’s important to push your own boundaries, to submerge yourself in something outside of your comfort zone in order to grow. This project is different from anything else I’ve ever done and yet it’s teaching me new ways to approach my old material as well.
Q: You grew up in an interesting family with two parents touring for their various theater and music projects, as well as a grandfather who joined the circus as a young child. What were your earliest experiences with art, theater and music?
I’ve been singing since the beginning of my life, I put my first pair of ballet shows on when I was four, I began acting in the 5th grade, and I had my first job as a costumer at twelve years old. I’ve known since the very first moment I spent on stage that I was in love with performing. Something in me comes alive on stage, as if another part of me opens up that could not open up in another realm. I’ve always appreciated the vulnerability of being on stage, it’s refreshing and invigorating. Though really, the magic for me as a kid wasn’t just on stage. I loved the magic of behind the scenes too; watching the older ballerinas putting on their point shoes, the trill of a singer’s voice, the scurry caused by stage-hands, the last minute needle stitching a costume. As I child I loved the idea of people all coming together to great special moments together.
Q: You are close to your family, and your father’s cancer has come out of remission and he is once again fighting, staying in Houston to receive treatment with both chemo and radiation. How have you managed to continue performing while you are spending so much time and energy caring for your family?
Luckily my family, being performers, understands that I would completely breakdown if I couldn’t perform. My parents taught me that no matter what is going on in your life, you absolutely have to continue to do what brings you joy. Of course it’s a balancing act both physically and emotionally, but that’s what the stage is for isn’t it? To turn sorrow into delight, to turn stress into decadence, to turn pain into joy? I treat every moment on stage as an opportunity to heal and to transform something negative into something positive.
Q: What does the future hold for Jolie Ampere Goodnight?
Quite literally the near future holds shows in California, Paris and hopefully New Orleans, a European and UK CD release, and blogging opportunities in New York. Hopefully between all of these cities and prospects there will be an abundance of health, happiness, champagne, Chanel perfume, and love.