When we think of burlesque in the South, several cities come to mind- Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta…. but Jackson, Mississippi may not be one of them- until now. Meet Pete and his partner Tiny, the producers of Black Hat Burlesque.
Q: What is the population of Jackson, Mississippi?
Jackson proper is 172,000. The Tri-County area (Hinds Madison and Rankin) have approximately 500K citizens
Q: Please tell us a little about the beginning of Black Hat Burlesque? When/where/how? Describe your style.
Black Hat Burlesque is not a troupe but a Burlesque Production Company. Jackson, MS currently has no burlesque performers of her own. We have been fortunate enough to book acts like Ms. Perle Noire, and Lola LeSoleil, Talloolah Love, Katherine Lashe, The Reverend Spooky Le Strange and so many others by relationships with other performers.
Q: Do you have a local burlesque community to speak of? With their being little, if any, burlesque in your town and/or state, how do you stay inspired and how do remain informed of issues/evolutions in the burlesque community?
We are building our local Burlesque community with each show. Our early shows (2011) averaged 80-100 guests and now we average between 150-175 for most shows. We book guests from all parts of the country so we follow what is happening in Burlesque in several different communities.
Absolutely. I travel as often as monthly to New Orleans and occasionally to Birmingham and Atlanta seeking new talents.
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)
It was and is a slow process. The most common question is “what is burlesque”. After they “meet” a show and feel the energy it doesn’t take much to get them back…it’s just the initial show. Our audiences seem to be primarily driven by the ladies. I don’t dare ask about anyone’s socioeconomic class to me they are MY GUESTS and I’m grateful to have them.
Q: Is education an uphill battle? Have you had any push-back involving your town at large/venues/ or the law?
No push-back, really. Lots of questions. I have given away quite a few passes over the years so i could educate potential guests. We still enjoy it everyday.
Q: Any interesting blue laws you have to work around?
We keep our shows PG to PG 13 for the most part and try our very best not to break any local laws.
Q: What are the pros and cons of running a burlesque troupe in a smaller town/state?
Its difficult to plan a show in a town where people don’t buy tickets in advance. There is always the fear that I’ll host a show and have NO GUESTS. Because our performers all travel to Jackson we have to guarantee their pay and Accomodations, there is always the fear that there will be some big event going on that was planned AFTER we’ve booked a show.
Q: Do you feel unrecognized in the national scene? What are three things you want everyone to know about Mississippi burlesque?
I would want everyone to know that there is a group of people in Jackson – Black Hat Burlesque and Hattiesburg -Hattiesburlesque that are working to bring quality and affordable entertainment to the Jackson area.
Q: What are three troupe goals for 2015?