Black Widow Burlesque

Delia Dread, photo: Rene Campos
Delia Dread, photo: Rene Campos

Delia Dread, of Austin’s Black Widow Burlesque troupe, talks glitter smack, blackjack, to-do lists, and Spanksgiving.

Interview: Femme Vivre LaRouge

Black Widow Burlesque was founded in January of 2009, but you were performing with Red Light Burlesque before that.  What inspired you to strike out on your own and form BWB?

Well I did a Christmas show with RLB; I was under the impression that they were coming to an end. So essentially, this is my first and last show.  I was so hyped up on the glitter smack that I wanted more and made it happen.  I am very thankful for Red Light and glad to know they are still going strong with Ruby Rockit.

How did you first discover that burlesque was your calling?

Well, I have always loved singing and dancing.  I had a job as a karaoke entertainer for a while.  When I moved from Midland, TX to Austin I knew there was a fabulous burly-q scene here and I am already into the rockabilly, and my love of showgirls became one and the same.

Performing, modeling, managing a troupe, producing shows, and having a personal life is a lot to keep up with- how do you maintain balance?

I also have a part time job and I am getting back into school so now is more difficult than ever.  But I realize that every single hour of every day is important, and I have a planner and I am a big fan of to-do lists.  They help me stay on point and focused on important things that need to be done.  I decompress by singing karaoke, going to other burlesque shows, playing blackjack, watching the Golden Girls and Judge Judy, yoga, and of course champagne!

Black Widow Burlesque. Photo: Steve Dement
Black Widow Burlesque. Photo: Steve Dement

How did you meet the lovely ladies (and gent) that perform with you? Do you do most of the booking and group choreography yourself, or does the group function as more of an artist collective?

CRAIGSLIST! Yeah, that’s right; we hold auditions whenever we need fresh new faces and ideas and we actually just had 3 new ladies join our ranks!  The biggest reason why I started Black Widow Burlesque was because I wanted the troupe to be a group collective and for everyone to have a say in what goes on.  It makes it more of a family and it’s great that we can delegate tasks to each girl so I am not responsible for everything.

You draw on several influences for your work, from the classic queens of burlesque to classic monster movies- if you had to pick just one favorite of each, who would they be?

Lili St. Cyr is my favorite classic burlesque queen and Frankenstein is my favorite monster!

What are your performance pet peeves?  What is your favorite aspect of performing?

Sound guys and venue space.  We aren’t like a band, where we just plug in and go.  We need room to dress and we need a person to press play and pause on the sound board.  You would be surprised, but that is hard to find.  That’s why we wrote up our terms of agreement, yea we are professional now woohoo!  The best parts are the costumes, free booze, the audience’s energy, and being able to be proud of your femininity and accept your body.

Have any great stories about show catastrophes?

We had a show at Creekside Lounge and the sound man ended up leaving to go drink, so I had my friend’s boyfriend run our sound.  The stage had broken bottles on the ground and I ended up ripping the hem off my dress from a protruding nail….Burlesque is dangerous, people!  I know, classy…..we have come a long way from our humble beginnings.

Tell me about your upcoming projects and your goals for yourself and your wonderful troupe.

November 19th Black Widow Burlesque is proud to present the first annual Spanksgiving, a burlesque festival at club Encore!  The show has two stages with variety acts, burlesque, and bands, not to mention vendors such as Naughty Cakes and Dreamers, the best part is 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer awareness.

Ginger Snaps and I are putting together a performance burlesque class for the future. We plan on a Texas tour and to keep supporting burlesque in its entirety.

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