This is the FIRST in a new segment where I will be interviewing burlesquers and performers of all kinds!
This is not a ploy to get around writers block. Shhhh, no it’s not.
Mama Burlesque literally draws ALL SORTS to her glittery bosom, and I’m fascinated by each and every one, so it seemed like a no-brainer to start with my sparkly Partner In Crime RED VELVET!
Red Velvet is a POWERHOUSE in burlesque and life in general. She is the Co-Artistic Director of DIVA or Die Burlesque, performs ALL OVER the Bay Area and the country, name a burlesque festival and she’s probably performed there and probably won an award. She’s as classically glam as she is FUCKING TWISTED. This is why I love her.
There are things in this interview that even I didn’t know! Read on for a closer look at one of the Bay Areas favorite desserts…..
How long have you been performing burlesque?
Who is Red Velvet? Where did she come from? Do you have a tagline?
I started performing burlesque in 2008 – I started with Bombshell Betty. Red Velvet is all the best things about me…. The most extreme components of my personality. The danciest, the happiest, the creepiest, the goofiest. Velvet is an eclectic mixture of all the things that make me happy or make me think interesting thoughts. Velvet is never bored or boring, but she does sleep very very deeply because she is fucking exhausted. My tagline is “Try a Slice!”
I find performers chosen identities fascinating, what’s the origin of your name?
I played around with a lot of words and a lot of combinations and I wanted something that read classy – not because I always am, but because sometimes I am. Red, because I have red hair and Velvet because I love Blue Velvet, and Velvet is fuzzy and sensuous and feels really good on your skin. And then on top of that you have Red Velvet cake and cream cheese frosting to talk about and the possibilities of having fun with the name were just too good to pass up.
What are your inspirations, outside of burlesque, that influence your burlesque?
Do you do any other type of performance, besides burlesque?
Inspirations are mostly not burlesque about my burlesque, if that makes any sense at all. I do other types of performance – Duncan dance, cancan, flamenco, and samba. In the past I have done a whole lot of different types of dance, plus singing and a bit of acting. Inspirations come from ideas, books, movies, television – my sick and twisted brain – all over – but MOSTLY my ideas come from music. That is my most compelling force for creating my acts and drive most of my decisions from the storyline to the specific choreography, to the costuming choices.
Who is your favorite burlesque performer, living or dead?
I love Michelle L’amour and Dirty Martini who are two of my current favorites. They both move amazingly and have awesome number ideas – I love watching them both. I have taken classes from Michelle L’amour (including a workshop where I stayed in her house for a week with ten other burlesque performers) and she is a great teacher and super supportive. And she and her husband are amazing cooks on top of everything else!
Sally Rand is probably my favorite deceased just because I love the fans and bubble props, the classical moves, and the smooth flowing movements.
Performers are drawn to burlesque for a multitude of reasons, what drew you in?
I love to perform and I am an on-stage exhibitionist. I saw other performers and thought “I can do that.” And Mr. Velvet says – “Well, then do it.” And I was – “But how do I get started, I don’t know anyone…” So, he found me classes and the rest just happened after that.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Reading MAD magazine. Although it will never be as good as when I was a child and sneaking into my brother’s bedroom when he wasn’t home to pull out copies of it and read it in his closet – at that time I was too young to understand a lot of the movie and popular culture references, but loving it anyway because I know I wasn’t supposed to…
What do you consider to be your trademark? Whether it’s a style, a certain prop, a color etc.
I don’t have a trademark. Maybe it would be better if I did. In burlesque, like life, I am a jack of all trades….
What does burlesque mean to you?
Doing and being what I want to be on stage and making it fun and sparkly and amazing. Being who I want to be and letting the audience peek at those little moments and enjoy them with me.
What do you think is your best feature? Physical or otherwise?
I don’t have a best feature. Overall, I think I am a pretty good package – everything is pretty good but I don’t have one stand-out amazing feature… Oh, and Mr. Velvet says that I am incorrect – he says my best physical attribute is my ass and my best overall attributes are my versatility and grace. My nipples are really super hot, but the audience doesn’t get to see those (haha…)
Do you remember your first show? Where was it? How did it go?
Oh, yes. It was at the Uptown in Oakland. It was the first time in my life I ever performed without doing a run through on stage first – very strange for me at the time. And afterwards, I felt awful. There were cords all over the floor and a carpet which was smunched up and I tripped on the carpet during the act and fell against one of the on-stage speakers. I felt like such a loser, but made it through anyway, and then most people told me they didn’t even notice I tripped. I don’t know if they were drunk off their ass, or just trying to be nice, but everyone cheered a lot, regardless.
What’s on your bedside table?
A basket for the various remote controls for electronic devices, a Chinese vase with a very classical obscene sex scene painted on it, a tub of lotion, my retainer container, a black and white Alfred Cheney Johnson photo of a semi-nude woman in a pearl frame, a carved wooden box, and an artistic antique Chinese penis.
Any fun projects on the horizon?
I am working on a Morticia act and a Death act (Death from the Sandman comics kind of Death.) “You get what anybody gets…. You get a lifetime. No more. No less.” ‘Cause that shit makes me happy….
And there ya have it, kiddos, a little peek into Red Velvet! Come see her at next months DIVA or Die Burlesque, and get your tickets QUICK ‘cuz we sell out fast! Ticket link below…..
See you at the Burly-Q