Standing out on a limb…..

Feeling a little intimidated and nervous…..which can only mean that I’m doing this right.

As many of you may know, the delightful Red Velvet and I have been booked for our own monthly show, DIVA or Die Burlesque at the EXIT Theater. This is exciting on so many levels! We sold out both of our shows in May and all of our dancers seriously kicked some major glitter.

I’m also giddy with the fact that 1) Since this is half my show, I can pretty much do all the weird/random things I’ve always wanted to do and 2) Since this is in a theater, we’re also drawing a different crowd. There’s a bar in the back of the Cafe, so the booze floweth, but everyone is seated and giving us their rapt and wide-eyed attention. And, when you have a crowd that is maybe 50% theater-goers, you’re a little more free to be…..theatrical. And while I myself obviously adore and participate in more of the standard burlesque happening in San Francisco, I’m finding myself a little tired of the pose-strip-pose format.

Disclaimer: Notice how I didn’t use the words “good” or “bad”? I’m not saying any of these are better or worse than the other, this is merely what I want to see as a burlesque audience member. So, I won’t tolerate any belly-achin’.

There are MANY incredible and inspiring dancers in this city. But, from what I’ve seen, there’s also a lot of dancers that seem to have gotten…..comfortable. And maybe it’s not “comfortable” I’m seeing, maybe it’s a difference of style. I’m sincerely not trying to be a critical bitch but I just want to see more burlesque that truly excites me! I want to push that envelope right down all of your throats!

This is really the next step in me challenging myself as a performer. I know how to get applause, that’s easy. I don’t want “easy”. I don’t feel I can be proud to say that I’m a performer if I never push myself to things that are different, new and a little bit scary.

Lil’ J and I Halloweening it up. Damn, kinda missing the red hair….
Photo by Green La Fleur

And, I’m not talking crazy performance art stuff. My roots are in traditional burlesque and I love it with all my sparkly soul, but I’m also inspired by oodles of other weird/sexy/silly/psychotic. And that’s what makes Whendy who she is.

I am the monster hiding under Red Velvets’ bed. And after some rough-housing and bitch-slapping we make friends and spoon.

If you’ve seen me perform more than once, you will know that my style is all over the damn place. I can be classical, punk rock, silly, glam, morbid, etc. And, if I’m doing a duet with Red Velvet, then there’s probably some fighting and strangling going on. I’ve always been fascinated with the morbid and macabre, ever since my father (RIP) took me to see Phantom of the Opera when I was 7. I was completely transfixed. I think it was also one of the first things that influenced me to be a theater tech. Give me a dark, dusty theater any day. The one thing I couldn’t understand was why Christine Daae went with boring old Square Raoul and not the incredibly talented ex-side show freak Phantom? WTF? Yeah, so he was deformed and a little crazy….that’s practically a metaphor for every man I’ve ever dated. Anyway, I digress…..

One of the new acts I’m putting together for DIVA or Die on July 20th is one that’s been cooking in my nefarious little brain for years. And I’m fully expecting a quiet audience. I’m expecting that *crickets* sound effect when I’m done. I want the looks on their faces to say, “Holy Shit.”

I’ll give you a hint, the song is “Missed Me” by the Dresden Dolls. It is by turn unhinged, loving, sexy, crazed, tender and psychotic. There may be a bit of Bump and Grind in there, but there will be more…..Shred and Scream. More acting, and a bit more focus on dancing than I usually do. And….well, it’s easy to get applause for a strip tease, we all know that. But hootin’ and hollerin’ does not a good routine make.

Photo by RJ Johnson
“Cat Fight” at DIVA or Die in May

What happens when you can’t lean on the crutch of applause?

Whenever I’ve seen burlesque that has lit a fire under my ass, the nudity was secondary. Sure, it was sexual and titillating, but what the dancer was putting out was more than T&A. There are ACRES of dancers in this city that have achieved this.

The telling of a story in the most personal and vulnerable way. That’s the beauty of what we do.

I’m not changing my whole style or anything, I’m just feeling free to do things that I never thought would go over well being performed in a bar. For example, the other act I’m putting together for July is to a Beastie Boys song and is going to be funky/silly/sexy.

I had to ask myself: If, hypothetically, I have a new audience every month that are not regular burlesque-goers, and the audience isn’t made up of 60% my friends, what is the response I want andwhat would I want them to take away as their Burlesque Experience?

And I guess these two routines I’m putting together sum up exactly that: touching, unnerving, sexy, funny, brave, clever, emotional, sensual, and raw. I hope I can always bring something to the table that is worthy of the meal.

I hope you can always find challenges and passion in your endeavors, poppets 🙂



Want to come see me step off the deep end? Want to come see Red Velvet, Odessa Lil, Laura Borealis, Tasty Temptress and a few other ladies on July 20th? Well, get your tickets early ‘cuz this shit sells out fast!