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I was recently asked where in DC someone could learn the basics of burlesque. I realized that would be good info to collect in one place. That’s part of what this blog is about! So, if you teach burlesque (or any variety art!) and are near the DC/Baltimore Metro area either message me or post a...

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The Birth of TimelessTease Productions: An Origin Story

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque | Posted on 15-09-2015


My first taste of burlesque was a heady one. It was a Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey show at Ottobar…and it blew my mind. I remember trying to describe it to a friend afterward and the best I could manage was, “It’s sort of like a drag show but with a lot more boobs.”

Jules on stage with Lizzy during his very first full boylesque act.

Jules on stage with Lizzy during his very first full boylesque act.

After that, I couldn’t get enough. I started attending any local show I saw advertised. A few years later, I ran into a local performer at a non-burlesque event, and she introduced me to her friend as Baltimore’s biggest burlesque groupie. I was thrilled and flattered. I had arrived! Little did I know it was only the beginning.

Not too long after that, I reconnected with a friend who was looking to move back to Baltimore at the same time I was looking for a new roommate. It just so happened that he’d studied burlesque with Trixie and Monkey while in college and was in the early stage of launching his own burlesque career. You may know this performer better as Betty O’Hellno.

Meanwhile…I was involved with local charity Moveable Feast. Some good friends were longtime participants and supporters of MF’s annual fundraiser Ride for the Feast. Betty and I hatched a plot to produce a charity show to benefit the Ride. We threw the idea around with some friends, one of whom was Lizzy Falltrades, and the result was Hot Dish. A few very generous local performers — including Hot Todd Lincoln and Valeria Voxx —agreed to donate their time and talents, and then we found a venue. Things were quickly coming together. At that point, I was strictly behind the scenes, organizing and stage managing but not on stage at all. The night of the show is mostly a blur, but it was a big success. We raised a bunch of money for Moveable Feast, but we also had a blast doing it.

In fact, we had so much fun producing our own show that we couldn’t stop thinking about it. At first, we decided to make Hot Dish an annual event. But that wasn’t enough. We started playing around with the idea of starting our own burlesque company…and the idea just wouldn’t go away. So we started asking the serious questions. Why did we want to start our own burlesque company? What would set us apart from all the others in the area? What did we want to accomplish with it? The answers came all too easily.

The TimelessTease team tumbles from their time machine.

The TimelessTease team tumbles from their time machine.

With my experience as a writer and Betty’s experience with event planning, set design and filmmaking, it seemed obvious. We’d be a theatrical company, producing scripted shows. But what was our angle? We came up with the idea that our main characters would be time travelers with a giant phallic time machine (which Betty sketched on the spot). With that concept in mind, our name seemed obvious.

It had become clear to both of us that this was more than just a pipedream, so we brought it up with our friends who’d helped with Hot Dish. They were both enthusiastically on board. And thus, TimelessTease Productions was born.

We immediately set about writing our first show, Steampunk Seductions: An Adventure in Victoriana. Set in Chicago during the famous Columbian Exposition of 1893, it was the story of two inventors traveling back in time only to have their time machine sabotaged by an evil inventor (Jim Dandy) and his assistant (who was secretly also a time traveler stuck in the past herself).

And somehow, suddenly, I was in the show. But only acting! I wasn’t going to strip. Well, not completely anyway. Betty was also in the show, of course. As was our stage manager and co-producer, Lizzy Falltrades, in a cameo. Our fourth co-founder was initially a main character as well as a stage kitten, but was in the process of deciding that maybe burlesque wasn’t for her, after all. (Which is okay. Burlesque isn’t for everyone.) That meant we had a big hole to fill, and who better to fill that hole than our lovely and talented co-star, Whiskey Joy. She stepped in with her usual effervescence and charm, and not only killed the role but became a permanent co-producer of TimelessTease Productions.

A scene from Steampunk Seductions.

A scene from Steampunk Seductions.

Steampunk Seductions was a big success. It sold out weeks before the night of the show. We performed to a packed house at Mobtown Ballroom and the feedback was incredibly positive. We were thrilled with the response, but also humbled by Baltimore’s enthusiastic embrace. Since then we’ve put on two more cabaret-style shows at The Crown, the second annual Hot Dish and Dive Bar Disasters, where I finally gave in and did my first full boylesque act.

Our model is to hopefully do two large-scale, full theatrical productions a year, interspersed with cabaret style shows. Our next fully-scripted original show is Nips at Nite, on September 26 at Mobtown Ballroom. It’s another time-traveling adventure, but this time we’ll be visiting the Golden Age of Television with homages to seven classic TV shows. It’s your childhood favorites all grown up! We’re all-in on this show, with all four co-producers in starring roles, and all original or reworked acts. It’s our most ambitious work yet.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have other, even bigger plans in store for the future. Or the past. You know, with a giant time machine, you can never be sure.

Trixie Little has a quote, featured prominently in Us, Naked — the excellent documentary about her and Monkey. It goes, “Be careful to not make your dream too small because then you’re really screwed if you get it and it wasn’t enough.” That’s not a problem that we seem to have at TimelessTease Productions.

What’s next? Well, as we say at the end of each show, join us next time for another time-traveling TimelessTease Production! Who knows where we’ll land next…

Meet the Variety: Queens of the Modern Age

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety | Posted on 03-09-2015



Bambi Galore in full drag.

Bambi Galore in full drag.

Bambi Galore is a burlesque producer, performer and…drag queen? Bambi, a cisgender female, is a well-known performer in the DMV and New York burlesque scenes, but the Chameleon of Tease also describes herself as a drag queen. And it would seem the world — or at least Baltimore — agrees with her. She’s currently a finalist in the Baltimore City Paper‘s Best of Baltimore contest in the category of Best Drag Performer.

But how can a woman be a drag queen, an area of performance long claimed primarily by gay men? According to many, it’s a feminist statement. Drag, at its core, is all about exaggerated femininity, and a new wave of female performers are reclaiming that femininity as their own.

Said Bambi, “I consider it to be a form of feminist art. By taking what society tells women to be and turning it up to the highest voltage, we are taking back the gender stereotypes and making people reexamine what does it mean to be a woman. Drag to me is as much a thought process as it is an art form. It means to me, looking at the world from an outside perspective that is bigger and bolder than the everyday. It has more kitsch and glamour to it. It’s all about being the biggest and best version of yourself.”


Bambi (center) on the cover of DC’s Metro Weekly with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

For some, the difference between drag and burlesque might be hard to spot. There are a large number of drag burlesque performers, both queens and kings, who strip — for instance local favorite Betty O’Hellno or Seattle sensation Lou Henry Hoover — but on the whole, drag performers don’t strip. “There is some overlap between drag and burlesque,” Bambi admits. “I think the biggest difference is in drag, the story isn’t always about the reveal. Its more about the journey.”

Bambi recently participated in an all-female drag show in NYC that received a lot of press, but according to her, it’s not really a new phenomenon. “It’s funny because in a lot of ways it’s starting up now but has also been around for generations. Dixie Evans, best known as the founder of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, called herself a female impersonator of Marilyn Monroe. World Famous *Bob*, who is my drag big sister, has been performing as a drag queen since the ’90s, and there are many more.”

She credits the world of social media for bringing these like-minded lady queens (as they’re sometimes called) together. “We have started to create a community for ourselves and, with that, it’s getting noticed more by others.”

But while social media might be bringing them together, they’re finding an enthusiastic audience. Bambi credits the changing tide of cultural awareness. “Society as a whole is questioning gender more. We as a collective are open to more ideas and not having to keep everything in one tidy little box, and so with that we are able explore and express gender representations. Though I still get asked often, ‘How can you be a drag queen if you don’t have a penis?’ I don’t think people realize how ignorant that question sounds until it is said back to them.”


Bambi on stage in NYC.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that we are just women in makeup. When, in fact, we are gluing our eyebrows down, padding, pushing and wearing multiple pairs of pantyhose like our male sisters. We don’t take the fact that we use female pronouns all the time as an excuse not to put all the work into it.”

In addition to reclaiming femininity, female drag queens are also holding their male counterparts to a higher standard. Traditional drag has often struggled with accusations of misogyny and offensively sexist attitudes. Bambi reports, “With female to female drag queens, I have yet to see someone do a misogynistic act.”

Which leads to the question, what sort of reaction or reception do lady queens get from traditional male drag queens? “It varies. I have worked with many who have accepted us with open arms and consider us sisters. You do run into some though that are stuck in their misogyny. Overall though, I’d say, those that understand that drag can be used as a tool to educate as well as entertain welcome us. Many of my biggest supporters are drag queens, and I love them dearly.”

“In New York City,” Bambi continues, “most of the venues and producers have warmed up to the idea of lady queens and include us in their shows without blinking an eye. My own personal fears have been what has kept me for reaching out here in Baltimore. I reached out once to a fairly big name and didn’t even get the decency of a response back. That was hurtful. Change scares people, and what I think producers need to realize is we’re not here to take over the art form or appropriate it, but to add another voice to the chorus, to be able to express ourselves in a way that feels true to our own identities. I will say getting nominated for Best Drag Performer has given me more courage and I hope to reach out more.”

Meet the Variety: Bawdy Shop Burlesque

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety | Posted on 25-08-2015


Bawdy: 1. dealing with sexual matters in a comical way; humorously indecent.

The ladies of Bawdy Shop Burlesque.

The ladies of Bawdy Shop Burlesque.

When the five founding members of Bawdy Shop Burlesque got together in 2014 and decided to form a new troupe in Baltimore, they named themselves with a pun. And their chosen moniker couldn’t be more fitting. Since their debut one year ago with the scripted show Goin’ Downee Oshun!, the Bawdies — Kay Sera, Cherie Nuit, Ruby Rockafella, Sunny Sighed and Giddy GoGo — have been consistently delivering hilarious, ribald performances that raise the bar for regional burlesque shows.

Their most recent scripted show, Search for the C-Word, had the Bawdies scouring Baltimore City in search of its missing charm on a quest given to them by the tap dancing vagina goddess Vaginethea. Led by her heavenly queefs and a spirit guide in the form of Stephon Walker, the intrepid quintet visited many of Baltimore’s most iconic neighborhoods — from Hampden’s Avenue to Fells Point — and iconic features including rats and the city’s beloved white marble stoops. In the end, it turned out the missing charm was there all along, in the form of its inimitably quirky residents (and a bit of nether-region adornment).

But Bawdy Shop Burlesque didn’t happen overnight. It was the brainchild of Sunny Sighed, who fell in love with the idea of scripted shows while she was a part of the late, lamented Baltimore troupe Sticky Buns Burlesque. Having worked with the other women in various shows in the area and knowing their experience not just in burlesque but in theater, visual art and dance, Sunny approached the ladies with the idea and everyone jumped at the chance to be involved. “It worked out even better than I could have imagined,” Sunny said. “Kay, Ruby, Cherie and Giddy were all right on board and they are among the hardest-working, creative, intelligent and wacky women I’ve ever met!”

The Bawdies going all in at their recent show "Search for the C-Word."

The Bawdies going all in at their recent show “Search for the C-Word.”

Bawdy Shop has found Charm City to be a generous muse. “We aspire to honor the tradition of authentic absurdity that makes Baltimore ‘The Greatest City in America,’ as the benches say!” the ladies explained. “The people of Baltimore are incredible. The community as a whole is so proud of everything the city has to offer, no matter how weird or different it may be, so long as it comes from a place of true passion.”

“Baltimore’s bizarre brand of burlesque is what made me fall in love with the art form,” Giddy adds. “I love the emphasis on performance art mixed with message — it’s a rare art form in which the same show can make you laugh, cry, think and feel a little funny downstairs…all in a matter of minutes.”

The five women consider themselves more than just a troupe. They’re also a family that works together as a tight-knit team. While they all wear many hats, collaboration is key: Sunny is their choreographer, Cherie Nuit is the graphic artist and screen printer, Giddy GoGo is the stage manager and backstage organizer, Kay Sera is the team’s marketing/social media queen and webmaster and Ruby Rockafella is the troupe treasurer and merchandise manager. But the troupe purposefully doesn’t have a “troupe leader.” Cherie explained, “As a troupe that prides itself on not having a designated ‘leader,’ we all had equal parts responsibility in its formation. We all brainstormed names, came up with show concepts, and created our mission and goals. I am thrilled to be working with a group of women that are so passionate and intelligent! It is always inspiring.”

Their scripts are also true collaborations, with each troupe member contributing to the story and their own characters. As Ruby said, “I really enjoy that we get to write all the characters in the show and guide their transformations. It’s ridiculously fun to write parts for the other Bawdies. I think how well we know each other really shines through in our shows.”

A full stage at Don't Knock the Block.

A full stage at Don’t Knock the Block.

One of the biggest burlesque events this region has seen was Don’t Knock the Block, a fundraiser for the Burlesque Hall of Fame, the world’s only museum dedicated to burlesque. The event, boasting more than 20 local performers in one show, was a huge success — raising $5,000 for the Hall of Fame’s Legends Challenge, the largest fundraising event in the challenge’s history. “In order for burlesque to continue to evolve, it’s important that we understand where the art came from and to appreciate the experiences and contributions of the legends who shaped it,” Kay explained.

The next adventure for the Bawdy Babes is an indoor/outdoor variety show as part of HampdenFest 2015. The Avenue Meets The Strip will include members of TimelessTease Productions, Gilded Lily Burlesque and Twisted Knickers, plus a host of other local favorites for a wacky extravaganza that could only happen in Hampden.

The Bawdies are also excited to announce their second annual Bawdy Shop of Horrors Halloween show on October 30 at The Ottobar, and they’re working with The Creative Alliance to do a second series of burlesque “boot camp” classes in the Spring of 2016 that will cap off with a student showcase. And that’s all on top of their individual solo careers.

As a fellow member of the Baltimore burlesque scene, I know I’m constantly challenged to up my game by these brilliant, creative women. Let’s hope they continue being Bawdy for a long time to come! Find Bawdy Shop on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for all the latest news.

Meet The Variety: Mindi Mimosa, DC’s Favorite Cocktail

Posted by Chè Monique | Posted in blog biz, burlesque, comedy, Meet the Variety | Posted on 14-07-2015


After seeing her host four of the past five burlesque shows I’ve been to, I knew I had to speak with Mindi Mimosa. I know Mindi through the DC Gurly Show, which we are both part of. I remember when she first started performing and it’s been a treat to watch her grow into not just a phenomenal performer, or in demand emcee, but also a producer of consistently sold out shows. Mindi got into hosting because she saw a need in the community and put herself out there to fill it. She is thrilled to be respected and consistently requested in that role.

Mindi stumbled into the burlesque scene with a heavy theater background including a theatre degree andmindi 1 two years of professional theater experience. She was given her name by a fabulous group of drunken strangers. Like many new performers, Mindi dived in head first, getting involved in as much as she could and quickly burned herself. Before long she began to contemplate leaving burlesque.

Fortunately for us, as Mindi began to wear weary of burlesque, she decided to try out comedy. She met David Coulter at an open mic and in less than three months the two began producing Barenaked Comedy at the Pinch. Barenaked Comedy is a monthly, fourth Friday show, consisting of four burlesque performers and four comedians, alternating burlesque and comedy. Mindi is responsible for booking and handling the burlesque talent and David is responsible for the comedians. Barenaked Comedy has been wildly successful and sold out its first 14 months of shows. I went to my first Barenaked Comedy show last month, as a performer and I had an amazing time and met fabulous people. There were moments where we, the burlesque performers, were afraid our laughter back stage was obnoxiously loud. I think that’s a pretty good problem to have.

Mindi is really enjoying her latest roles of producer and emcee. She views herself as a “producer-performer”. Yes she performs, but the production side of things is what really drives her. Because of her years of backstage theater experience, Mindi’s shows are very well organized which is something she prides herself on. Mindi produces, hosts and performs in her own Barenaked Comedy shows, which in and of itself requires quite a bit of organization. She is the face of the Barenaked Comedy brand. Mindi Mimosa is committed to bringing a bubbly positivity to her audiences and works hard to ensure that Barenaked Comedy is always a safe and welcoming space for everyone. It’s very Mindi 2important to Mindi that everyone leave her shows feeling special, which is one of the reason’s you’ll often hear her telling the audience, “You’re beautiful. You’re all beautiful.”

Mindi’s dream for herself and Barenaked Comedy is to turn it into a nonprofit foundation that will be able to assist burlesque performers and comedians with the things they need to get started, whether it’s costuming, training, venues or anything else. It is her hope that performers put as much energy into the business of burlesque as they do the performance of it. She hopes to position herself as a leader in the local scene and be able to support as many people as possible in their performance careers. From what I observed she’s well on her way.

In summation: Don’t let her bubbly personality and cocktail name fool you. Mindi Mimosa is as sharp and organized a businesswoman as she is a sexy and enticing performer. You can find Mindi Mimosa and Barenaked Comedy every fourth Friday at the Pinch. You can also find them at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. Their remaining Fringe dates are 7/17, 7/18, 7/19, 7/24 at the Trinidad Theatre in the Logan Fringe Arts Space.

Tickets available https://www.capitalfringe.org/events/622-barenaked-comedy


Chè Monique produces Chocoche-moniquelate City Burlesque and Cabaret and is a Jill of many trades. Learn more about Chè at www.chemonique.com and Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret at www.chocolatecityburlesque.com.



Meet The Variety: Evil League of Ecdysiasts

Posted by Chè Monique | Posted in burlesque, events, Meet the Variety | Posted on 18-06-2015



On Friday, April 3rd I had the opportunity to see the Black Cat Club completely transformed. The bar was full of excited fans in Hawaiian shirts thrilled to be at “Al Night Long,” the Evil League of Ecdysiasts tribute to Weird Al Yankovic. I have never seen such an outpouring of a fandom to a burlesque show before. The Black Cat sold out, and I could barely see from my spot in the back. Despite having to jockey for a view of the stage, I had an amazing time. The energy of the “Al-oholics” was contagious. Prior to that evening, “White and Nerdy,” was the only Weird Al song I knew.


Steven Warrick

The high energy show did not disappoint. The show was a delicious marriage of silly and sexy. If you are like me, and live under a rock, I’ll let you know that Weird Al is famous for his parody covers of famous pop songs. The burlesque interpretations of songs such as “Like a Surgeon,” “Polka Face,” and “Word Crimes” was nothing less than brilliant. Al Night Long brought burlesque veteran Poppy La Rouge back to the stage after a sabbatical, was kittened by the adorable Aurora Wells, and also featured Valeria Voxx. The DC Kings presented a hilarious interpretation of “Amish Paradise,” that included a butter churn. Popular emcee Minda Mimosa, maintained the evening’s energy flow and of course the show was headlined by the Evil League of Ecdysiasts, Cherie Sweetbottom and GiGi Holliday. I don’t want to give anything away, as Al Night Long will probably happen again, but I will say that GiGi Holliday’s “Polka Face” act was so energetic, it was my excuse not to go to the gym for the next week and there was a Panda Suit involved in Cherie Sweetbottom’s act.


What really made Al Night Long special was that it brought the Weird Al fans out. There was a trivia game in the middle of the show and eager Weird Al devotees were elated to have an opportunity to show off their Weird Al knowledge. This ability to bring the fans out is what makes the Evil League of Ecdysiasts special. DC’s nerdlesque duo, Cherie Sweetbottom and GiGi Holliday have cornered the market on nerdlesque in DC. Starting with their first sell out Whedonism show four years ago, the pair consistently puts on niche shows that bring in throngs of people ready to geek out and get a little turned on. ELE has brought Whedonism back annually and has also produced Harry Potter tribute shows as well as Nerds Gone Wild. Cherie Sweetbottom is a former theater kid with a BFA and GiGi Holliday is a self described Blerd (black nerd). The pair bonded backstage at the Palace of Wonders over all things nerdy and decided to start the Evil League of Ecdysiasts effectively starting DC’s nerdlesque renaissance.


Master Brush COLOR

Steven Warrick

Both performers boast impressive resumes and produce shows on their own, Cherie Sweetbottom puts on a quarterly House of Sweetbottom Blues and Burlesque review and can periodically be found on the silver screen. GiGi Holliday is in charge of G Squared productions as well as Studio Holliday School of Burlesque, she is also a member of Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret. Together they can be found as part of Naked Girls Reading and are often both in La Boum Boum Room. The Evil League of Ecdysiasts is their joint project and goes beyond simply producing fun shows. The ELE creates a space for nerds to come out and play. Their shows are spaces where the weird kids are cool. Where adults are allowed to geek out. Where black nerds realize they aren’t the only one. By combining phenomenal talent, with extreme nerdiness the ELE manages to create a space where everyone is able to have fun and feel valued.

Be sure to check out the fourth annual Whedonism show on June 19th at the Black Cat. The annual show marks both the anniversary of the Evil League of Ecdysiasts as well as celebrates Joss Whedon’s 50th birthday, June 23rd. The lineup includes Diva Darling, one of my personal favorite performers as well as Burlypicks 2015 winner, Lady Fancy. If you have any interest in  “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Firefly”, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” “The Cabin in the Woods,”  or “The Avengers,” you don’t want to miss this show. Tickets are available here: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/863061?utm_medium=bks





Chè Monique produces Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret and is a Jill of many trades. Learn more about Chè at www.chemonique.com and Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret at www.chocolatecityburlesque.com.

Meet the Variety: Tapitha Kix, Doing It Her Own Way

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety | Posted on 17-06-2015


Photo Credit: Stacy Atwell Photography

Photo Credit: Stacy Atwell Photography

Like many people who get into burlesque, Baltimore-based producer and performer Tapitha Kix started out as a fan. After a friend invited her to see Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey at Creative Alliance, she was hooked. After attending many shows in the audience, a twist of fate put her on stage when a kitten had to back out of a show at the last minute and Tapitha was game to fill in. “That night, I thought to myself, ‘I should be on stage!'” Tapitha said. “Being onstage is what makes me truly happy.”

After rejecting a few stage names, an ex-boyfriend christened her Tapitha Kix, but as the famous song from Gypsy says, “You Gotta Have a Gimmick.” Having a background in tap and dance, Tapitha knew right away what would set her apart. “I do a style of dancing that (to the best of my knowledge and research) no other burlesque dancer does — pointe tap, which is tap dancing on the tips of my toes in a pair of custom-made ballet pointe shoes fitted with metal caps.”

Once Tapitha discovered pointe tap — practiced in vaudeville in the 1920s and ’30s — she knew she’d found her niche. But she doesn’t want it to define her as an artist. “I don’t want to be a one trick pony,” Tapitha explains. “I’m trying to expand myself as a performer and do more regular pointe and modern dance/jazz/hip hop. I’ve always said that as a performer who does not fit the American stereotypical standard of what a ‘hot’ woman looks like, I have to work extra, extra hard to impress the audience. I can’t just stand there and prance around looking hot and pretty. And that’s okay. I want to work hard to impress my audience. I want to surprise and delight them. And believe me, when people see me dance, they are surprised.”

In addition to performing, Tapitha is also a founder and producer of Twisted Knickers Burlesque. After finding it difficult to find casting opportunities, she decided to create shows herself. She and some friends, including Hot Todd Lincoln, got together and Twisted Knickers was born. Today, Twisted Knickers is Tapitha and Todd with a rotating cast of regulars and guests. While Yellow Sign Theater has been their primary home for years, the are currently expanding to other venues, such as the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, and Church & Company in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

If you want to catch Tapitha and Twisted Knickers, their next show is The Burlesque Sing-a-Long at the State Theatre on July 10. “Performers will dance with lyrics projected on a big screen for the audience to sing along with karaoke style.”

Twisted Knickers also has a more theatrical-style show slated for July 18 during Artscape called The Grind and the Glitter, a tale of an up-and-coming burlesque dancer set in 1957. “Expect to see something unlike the Knickers have ever done!”

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: My Life as a Plus-Size Burlesque Performer

Posted by Diva Darling | Posted in burlesque | Posted on 07-04-2015


I’ve been staring at a bright blue Post-It note for the last five minutes as I thought about how to start this piece. My intern last summer at my muggle job liked to write little inspirational quotes on them and leave them for me to find, and I keep them lined up along the bottom of my monitor. This particular one says, “Why fit in when YOU were born to stand out?”

Turns out that’s a pretty good mantra for thinking about how to deal with doubts about being a fat girl in burlesque.

Diva Darling Portrait

[photo credit: Kristina De Santis Photography]

A newer performer in our community, herself a curvy woman, inspired this piece when she wanted to hear from other performers of size about our experiences onstage and off. Who could blame her for wondering how she’d be received? The world isn’t exactly kind to women who take up more than a single-digit dress size of space, and that’s when we’re keeping our clothes on. To have the audacity to get in front of a roomful of people and reveal every jiggle and curve seems like it would be an exercise in pathological masochism.

And yet, being a plus-size performer in burlesque is like visiting another world where the usual rules don’t quite apply.

Meet the Variety: Lady Fancy, One of Baltimore’s Newest Burlesque Beauties

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety | Posted on 06-04-2015


Photo Credit: Dorret Oosterhoff

Lady Fancy [Photo Credit: Dorret Oosterhoff]

Meet Lady Fancy, one of Baltimore’s newest burlesque beauties. She’s burst onto the scene in a big way in a short amount of time. She’s already appeared on stage with TimelessTease Productions and Twisted Knickers, and she’ll be competing in the Burlypicks DC Regional Competition next on May 1 at the Bier Baron.

I first saw Lady Fancy at GalHaus Review‘s Big Show 6, the student showcase put on by MICA’s burlesque club annually. My co-producer Betty O’Hellno and I attended to support the club and were blown away by her artistry and poise. We immediately booked her for our next show, where she effortlessly wowed the crowd. You never would have guessed she was new to the scene.

I recently had the chance to ask Lady Fancy some questions about what attracted her to burlesque and her first impressions so far.

What was your introduction to burlesque?

There was a burlesque club [GalHaus] at Maryland Institute College of Art that had a few shows I attended, and afterwards I was curious and started looking up videos of other performers on the internet. I stopped attending MICA as a student, but the club was kind enough to let me still participate in their activities, and I was hooked from there.

What drew you to performing?

I’ve been involved in the performing arts for pretty much all my life, mostly through music. Piano and voice recitals, musical theater, leading music at my church and at conferences…I’ve done a lot of different things. Looking back, even at the church stuff, I got so much out of interacting with an audience. There’s a kind of energy the audience gives you, and by performing, you take that gift and give it back. It’s a very powerful feeling. I get a lot out of making people happy that way. Being able to make someone smile, or convey some kind of meaningful message through performance is really special.

How did you choose the name Lady Fancy as your stage name?

My friends have been calling me Fancy, Miss Fancy, Fancy Pants, etc. for a while. It’s really to the point that hearing my real name is almost a surprise. Fancy just fits and I love it. It’s my true name, if you will. When it came to picking a stage name for burlesque, I picked Lady to go with it because I really admire the poise and classiness so many dancers bring to their routines. The poise of a Lady, the playfulness of Fancy….that’s what I want to bring to my performances.

What background contributes to your style?

Musical theater and belly dance both have a strong influence on the way I move and dance. Musical theater taught me a lot about stage presence and how to fill up a room, as well as strategies for blocking and using stage space well. Belly dance is something I’ve seen a lot of and dabbled in, both dance and costume-wise. I was always impressed by the importance of both choreography and improv in that style. You can tell a lot of stories through belly dance the same way that you can with burlesque. It’s also very close to burlesque in how extravagant the costumes can be. I can’t resist the sparkly!

Do you have any influences or inspirations as a burlesque performer?

Lady Fancy [Photo Credit: Dorret Oosterhoff]

My fiancé showed me a lot of Dita VonTeese’s photographs when I started burlesque. I really connected with the lavish opulence of her looks – so many rich textures and so much sparkle! She also brought the poise and elegance from her performances into her everyday lifestyle. I’m a little chaotic as a person so the idea of taking the spirit of burlesque and molding myself to its ideals is really amazing. Also, I really admire Nina Amaya, a local belly dance performer. She leads the Aubergine Troupe, and I took a few lessons with her after seeing their performances at local events like Artscape. They do traditional belly dance, but also do performances and storytelling as fairy dancers! She’s a very whimsical lady who makes a living by bringing a fun loving, childlike spirit into her dance. I really admire her as a person and for what she has accomplished as a performer.

What’s been your most memorable experience (good or bad) on stage so far?

There have been a lot of really good ones from my church days, but one in particular sticks out to me. I led a congregation in a song called “Wade in the Water” one week.  There were about five or six hundred people in the room that Sunday. The song had a lot of soul and I really was able to grind and get dirty with the sound. The lyrics talked about the struggles of life and the hope that it would all mean something in the end, which everyone can connect to. It was call and response, where you sing one line and the audience sings back. By the end of the song, everyone in the room was on their feet, stomping and clapping. The energy was really intense. I remember that I was shaking by the time the song was over, it was just that powerful. I hope that I can bring that kind of vulnerability and connection to future performances, because I will never forget that experience.

Tell us a bit about GalHaus. How has it shaped you as a performer?

I can’t speak highly enough about GalHaus. Dolly Longlegs did a great Burlesque 101 workshop the semester I joined the club. I was still wrapping my head around the idea of stripping, but the welcoming atmosphere she created along with the club leaders encouraged me to give it a try. The first year was a little challenging because very few of us had been exposed to burlesque before, but having mentors like Mimi Madly who could teach and give us direction while developing individual acts for Big Show 5 was so helpful to our growth.

The second year, the returning members did a fall show that brought in a lot of new students, but also gave them a head start on putting ideas for an act together. Having so many people who already had strong and unique ideas made Big Show 6 a really diverse show. I remember feeling confident about approaching my second act with the club, as I was starting to learn what kind of dancer I wanted to be and what kinds of themes I wanted to bring to my performances. I even got to try my hand at leading a workshop for the new members. I really hope that I can give as much back to that club as it gave to me.

I’m giving the pro thing a go because GalHaus taught me how much I loved burlesque and wanted to keep doing it. That kind of drive and inspiration is hard to come by, but GalHaus has it in spades. I hope the professional community continues to keep an eye on future Big Shows, because the people who stay in Baltimore after graduation have turned out to be some pretty solid performers, and it really prepared me to go out and apply what I learned to other acts. I am truly grateful that I got my start in such a great environment. Cheeki Ho is heading up the club next year, and I am really excited to see how it flourishes under her leadership.

As a new performer, what are your biggest fears or concerns as you get into burlesque?

I worry about my lack of knowledge and exposure. Other than the GalHaus Review, I haven’t seen a lot of burlesque, and I don’t want to be disrespectful to those who have dedicated so much of their lives to cultivating burlesque locally and internationally. I really want to make it out to more shows so I can see what is out there and learn as much as possible from other dancers. I’m also a little worried about the actual cost of where burlesque might take me. It’s something I can see myself doing a lot of, but the cost of making new acts, traveling, touring, festivals, etc. is a little bit daunting. I tend to throw myself into things out of the sheer joy of it, and am worried that the money side of things might steal some of that spark. Still, I know there are a lot of performers who do it on a much tighter budget, so I just need to network and learn from those people so I can figure it out too. I’m really looking forward to the connections and friendships that are out there waiting to happen through burlesque, though. I just hope I can stay humble while still being the best that I can be.

Jules V Moorhead co-produces TimelessTease Productions in Baltimore. Find Jules and TimelessTease Productions on Facebook.

[Photo Credit: Dorret Oosterhoff]

Meet the Variety: Hot Todd Lincoln, MC

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in Meet the Variety, reviews, sideshow | Posted on 31-03-2015


HotToddLincolnI first saw Hot Todd Lincoln on stage at a Twisted Knickers show in the Yellow Sign Theater in Baltimore, the city he calls home. I wouldn’t formally meet him until a year or two later when he accidentally molested my knee at Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey‘s annual Holiday Spectacuthon, but I digress. Hot Todd’s MC style is pun­filled and banter­heavy. He likes to make a connection with his audience. Over the years, as he’s added sideshow acts to his sets, you can feel that same sense of connection in his performances.

For Hot Todd, being an MC is an extension of who he is offstage. “I tend to be very outgoing, and really like being a part of a community. The role certainly plays to my strengths of being quick on my feet and very convivial. I tend to be fast with puns and snappy comebacks, and I truly enjoy the feeling that comes with connecting with an audience.”

But with great power comes great responsibility, and Hot Todd wasn’t satisfied with simply delivering a well­timed zinger. “As I continued to host shows, I realized that being an MC gives me unique opportunities to do more. Once you connect with an audience, you can say something really important.” Hot Todd has used his time on the mic to promote marriage equality, equal rights, body positivity and the sexiness of consent. “I want to create a space in which everyone is having a good time and feels safe and welcome.”

He cites MCs and performers such as Swami YoMahmi, Mab Just Mab, Paco Fish, Professor Sprocket and Harley Newman as some of his biggest influences, among many others like Miss Astrid, Bradford Scobie, Bastard Keith, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, Ben Wisdom, World Famous Bob, Doc Wasabassco, Murray Hill and Armitage Shanks. “Everyone I’ve mentioned comes to the mic with wildly different perspectives, and really connects with their audiences from a very personal place.”

In addition to his skills as an MC, Hot Todd also does classic sideshow acts like the bed of nails and routines such as a fun, audience-­participatory straight jacket escape number. “While being an MC is fantastic, I wanted to explore what I could do on the performance side of the equation. I’m no dancer, so initially, sideshow seemed a better fit. Once I started, I became captivated by the physicality and honesty of sideshow. There’s no illusion to sideshow. What you see, is really what’s happening. Bed of Nails? Real nails. Walking on glass? Real glass. Eating fire? Yep…real fire. I am also realizing the benefits of performing and practicing sideshow on and off stage as I’m pushing myself beyond my own fears.”

As if hosting and performing wasn’t enough, Hot Todd co­produces a monthly show with Chérie Nuit as Hot Night Productions at the Bier Baron in Washington, D.C. As someone who lives and hosts in Baltimore while producing and performing in D.C., Hot Todd straddles the burlesque scene in two different cities to an extent few others do. When asked to compare and contrast the two, he replied, “One immediate difference is that there aren’t really any ‘troupes’ based in DC, with the exception of the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow. There are a lot of production teams: Hot Night Productions, Valentine Candy Burlesque, The Weirdo Show, Atomic Doll Productions, etc. This creates flexibility in casting and adapting to venues and performer schedules. In Baltimore, there are both. Twisted Knickers and TimelessTease Productions have adopted the small core with a lot of guest performers model, whereas troupes like Gilded Lily Burlesque and Bawdy Shop Burlesque are doing well with larger core casts and fewer guest stars. Both scenes have a wide pool of talent to draw from and are generally very supportive of each other with a good amount of overlap. Another difference is that the some of the Baltimore groups are doing more scripted shows and bigger productions.”

As to what it’s like being in both scenes, “It’s pretty great in that I work with really good people in both cities, on both sides of the curtain.”

Jules V Moorhead co­produces TimelessTease Productions in Baltimore. Find Jules and TimelessTease Productions on Facebook.

[Photo credit: Josh Aterovis]

Meet the Variety: Indiana’s Jewels – Burlesque

Posted by Chè Monique | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety, reviews | Posted on 23-03-2015


IndianasJewles01I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Indiana’s Jewels last Friday before Ellie Quinn Presents Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at the Bier Baron. We were joined by her boyfriend/costumer.

It was fun to talk to Jewels about Jewels. She works alongside GiGi Holliday in various capacities including assisting her with Studio Holliday. Indiana’s Jewels is also very committed to the local burlesque scene and puts a lot of effort into behind the scenes and burlesque community focused work. Because of this, in the past when I’ve spoken to her it wasn’t about her, it was generally about the community.

Jewels is excited about the upcoming graduation of Studio Holliday’s Budding Burlesque Beauties students. They will be showcased in a show at the Black Cat on April 17th. We reminisced over our first performances. Indiana’s Jewels started performing as part of Capital Tassels and Tease four years ago. Her first performance involved all sorts of props including jewels and a treasure chest to really introduce her Indiana Jones inspired character. She is happy that her performances have evolved to include more tease and less gimmicks. Her biggest piece of advice to new performers is no matter what, DON’T PICK THE WEDGIE. Jewels is excited about the new group of performers she’s helping to get their start and is glad that there are more ongoing classes to help them get stage ready.

IndianasJewles02My favorite aspect of Jewels’s performance career is the support of her boyfriend, who has turned into her costumer. Indiana’s Jewels purchased a sewing machine when her costuming needs demanded it, unfortunately she couldn’t figure out how to work the thing. Lucky for her, her boyfriend was not going to see all that money go down the drain and he figured out how to operate it. Now she conceptualizes an idea, he’ll sew it up and she’ll do the stoning and embellishment. She is very appreciative of being able to have custom costumes where each piece matches exactly, since it was cut from the same cloth.

It was so much fun watching Indiana’s Jewels perform. She is one of those performers whose backstage versus onstage personalities do a total 180. One minute we’re sitting down discussing how it would be nice to see more diversity in burlesque shows. Jewels is telling me how she’s observed that there’s a clear line between shows that are diverse and shows that aren’t. We’re brainstorming ideas to get more participation from less represented groups on stage. Everything is very cerebral. Next thing I know this woman has turned into a total sex kitten crawling on the floor and doing one of the hottest stocking peels I’ve ever witnessed. Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun was a great show to see Indiana’s Jewels in, her acts to Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” and Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug” included Jewels’s signature silliness, but also had a raw sex appeal that was quite entertaining.

I quite enjoyed my conversation with Indiana’s Jewels and her boyfriend and am really glad I had this opportunity to learn more about her.


che-moniqueChè Monique produces Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret and is a Jill of many trades. Learn more about Chè at www.chemonique.com and Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret at www.chocolatecityburlesque.com .

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