Stripper Talk #1: Who are your major influences and why?

Author of Stripper Talk, Sydni Deveraux

Hello there!

Welcome to my burgeoning Stripper Talk series! I thought that it would be fun to get questions from other burlesquers around the world, and answer them, “Dear Abby” style.

The first question is from Bobbie Baltimore, from Las Vegas, NV:

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Stripper Talk: Burlesque Advice for Newbies

So you want to join the burlesque ranks of the best and the brightest? Sounds groovy, but you need to work to get some work! Working hard at this art form is what you need to stick out in the community- a community saturated with fledgling as well as established performers all over the world.

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Get thee to a mentor!

***Below are my personal opinions on mentorship. I have a big mouth, and this is my blog. Be warned.***

As I sit here, as I often do after reading my books and autobiographies about success and successful people, all I really wanted to share is: GET THEE TO A MENTOR!

When I began burlesque 6 years ago I had forgotten what it was like to have a mentor, as my previous mentor had been in high school by the name of Scott Brown and he was most likely the most influential teacher (and my vocal jazz teacher) I have ever had. I had forgotten because I got all tied up in the glitz and glam of the whole thing, and not the bones and blood of it.

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Master of her craft: Julie Atlas Muz

Just watch. I don’t really want to fuck it up with words…..just. fucking. watch.

BurlyCon 2008 to 2010-a retrospective.

Taken by POC Photo.

I have been a part of planning BurlyCon in different ways since it’s beginning 3 years ago, and just like a fine wine-it gets better with age. In the last 2 years (just 2 years!) the number of attendees has DOUBLED in size, a testimony that burlesque is here to stay, is constantly evolving, and many people from all over the country are aching to take classes from their peers and legends.

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Talented Monster: Scotty the Blue Bunny

So…sorry I’ve been off track kids, through the holidays and family crap, I suppose I was waiting for something…no…SOMEBODY to inspire me again.

That somebody today is Scotty the Blue Bunny.

I once saw him throw a just broken Lucite 6″ platform at a wall at a show and it was magic.

Now, the Bunny is something that happens to you. Like a whirlwind he wrecks the stage, peoples ideas of what is funny and your makeup from laughing so hard. I’ve personally never seen so many people in love and in abject horror of a 7′ Bunny in his lycra blue bunny suit and stripper heels….but after witnessing him on stage last year, I look to him for bits of “fuck off” entertainment.

Some people in this business you meet and you know that you’ll get to know them. You know that they travel in the same circles or have a similar ideology of what is entertaining. Now, this may sound all new age hippie dippy, but this is how I felt about Scotty when I briefly (the blink of an eye) met him at the Re-Bar last year. And I was right.

Luckily-Scotty found me on Haight street after a show in San Francisco nearly 4 months later and decided to hang out. We drank tequila, rolled around on a friends floor and played with a child’s violin. One of my favorite things about him is how he talks with his hands and how much he feels the things he says, regardless of how frivolous they might sound. He’s a walking art piece-someone who is definitely setting the stage for his life.

In a few weeks Scotty the Blue Bunny embarks for Europe, a place that we both feel holds some magic for us, and he will be there touring for a month, longer if Europe dares to hold him in it’s arms. After that, (and it’s what I’m particularly excited for) the tall talented monster will seek living arrangements in Seattle, and then I can plot and plan and play with childrens violins here with him.

The following are answers to a series of questions I sent him. Un-edited, because I wanted you to realize how magical he is.

1. How long have you been in your field?

I would have to say I’ve been performing since childhood, when I studied Violin and Piano.

2. What inspires you?

I use music the most to get into that dream state.

3. What would your best friend say about you?

Rife with contradiction.

4. What is your best quality on stage?

Spontaneity and happy alcoholism.

5. Name a person that’s on your top 10 list of performers in your field that you adore

Julie Atlas Muz, of course. . .

6. Do you have a process in creating your act/art? Care to share it with us?

I try to move as fast as my inspiration and not to judge. It’s important to “go with it” when you get an idea and stay away from critiquing. . . every idea is worthy of being workshopped, experimented with. I take great pleasure in performing big installations once. I don’t necessarily look for things i know will be “hits”. I enjoy the death of an act as much as the life of it. . . if that’s an answer.

7. What do you love to see on stage? What’s your least favorite thing?

I love to see irreverance. I love to see artists struggling with their chosen form. I hate complacency and contrivance. I love when artists are honest reflections of the world, and provide honest conscious experiences for their audience. It’s all about the audience.

8. Do you collect anything?

Bandanas. I’m a scarf queen. Bring on the little squares of fabric!

9. What is your favorite act to do on stage, why?
i love to sit on huge balloons filled with confetti to the USC Trojan Marching Band version of Pat Benatar’s HEARBREAKER. It’s so lovely to me because it’s my biggest act about nothing, ever. Also because its innocent and rude at the same time. LIke when a 2 year-old says “Fuck”, in that cute little baby voice. Fuck!

10. If you could be in any one show in the world, what show would you pick?

A completely new variety show with fabulous marvellous performers of every vaudeville niche – with ME as the big gay twinkling star. . .

11. Any hidden talents?

i’m a certified Pilates mat instructor.

12. What is your ideal day?

double espresso sun wind ocean sky bicycle BLT on marbled rye

13. What do you do to unwind?

emotionally eat, masturbate, daydream.

14. What’s your favorite performance moment so far?

Ha! My Bar Matzvah. . so awkward and fraught with. . . initiation and ritual. It was a very dual, multidimensional experience that I draw upon in everything i do. There is this element of passing-through in performance for me. .. walking through a door. being changed.

15. What’s next on deck for you? When’s your next show?

A Big European adventure. I’m currently hiding out at my family’s house in Tucson Arizona, preparing for Amsterdam, Sweden and beyond! January/February 2010

16. What’s your favorite article of clothing?

A really rotten pair of calvin klein bikini underwear my mom bought for me a long time ago. I don’t think she know exactly how. . . “South of France”, they were.

17. If you had to pick a song that defines your mood today, what would it be?

absolutely and unapologetically Enya, Caribbean Blue?

For more on the lovely Scotty the Blue Bunny, check out http://scottybunny.com/

See him. Love him. Enjoy him.

P.S: I love you Bunny.

A favorite: Miss Astrid Von Voomer

Photo  by Austin Young

Miss Astrid has been called “the true weimar fraulein” by Mel Gordon, author of Voluptuous Panic with “Enough attitude to sink the Bismark”, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Arguably, the best emcee in the US, she is known for her deadpan delivery, impeccable timing and razor sharp wit. -quote from http://www.Pinchbottom.com

“The vagina is natures purse”, she said.

And I fell in love. Since 1997, Kate Valentine-aka-Miss Astrid has been telling her audiences what’s what. My first introduction to one of the most unique burlesque personalities I’ve ever heard of or seen happened at Miss Exotic World (Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend) 2006. Along with El Vez and Margaret Cho, Miss Astrid and her eye-patch made her mark all over that magical weekend, showing all of us what excellent character development, wit and shiny, shiny boots on stage can be.

Miss Astrid is what a host should be. Entertaining and able to hold her own-as a producer you trust that if there’s any stretching of time needed, Miss Astrid will get it done and the audience would have no idea what was going on backstage. In fact, they will want more of her. They will be sad that the show is ending. Her name will be on the tip of their tongues. As it should be.

One of the many reasons why she is on my list of favorite performers is her phenomenal humor and her exceptionally warm heart. I was lucky to get my nickname, “Miss Yum Yum Gimme Some” from her while I was bent over on stage with her on the mic in Seattle. In Las Vegas, during the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend we chatted until the early morning and watched the sun rise from their suite with Tigger and Julie Atlas Muz. It was truly one of my favorite non-performing moments of the year. Good people and good times.

Miss Astrid’s hosting of BHOF weekend 2009 held many moments and highlights, from simulated (?) sex with El Vez at curtain opening, to performing the hilarious and touching marriage of Michelle L’amour to Frankie Vivid on stage in front of the entire burlesque audience. From the audience you can tell that she cares about her art. She wants you to be entertained and gives it her all with her hilarious hosting abilities.

Even if the performers were under-par but she was hosting (this is an unlikely thing-but go along with it) it would be a show to not miss. I really hope that she does a one woman show and brings it to Seattle.

Based in New York, and a very busy international performer- she’s a few thousand miles away, but Seattle can’t wait till she comes back and hosts another show.

Miss Astrid at the Slipper Room

I was lucky to have Miss Astrid agree to answer my silly questions in my desperate attempt to see what makes her tick.

What inspires you?
unrepentant women, and anyone who is able to self-define happiness and success


What would your best friend say about you?

I am a good listener



What is your best quality on stage?
Being present and quick



Name a person that’s on your top 10 list of performers in your field that you adore:
Too many!! today i will say, Simone De La Getto.



Do you have a process in creating your act/art? Care to share it with us?
Yes, I have a process and I highly recommend getting a process, children.



What do you love to see on stage? What’s your least favorite thing?
I love to see someone who is there for the right reason (the audience) and despise watching people there for the wrong reason (themselves/body/psycho/daddy issues)



Do you collect anything?
I try to collect money but I am not very good at it.


Any hidden talents?
Tons 😉 ( erm, i am a professional dancer even though i do not do in on the bq stage…)


What is your ideal day?
Sex in the morning, work all day, theatre at night, & a home cooked meal with my love.


What’s your favorite performance moment so far?
Jeez, too many to mention! i was honored to marry Franky & Michelle.

What’s next on deck for you? When’s your next show?
Working in Europe, but first stop Baltimore!

If you had to pick a song that defines your mood today, what would it be?
Big Pimping


Thank you, Miss Astrid and your eye-patch, for bringing us delightfully funny, raunchy, clever and entertaining shows all over the world. Safe travels!!

A favorite: Miss Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini, Miss Exotic World 2004, international performer and New York burlesque royalty, spun into my radar during Exotic World 2006. I’d never seen any one like her before. She is brazen, bold, bawdy, sexy and so effing graceful that I immediately fell smitten with her style. Named the “best body in burlesque”, Dirty is a monument to what female empowerment should look like, curvy, playful and sinful on heels. One of my favorite acts is “The Spider”. The music, her dress, the web…it all comes together to make one of my favorite acts. I’ve seen it about 5 times live, have it as a favorite on Youtube but I can’t wait to see it live again.

Now based in New York, which is a veritable Mecca for burlesque today, Dirty is a facet on the burlesque diamond that shines bright there. A versatile performer, Dirty Martini also makes for a wonderful model. Having just been photographed by Karl Lagerfeld for V Magazine on the one and only epic Chanel staircase in Paris, us more curvaceous burlesque girls should be excited that maybe, one day burlesque will be just one of the places that our empowered, strong and soft bodies belong. I take my pasties off to you Dirty Martini!

Along with her very classic looking movement on stage, Dirty Martini also is one of the most innovative performers in burlesque today. From her boundary pushing act that deals with America’s consumption issues while dancing to the ever wholesome Dolly Parton, to her classic balloon pop act with a cigarette twist, Miss Dirty has found the best way to make a Dirty Martini, and that’s simply by being a dynamo on stage.

Funny little story, I had the good fortune of doing Seattle’s Tease-O-Rama, which had an amazing cast. I had been asked to open the show, which thrilled me, since I got to help rev up the audience, and I could watch the rest of the show from the darkened windows above the audience. This little area had been jammed full of burlesque beauties, and I had leaned over and rested my gloved arms on the table surface to make sure those in back of me could see the show. Suddenly, the table moved…I looked down, and realized that I had been resting my arms on the mostly bare and glorious backside of Dirty Martini. At first, I was horrified, but she was more than a darling and thought it was hilarious herself. I giggled about it for days afterwards.

And that’s what makes a true entertainer.

To find her most current schedule of events, check out:

http://www.myspace.com/dirtymartiniburlesque

http://www.missdirtymartini.com

Photo from http://www.gregking.ca/burlesque/TBF/2008/IMG_17959.JPG

a favorite: Catherine D’Lish

Over the next few days I’m going to polish up my burlesque chops by writing about some of my favorite burlesque personalities throughout the world. I’ve been extremely lucky to share the stage with all except for two, but even more lucky to have had conversations and wonderful moments with every single one.

Without further adieu, please meet my first burlesque influence:

Catherine D’Lish

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Catherine D’Lish, the “striptease virtuoso” perform, and for most of us on the burlesque circuit, Catherine D’Lish is a constant delight and favorite. From her fantastic costuming (she also makes Dita Von Teese’s costumes), her fan-work, to how she can take off one glove and leave you literally hanging off your seat (this has happened to me at her Triple Door show earlier this year) Catherine’s act is a force to be reckoned with. She holds over 30 titles, including Miss Nude USA, World’s Performer of the Year, Miss Erotic World, Showgirl of the Year, Miss Exotic America, and Miss Nude International, she is one hell of a world class performer.

Catherine D’Lish is known for her classic burlesque work, and whenever I think of my favorite act of hers, I always come to an act that involves her epic black dress. I swear there’s 200 yards of tulle on the skirt, and the rhinestones almost put me into a seizure. Black and sleek, she slinks and teases the entire audience with a grace that can only make you think of old Hollywood glamour.

At BurlyCon 2008 I was one of the lucky few to get a private session with her and I was so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to get to know her. Even now as she is on tour in Europe we keep in contact, and she’s always eager to answer any questions I have. She, and the others on my list are a true embodiment of burlesque. During the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas, I even got to sing “I’ve got a crush on you” while sitting on a gentleman’s lap with the Legend herself. Thank you for slinking into my heart, Catherine.

For more on the virtuoso, check out her website: http://www.cdlish.com/

Below is a link to her video of the act and the dress that drive me wild (Please excuse the commercial prior. Shimmy around for 30 seconds or something). For such a petite lady, Catherine’s aura takes up the whole stage!

http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/sexy/watch/v16365826Cp5fStjZ

I apologize for it not being here on the page. It simply refused to embed!

xo

Sydni Deveraux


Land of the Sweets: Burlesque Nutcracker

Sydni Recommends:

Almost sold out, I can’t wait to see it this week!

http://landofthesweets.com/

It starts today and runs until December 23rd. This wildly popular show is not to be missed!

Starring some of my dearest friends and most innovative figures in Seattle burlesque, this show will blow you away!