BHoF 2014: Best Debut (Part 2)

In Part 2 of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Best Debut contender profiles, Jeez Loueez, Bonnie Fox, The Lady Josephine, Emma Mylan and Madame Romanova discuss their work and ambitions…

21st Century Burlesque Magazine Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Coverage is sponsored by Fancy Feather.

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Jeez Loueez

Jeez Loueez.  ©JMI Photography
Jeez Loueez. ©JMI Photography

Describe your style in three words: Dramatic! Hilarious! Kinetic!

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

I feel like f*cking up your whole world, honestly! I feel like an unstoppable force of nature on a rampage to psych ya mind and make ya booty shine. I feel bliss. I feel at home. I feel a nervous excitement that freaks me out and gives me life. I feel like that exact moment is where I was always meant to be; I feel like you may not know me, but you’ll never forget me.

When you are on stage, what do you want the audience to feel?

Uncomfortable. Confused. Slutty.

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer? What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

I feel like I’m at the stage where I really just don’t give a f*ck what other people think and what people want me to do. Sorry, I’m not sorry about that. Right now, I feel extremely in control of my career and what direction my life is taking.

I would say that my proudest moments have been the three productions of Jeezy’s Juke Joint: A Black Burly-Q Revue in Chicago and St. Louis, and being a part of the Show-Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival. Jeezy’s’ Juke Joint is the most challenging project I’ve done and it’s only got bigger each year. The amount of talent, heart and soul that graces the stage year after year never ceases to amaze me. The Show-Me Burlesque Festival is a magical event that I’ve been involved with since its first year in 2010. Since then I’ve done everything from being a headliner, to an emcee, the Sponsorship Coordinator, Education Director, and now an Associate Director. We have one of the best teams and support systems in the scene and I feel honoured to be a part of this crazy company each year!

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

To ruin lives and destroy dreams.

Describe the act you will perform.

‘Rufiooo!’ is one of my signature acts. Things that have happened during performances:

– Audience members left the show.

– People in the front row got bitch slapped in the face.

– Bleeding.

– I ninja kicked a phone out of someone’s hands.

– Doves cried.

What would it mean to you personally and as a performer if you were awarded Best Debut?

It’s no secret that Perle Noire is my burlesque hero, and while I’m always determined to follow my own path, it was her victory in 2008 that influenced me to aspire to compete for Best Debut. If I won the competition this year, it would not only be a personal triumph for me as a performer, but it would be a triumph for the neo-weirdo-unconventional burlesque acts out there who feel like they’re on the fringe when it comes to competitions.

Anything else you would like to say as the Weekend approaches…

I’m actually a really nice lady. And only one person has ever got cut by me so statistically the odds are in your favour (sharpens rhinestoned shank).

Bonnie Fox

Bonnie Fox. ©David Woolley
Bonnie Fox. ©David Woolley

Describe your style in three words: Glamour + vintage + dance.  That’s me! My style is high glamour, authentic vintage, and always about the dance.  I’d love to see more dance in burlesque around the world. The female body in motion.  Any woman, when she dances, there is nothing more beautiful.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve performed for theatre and dance audiences around the world, but there is nothing like a burlesque audience. It’s the most passionate, upbeat, present and connected audience there is. Being on the burlesque stage is uplifting, even comforting. Even when you are stark naked, you are wrapped up in the warm glow of the stage lights and the raucous noise of the audience; you don’t feel naked at all. It’s like a loving embrace. A burlesque audience wants to love you. They want some fantasy, some escapism, they want to adore you and leave the club happy with a story to tell.  I need only to not get in the way of that.  I’m never nervous on the burlesque stage.

When you are on stage, what do you want the audience to feel?

I want my audience to feel like they’ve been whisked back in time!  I’m a historian of vintage dances from the 1920s to 1950s, so what I’m presenting on the stage is authentic. I want to give my audience the same experience they would have had in a prohibition speakeasy in New York, or the Parisienne follies in the 1930s,  or a London cabaret during the war. Antique dance steps, outrageous costumes in an authentic vintage style and a fierce personality that draws the audience in, like the burlesque headliners and Hollywood starlets of old. This is my dream.

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer? What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

I’ve been performing burlesque for eight years now, but to be honest I haven’t given it the attention it deserves. Burlesque is a mistress that deserves all your attention! After founding the Sugar Blue Burlesque company in Australia and a few glorious years of burly downunder, I met a dashing Argentine who became my swing dance partner and I abandoned the feathers and glitter to tour the world with him instead.  But the sparkles call, and since moving to London two years ago I’ve been feeling thoroughly burlesque inspired. I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way in Europe to perform and meet my kindred showgirl spirits, and winning the 1st place crown at the World Burlesque Games in London last year has put the fire underneath me.  I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved, but I’m planning on stepping up my game this year!  Bigger, better, stronger, shinier. I’m only just getting started.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

Well, in my year of stepping up my game, nothing says ‘go big’ like Vegas!  To be frank, I didn’t think I’d be accepted. I just decided to visit the festival for my soul, with my burlesque BFF (BBFF?) Missy Fatale from London.  I sent an application just in case, planning on attending no matter what.  I also talked my dear friend Emma Mylan from Switzerland into applying, and as it turns out we were both accepted.  I never imagined that BHoF would be interested in what I do; I am so deeply honoured.

Describe the act you will perform.

This act is all about the Roaring Twenties.  For years I was haunted by the dream of owning a 1920s red velvet opera coat I had seen in a museum, so I created this act so I could have one.  Beneath is a flapper gown dripping in heavy beaded fringe, and beneath that a tight lacing corset. Oh my stars, this costume just makes me so happy! The music is hot jazz and I dance a mad fast Charleston, so I’ll be dripping sweat by the end; thankfully all those layers come off!  The Charleston was the biggest dance fad of the 1920s and I’m actually a world champion in Charleston, so this act is the real deal.  I’m hoping the audience will feel like they’ve been transported to one of the decadent parties in The Great Gatsby.

What would it mean to you personally and as a performer if you were awarded Best Debut?

LouLou D’vil told me recently not to think too much about the competition, and she is one of the wisest women I’ve met, so I’m following her advice!  I know some of the other performers in the Debut category, and they are sublime and so deserving. Winning Best Debut would be taking that away from them, so I have mixed feelings about the thought.  And anyway, how can you really judge one piece of art against another when it’s so subjective? This contest is wonderful because it brings together performers from all over the world and pushes us to improve our acts, think bigger and reach higher, so it’s a wonderful thing. But for me, just being accepted to perform and having the opportunity to shake my thing on the same stage as my burlesque heroes…  wow, this is enough for me, truly.

Anything else you would like to say as the Weekend approaches…

I’m just so excited. It’s my first time in Las Vegas too; I could just scream! I know I’ll be utterly starstruck with the legends; I’m dying to meet them, and all the modern burlesque big guns. So much burly goodness all in one place? I think my head will explode.

Madame Romanova

Madame Romanova.  ©Stéphane Nigentz Gumuschian
Madame Romanova. ©Stéphane Nigentz Gumuschian

Describe your style in three words: Playful Pin-up 1950s.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

I’m transforming 100% into the character I’m playing. I feel confident and have a lot of fun.

When you are on stage, what do you want the audience to feel?

Burlesque is all about making fun of sexuality and enjoying being a woman. I hope the audience has as much fun watching my performance as I have fun performing.

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer? What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

It’s all about enjoying being a woman!  I’m very proud of my own style – ‘burlesque with a magic twist’ – but I would love to improve my musical interpretation. Sometimes I really need to take it easy onstage and not rush.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

BHoF is an event where all the best of burlesque come together. It will be an unforgettable moment to share the stage with the ‘creme de la creme’ of burlesque.

Describe the act you will perform.

‘Queen of Hearts’ is a soft blend of magic and burlesque. With this act I want to put the spot on the Queen of Hearts – the card of femininity and love.

What would it mean to you personally and as a performer if you were awarded Best Debut?

If I was awarded Best Debut, I could say without a doubt to anyone that needs more confidence and support, ‘never give up your dreams and go on!’

Anything else you would like to say as the Weekend approaches…

Dare to be sexy. Enjoy being a woman. Teasing and pleasing – this is what I call burlesque!

Lady Josephine

The Lady Josephine.  ©Mary Elam Photography
The Lady Josephine. ©Mary Elam Photography

Describe your style in three words: Statuesque, bold, grimaces.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

I feel the incredible vitality of life. Research shows that I am not going to die wishing I had worked more or made more money. I’m going to die wishing I had loved more. So, from a pragmatic point of view, performing is an efficient way to connect many people and force your love on them. Plus, #burlesquemovesmountains, fights sex-negativity, and cultivates body love.

When you are on stage, what do you want the audience to feel?

Like a first kiss (and by kiss, I mean fuck).

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer? What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

It has taken five years to get to stripper’s paradise. Developing your performance is so much more than spending time in the studio. It takes a willingness to dig those showgirl claws deep into your gut and understand its bloody mysteries. You have to find, then understand, then accept or change the worst parts about yourself. Otherwise, the audience will do it for you.

I had a moment of proud rapture when my aunt recently asked me to perform at her wedding. And being accepted as a professional by the performers you most admire is an unparalleled moment in any career. I want to keep becoming a smarter business woman. I don’t believe that you need to be poor to be an artist.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

Because having the #glittertribe as an audience is life-affirming. Because burlesque can be more than it is today and I want to be part of the team that pushes it to the heavens.

Describe the act you will perform.

Miss Sheath is a fencing mistress whose sensuality will take no prisoners. She is a disciplined queen of the epée with a refined strength and calculated grace. The act is an innovative striptease that Misty Greer (couture mistress!) helped me realise. With this act I wanted to build something aesthetically explosive and fresh, with loads of colour and unique forms.

What would it mean to you personally and as a performer if you were awarded Best Debut?

As this year’s only representative of Montreal’s burlesque community, it would mean a lot to bring our burgeoning scene some international love and recognition. We’re still working to catch up with Vancouver and Toronto, but we’ll get there.

Anything else you would like to say as the Weekend approaches…

I’ve never been to Vegas. Looking forward to chatting up grannies at the slot machines.

Emma Mylan

Emma Mylan.  ©Marco Felix, Vintage Rebels
Emma Mylan. ©Marco Felix, Vintage Rebels

Describe your style in three words: Femininity, elegance, poetry.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

ORGASM! I love to entertain people; I feel alive. Isn’t the most beautiful thing in life being passionate?

When you are on stage, what do you want the audience to feel?

Intensity. Of emotions, senses, and communication. I want the audience to cry and laugh in the same minute!

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer? What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

I have performed since I was fourteen years old. I’ve being doing it my whole life but I still feel so small; there are so many dreams I want to realise! That’s really exciting, to make your dreams come true! I want challenge myself and always try new things.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

I heard it was the most exciting burlesque event! I couldn’t miss it!

Describe the act you will perform.

‘Hymn to Femininity’. Elegant and subtle, with a refined aesthetic. The nudity becomes the language of the poetry. A muse – unattainable, elusive and captivating. A living picture that goes straight to the heart.

What would it mean to you personally and as a performer if you were awarded Best Debut?

That I would have a lot of champagne that night! Can you imagine? That would be heaven!

Anything else you would like to say as the Weekend approaches…

I want everyone to make love as much as possible!

Find out all you need to know about the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend here…

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21st Century Burlesque
21st Century Burlesque

Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.

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