Joy Rider is an award winning burlesque performer who just won Best Debut at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. Based in Montreal, Canada she is also the co-founder of AMPLIFY BIPOC Burlesque Fund, supporting BIPOC Burlesque in Montreal with financial support and education.
1. How would you define yourself in three words?
Emotional, energetic and brainy.
2. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Unfortunately, there is a lack of Kayumanggi (tanned skin) Filipina representation in Hollywood, so there are not very many people out there who could accurately play me. Maybe Lea Salonga if it was a musical!
3. What is your biggest strength?
My heart and emotionality. I am a double Pisces and deeply tuned into my emotions. I think this makes me a better performer and a more compassionate and empathetic person.
4. What is your biggest weakness?
I am hypersensitive and have the tendency to take things personally.
5. When are you most happy and inspired?
When I am roller skating or spending quality time with my chosen family.
6. What is your favourite on-screen burlesque moment from film or TV?
This is a tough one! I haven’t had a lot of film or TV moments that have resonated with me – it really has been the live performances in dimly lit cabarets that have inspired me the most. That and binge-watching my burlesque heroes’ acts on YouTube and Vimeo!
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It’s one thing to do a technical act, but not everyone can make the audience FEEL something. This is from my burlesque mom, Queen Lou Lou la Duchesse de Riere!
8. If you could switch lives with one person for a day, who would it be?
My cat, Pony, has a pretty incredible life, so it would be nice to be her for a day.
9. What’s the biggest myth or misconception about burlesque?
That it is a safe and inclusive place for everyone. I and many of my marginalised loved ones in this community have had to learn the hard way that burlesque can perpetuate the violence of larger power structures. Fatphobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, and an insidious crab mentality are very present. Often, those in the margins have to protect and support each other.
10. If you could only perform to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Us by Ruby Ibarra. The first time I heard this song it brought me to tears. It inspired me to create my first signature number that is an homage to the powerful Pinay (the act that won Best Debut at the Burlesque Hall of Fame!).
Joy Rider performing.
11. What surprisingly useful things do you have in your show case?
In Montreal we have this spray glitter that is only available in Quebec pharmacies and it helps all of us look like we glisten on stage.
12. Do you have a backstage ritual?
Yes and it is very nerdy. You know how in Black Panther he wears a vibranium suit that harnesses and redistributes kinetic energy? Before every performance, I visualise that I am in that suit, absorbing the audience’s cheers, and when the lights go up I throw all of their energy back at them!
13. What advice would you give to new performers starting out today?
Find your people. Treasure them and hold them tenderly.
14. What is your proudest achievement?
It’s a tie between graduating with my Masters degree and winning Best Debut at BHoF!
15. What is your biggest regret?
Not having a lawyer look at a contract for me before signing it. There is such a thing as being too trusting.
16. What is the biggest challenge facing today’s burlesque scene?
Problematic people in positions of power going unchecked.
17. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you started out in burlesque, what would it be?
Be prepared for a wild ride – one week you’re going to want to quit and the next week you’ll be royalty!
18. What is a cause or issue that’s very important to you?
Racial inequality and social justice. Destigmatising mental health/illness is something I also care deeply about.
19. What are you currently reading, watching, and listening to?
I’m usually reading one non-fiction and one fiction book simultaneously at any given time! Right now I’m re-reading the graphic novel My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi, and also the Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide.
20. If you could share a dressing room with one performer for the rest of your career, who would it be?
My burlesque twin, Enshantay! She is my family and if we are backstage together I know it is going to be a good show (and there might even be donuts).
21. What would you like your life and career to look like in 10 years time?
10 years ago I couldn’t have predicted that my life would look like this so I can’t even imagine how things will look 10 years from now! I would love to be in a place where I can continue to share my art with the world and create opportunities for other QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Colour). My dream would be to find a way to blend my work as a therapist with burlesque somehow.