With the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 one week away, it’s time to meet the contenders battling it out for Best Debut.  In Part 1, Missy Lisa, Aurora Galore, Lisa Fa’alafi, Mama Ulita and Voracious V 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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Missy Lisa

Missy Lisa.  ©Miss Missy Photography

Missy Lisa. ©Miss Missy Photography

Describe your style in three words: Glamorous, exciting and diverse.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

When I take the stage, I honestly feel gratitude that I am able to do what I love more than anything else.

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

I want the audience to feel love. I want my love of performing, my love of dance and my love for the crowd to be apparent and felt as audience members.

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 been performing burlesque for over seven years now.  I am proud of the reputation I have built for myself, but I also have moments when I feel like I am a brand new performer. I believe everyone goes through those emotions; you should never stop growing.

I am most proud of The Ruby Revue, the company that I have built with my best friend, Ginger Valentine. I am also very proud that I was able to perform for legends Dita Von Teese and Tempest Storm, and of winning the title of Miss Viva Las Vegas 2013.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

I have applied to perform at BHoF for the past four years, and am ecstatic that this is my first year to be accepted to perform.  It has always been a personal goal of mine since 2010, when I attended for the first time. It’s an opportunity to perform in front of some of the biggest and best names in burlesque, and there’s nothing more personally satisfying than that as an artist.

Describe the act you will perform.

I will be performing a classic, traditional style routine that I performed and won the Miss Viva Las Vegas competition with in 2013.

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

It would absolutely mean the world to me. I have dedicated my life to burlesque – as an artist, a business owner and a teacher – and being awarded the title of Best Debut would help to validate my passions and career path in my heart.

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

I can’t wait to see everyone in Vegas! x

Aurora Galore

Aurora Galore. ©Tigz Rice

Aurora Galore. ©Tigz Rice

Describe your style in three words:  Crazy, weird, dynamic.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

I feel at home. I am married to the stage; it is my soulmate and I am happiest when I am there.

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

My passion, I guess. I suppose I want people to be shocked and challenged but always entertained, and I want people to enjoy what I do.

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 come pretty far as a performer. I guess I have ‘won’ some things but I feel as though unless you have won BHoF it is not worth mentioning! I have done some pretty amazing shows and performed with some of the most incredible performers I have seen as of yet. It means a lot to me that I have been able to stand strong against performers I look up to.
I can always still grow; I push my image relentlessly and I won’t ever feel as though I am perfect. I was always taught that you can be better and I will always live striving to push myself creatively.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

As cliche as it sounds, I wanted a weirdo to represent at BHoF this year. I push alternative facets of beauty and my performance style is so different to what is out there (which is, of course great) and I wanted to prove that you can look as creatively ugly as you want, wear five wigs, seventeen ruffs, pull ugly faces and still be a high-end, polished performer!

Describe the act you will perform.

I am doing my ‘Circus Ringmaster’ act that I developed a couple of years ago. It was originally a fire act but it didn’t work anymore with fire, so I added a fan dancing finale which works better. It has come a long way and it is supposed to pay homage to the traditional circus (as I love the circus!), but is ultimately a contemporary take on it – like all of my acts. It is psuedo-drag in that I usually have a moustache and a beard, and it is elaborate in makeup and styling, but I won’t insult real Drag performers by saying that I am one.  I use dubstep music and contemporary dance skills to make it ridiculous, over the top and wacky!

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

It would mean everything. I am not kidding myself thinking I will win because I am a bit of a leap from the performers that have won previous years (all deserving). But it genuinely would mean so much. I am one of these performers who lives, eats, sleep and breathes what she does and I put everything into what I do, and I really do just want to create art and magic and have faith that people respect what I am trying to say.

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

I genuinely can’t wait to go and I am planning some insane costumes for the days that I am not performing, so be ready for those!

Lisa Fa’alafi

Lisa Fa'alafi.  ©Tristan Peter

Lisa Fa’alafi. ©Tristan Peter

Describe your style in three words:  Fierce, funny and fabulash!

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

A mix of nervousness, focus and complete coconut chaos.

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

Raw energy, be completely entertained, and perhaps after, reflect on the underlying meanings of my performance.

What stage do you feel you are currently at as a burlesque performer?

Beginner burlesque performer, but a seasoned professional dance theatre maker and performer.

What achievements are you most proud of, and what would you like to improve?

Staying in the performing arts industry for over twenty years without being jaded is an achievement in itself. It can be a tough career path, but like most artists your desire to create is so strong you overcome all the shitty steps along the way to continue to make, inspire, be inspired and push your practise into new exciting worlds. So for me, to improve would be to continue to challenge myself and push myself to make clever and inspiring works in whatever genre that can tell the tale.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

In Australia I am co-director of dance theatre company Polytoxic. Mark ‘Captain Kidd’ Winmill, winner of the Best Boylesque title at BHoF 2011, is also a member of our company and it was Mark along with our other members who had encouraged me to apply. Polytoxic is known in Australia for making culturally diverse works that stamp on the typical representation of Pacific performance, bringing humour, political edge, and thought provoking analysis of the ‘exotic’ notion of Pacific culture. For these reasons, in 2012 I was approached by Black Honey Company to collaborate on a burlesque show which showcased some of Australia’s most culturally diverse and talented women of colour to explore the themes of being Australian, so it was through this collaboration that I took my first steps into the burlesque world through a blend of hiphop, political satire and all shades of brown to create Hot Brown Honey Burlesque. Then somehow I tripped down the stairs and landed at BHoF. What an amazing ride so far.

Describe the act you will perform.

‘Polynesian Native’ combines dance, theatre and comedy in a fusion of traditional Polynesian and contemporary styles. It’s a tongue in cheek look at the exoticism of Pacific Island people and the idea that our lives remain idyllic and simple – laying back on large rocks, wearing frangipanis and staring at the moon. This work flips the idea with some strutting stupidness, hiphopcolada hotness, fast paced costume transformations, 100 facials and some bronze coconut love.

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

I would be so both super shocked and completely honoured at the same time! I would feel humbled that the work I was making would be seen as worthy of the award!

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

So excited to have been chosen to be a part of such a prestigious event, and after meeting Dirty Martini in Noumea this month I can’t wait to make some more delicious, inspiring, freaking amazeballs friends from the burlesque world!

Mama Ulita

Mama Ulita.  ©Frank Helbig and Marcel Bontempi

Mama Ulita. ©Frank Helbig and Marcel Bontempi

Describe your style in three words:  Pantomime, energy, joy.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

Here’s an example of Mama Ulita’s stream of consciousness during a performance:

Uh… This stage is bigger than expected… I cant see anyone! Oh nooooo, what do I do here; is that real? My pasties? Ah here… This zipper, is it working? Phew, yes… Oh what – nooo, I got stuck on my dress… hahaha! This is for you people! Aaahhh… I love it soooo muuuch!

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

Of course, nothing I mentioned in my previous answer! Besides ‘I love it!’ I want them to be unforgettably entertained and have the feeling that buying their ticket was 1000% worth it. I want them to tell their friends and I want them to come back!

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?

My heart is open to creative input, new energy and inspiration to develop and improve personally and as a performance artist. 2014 is giving me the kick to new horizons. It started with an invitation to the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, which is burlesque heaven on every level and a big honour. This festival, and especially Bettie Blackheart, opened my eyes to how important, creative and joyful community work is. I’m also part of the the Red Carpet Roll Out at the London Burlesque Festival which is my first appearance in the UK. And, of course, the most exciting challenge in my performing life is BHoF which is my first appearance in the US.

I’m also part of a troupe at my home base Leipzig, The Lipsi Lillies. Together we celebrate our five year anniversary in September. I’m proud of the work we do as a team and we will go on pushing burlesque as a theatrical art form and entertainment niche in our hometown Leipzig and other cities. I also work as a producer, together with my beloved man Shakin’ Casi, a passionate DJ and musician. We produce the travelling party show Salon Noir – an Exotic Night of Burlesque. In my expierience, producing and selling concepts only works if you can trust a network of crazy, loving people, and I want to thank them all – you rock my life and make me proud!

Personally I want to improve my body work and teaching concepts, and as a team member I want to build a community of burlesque and related art forms in my hometown, Leipzig.

Why did you apply to compete at BhoF?

In Germany, we say it was a ‘Schnapsidee’!

Describe the act you will perform.

‘Watch the Birdie’. It’s the very first act I ever created. It’s my burlesque coming out, revealing my heart; it’s all about my passion for burlesque.

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

Hmm, this question is impossible to answer. I work in showbiz –  I’m superstitious!

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

I researched the past lineups and it seems that I’m the very first burlesque performer to represent Germany at BHoF.  If there is anyone who can confirm that, please drop me a line. Thank you Holli and the burlesque community. I want to embrace you all!

Voracious V

Voracious V.  ©Ninedoors Photography

Voracious V. ©Ninedoors Photography

Describe your style in three words: Imaginative, diverse, charismatic.

When you are on stage, what do you feel?

All the exciting nerves! But besides that, I feel like there is a beautiful vulnerability I am trying to embrace and powerful character that comes alive with every movement I execute.

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

Entertained and engaged with whatever part of my imagination I have chosen to share with them. I want them to experience and feel the journey I am taking them on.

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?

In the past five years of performing I have come to a comfortable point where I am feeling more proud of myself and my achievements, and ready accomplish things I would have never thought possible before. Confidence to explore more sides of my artistic visions, be it weird or dark or fantasy. I am proud of getting to perform on my beautiful home stage for our Vancouver festival, which has come so far since I started. I am also privileged to be a part of an ever growing collective that is Pandora and the Locksmiths live jazz burlesque, where I feel I have so much encouragement and space to become an even stronger performer. But I am pretty darn proud of getting into this BHoF weekender; I honestly refreshed my acceptance page about five times before I believed it.

Why did you apply to compete at BHoF?

Because, why not? I went down there on a whim as a baby burlesquer with my troupe to compete five years ago, and not knowing much about it I was naturally blown away by every person who brought it to that stage. So, once I became more established and felt I deserved to be up there like everyone else, I started applying. BAM!

Describe the act you will perform.

I will be performing a piece that I call ‘Galactic Goddess’, and at first it was about being a super amazing fantasy space babe where I had an opportunity to explore some contrasting dance moves; strong and fierce, yet soft and graceful. Then as I continued to perform it, I became a bit more aware of the expression I was feeling in my body as I moved to it. I feel so much now that it represents the struggles I have with letting myself be vulnerable, seeking beauty in it, yet still being a fierce force to be reckoned with. That, and how powerful body language is on a universal level.

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

To be honest, I already feel like I’ve won just by being chosen to compete. So I don’t feel that thinking of it as a competition in my mind will be a beneficial thing to do. I will just get up there and do the best I can possibly do for myself, my family and my amazing peers that I get to share that giant stage with.

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

I can’t wait to squeeze all the amazing performers who I love so much, and awkwardly confess my love to them all. I am excited to talk up all the amazing legends even more! But for now, I must prepare my throne that I shall arrive in from outer space (via west jet).

 

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

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