It’s that time of year again when the ten wonderful women selected to compete for Miss Exotic World, Reigning Queen of Burlesque face my pre-pageant interview. This year, the contenders were sent twenty questions, composed of a question contributed by each of them and some additional questions from previous Miss Exotic World title-holders. Next up is innovative aerial angel Midnite Martini…
21st Century Burlesque Magazine Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Coverage is sponsored by Fancy Feather.
Your signature style in three words: Innovative, creative, heartfelt.
Previous BHoF Weekend appearances (and awards, if any): I performed in BHoF’s Thursday Night show in 2009 and 2012, and competed for Queen in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The act you will be performing: That is the big question! I will hopefully be able to perform the routine I applied with (Blue Siren), but I am prepping a backup because of ongoing changes in tech capabilities and rules, as well as the Orleans maybe not allowing aerial this year. I’m crossing my fingers to perform Blue Sirenl; I think it is innovative, moody, and I am proud to have it represent me as an artist.
As my backup I am opting to do an act that’s just fun and low stress. I will leave it at that so there’s a bit of a surprise, but it is definitely something different and a side that BHoF has not seen of me yet!
What did you want to be as a kid?
Actress, dancer, psychologist, or oceanographer (I really spanned a big range when I was young).
What is your earliest memory of rebellion?
I was a pretty tame ‘well-behaved’ child, which is perhaps why I am the way I am now, but my earliest memory was probably in 6th grade when I started hanging with the ‘bad’ kids at school. We all sported saggy JNCO jeans and smoked cigarettes (well, kind of) and dropped the f-bomb every few words. We were the toughest damn 12-year-olds in the white suburban hood! That phase lasted about a semester.
If you could pick celebrity parents (alive or dead, any era) who would they be?
Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey. I feel like I would be really smart, funny, and well versed in politics, social issues, and art.
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
I am a Denver Bronco season ticket holder and die hard Broncos fan. Most do not expect that and are very surprised when, during shows, I’m checking the football score. My family is filled with Broncos fans and I hold the season tickets that my dad had from the 1960’s. He used to take my mom to games, who hated football, so once I was old enough to attend he took me instead. So I grew up going to every home Bronco game from elementary school. And that was at the old Mile High Stadium, so I learned how to be a football fan from hundreds of big, hairy, drunk, surly men, and that is pretty much how I act when I go to games now. And, yes, it is too soon to talk about the Super Bowl.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love coming home from a late show, grabbing chips and dip or some other comfort snack and watching The Office on Netflix. Don’t know why, but it’s become a nesting tradition almost every week.
Is there a rock/music star that influences you? If so, who is it and how do they influence you?
I love just good ol’ fashioned standards. The Rat Pack, Ella Fitzgerald, Coltrane, Louis Armstrong. I listened to them growing up and was drawn to that vintage retro culture when I was young. That definitely influenced my path towards finding burlesque when I was older, and listening to their music today still brings me back to that core love and admiration.
What is integral to your creative process in burlesque?
Music. My favourite routines are inspired by a song before the rest comes.
What do you want people to remember most about your performances when you are dead and gone?
Oh man, that is so hard to pinpoint as I think every audience member’s experience of art will and should be different. I guess at the end of it all I would just hope that I was memorable and that I influenced the art to grow and thrive and in some way that people still admire or appreciate.
How long does it take for you to get into hair and makeup for a show? (Don’t lie, we all know you’re a diva… we all are, darling.)
I’ve actually got really quick at slapping on my lashes and makeup; it doesn’t hurt that my normal everyday makeup is a toned down version of what I do for stage, and that I’ve been opting for wigs lately as well, which cuts down hair time significantly! So I can be stage ready in thirty minutes, but give me three hours and I’ll find some way to fill the time, too.
Do you have any traditional pre-show ritual that you do to calm your nerves or bring luck?
Early on in the day I visualize my routine and breathe. Right before I go on I jump around! It’s a ritual I learned when I was in elementary school doing community theatre. You jump eight times in one direction, then do a quarter turn and jump eight more, and continue until you’ve done that in all four facings. Then you repeat only doing four jumps each facing, then two jumps, then one. It’s silly but helps shake out some of the anxious energy and is so familiar to me that I think it helps ground me.
‘I like to get up to a fair amount of hijinks on the road; what is your favourite tour story?’
Anytime I go somewhere with a certain Bazuka Joe we combine our forces to become the ‘INSTA-GATORS!’ We have a team cheer and everything.
We discovered our special powers when touring in St. Louis together and found that we can get people to do almost anything with a little dash of persuasion and a whole lot of cuteness. We were having people lay on a bed of nails, take kiwi sandwich shots (I feed you a baby kiwi, Bazuka pours vodka in your mouth, then I feed you another baby kiwi), and an assortment of other bad ideas. St. Louis was laid flat out the next day and has never quite been the same since, I think.
For whom you would like to perform if you could pick anyone, and why?
My kids one day. I don’t have any and they’d have to be old enough and we’d have to have a certain relationship of course for it to be appropriate or for them to really get it. But I think it is so lovely when the legends perform at the Weekender and their kids are there cheering them on. Just to be able to share that with your child I imagine is really special.
Old school or new school?
Old school with a new twist.
What is your competitive strategy?
Try to have fun, enjoy the opportunity, and as Tigger! advises, ‘Fuck ’em in the heart!’
You’ve imagined yourself performing at the pageant and doing a GREAT show. And then suddenly, they are placing that tiara upon your head. What was it about you, your show and your performance that put you in first place, and how have you been preparing to make that fantasy a reality?
Honestly, my goal is to just go and have fun and do an act that will be memorable for the audience and legends. And if a tiara is placed on my head then that is a wonderful, overwhelming cherry on top, but if I think too much about that I start to stress and freak myself out.
To prepare I’ve just been practicing, getting feedback from amazing fellow performers and burlesque enthusiasts, and of course, rhinestone, rhinestone, rhinestone!
If you are selected as this year’s Miss Exotic World, what will you try to accomplish to make your mark on the title and how do you plan to distinguish yourself?
Whether I win or not, my focus will be (and has been for the past couple of years) on the Legends Challenge fundraisers.
I am already coordinator of the Legends Challenge for BHoF, and if I win one day I will try to get the visibility and information about the LC fundraiser out to more of the community. I think a lot of people don’t know about it or are confused about it.
And since I have your attention, let me do a quick pitch. The Legends Challenge is a fundraising effort that we try to make better each year to raise money through events and individual donors to help BHoF recoup all the funds they spend on helping Legends get out to Las Vegas for the Weekender. Anyone can produce a show or do a bake sale or just donate individually. For more info you can go to http://bhofweekend.com/support/legends-challenge. It’s a great effort and can only stand to get better and stronger, so whether I win or not, whatever I can do to help that effort is my goal.
As Queen, how would you consider using your title to spread the word about The Burlesque Hall of Fame and Museum?
I would make sure to talk about where the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender and competition came from and that the Museum still lives today and needs support to grow to a space and status worthy of all its fabulousness. Also, soapboxing for the Legends Challenge. It’s important to make the larger burlesque and non-burlesque audience aware that the museum is a year-round non-profit that needs support, not just in June when we all come to the desert for our annual visit to Mecca. It’s a good reminder that even I need, and it’s easy for all of us to just focus on the Weekender and forget about the Museum.
About Fancy Feather
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.