Superstar burlesque duo Trixie Little and The Evil Hate Monkey have long been darlings of the international circus and cabaret scene, producing world class magic on stage together for over a decade. Now, we have an amazing opportunity to see what happens offstage as well as they travel all over the world together sharing the highs and lows of a personal and professional partnership. After years of sacrifice and dedication to complete the film, Trixie, Monkey and the production team need your support to meet their final costs.
21st Century Burlesque Magazine spoke to Trixie Little about the experience…
Trixie, how did you meet director and producer Kirsten Hollander and how was the project conceived?
Trixie Little: Kirsten and I met when I was still teaching yoga in Baltimore. She was one of my students, which was funny because she was also one of my college art professors! Initially, she wanted to do a film about how creativity and yoga affect each other, but I wasn’t really into being filmed teaching. I really thought of my yoga as a private thing – not at all like performing. And I was like, ‘Maybe you should come see what I really do…’ – meaning burlesque. So she came to a show and really loved the energy and the bravery in it, so she decided to just make a film about us!
How long did the whole filming process take? Was it a continuous process or did the crew revisit you over a long period of time?
The filming alone took about five years and probably a year and a half of editing. I feel like Kirsten had three completely different versions of the film at various times, but each time it felt impersonal, so we kept going deeper. Monkey and I had to keep finding shows, festivals, meetings and moments where we felt we could deal with having a film crew around. We were really lucky because Kirsten really wanted us to believe in it, so we had a lot of input into the editing too, which is really rare. It is Kirsten’s film and her version of the story, but I think of it as a collaboration.
The two of you are almost constantly on the move, performing and living all over the world. How did you all manage the logistics of filming your partnership as you went about your lives and work?
It was a lot of work to coordinate! We had to really think about what upcoming gigs had any significance to the story she was telling. Obviously she always filmed our Baltimore shows, but we were in circus school in Vermont for two of the years and gigging around the US on the weekends. Often Kirsten had to be in Baltimore teaching at the Maryland Institute College of Art and she would hire a camera person to travel with us. It was helpful when they were young college students because they adapted well to the late nights and rowdiness that goes on sometimes.
What was it like to be intimately filmed and observed – did you feel able to be completely relaxed and open with the crew and each other? Do you feel what was captured is sufficiently honest and ‘real’?
This was the hardest part for me; I really need some parts of my life kept private and having a camera filming while Monkey and I are having a fight about money or creative differences was deeply painful for me. I hated it, but I also realised that the point of the film was to see the whole process of our crazy lives and art, so I had to learn to just suck it up and trust that it would be worth it in the final product. I think it took about two years of building trust with Kirsten to let her into our lives that deeply. She would spend the night at our apartment and be at the foot of the bed with a camera when we went to bed and when we woke up! Maybe the film would’ve taken less time if I was more into ‘reality’, but my art is about fantasy and suspending disbelief, so having a documentary film crew around was something I resisted at first.
What were some of the particularly significant highs and lows caught on camera during the filming period, and were there any unexpected or humorous incidents?
It’s interesting to see it now that so much time has passed, especially the parts when we were in Vermont at circus school. We were so broke and so physically exhausted all the time, and the weather was so cold and grey. That was our lowest period, but also so crucial to the next phase of our careers. She also filmed us moving from Baltimore to NYC after circus school, which was hard for us because our home was awesome and we weren’t sure our careers would support us fully in NYC – we TRIPLED the cost of our rent. We were really worried! As for the highs, there are lots: riding our bikes across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise, Monkey’s ‘King of Boylesque’ victory, a marriage proposal, and many fun stage moments at one of my favourite punk rock clubs in Baltimore!
What challenges does the documentary currently face?
This is the final stretch! The film is premiering at the Doc NYC Film Festival on November 17th. Beyond all the thousands of dollars and hours Kirsten and her husband (co-producer Scot Hollander) have spent following us around for so many years, we are doing a Kickstarter now to fully finish it and be ready for the next year (or more!) of travelling it to festivals. We all cashed in favours left and right, and a lot of the final technical work on the film was done on credit by Kirsten’s colleagues, meaning they did the work, but haven’t been paid yet. So the final $22,000 is to settle up and to put the the film in the best possible situation for the near future. Independent film making is expensive and uncertain, but we’ve come this far. We have all put our hearts and lives into it for seven years now, so succeeding is the only option in my eyes!
Time is running out fast for the Us, Naked: Trixie and Monkey Kickstarter fundraiser, so please give what you can. For $50 donation you receive a digital download of the film when it is released online.
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.