The Ohio Burlesque is honored to take some time to interview one of the most brilliant international performers out there, Dangrrr Doll resides in New York City and she is traveling all over the world some cities have been as far as Vienna and as near as Chicago.
We are buzzing with anticipation for September 12th, 2014. The bar has been raised and the stage is set to see one of the most amazing burlesque show in Cleveland. We trust that your experience will be one that you will talk about for months!
The time to honor our burlesque past is finally upon us, The 4th Annual Roxy Remembered is May 16 2014 at The Beachland Ballroom.
This year is the year we complete our budget for our historical marker and launch our indiegogo funding campaign!
Let's get you upto speed -
Summer of 2013 We met with The City of Cleveland Department of Landscape Committee after countless months of over night work making our presentation with fellow historian Jessica W. and
Ohio Burlesque Director Bella Sin.
We managed to received an appointment to be placed on the schedule for the city to review our project. The very meeting it self was nerve wracking but worth every moment.
After making our remarkable presentation, Our project was successfully approved!
What was next?
Funding; The marker will be an independent structure with need of maintenance and if ever defaced we would need a replacement. Ordering two markers would be the best corse of action but another big expense would be in the installment of the marker. They (installation company) would to dig 10 feet in to the grown pending the (Oops) crews evaluation of the site to make sure no wiring or other under ground blocks are in the area where we would like to put the marker.
Above you can see the mock up of the marker in the corner of E 9th and Vincent Street to your left is the paper work we prepared for the meeting .
How big is the marker and what is it made of?
The marker is made by a company called Sewah Studios Inc and it's made from Cast Bronze and it's dimensions are 39" Height x 43" W and what holds it is an Aluminum pole that is about 7"-10".
Below is our presentation.
The application for The Historical Society of Ohio is now filled and ready for submission pending the city of Cleveland letter of project approval since the side walk is city property we are moving thru the right channels with the city since our project was approved. Once the letter is submitted the site is reviewed and the background history checked by The Historical society of Ohio. We will have a marker ready to be made. The costs of have multiplied quickly and our funding has slowly decreased with multiple hours of research to the archives at The Ohio State University collection of burlesque donated by Charles H. McCaghy available to the public by appointment only along side paper work and other expenses that have come out of pocket. This is a work of love!
Why The Roxy Burlesque Theater and Short Vincent?
The Short Vincent block was the first entertainment district in Cleveland formed to accommodate The Hollenden Hotel and the Large Amount of population seeking entertaiment it was a short strip of bars and restaurants similar to E. 4th Street presently. The Roxy was known as The Family Theater in 1907 on address 1882 E 9th Steet- Later Revamping To The Orphium that was opened for 13 years then it's third renovation in the 1931 with the tittle The Roxy Burlesk Theater (Learn More by watching The Rustbelt Bump and Grind mini Documentary) The Theatrical was a huge staple in Cleveland and it's Jazz history lasting till the 1990's before the closing of the Jazz bar- Currently this building still stands but it's now The Theatrical Parking Lot (The Letters are no longer hung).
Paying tribute to our past is important, We have hired an artist for this very particular project. Drew Auld to put together a nostalgic flyer for this very year. He took the picture below and transported current burlesque performers Bella Sin, Lushes La Moan (Detroit) and Doll Bambino to the very site of The Roxy
Even the back of the flyer holds inspiration of the old Cleveland Roxy campaigns on the Cleveland Press.
This campaign was also printed in black and white to make sure we get the nostalgia of our famous burlesque house intact exactly how they would have it. We took much care to book this show as the burlesque theater would have once booked it, We also shaped the whole night into the very theater show it would have had in the 1940s including Jazz, Burlesque, Variety, Vaudeville, Sideshow and Female Illusion. Packed with group numbers, duets and so much more!
There will be also a commemorative print made by Artist Drew Auld will have for sale at the show!
What a "Remarkable" Memory!
Who is on cast?
We search with in our city and our rustbelt to bring you the best old school burlesque possible and here we put present performer photography and yesterdays performers and their photographs so you can see the detail work of our cast and their dedication to the craft of the bump and grind! First Lushes La Moan from Detroit, Bella Sin from Cleveland, Special feature Doll Bambino from Cleveland and our side show guest from St Louis Xander Lovecraft.
Sideshow and Vaudevillian Xander Lovecraft from St. Louis!
Featured on The Humans of New York and multiple international festivals soon to be part of the famous Coney Island Sideshow!
Our Masters of Comedic ceremonies will be Abby Downton and Sonshine La Ray!
our show also includes The Tease and Thank You's Burlesque, Eliza Sidecar, Fantasie D'Light, Freddie Pearl, Dahliah D'Luxe, Mahsitti along with many more surprises.
Help Us Make Our Dream a Reality!
Reserve Seating and VIP Available
Come join us!
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The Cleveland Burlesque Academy started in December 2013 offering multiple classes and a special 14 week burlesque workshop, This program teaches you about the classic art of burlesque and how to apply it to your every day life.
The workshop takes these ladies thru History, Kittening, Posing, Walking, Prop Work, Movement, Dance, Routine Development, Costuming, Improv and the fun of tassel twirling.
The workshop is very encouraging of helping the ladies find their inner sexy and brining it out in style, The guidance of seasoned veteran burlesque instructor is key in the journey they take for 14 weeks of schooling. Every single one of these woman has taken the workshop just for fun and some have taken it to pursue a fun hobby or even a career in burlesque. Thanks to Ambiance The Store for Lovers for supporting, housing and sponsoring the academy.
The instructor Bella Sin tells us about the schooling-
Bella Sin- The Academy offers a very nurturing environment that helps women in a very important journey of self discovery, Some of us forget with our hectic every day lives that we are beautiful, sexy, outgoing individuals. That is what we want to help them remember and apply back to their personal life. Some will debut on stage, and some will stand by their new found glitter tribe and support them behind the curtains. These women have grown so much since their December start that you can see their attitude and self stem growing every week. Glitter therapy, as i call it, is the best
medicine to some of that blues the soul sometimes sings.
We really do believe in our mission statement-
"Embrace, Empower and Express"
Embrace your body an it's glorious curves
Empower yourself to follow your sensuality with out questions
Express your inner diva!
OBF - How involved is the program, Is there plenty of one on one attention?
Bella Sin- This program offers you about 10-14 syllabuses with detailed information about every weekly class , online education support, videos, tutorials, and there is actually homework. As the instructor, i make my self available to answer questions or concerns of my students as we develop their
characters and routines. You could say am a very dedicated burlesque mother :) !
I also help students navigate a few personal issues that can be felt through the workshop
like self doubt, negative feeling or insecurity in ones self;
I want them to feel safe and know they are in a welcome environment.
OBF - Tell us about the Photo shoot with Natalia Dale and How this came about?
Bella Sin- I thought getting these girls in front of a camera for press shot images would be a great instructional. Not only would they learn posing and how to work with photographers, but they would see the side of the biz not many talk about. I had approached Natalia about this as well as Jessica, and we made it happen. I went Burlesque Mother and spoiled them by doing their hair and make up. Let's say when I saw them light up in front of the camera, it was nothing short of moving.
When the photographers let me view the images, the only reaction I had was to cry. Here are every day woman and they already look like starlets. It was honestly one of the best photoshoots in my life.
The photographer adds
Natalia Dale- Working with Bella's burlesque students was a pleasure! They were all very fun and natural in front of the camera. All the women were well trained and capable of working with the different movements and personalities, as directed by myself and some of their own ideas. As fashion photographer, I work with many types of models. When these girls got in front of the camera, it was clear that they were all prepared and confident.
OBF- We had some time to catch up with student Freddie Pearl in December to give us a review on the class when it was only a few weeks in. Here is what she said.
Freddie Pearl- Though classes have only started two weeks ago, I can honestly say how much the few classes we’ve had have already affected me. Because the class is smaller, we each get individual attention from Bella Sin, our instructor. She will work with each one of us as much as we need her too. She is willing to answer any questions and concerns we may have, and she shares a lot of her knowledge and wisdom. She has made a facebook page just for us, her students, where we can discuss our thoughts and opinions, help each other, and where she will post videos that are oh so helpful. I have to say, joining this class is the best decision I’ve made in years. It has been helpful for finding myself inside and outside of burlesque. It has been so helpful, and I have made many friends. An amazing experience and very helpful class, indeed.
We caught up with Freddie this week and asked her how it's going and how is she feeling the week of her debut! So, Tell us are you ready Freddie?
Freddie Pearl- YES! I'm confident in myself and my abilities to perform my act 150% to my greatest ability. My mind has been expanded in more ways than just performing. It has taught me lessons for everyday life. I made amazing friends while expanding my knowledge of everything. I have learned the ins and outs of being a respected and talented performer. The thing i loved learning the most
is being sexy and funny at the same time, This opened my eyes to a whole nother aspect of performance with Bella as our teacher we were given opportunities most people wouldn't dream about. Our instructor is patient and very detailed in the information she gives us, she is not only a teacher to us she is holding our hands as a sister.... You know? helps us walk thru it all - That is priceless.
OBF- Below the Before and After Images are quite amazing- Bella What make up did you use?
Bella- Ben Nye Cosmetics, Dior, IT Cosmetics, and Wet and Wild
The application of the make up is key for anyone, We are enhancing the beauty that is already there;
to me they are the most brave beautiful girls!
So, There you have it -
The Cleveland Burlesque Academy will offer their spring workshop on March 22nd, 2014 at Ambiance in North Olmsted on Saturdays from 130pm $120.00 for 8 weeks with limited space available
Join them via social media for updates
Cleveland Burlesque Academy
Sign Up now Via
Remember Come See Freddie Debut
Ten Years of Tease
March 8th, 2014
Beachland Ballroom and Tavern
Doors 7:30pm - Show 8:30pm
Tickets On Sale Now!
The Before and Afters
Student- Freddie Pearl
MUA and Hair- Bella Sin - Image- Natalia Dale
MUA and Hair- Bella Sin - Image- Natalia Dale
Model Workshop- Jessica Electra
MUA and Hair- Bella Sin - Image- Natalia Dale
Student- Greta Big Von Booben
MUA and Hair- Bella Sin - Image- Natalia Dale
Who Are You Is Teaching you?
There are many studios that do have professional dance teachers on staff, but do you know if the teacher is an established burlesque professional? Yes, there are people that choose this as a career path and are in the international scene as educators. New York City has many teachers. Among them, Dr. Lucky is a Ph.D. and faculty member at New York University, where she teaches "The History of American Burlesque" and Jo "Boobs" Weldon, author of "The Burlesque HandBook." Fan Dancer Michelle L'amour teaches out of Studio L'Amour in Chicago. There are multiple burlesque educators with a decade or more of experience. When you are seeking out a burlesque teacher, remember what your learning first. It's not like the Christina Aguilera film, as Dr. Lucky describes in her Interview with Think Big about The Hollywood Movie "Burlesque". Once you figure out what you are learning from the experienced educator, you can really entertain the thought of investing on more classes. You can find great burlesque teachers in your own town, so please search them out!
Make sure your teacher has at least a 4 to 5 year experience of Burlesque Striptease Techniques.
Make sure your educator attends classes for continuous education.
A simple Google search pops up Yelp reviews of studios and instructors!
Ask Around! Word of mouth in often the best way to check out a class.
Drop in to a class just for basic fun! That will help you get that first impression with the educator and the material they will be teaching.
Jo "Boobs" Weldon CBS Morning - Burlesque Story
Miss Indigo Blue School Of Burlesque in Seattle showcases in the documentary
"A Wink and A Smile"
Burlesque has a rich long history. Educating yourself on it's beginnings is key for any one interested in the art form to learn. That will help you understand it's current popularity along with background. Having a moment to understand the difference between Neo Burlesque and Old School Burlesque is important. Some may argue they are the same, but others will make amazing arguments on how different and unique both are. Choose to understand them both and make them a part of your life. Burlesque old or new has multiple teachings that can be implemented in every day life from the glamour of the old to the vivacious variety of the new. The evolution has been amazing thru the centuries and trust us when we say, "You're in for a very wonderful surprise".
Burlesque history is easy to access on the world wide web. There are also movies devoted to it like Behind The Burly Q movie by Leslie Zemeckis that also has a book out now. Check out their website for the info http://www.behindtheburlyq.com/
The Burlesque Hall Of Fame is another good source of history. Located in Fremont Street in Las Vegas, they hold the annual competition for The Reining Queen of Burlesque. It are primarily an organization that prides itself on keeping burlesque history archived, alive and well. Becoming a member is easy and we highly recommend it!
What Are You Learning?
Every class or long term workshop should offer a Syllabus that provides you with written information about what your are going to learn. Having this as reference material is great for you to do your own research. You can't learn everything about burlesque in a 60 minute class, and having supplemental material will aid you in your understanding of the art form. You should also get a resource of information with book titles and websites that will keep your continuous education right on track.
There is blogs, websites, books, documentaries, libraries full of burlesque information that some teachers have to supplement their students with for their classes.
Is There A DIFFERENCE?
Old School Burlesque and Neo *The New* Burlesque are two different animals all together and thru the burlesque evolution it would be noted. Choose to understand them both and make them a part of your life, Burlesque old or new has multiple teachings that can be implemented in every day life. The glamour of the old and the vivacious variety of the new, The evolution has been amazing thru the centuries and trust us when we say "Your In For a Very Wonderful surprise".
The Body Beautiful Mentality
Burlesque is geared towards every body shape and size. Burlesque also knows no gender or sexual orientation preference. This is an art form that can be embraced and appreciated by so many people. There is no reason that any educator should ever turn any one away from a class or workshop for any reason. They should also never make the assumption that burlesque is a one size only form of entertainment, let alone a gender exclusive craft.
The acceptance of your body and it's movement is a unique victory and your instructor should be supportive and excited for this new body positive you. It's never an easy road to one's self acceptance but this art form welcomes you to expose yourself in more then one way to the world but more importantly to the discovery of you. Recently, Bella Sin, our Festival Director, went thru self discovery and she documented her journey in a touching blog.
It's not only a time investment, but one that costs you money. You are not paying for an actual hour of class, but for the knowledge and skill that the instructor is giving you. When you learn a craft you want to make sure the investment paid to it your time is also returned -- even if it's just for fun!
Everything in burlesque can be applied in the every day style of life you have, from the walk to the talk. Trust us when we say it's as simple as remembering the few extra details in the morning or setting little reminders to yourself, like a post it note on your bathroom mirror that says, "You Look Beautiful Today" Yes, it's silly, but something you may not think of that will help you get the most out of burlesque!
The investment is quite a lot if you are becoming a performer. Your teacher is like a mama bird getting ready to let you go away from the nest and fly. Your classmates become your family and this glitter tribe will always be an experience that you will cherish having with your new found family.
Calculate your continuous education to your budget of the year. Not every one teaches the same way, so some may know more then others depending on the area they are located in. Burlesque is different all across the US! Think about attending festivals in particular. Trading skills and talking shop with other performers from all over the world could really change your view you can develop being in a small fish bowl. Think of it like an ocean of learning.
Think about how much you have learned, and who you will be by the point you have built this new skill. Think about the new friends and family members and the memories you will have created. How this challenge will set you on fire and be ready reveal a confident woman to the world with a high heeled walk or a new performer exposing a new gimmick to the stage? You never know what you are able to do till you try it!
Thru out the last 10 years burlesque has been gathering popularity every day and depending on the location they are to hold shows daily basis like NYC's Slipper Room and others like Cleveland's The Beachland Ballroom bi-monthly. Many people are starting to convert their friends to this amazing tradition of historical live entertainment. Many do not know what to expect or what they are about, We took some time here at OBF to count down 12 reasons to see a burlesque show! - We searched high and low and then we went lower... then we checked craigslist! (Kidding)
But here they are Enjoy- OBF
12- A Multifaceted Variety Of ENTERTAINMENT
Burlesque is not only about tantalizing the audience with risque sensual overly dramatic costuming removal techniques. There is a lot more involved in a burlesque revue, Some actually are called "Varie-Tease" The show producers do not limit their self's to one facet of entertainer they search high and low to find sideshow, drag, variety, vaudeville, comedians, musical acts, singers, ariel acts even spoken word poetry comes to stage. All these act like a pallet cleanser to the audience since every single interaction is different and not to mention the music styles are unique to each act. This makes every show different, every entertainer different and there is truly something for everyone.
11- Prepare for an Interactive EXPERIENCE
You don't just sit there at these shows and stare at the stage and clap when it's over, You interact with with the performers on stage. The more you encourage their costuming removal the more fun and exciting the show will be, Hook, Holler, Scream, Cat Calls (with in reason) trust us - they like to hear you!
The MC plays a very important role as they guide you thru the journey of a show, They will help you get pumped up between the numbers and they are a bit comedic and sassy, Some can be drag queens hosting they are well rounded in audience interaction. So please the louder you get the better we tease!
10- It's All About The Drama!
Quick lesson- Burlesque is originally satire comedy, The mockery of every day life. The over the top theatrical dramatic numbers that you can see on stage can go from emotionally moving to comedic, The satire can also be political and in many ways the statements of the Neo Burlesque world can be so profound and moving but yet severely entertaining.
9- The Characters
There is so many characters in movies, literature and comics that these entertainers bring to life. Their are unique in each way not to mention reinventing a classic is amazingly difficult, They really masters at story telling in every way and the reinvention of these characters are truly worth the time at a show.
8- ELABORATE Group Numbers
Having more then one girl on stage and achieving a well choreograph number is magic! Embrace the unison of woman moving as one creating something very unique to pay attention to TEAM WORK! Yes, We love group numbers!
7- viewing Iconic Moments On Stage
You have had those moments you tell friends about, The "You just had to be there" Moments. Live entertainment is uncontrollable, A beast that cannot be tamed and in those minutes on stage there is the ability to create iconic moments in burlesque history. We are lucky to have photographers capture such moments on film, Moments of passion and expression that will live on as treasures for the rest of our lives as performers images like this are epic to have and as audience great memories to relive!
6- Body Beautiful
Burlesque accepts different shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientations and life style choices. This has come to some degree of discussion in every interview we have given, Burlesque is Entertainment and forth and foremost we are here to entertain you! Every one is unique from mind and body, Burlesque holds the ability to display every one in their ultimate body beautiful image. Burlesque is timeless and boundaries are there if you set them and we choice to never set boundaries for the acceptance of every single human being that is body beautiful.
Show It Off!
5- The Costumes!
Most of the performers make their own costumes, The detail and time placed in these master pieces is incredible. A costume can make or break your number and half of the fun of burlesque is seeing a performer well costumed, We are all different but when it comes to bringing something special to stage you will see every one create immaculate ideas to bring forth to the audience that truly shows their passion and devotion to the craft. Some are reinvented vintage finds, thrift store treasures that come back to life or creations from scratch. All this time and effort for you!
Nothing says burlesque like feather fans, but trust us when we say prop use in burlesque is quite amazing. They get so inventive from chairs, feather fans, boas to martini glasses. These entertainers have it out for the audience pulling all the stops to really embrace the stage in full. Still there is nothing more beautiful then seeing an amazing fan dance. Simple yet Lavish!
Men too have joined the racks of burlesque for quite some time now and the boylesque movement is taking the country by storm, They are not just any "male dancers" they are unique characters that can truly capture sensuality and comedy as well as drive woman crazy! Their unique take on burlesque has made this a popular medium for men to join. More power to them! you should hear the audience going crazy when a boylesquer hits the stage!
2- Your Watching A very Unique Family
We in some areas are a tight community or as we like to call it a large beautiful amazing family, The friendships that this scene creates are priceless and amazing. We are a very supportive unique and interesting group of people that manages to come together and support and love one another in every way possible and that translates to the stage! You are joining a family gathering every time you go to a show and trust us we love you coming to shows. You are not only supporting our family but feeding our souls. It really would be pointless with out you! *Hand us those tissues*
1- A Historical TRADITION
Burlesque has been present thru out history and reinvented thru time, You are not only attending a show - You are attending an supporting a beautiful tradition in the world. This has been as much as a part of humanity and live entertainment has proven better for your mind, heart and health. Engaging in an interactive event gets your spirit soaring and well it makes you smile! Even in this the age of technology nothing beats live entertainment. This is a classical tradition very different from place to place, do not judge a book by it's cover. Check out a show and find the right one for you then bring friends, Trust us when we say... We will love, adore and be honored to see your faces at a show! After all with out the audience being there what fun is it to tell a story to an empty room.
Images Courtesy of Eric Paul Owens (Director of Graphics and Photography in OBF), Anastasia Pantsios, Bob Perkoski and Zoe Renne Lapin. Thank you for their time in our shows.
Dia De Los Muertos - Undead Burlesque Ball
Every Halloween there is a million parties and this year is no different but you want to make sure you attend the event that will leave you Spooked to Death by a Good Time.
Dia De Los Muertos -Undead Burlesque Ball bring you a nail bitting, hair curling, spooky, deadly good time this upcoming October 25th at The Beachland Ballroom. They bring you the one and only Queen of the Undead is coming all the way from Chicago, Burlesquer Red Rum bring her unique style of burlesque back to the city of rock and roll. You may remember her from The 3rd Annual Ohio Burlesque Festival 2013 this year on The Saturday Night Main Show, She brought the house down with her detailed high energy Egyptian inspired costume... and really did show us the dead can dance!
We had the pleasure of catching up with her and this is what we found out about the queen of the dead!
OBF-How did you get started?
RR-:Making art has always been a huge part of my life but the word burlesque never entered my vocabulary until 2007 when I received a message from a Chicago DJ named the Coffin Banger. He saw some gory pictures of me at a horror con and reached out to see if I did any performing or knew anyone in the burlesque sideshow/horror community. The Coffin Banger was looking for horror themed talent for a big Halloween stage show he was producing in Chicago. Although I was not a solo performer at the time I was interested in helping out in any way possible. The Coffin Banger’s Monster Mash Party was the first burlesque/sideshow event I ever witnessed. I saw “horror” burlesque for the first time and was totally inspired. Performers in the show included Maya Sinstress, Angela Eve, Krysten Korruption, The Amazing Tomas and more.
I never had any dance experience but a foundation of makeup/costume making and improvisation definitely prepared me well for an entrée into the burlesque community. My formal background is in painting and drawing, I graduated from the School of the Art Institute and my MFA thesis project was a horror movie. The movie was absolutely terrible but I was interested in all the objects that resulted through the process of making the movie; the makeup, the props, the costumes, the challenge of improvising and the characters. Through the process of making the movie I thought it was curious that everyone wanted to be the person who died - that is what people remember and talk about. For a couple years after school my colleague Teena McClelland and I launched a company called Death By Design. We would turn an art gallery into a film set, clients would choose a “death” off our menu and we would film them “dying” as a star in their own horror film. From there a continued to seek out ways to get involved in the Chicago horror/independent film scene.
The second year of the Coffin Banger’s Monster Mash Party I met my now husband Sanjula Vamana for the first time! Nothing like seeing someone push bicycle spokes through their face to equal love at first sight! I was married at the time I met Sanjula and was definitely not prepared for how much my life was about to change. Thanks to Sanjula I got to know Maya Sinstress better and she gave me my first chance to perform at the Anti-Valentine Show at Cobra Lounge in 2010. A number of months later I auditioned for Hot & Heavy Burlesque’s Tribute to Spinal Tap at the Viaduct Theater. I am incredibly thankful to these ladies for giving me my first chance.
OBF-: How did your name come to be?
RR-: When I was working out my burlesque character the devastating earthquake in Haiti happened, I had friends and colleagues that were trapped there…for weeks so many friends and co-workers were rallying to figure out what to do so it was at the front of my mind every minute. I had always been an ancestor worshiper and dabbled in the religion but when the earthquake hit I knew Vodou needed to be a central part of my character. When working out my burlesque name I made a list of words that came to mind when I thought of Haiti….when I added ‘Rum’ to the list I immediately thought of Kubrick’s “The Shining” and I couldn’t get REDRUM out of my head.
OBF-: How would you describe your self?
RR-: Often I feel like a bundle of forces at war with each other. Having the chance to create and play out a character is an amazing outlet for trying to make sense of it all.
OBF-: What do you do in the day?
RR-: I work at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as the Administrative Director for the Department of Fashion Design. I completed my MFA in Painting & Drawing at SAIC in 2005 and loved the place so much I stayed. It is so wonderful to work in an environment where people are incredibly supportive of my burlesque practice. The department has even invited me to lecture a few times and I am working on a proposal for a costume/makeup class to teach.
OBF-: Tell us a bit about your family ?
RR-: Seriously watch one episode of the Addams Family and you got it!...My husband and I are passionately in love, we are super supportive parents to our little toddler Dexter, friendly and hospitable to visitors, generous with our friends and fans…but often forgetful of how the rest of the world may find our macabre hobbies bizarre and frightening! Our household is full of curiosities…our dining room alone has three real coffins, one of our son’s first words was ‘skull’, and because of the artistic industry we work in we have so many interesting and talented characters passing in and out of our door. Sometimes it feels like a mystery to me how I ended up with the interests I do…but with a mother as a nurse and a father as a police officer we were raised with a tremendous value for life and an awareness of how fragile our time is. Filling our lives with different forms of momento mori helps me to appreciate the time we have and in some ways offers protection against my fears of death and the unknown.
OBF-: What do you like to express on stage?
RR-: Themes of sex, death and humor are important to me because they are social levelers---we all make the same dumb faces when we have sex, no one can escape death, and no one is above ridicule. They are reminders to be to be humble, to remember where you came from and know that the hard work is never over. I love burlesque as a vehicle for critique and transformation. My husband Sanjula gave me the best advice ever, he said “if you can’t do something better, do it different”. There are so many performers out there that approach burlesque in amazing ways; if I feel like I can’t contribute anything new to a particular perspective I work really hard to give people something they didn’t expect to see.
OBF-: How did you become undead?
The choice to become undead was an easy one, fear is the most powerful emotion we experience and horror is a genre rich with mythology and characters. I didn’t see it as a dead end but a realm of infinite possibility, a chance to explore the fine line between attraction and repulsion.
OBF-:Tell us about Chicago and its scene?
RR-: I found the Chicago scene to be very welcoming and thankful for the chance they took on me. There was a time when I first started that people would ask me to perform - but without the skeleton face – that was a real nightmare for me, I never felt comfortable on stage in my own ‘skin’. It took a little time but eventually people tuned in to my Halloween year round style…so much of that was thanks to venues like the 1901 Gallery Theater. The 1901 Gallery Theater was an independent theater – basically a three car garage professionally set up with a stage, lighting board and sound booth. Known for the most innovative and underground neo-burlesque in the city, the venue was home to so many of us. The venue was shut down a couple of months back by the City of Chicago for not having the proper entertainment license….it was a devastating loss to our community and a real loss for new performers needing a place to earn their pasties. I’m very dedicated to doing shows with Cirque De La Femme, SS Triple X and the Glitter Guild, I’ll never miss a chance to work with Angela Eve, Viva La Muerte and Maya Sinstress. I perform at least once every other month with Vaudezilla, Ties & Tassles as much as I can and Kiss Kiss Cabaret whenever they are in the mood for something spooky. I think we have a thriving scene here in Chicago with a little something for everyone.
OBF-:What do you think of Cleveland?
RR-: I’ve only ever been passing through Cleveland so I’m looking forward to spending more time there getting to know the local performers and the scene. The Beachland Ballroom is a jewel of a venue!
OBF-;You were in the Ohio Burlesque Festival, how was your time there?
RR-:Sadly my time in Cleveland for the festival was so short. We drove up the morning of the day I was performing. We were a little late hitting the road and then I forgot about the time change…we got pulled over for speeding…then we got lost finding the hotel! We GPS’ed the address of the hotel but kept ending up at some aerospace field…I felt like we were in the Twilight Zone…each time we ran the directions it brought us back to the same vast and vacant field! Eventually found the hotel and got to the venue less then an hour before the show was to start. I was lucky #13 in the lineup. With all that stressed energy I was so happy to get out on stage! The roar from the Cleveland audience was the best thing I’ve ever heard...even at that moment I couldn’t wait to come back!
OBF-: Music tastes?
RR-: My tastes vary often. Lately I vacillate between 50s pop and 80s hits…I’m always looking for a popular song that I can twist the sentiment on for a piece or manipulate the meaning.
OBF-: What do you like to eat?
RR:-If it weren’t for my husband I would probably eat cereal for every meal! If I cook for my self it’s pretty straight out of the box – eating is sadly always my last priority, I have no patience for it. Favorite home cooked meal when it does happen is bratwurst, sauerkraut and spaetzle
OBF-: Is there something about Cleveland you cant live with out?
RR-: Lake Erie!!! Every year since I was born my family would all pile into a car for a summer road trip from St. Paul, MN to Erie, PA to see the grandparents. Cleveland always offered the first sight of Lake Erie and a real feeling of home. Now Sanjula and I carry on the tradition and take little Dexter out there at least four times a year.
OBF-:Favorite spooky movie..?
RR-: There are so many spooky movies I love for so many different reasons! All my favorites eventually become performances; John Carpenter’s “The Thing” inspires the next big piece I’ve been working on. What are my favorite aspects of the movie…could it be the fear of complete isolation in the face of disaster? Or the invisible enemy in sub-zero temperatures? How about the terrifying feeling of not knowing which of your supposed friends and colleagues are who they say they are, and not a shape-shifting alien?!?! Can’t wait to show you how I pack that entire story into one burlesque performance! Muah-hahahaha!
Ghouls and Goblins That was Red Rum!
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The Annual Ohio Burlesque Festival.