Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In The Closet with Miss Maulie

When I posted my article on where to get giant champagne glasses, I got a reponse from Miss Maulie Keebler, who has one of her own. Intrigued by a woman who owns the prop established as the icon of burlesque props by Lili St Cyr, the Femlin, and dueling cocktail glass partners Catherine D'Lish and Dita Von Teese, I decided to learn more about Miss Maulie. It turns out she’s a fulltime burlesque performer of about 7 years experience. She’s originally from Kentucky, but currently based in Austin, Texas. Below, she answers a few questions and gives us a peek into her showgirl storage solutions, which includes decorating her own Tiki bar with her props!

MansRuinpromo[1]

Maulie, where did your stage name come from?
In 2000 & 2001 I was wrestling professionally on the indie circuit. Since I’m from Kentucky, they would call me the Kentucky Wildcat….so we started spelling my name “Maulie” because I would “maul my opponents like a wildcat.”

How did you get interested in burlesque?
When I was about 6 or 7, I decided I wanted to be a showgirl when I grew up….I would spread glitter all over the house practicing my so-called sexy moves. I still don’t understand how a child from rural Kentucky knew what a showgirl was! Unfortunately, I grew up to be geeky and only 5’3”. Eek. Well, I tend to keep this part to myself, but I ran a Rocky Horror shadow cast in college, which got me used to running around in undies in public. From there I started stripping. I was an overachiever and a history major, so I did tons of research and put a lot into my numbers. From there I tried touring as a featured dancer, but found that my shows were lost on much of the men’s club crowd and I was held back by my refusal to go fully nude. Many featured entertainer routines are structured similar to burlesque routines, so it was an easy transition.

What does burlesque mean to you?
I am lucky to live the American dream. My only job is entertaining and I work for myself.

What was your first experience with live burlesque?
I was disappointed. The performers obviously knew nothing of what burlesque was like way back when and I knew I could do better.

Do you travel to [perform?
I used to travel full time. Now I’ve co-founded a burlesque company and settled into life in Austin, TX. Varietease is a full production company complete with all our own equipment (lights, sound, stage, etc.). We are not a troupe, per se….we don’t get together and have rehearsals, but instead we have a long roster of independent contractors that I contact to fill gigs. We only hire professional entertainers that we can trust to come up with their own routines and we are very open to headlining out-of-towners.

Who inspires you most, and why?
I love old musicals. I am a huge fan of Gene Kelly & of Judy Garland. In the present, I’ve learned a lot from Darien Vain.

What would you like to do or see next in burlesque?
Right now I am completely focused on making Varietease Burlesque Co. a success. We’ve proven ourselves a force to be reckoned with in Austin, TX and we are hoping to do some short tours of the south in the near future.

How do you come up with your numbers?
Generally, a number starts in my head with a song. I’ll hear a great song and find a couple other songs to go with it to create a theme. Then I lie awake at night thinking of costume ideas and stage gimmicks. Straight-up stripteases bore me. For me, there has to be a gimmick, or a twist, or something that makes the routine funny.

Anything else you’d like to say?
I keep trying to get together g-string sewing circles and pastie making parties. I’ll get one or two to happen & then they fizzle out. Partly, it’s due to people’s hectic schedules; partly I think it’s due to the fact that there are widely varied skill levels of burlesque performers in Texas and not much camaraderie among them. I’m curious to know if anybody has made a successful sewing circle.

MISS MAULIE’S CLOSET

Are you an organized person?
No, I’m a frantically anal-retentive person!

maulie3

Do you make your own costumes? If so, where do you sew?
Yes, I generally make my costumes from scratch, but sometimes I’ll modify underthings. I’m lucky enough to have an office with a big desk to sew at.

maulie2

Did you have costumes before you started doing burlesque? How did you store them? Is that the same way you store them now?
Yes, I had costumes before burlesque. I’ve been obsessed with sparkly stuff since I was a kid. I stored them in egg boxes from the grocery store and absolutely hated stacking and unstacking those boxes looking for the desired costume piece. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Do you keep your costumes separate from your clothing?
Yes. Some folks would be appalled at how unglamorous my day to day attire can be.

How often do you use your costumes?
That depends on the costume. Some numbers are more popular than others.

How much of your house is taken up by your costumes? How much of your storage space (closets, garage, attic, other) is taken up?
We got a 2-bedroom apartment just so that I would have a separate office for storing and working on costumes. The bath tub & a few other things are locked up in a shed. We’ve incorporated some of the larger props like the cocktail glass and the pirate chest into our Tiki Bar d├ęcor!

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How has your storage system evolved?
From cardboard egg boxes to wire basket shelving. Swedish engineering be praised!!!

Does anybody in your life (roommate, sig other) complain about the volume of costumes? If so what do they say? If not, do they seem to enjoy them being around?
I live with a musician, so complaints would be futile. I’m always amused at the reaction of the men in my life to the amount of sparkle sprinkled through my abode. One fella dubbed me “Glitzerndamma” which he said meant “Glitter Queen.” The funniest story was the time my fella located a sequin stuck to his testicles and I dubbed him “Disco Balls!”

Do you ever swear you're going to get rid of some and then not get rid of them? Why or why not?
I’m always reluctant to get rid of anything. Who knows when I’ll be able to turn it into something new or when someone in my company may need a specific piece? Sometimes I do sell pieces to cut down on volume & have extra rhinestone money!

Do you worry about your costumes getting destroyed because of storage problems?
Now that I have a good system in place for the clothes, I think they’re safe. I worry about the larger props, though.

Do you use various pieces with various costumes, or are all the pieces of each costume dedicated? Do you ever wear them out, or do you use them only for the stage?
I never wear costumes out. My stage persona is very different from me day to day. I generally do not mix costume pieces. I keep all of the tiny pieces of a costume together in Ziploc bags so nothing gets lost.

How would you store them in a perfect world?
My world couldn’t be more perfect!

Curiousity killing you? Thirst not slaked? You can find out more about Miss Maulie at:
missmaulie.com, myspace.com/missmaulie, varieteaseburlesque.com

3 comments:

Kay said...

Thanks for the awesome interview with Maulie. She's one of my all time favorite burlesque artists! I'm lucky enough to live in Austin and met her shortly before she moved here. I've been to a few of the Varietease shows and will most definitely be going to more.

Susan said...

I greatly look forward to seeing her next month at the Texas burlesque fest -- I'd love to see that closet, too.

Missychel said...

Miss Maulie is the REAL DEAL......What a talent and I just love her sloshing in that big martini glass:)