Wednesday, September 26, 2007

News Post: Article on backstage.com

'And let's not overlook "painter" Amber Ray stripped down to a pair of nipple tassels swirled into cans of paint and then sprinkled, smeared, and shimmied across a canvas; or the St. Louis duo, Gravity Plays Favorites, two scantily clad acrobats, known for their athletic twists and turns and unearthly contortions on spinning poles. '

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Amber Ray at the New York Burlesque Festival. Photo by Jo Weldon.

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Gravity Plays Favorites at the New York Burlesque Festival. Photo by Jo Weldon.

I'm the article too. I'm in the news twice in one day! How unlike me!

Stripped Down and Rebuilt

News Post: Burlesque is Nerdy!

I've been too busy to keep up with the promise of anything remotely like "Daily" Burlesque, but I am still in the process of editing more amazing interviews...just verrrrry sloooowly.

One of the things I did while working like crazy was to be interviewed myself:

' "A lot of burlesque is about being an inappropriate female," either in appearance or in lifestyle, said Weldon. '

Burlesque revival: more nerdy than sexy?

There are a couple of sentences I have to wonder about--for instance, I'm not exactly a school teacher in the sense that reading that description without info might lead the reader to believe, I'm a burlesque teacher. And it's more than a bit annoying to have your life's work, which you can see right here in my blog, attributed to someone else, even when that person is also quite worthy of being considered a researcher. But it's a fun article!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Interview with Photographer and Publisher Dale Rio

The burlesque scene has its very own print magazine thanks to Dale "Black Dahlia" Rio, Shimmy Magazine's co-owner/editor and photographer (recently relocated to Seattle). She has been photographing burlesque for about five years. A little over a year ago she began editing and publishing Shimmy Magazine, the only print magazine devoted to burlesque. I know how hard it is to not only get a project like that off the ground, but to keep it going for any amount of time, and I'm thrilled to hear that Shimmy has come out in a larger format and is now being distributed in bookstores! She interviewed me for Shimmy and now...well, turnabout is foreplay.

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How did you get interested in publishing?
I've worked on the other side of publishing, as a freelance photographer and writer, for over ten years, and when my business partner, Robin, and I decided to start shimmy, it was both of our first forays into the business side of things. it's been quite an eye-opening experience, especially since both of our magazines are self-published; we've had to learn all the ins and outs and do most of the work ourselves!

Why do you think so many people who are interested in Burlesque are also interested in Roller Derby?
In both, women have total control. Naturally, women are attracted to burlesque and derby because of that, but men, too, seem to really appreciate the fact that in both, women are doing things on their own terms. In both, too, something that has a firm foundation in the past has been taken and adapted to today's sensibilities, so it touches upon a sense of nostalgia but is ultra-modern at the same time. Today's burlesque embraces women of all shapes and sizes, and the audience responds to that energy, even when the women on-stage don't typify society's standards of what is beautiful. Derby, too, has redefined what's beautiful with a focus on strength as opposed to an unrealistic, idealized image of perfection. Both also combine smarts with sexiness. Roller derby leagues are skater-owned and operated in a d.y.i. fashion that gives skaters 100% control over their leagues. Everyone really digs that. And burlesque performers are largely self-represented, make their own costumes, do their own choreography, etc., and people appreciate the hard work that goes into each performance.

How did you get interested in burlesque?
My interest in burlesque actually stemmed from my interest in sideshow acts. It was through sideshow performers that I knew and photographed that I was first introduced to burlesque.

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The Great Throwdini, photographed by Dale Rio.

What does burlesque mean to you?
Burlesque, to me, is a process. It starts the moment you're struck with inspiration and continues through to the act of performing and fine-tuning your number. Each stage of the process, from selecting music to choreographing to costume-making, is creative and challenging, and that's what I like most about burlesque.



What was your first experience with live burlesque?
I believe the first time I saw burlesque was when I went to catch a performance by a woman who I'd photographed for a portrait project. That was at the Blue Angel in NYC, (which is now called Le Scandal). I found her act, in particular, irreverent yet sexy, and I thought it was great! The first time I performed was when I organized a fundraiser for the L.A. Derby Dolls roller derby league. We teamed up with a local, weekly burlesque show, and some of the skaters performed. Never one to do things the easy way, I did an homage to my team, Fight Crew, which involved a complicated voice-over consisting of a demented stewardess monologue segueing into "Come Fly with Me" by Frank Sinatra, ultimately segueing into sounds of a plane crash and back to the monologue. In the act, I tried desperately to get the attention of an oblivious, but handsome, passenger, and by the end of the song, I became so frustrated that I strangled him with his own seat belt. Since I don't skate in L.A. on the Fight Crew any more, that was a one-time performance! It was a lot of fun, and the fundraiser was a whopping success!


Kitten on the Keys, photographed by Dale Rio.

What is one of your favorite experiences so far?
Gosh, that's a tough one. Every time I attend Miss Exotic World, or Tease-o-rama, or the New York Burlesque Fest, there are so many amazing performers that it's absolutely mind-blowing and so inspirational. I like getting the chance to get to know some of the performers through photographing and interviewing them. I've made some friends along the way and have also had some preconceptions shattered.

Do you travel to burlesque events?
I try to get to all of the major events to cover them for the magazine. I also travel a lot for the freelance work I do, so whenever I'm on the road, I try to meet up with as many performers as I can. I'm currently working on a personal project called "Night and Day," where I photograph performers at their day jobs in costume. Since today's performers don't usually get paid as well as performers in the past have, it's interesting to explore the dichotomy of who these women are during the day as opposed to who they become at night. I'm trying to include as many performers from around the country (world!) as possible, so when I'm traveling, I like to try to chip away at this project, too.


Dale shooting. Photo courtesy Olive Talique.

Who inspires you most, and why?
My mom is my all time, #1 inspiration. When I was a kid, the only magazine we could afford a subscription to was Ms magazine. My mom raised me by herself while putting herself through a Ph.D program. She never lectured me or told me how to do things, but she showed me by example that you can do anything you set your mind to, and that no one can hold you back.

What is your favorite aspect of burlesque as it is now?
I really enjoy the fact that everyone's welcome. There's a style and a taste for everybody; classical, humorous, bawdy, long hair, short hair, no hair, flat-chested, curvaceous, tattooed... Anyone can get on-stage and be a success, if they have the confidence.

What would you like to do or see next in burlesque?
Personally, I'd like to start making enough money to be able to take dance lessons and start performing more! Until then, I'll have to be content photographing others have all the fun! I'm not sure what direction burlesque will go in in the future... I'm just going to go along for the ride and watch what happens!

What do you think is one of your characteristics as a photographer?
As a photographer, I'm known for my painless photo shoots. I'm not the kind of photographer who makes the subject bend to my will... I'd rather have a collaborative shoot than one where I dictate what takes place. it makes for a more comfortable process and usually results in photos that we're both happy with.


You can check out Dale's magazines and photography at:
Shimmy Magazine
Blood and Thunder
Dale Rio

Friday, September 14, 2007

News Post: Burlesque Celebrates Body Diversity

"I also think it's really timely the way that women's bodies are politicized. It's really about seeing people's different bodies and enjoying that and getting away from this weird ideal that is reinforced in movies, TV and advertising," Cho said. To do that, Cho has cast many women and men protégé performers of differing shapes and sizes to "change and recreate the ideal of what is attractive."

Burlesque is the New Funinism

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!

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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.

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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 décor!

maulie1

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

Monday, September 10, 2007

News Post: Opposition to Forty Deuce Increases

The East Village and the Lower East Side in Manhattan form the primary seat of burlesque in New York. Tompkins Square Park originally hosted Wigstock, where neo-burlesque legends such as World Famous BOB and Dirty Martini performed, and recently hosted burlesque events at the Howl Festival. Clubs frequently featuring burlesque include the Slipper Room, with the city's longest-running burlesque show, Rififi, which features weekly shows Starshine Burlesque and Sweet And Nasty, Kitty Nights at Bar on A, frequent burlesque and performance art events at Mo Pitkins and The Bowery Poetry Club, and the adult vaudeville of The Box. My School of Burlesque operates at 440 Lafayette at the edge of Greenwich Village, across the street from Joe's Pub, where burlesque shows often take place. (For info about other burlesque shows in New York City, see Ed Barnas' New York Burlesque Calendar.)

However...

"A planned burlesque nightclub reportedly financed by musicians David Bowie and Sting is running into heated opposition from residents in the Lower East Side.
" The club, planned for a building just north of Chinatown, could bring a new glitz and nightlife to Kenmare Street, a residential and relatively low-rent retail strip that is gradually seeing a shift to a more upscale business makeup. But the opposition indicates that as the Lower East Side becomes thicker with luxury condominiums, businesses seeking to locate there may face a less permissive environment than they once did.
"With a Community Board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, residents are vehemently opposed to the nightclub, named Forty Deuce and spearheaded by club mogul Ivan Kane, criticizing it as a late-night striptease club that is grossly inappropriate for the neighborhood."
From the New York Sun

Although Forty Deuce will probably feature a vastly different type of show and audience than I'm accustomed to, it seems appropriate to me. What I find more inappropriate is a double-wide baby stroller with one kid and one Yorkie in it, accompanied by a mom and a grandma AND a nanny, clogging up the narrow aisles of a tiny neighborhood bodega. I'm just sayin'.

See also:
Don't Strip So Close to Me

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Satan's Angel, Part II

Where did you perform most?
Outside of Vegas I worked a lot in Florida, where it paid well. I also worked Canada, Mexico City (at the El Presidente, no less), Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Guam--that's why my life story is called "Have Tassels, Will Travel!" At one point I did 25 towns in 32 weeks, working six days each week with one day for travel. I did over 25000 performances. I worked in in Europe--Barcelona, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Germany. I used to sit on the plane and the airline magazine would list all the stops, all the little red lines going to each city, and I worked almost every city United Airlines served. You could really make a living in burlesque then. I would make 1200-2500 a week in the mid 80s, and they paid our transportation and hotels, usually.

What is your fondest memory of all that traveling?
Japan. I loved it. I worked at Nichigeki Theater in Tokyo in 1969, a theater in the round with the stage at the bottom. The stage came up from the basement and behind me was a waterfall with silver streamer lights. There was a 28 piece orchestra. The stage came up and I was in a solid rhinestone gown, so heavy. The gown was from Bebe Hughes, white lace with a rhinestone in each flower, and over about three years we had covered the whole dress with all these rhinestones imported from Paris. On my opening night 5000 people were there and when they all applauded at same time it was thunderous. I would go to make a move but they wouldn't stop applauding, screaming, whistling, stomping! I couldn't even hear that huge orchestra, they were so excited. I was thinking, "This is what it's all about." I had a beautiful dressing room, and woman that helped me dress, bowls of candy, bottles of champagne. They gave me a pearl ring. I felt like Gypsy Rose Lee.

Your mother was with you this year at the Exotic World event. What did she think of it?
Let me tell you about my mother. I was working at the Galaxy Club in San Francisco in the 60s, this great space-themed place with girls in silver skirts . An artist came in and sort of strategically covered over our parts, painted us all up, and we were to stand on these pillars all through the club. The pillars rotated and we'd each strike a pose like a psychedelic statue. So I was doing this, and I felt this negative energy like I smelled something burning and then felt really self-conscious. I looked down and there was my mother looking at me with her arms folded. I screamed, "My mother, oh my god it's my mother!" I leaped down and ran to the dressing room and grabbed my coat. She caught up with me and she wasn't too thrilled, obviously. I said, "Mom, I make 350-450 a week, 700 a week in Vegas," and she got cool with it--what was she gonna do? She's corporate, I'm not. She's worked for the May Company her whole life, my dad died in the 40s, and she's 82 and still works five days a week, and she does her own gardening. This year she came to Exotic World and she hadn't seen me dance since 1979, and the audience was so loving. They gave me their soul and hearts. She felt it and she said, "By God, you can still dance." That's all she said. Then she goes home next day and I later heard there are pix of her with boas everywhere in the house! She ranted and raved about how beautiful my performance was. She always supported me but isn't much the kind of person to tell me. The Sissy Butch Brothers did a documentary and stopped by my mom's house and asked her, "Have you supported Angel all this years?" and my mom said, "I've always loved her and she's always made me proud." She tells me she loves me every day but to tell me that I made her proud, my heart! At 60 something years old, you could say a little late, but still not too late!


Angel's Mom, far right, in the process of winning the entire pot at the Exotic World Poker game in Las Vegas, 2007. Photo by Dale Harris

You've said you didn't have an easy time leaving the business.
It's hard to quit when you've been going from 17 till you're in your 40s, but it got too raw for me in the mid 80s with the porn features and so on. After I quit I did coke all day and all night. I had 4 heart attacks, a couple of grand mal seizures, and then as soon as I'd get well I'd start doing coke again.
I've always owned a Harley, and I had a terrible accident and broke 32 bones and got all crippled up. I loved to ride, like a cowgirl with her horse. Me and all my best friends used to ride together and called ourselves. the four roses. There was one girl we called Big Chris, 6'3', weighed 350, and rode one huge Harley. She worked as a dispatcher for police department and also worked a couple of nights volunteering for suicide center. As a drug addict I was shrinking away from everything and she said you need to quit. After two years of her hiding my drugs and taking them away, one day she came in and said, "I brought someone to see you." I wasn't irate and she said, "Just come down the hallway and see 'em." I went into my living room and walked around the corner and had brought in this huge mirror and leaned it up against the wall. I turned that corner and because I hadn't one mirror in the house had no idea what I looked like. When I looked at that person in the mirror I was devastated. I fell on my knees cried because I saw I was dying. Big Chris had got me this doberman puppy and I laid on the couch petting the dog, with Chris helping me get by, and detoxed for two weeks. Yes, it was awful. Now I haven't smoked any or done a line of coke in 18 years.

After all that, how did you come to perform at Exotic World and at Teaseorama?
I owned a dinner theater in Gold Canyon, Arizona, where they used to make westerns. My place was a replica of a 1890s bordello and I called it Whiskey Lil's. It was decorated with pictures of famous madams. In front of the place was an authentic 1887 bed from a real bordello. A woman named Terry Earp, relative to Wyatt, saw my Indian outfit in the glass case where I had it set up, and she said it was beautiful and asked whose it was.

When I said it was mine, she told me she was writing a play called Timbuktu or Bust about two strippers who inherit a motel in desert and interviewed me about burlesque. She ended up writing a play about me called Have Tassels Will Travel. She heard of Exotic World, went there, and called me from Helendale and told me she was staring at my picture on the museum wall. I wrote to Dixie and asked about being in the Hall of Fame, and she invited me to the pageant. I met people from Teaseorama and they invited me to perform and I've been dancing ever since. I reconnected with ladies I knew from the day, like Kiva, Marinka, Big Fanny Anny, and Dusty Summers. And Holiday O'Hara, the last time I saw her she was sitting at the kitchen table naked as a jay bird, doing her nails and trying to get a guy to bring us a brick of thai weed. There's nothing like seeing these people after all that time.

How do you like performing with these new folks?
It's great, but at some point I'm going to have to retire, because sometimes I can't walk because of osteoporosis. I got about 80% of my book done should be ready by next year. I'm trying to teach classes before I stop dancing. You twirlers, listen, save your ta tas! you don't have to jump up and down like that! I love the girls in new burlesque, so many of the ones I really like do both the old and the new. I'd like to teach them that old simple glide with the hand...just a glide.


Satan's Angel with one of burlesque's newest performers, Lola Pearl. Photo property of Lola Pearl

You teach the fire tassels too, right?
Yes, I'm going to teach a fire tassel class at Teaseorama. I'm doing it one time and having it videotaped. I say you've got to have tits you can't do it flat chested with fire tassels. You have to be a little knowledgable about fire, have to carry fire insurance, get permits, i have all that. You know, I have not lost my fire tassels in 30 years, never had them fly off, then last month I bought a new roll of tape that was no good and they both flew off immediately. I plopped on my ass and start laughing. Yhey were still burning so I picked 'em up and held 'em on and twirled 'em like that. In my day nobody taught you anything, you learned by yourself. Our art is different than your art, and burlesque from then is not the same as now. There were no body piercings, no overwight, no tattoos, no blacks, no short hair, if you had a butch hairdo you had to wear a wig. Them girls were mean, especially if you looked good. The pioneers that got the first boob jobs were shunned.

Anything you want to say to the newest performers?
Keep your day job. Go to school and be somebody...I don't know. Do I mean that? Nah, go for it, follow your heart. That's what I did. You know, I used to play musical instruments and sing, I even laid in bed with Janis Joplin while we sang together and screwed. It was a great life but all that glitz and glamour is not there as much. I'd just say follow your heart if you think you can do this for fun and maybe make a few dollars and have a good time and still be with your family and friends.


If you're in love with Satan's Angel now (who isn't???), you can learn more about her at her website: Satan's Angel
You can see her perform at currently running monthly show at
http://www.myspace.com/vaudevilleexperience
And, you can take her fire-tassel twirling class at Tease-O-Rama!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Interview with a Legend: Satan's Angel

If there was ever an interview which I wish you had gotten to hear, this is it. Satan's Angel has a smoky, bawdy style of speech that I would flat-out steal if I could. She's a ball of fire even when she's not twirling flaming tassels on her nipples, and almost unbearably thrilling when she is twirling. I'm separating this interview into two parts because even with the edits I just couldn't cut it down! You'll love every bit of it.


Photo available signed at satansangel.com

When did you get into burlesque?
I started around 1962. I went sneaking out the back door of our house and wandering the mission in San Franscisco where I'm from. I had problems with taking my clothes off at gym in junior high because I was gay but didn't know it. I wouldn't take my clothes off in front of the gym teachers. And, you know the story, nice Catholic girl, went to Catholic school. I'm probably more of a hussy onstage than I am off, just the way I was brought up (laughs). I'm alot more fun when I have a couple glasses of wine. I went to college IN SF, and I studied to be an interior decorator. My mom said, "What, you want to be like the rest of the queens in the world?" She wanted me to be go to college or marry a man who could support a family comfortably. She didn't know I was gay either!

How did you get started?
I was working as a secretary for a big jeans company. One of the girls who worked with me thought of doing an amateur strip contest. They had them Friday nights a place in North Beach. We put on our mothers old cocktails dresses, found some stale cigarettes, piled on false eyelashes ,ratted our hair into big beehives, copped some fake ids and off we went. We'd sit right in the front row at the strip and give a little applause--they'd decide the winner by applause. We finally danced for a minute to a live band and dropped the dresses, got 100 bucks--and I was making 99 every two weeks as a secretary. I went back and won every week. One of the owners said, "Stop already come to work! you're killing me! I think I made 127.50 a week working just the weekend. Bebe Hughes hooked me up with fabulous costumes and some fire pasties. I went to her walkup apartment with four or five bedrooms, and she hadbolts of material, racks and racks of used costumes. I picked out two or three and she made bras and unders for me and she'd put rows of sequins on all the fringe and that's how I started. Worked there till late 60s, then I flew into Vegas with a girl and saw Lili St Cyr and I said see ya SF! I took a bit of Lili's slow sensuality. She when she would touch herself, she was real slow, and her face was very expressive and would make you gasp. The audience would get so excited. I did learn that! I designed all my wardrobe with the fishtail long train, mandarin collars, heavy rhinestones and beading. There was nobody in the old days to help a new kid, so I took a little bit of people that I liked and I made them into Angel (me). I wanted the ballsiness and glamour of Mae West, and I wanted to twirl tassels like women I had seen--Carrie Finnel, Tammy Rocher, Tura Satana--but to have a gimmick I did the fire tassels. I actually did move to Las Vegas and did all the big shows that would hire a burlesque dancer, for ten years.

Where did the fire tassels come from?
I talked to a woman in her 40s when I was 18. I think about how I looked at her and thought she should retire, and now I'm 63 and I'm the baby legend! She told me I had to have a gimmick. I was twirling five tassels at once and that was not enough. I said, "Hell, what should I do, set fire to 'em?" and she said, "Now that's an idea!" So I went to Bebe the costumer and we worked it out. Most tassel twirlers decided not to do fire because of all the fire laws and so on, but I did 'em anyway. When I was young I'd redip them all the time, twirl one then the other, put fire on my arms, and I'd cross my arms and set the burning tassels on my arms. I used to have a big bear rug and an old silver bowl, and I would fill that bowl up with fluid and use it all and I flew around that stage! I never knocked it over no matter how much Grand Marnier I had!


Satan's Angel twirling fire tassels in 2006.

How did you come up with your burlesque name? We couldn't use Hells Angel! I had an Indian [cycle], and besides, they couldn't put hell on marquee. A lot of people didn't even like the name Satan's Angel! You know, I did all the fire stuff with fire shooting off my arms and would run it all over my body, and they thought if they kept the name cooler they could keep me cooler, I guess. They even tried to get me to use Satin Angel. But I knew what I wanted.


Photo available signed at satansangel.com

How did the club owners react to you being gay?
Oh God, honey. The atmosphere for gay women in the 60s, you were regarded with extreme prejudice. I once worked in Kansas City at this club I'd been there so many times--there was a whole row of fun, classy, mob-owned joints. I brought my girlfriend Rusty, was with her 9 years. One of the girls at this club asked me if the boss knew I brought my butch, and I told her nobody would know unless she said something. Eveidently somebody DID say something because the owner came in yelling, "You fuckin queer fuckin dyke you're fired!" He threw my stuff out the dressing room into the snow. I lost a LOT of jobs, especially when I was dating this woman and I cut my hair. When I went to work like that they said what did you do? and they would drop me. I finally got a hairpiece, of course. I sometimes couldn't get into hotels with my girlfriend because they didn't allow two women in a room.

To be continued
In the rest of the interview you'll read about how Angel's mother found out about her burlesque career!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

News Post: Hot Dog Burlesque in Chattanooga!

I'm way behind on everything, but I couldn't resist posting this because, wouldn't you know it, I just happen to have a picture of Ms. Honeybush in her hot dog queen outfit!

'When I apply the make-up, eyelashes, and wig, I really embrace the glamorous side of me. I feel quite at home on the stage and actually relish in the attention. In real life, I own a hot dog stand in East Nashville’s Five Points area called I Dream of Weenie. I wear denim and tank tops and grill weenies. Often times my makeup runs, and in the recent heat, I feel quite un-glamorous. But I’m so happy being a business owner who sells weenies! Every day is a sausage party!'

charmschool0030
Queens backstage at The Earl.

Monique Honeybush and the Bend Sinister bring burlesque to Barking Legs

Monday, September 3, 2007

News Post--Burlesque in Sydney!

'The amazing clothes are an added attraction, the chance for performers and patrons to wear spectacular outfits from the heydays of Moulin Rouge chic and Las Vegas glam: giant headdresses, gloves, stockings, corsets and feather boas.'

Imogen in the Dressing Room at CorioImogen Kelly Onstage at the Highline Ballroom
Imogen Kelly at the New York Burlesque Festival.

Kiss my Sass

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Picture Post: From Onstage at the New York Burlesque Festival

At the end of the Festival, all the performers were called onstage for a curtain call. I took my camera with me.

New York Burlesque Festival 2007
Diamondback Annie in the midst of the crowd of performers onstage.

New York Burlesque Festival 2007
The mostly unsuspecting audience.

New York Burlesque Festival 2007
The photographers when my name is called.

New York Burlesque Festival 2007
Me onstage. Photo by Little Brooklyn.

NYBF Website