Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Travels of Miss Dirty Martini

I'm not much of a traveler; I'd even describe myself as being a bit provincial, keeping in mind that the province is New York City. In January 2007 I embarked on my first tour since 1994 when I was a feature dancer, heading out with the Sex Workers' Art Show to cover 33 cities in 35 days. Fortunately, I had one of my best and most-traveled friends with me, Miss Dirty Martini. I was doing a talking and teaching gig on the tour, while Dirty, Cono Snatch Zubobinskaya, and Bridget Irish, who split the tour with Julie Atlas Muz, provided the dance and burlesque. Dirty was a fantastic travel and hotel room partner. I also loved hearing her stories about all the places she's been, and I'm very excited that she agreed to be interviewed about what it's like to be a burlesque performer and world traveler.

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Dirty tributes Zorita in Las Vegas at the Exotic World Striptease Reunion. Photo by Jo Weldon.

Dirty, when did you first perform burlesque?
Before I was Dirty Martini, I traveled with Pink Inc. to Sarajevo in 1995/96. I had been pushing to do burlesque material with the troupe and I wanted to preserve burlesque as American dance history and as a living art form. We were invited to the International Winter Festival, and it was the first time people from other countries were able to perform in it since the war. I was especially excited to be a part of it because the Jose Limon Dance Company, which was the company I'd wanted to join when I was in high school and which I'd moved to New York to be near, was also in the Festival. And I did my first fan dance there.

Dirty Coast to Coast:
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Photo by Don Spiro

When did you first perform as Dirty Martini?
At WOW Cafe in Tex and Trixie's Vaudeville. We had cardboard sets and it was so cute! I was able to do my fan dance without the Pink Inc. foam body suits. The reception was great! I had seen Ami Goodheart at Irving Plaza at one of ChiChi and Johnny's nights, with Hattie Hathaway reading from "Miss Manners." Ami did this production number with a fan dance and I met her and asked her what she called what she did, and she said she was a showgirl. I was so blown away by the idea of a showgirl in New York, outside of the Vegas world of showgirls. It opened my eyes. After that I performed regularly at the Red Vixen and the VaVaVoom Room in New York.

Where did you perform next as Dirty Martini?
I went to New Orleans for Tease-O-Rama in 2001 with World Famous *BOB*, Tigger, Julie Atlas Muz, and Kate Valentine. We made the drive in 27 hours, taking turns driving. I bought blue stretch velour jumpsuits for all of us, with silver flames up the legs. We looked great at gas stations, let me tell you. They were uncomfortable and so hard to get in and out of that I had to help *BOB* whenever we stopped to go to the bathroom, but we looked fabulous! And that TOR was the first time the VaVaVoom Room met the Velvet Hammer. I heard about TOR from Kate; I wasn't really online much at that time. Later that year I traveled to Exotic World.

Where else did you travel outside the US?
With Pink Inc. I traveled to Wales, I think in 2002, and I extended my travel to perform in London. I had an interesting time because, due to some legal technicality, I had to do the actual clothing removal offstage; I would dance, step off and take something off, then get back onstage. I don't remember there being a big burlesque scene there at the time. I wanted to go to the Whoopee Club, but it wasn't open the days I was there.

In the US I traveled to Nashville for Katy K's show. Katy had been one of John Sex's backup dancers, the Bodacious Ta-Tas. She wanted there to be a show in her town, and she trained dancers in her basement and then brought in me and *BOB* to have some experienced performers to represent.

After I won the Miss Exotic World title in 2004, I was booked to travel a lot as a headliner, and I used the opportunities to spread the word about the Museum.

I also did Paula's show in Seattle and performed with the Sissy Butch Brothers in Chicago. My friend Roger Bennington booked me to perform for his theater company in Salt Lake City and I got him to include Dee Milo in the show.

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Dirty at The Immodest Tease Show in London- Haley Madden photo.

And how about 2007?
I've traveled so much this year! I went to London to perform with Immodesty Blaize, I did the Sex Workers' Art Show tour, I performed with Margaret Cho in Miami and Chicago as well as in New York, I did three months in Nantes France with Cabaret New Burlesque, I performed in Portugal for Halloween. *BOB* and I performed in Miami at a fundraiser for a 1930s mansion the community is restoring. I did my balloons and *BOB* did her "Martini Time" number.


The performers of Cabaret New Burlesque in the French countryside. Photo from Kitten on the Keys.

And how about 2008?
I'm going to San Francisco to perform with Cabaret Verdalet, then on the Sex Workers' Art Show Tour again, and then to London to perform with Immodesty Blaize again.

What would you say to new performers about traveling?
Hmmm...traveling is a skill that you have to hone over time. You learn how to pack and what to stock up on when you go overseas. For instance, they don't sell eyelash glue in France the way they do here, or Emergencee powders. During the Nantes gig I got flown back to New York for a day to shoot with Terry Richardson, and I took two hours to walk in full makeup and hair to get glue and Emergencee!

What are your three traveling essentials?
My hardcase Samsonite rolling luggage, Advil, and a travel pillow!

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Dirty at the One Log Cabin, somewhere on the 2007 Sex Workers Art Show Tour.

See why Dirty gets booked all over the world:


Dirty on Myspace
Dirty's Website

4 comments:

Brett said...

This is great, Jo-of course the only downside to all of Dirty's recent touring is that we get to see a lot less of her in NYC!

Anonymous said...

This video nor the New Year's one seems to be available anymore.

Burlesque Daily said...

Try again--sometimes youtube comes and goes in ways that are a mystery to me.

Attilio Reinhardt said...

I never saw Dirty Martini without the wig! Thanks Jo!