Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Angie Pontani's Tribute to Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr on a sofa, smmmmmmmmokin'!


I've always been inspired by Angie Pontani's timing, dance ability, and sense of mischief, and I was thrilled when she began adding solo striptease performances back into her shows.

One of the first numbers I saw her do as a striptease was her tribute to Blaze Starr. I love Blaze's story (the movie is fun, yes, but it's her autobiography that really blows me away). If you've ever seen Angie do the wild number with the bongo drum, that's it!

Angie Pontani, with Helen and Tara, Channeling Blaze Starr
Above: Angie Pontani, with Helen and Tara, Channeling Blaze Starr. Photo by Me.

Angie had this to say when I asked her about the tribute number:

"Blaze has always been one of my favorite stars of the golden era of burlesque. In addition to the unbridled carnality that comes across in even the most faded black and white, her life story is equally dramatic. Her affair with Governor Earl Long, her outrageous performances including the use of live panthers, the smoking couch and the iconic shot of her playing the bongos are all amazing, as well as her ability to transcend performance and own and operate her own venue. Smart, sexy, classy, wild and sassy to boot, her interviews are candid. She makes clear what she likes and doesn't like and I love her for it. When I decided to do the tribute, I got touch with her brother whom she resides with in West Virginia to request permission to create a Blaze Starr tribute, replete with the smoking couch and bongo drum. Blaze and her brother could not have been more helpful, approving and accommodating, which the world to me! Considering her straightforward nature and the high quality she demands, I was terrified of how she might say no!

"I worked on the act for months, originally using my sisters as panthers! We debuted the performance at the Birchmere in Virginia and then performed it at the 2006 Miss Exotic World Pageant. A few days before the show in Vegas I recieved a phone call from the Burlesque Hall of Fame, letting me know that Dixie & Blaze would love for me to use the original smoking couch which was currently at the Museum! I just about fainted. It was such an honor to perform a tribute to the legend and to use her actual smoking couch. It was an honor and always will be one of my favorite performance memories! The couch is back in the museum, but I still perfom the bongo section of the act just about every night at my off broadway show This Is Burlesque. It is absolutely my favorite number to perform. Viva Blaze Staar!"

I'll soon be reviewing Blaze's autobiography here as well.

Kelly DiNardo is interviewing many of this year's contenders for titles at this year's Exotic World Pageant in her blog, as well as presenting many videos of performances from previous years' pageants. Read her interview with Angie here!

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for burlesquedaily.blogspot.com.

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