Kitten N Lou comprise one of the hottest teams in burlesque today, traveling the world with their unique duets. Their numbers are highly developed, meticulously choreographed, extravagantly costumed, and manage to be both elegant and hilarious. Above all, they celebrate camp (a topic I address in my book on leopard print, see http://www.historyofleopardprint.com), in a way that makes it accessible to the uninitiated and thrilling for those in the know.
I’m happy they took time out of their insanely busy schedule to indulge my curiosity about their affinity for the Cat!
Jo: How would you describe your performance style?
KNL: Burlesque that is deeply rooted in musical theater, vaudeville, and camp.
Jo: What is your background/training?
Kitten: I have danced my entire life (ballet, tap, jazz, etc.), but actually went to school and have a degree in English Literature and Art History. My mom is SO thrilled with how I ended up using my degree! (sarcasm). A little known additional fact about me is that I actually spent about 6 years during my burlesque career leading a double life playing, singing, and touring pretty non-stop with a punk rock band called The Intelligence. Lou: I studied dance starting at a very young age - all kinds of dance, I couldn’t get enough. I was really obsessed with musical theater dance, I understood it as a form that was intrinsically connected to telling a story, and to the emotional climaxes of a story. I majored in contemporary dance and choreography in college, and that’s where I began to really understand that dance - any kind of dance - can use form and image to tell a story. Burlesque is an amazing form for storytellers!
Jo: How did you come to perform as a duo?
KNL: We were a romantic couple first, and then made our first duo act just for fun to be in a drag show in New Orleans. After that, we thought “hey, we might be on to something here….” The rest is history!
Jo: You use an awful lot of leopard print in your costumes. How do you decide on that? What does that mean to you, or evoke for you?
Kitten: Oh wow, I’ve been obsessed with leopard since my eyeballs were able to focus as a baby! To me it’s always been the ultimate fabric to straddle both glamour and camp. It’s fabulous but also “too much”. It evokes a woman with elegance, but also has that delightful undercurrent of “trash” a’ la John Waters. My wedding dress was white leather with a Tiffany blue hand painted leopard print running all over it. I’m obsessed! LOU: When I look at my costuming and wardrobe to date, I realize that I only wear leopard in the context of Kitten N’ Lou. I definitely see a lot more leopard print in women’s clothing than men’s. It’s such a powerful and regal print, a print for a boss. For a lady boss. We have gendered our leopard by using pink and blue leopard print, which I think is a really funny idea about both leopard print and gender. I love really silly versions of it, the contrast between the print that comes from the skin of an incredibly powerful animal, with it being rendered in candy-colored sequin. Kitten definitely introduced leopard to the relationship - it’s one of her things that’s our thing now too.
Jo: Who makes the costumes, and can you tell us a little bit about the process and logistics of having them made?
KNL: We work with a few different designers and they all have different processes. Danial Webster Designs is our primary costumer who has made some of our more well-known costumes, as well as our wedding clothes. Working with him is amazing because he’s very involved in the process, and really meticulous when it comes to the details. We come to him with an idea, and then he creates a mood board for us. He has several fittings with us to make sure the fit is exactly right. He hand paints our shoes to match….details that really make our cartoonish vision of ourselves come to life. When he made our wedding clothes, it was super down to the wire, but he’s so pro and so great to work with that he delivered the final product to us the MORNING of our wedding, and we weren’t even stressed! And everything was perfect. We also work with J Von Stratton (who creates a lot of Lou’s onesies, as well as our pink and blue leopard costumes), and with Mr. Gorgeous, who is amazing and so creative when it comes to imagining special little costume surprises and tricks.
Jo: Where can we see you performing next?
KNL: This month we head to Australia to bring our evening length duo show, OVEREXPOSED, to Midsumma Fest in Melbourne, and Fringe World in Perth! We will also be headlining the Vienna Boylesque Festival, and touring Europe in the month of May. Other spots to find us in 2016 will be in Provincetown for most of the summer, and then we produce some big shows in Seattle in the Fall and Winter months. (The Atomic Bombshells and Homo For The Holidays with BenDeLaCreme, another leopard lover.)
Catch them if you can!
Photos property of Eli Schmidt, Nate Gowdy, and Frenchie Kiss.
This was originally posted on Tumblr, which changed its adult policies and began banning a lot of my educational posts.