Thanks to Patrick of City Pages for this great article! Since there is always a limit on how much they can share, I wanted to make sure the complete interview was accessible. Read my full answers below.
When and how did you start doing burlesque? How did you learn about it in the first place? I started doing burlesque in January of 2004. I learned about it in August of 2003 when I went to see a traveling show. I went because of the advertisement - beautiful women in vintage attire. Within minutes of watching the first act I was transformed. I wanted to find out everything I could about this art form and create/perform myself.
What do you think the most popular misconception is about burlesque? That it isn't an art form or that it is the same thing as the stripping you'd find at a gentleman's club. Anyone who sees a quality burlesque show or performance will immediately notice the production value, the attention to and details of elaborate costuming, and the choreography or theatricality of each individual act or vignette. Though striptease was originally the "scandalous" form of performing sexuality and sensuality from the late 1800s through the 1950s-60s (in the early days, showing a bare ankle was risque') the current incarnation, or "neo-burlesque" is a reclamation and celebration of our erotic self in all its many forms. In a day when you can see EVERYTHING on the internet or in a strip club, it's radical and refreshing to bring focus back to the titillation and anticipation rather than instant gratification. "It's about the sizzle, not the steak." Although art, exotic dance and burlesque are in the same family of sex work/performance (and I happen to love and support my stripper kin). With exotic dance/stripping, the reveal comes immediately, without much teasing, and you enjoy the full reveal for 2-3 songs. With burlesque performance, you know that the end result is near nudity (pasties and a g-string), and you only see it in the last 10-60 seconds of an act. The joy is in the journey... how is an entertainer going to cleverly tease and play with the audience to that final destination.
What was your experience like breaking into burlesque? After seeing my first show, I had been doing tons of research online, buying books to find out about the history, and watching as many performance videos as I could find. I was overjoyed to find out that we had our own scene developing in the Twin Cities.. I went to a Le Cirque Rouge show on a Friday and approached the director after the show. She encouraged me to come back that next Wednesday for an audition. I had my first performance in front of and audience two days later and LOVED IT. I haven't stopped since, and in 2013 was inducted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame as the Tournament of Tease's "Most Dazzling Dancer."
Wrestling and burlesque is a pretty unique combination. What were your thoughts when you were first approached about the idea of performing at Wrestelpalooza? I LOVED IT! The marriage of masked wrestling and burlesque has been going on in other cites like L.A. for longer than I've been performing. I was thrilled to hear it had made it's way to Minneapolis. With ring sports like wrestling, boxing, or MMA, there are ring girls between the matches or rounds. It makes sense with the elaborate and eccentric personalities of the wrestlers in Wrestlepalooza that they would want for appropriate spectacle quality of entertainment in between the matches, hence showgirls over bikini girls. When they approached me about it, I didn't hesitate to say yes.
How do the Wrestlepalooza fans typically respond to you, compared to other burlesque events you've done around town? They seem to be thoroughly entertained! You anticipate your audience no matter what kind of performance you prepare for, and for Wrestlepaloozas, I get to play and bring out my rock-and-roll, funk,over-the-top character acts and leave the high-glamour classic parade-and-peels meant for large stages at home. It allows for me to express more of Sweetpea, sides that not others get to see. I have a blast and so do they.
Did you ever watch wrestling before taking part in these events? Absolutely! I grew up on it. My memories from youth have images of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Rick Flair, The Bushwackers... I even had the figurines and watched the A-Team.
If someone were to ask you how they can get started in burlesque, what would you tell them? Have fun researching and becoming inspired!!! Keep notebooks, lists, and/or pintrest pages of ideas for acts you'd like to create or costumes to construct. If you feel uncertain about learning the basics and creating on your own, there are many options for burlesque and performance instruction throughout the cities!..Including learning with yours truly.