Damn I love a big stage! I love my music fresh and sautéed in real butter. Don’t give me any of that canned crap, I take the real deal when I can and put some hot sauce on it!
The New Orleans Burlesque Festival Queen of Burlesque competition is as close as a girl can get to the real deal. We honor each high-heeled footstep our legends took when we perform to a live band, never knowing the offroading the trombone player may take during our bootie shimmy. The Burlesque Festival in New Orleans is deliciously steeped in talent from all over the world and the roaring audience, for me, has yet to meet its match. It has truly been an honor to perform for such amazing people and on such big beautiful stages in New Orleans. It has been my great and humbling pleasure to spend a whole year as the New Orleans Burlesque Festival Queen of Burlesque.
Even though I hail from Austin, when the audience finds out that I’ve made a splash in New Orleans, they expect something incredible. The city has had it fair share of pain and struggle in its history and yet, it triumphs victoriously at every test. It may be for this reason that the audience’s desire and hunger to savor life rivals no other city I’ve ever played. And to my great delight, this feeling is contagious. For a hedonistic burlesque beauty, this city is home.
My year as the Queen has been a fabulous one, pleasurable and prolific at its core. I’ve done my best to share New Orleans’ beautiful rawness and love of life in every town I’ve performed. The title itself has afforded me an invitation into shows I would have never had the opportunity to indulge in. I got to take a new audience as my lover for 147 shows during my reign. I have been a very lucky lady, indeed. While this may all sound exhausting, I’ve been blessed with so much to invigorate me along the way.
I’ve met and performed with some of the most amazing performers and producers this year. It has been such a humbling experience and I know I have so much to learn. As an instructor I like to share what I learn, so here are a few people that have shaped me this year:
Catherine D’Lish. Her smoldering sensuality beckons the audience to come a little closer and, for those who are smart enough to accept the invitation, the rewards are delicious. Her beauty, honesty and silent strength are present off-stage and on. We can all take a hint to work very hard to get to know ourselves and take care of our bodies every day. A little extra stretching, and rhinestoning doesn’t hurt either. Oh and the feathers…oh the feathers!
Kitten DeVille. Kitten has shown me that being a great mother and a great performer, at the same time, is possible. While I struggle to be both, she does it in a way that seems effortless. In the time I’ve gotten to spend with her, I know that it all takes so much work and perseverance and, above all, love and care. She extends this love and care to her burlesque family, as well. Her Dixie Evans tribute piece is still one of my absolute favorites and has informed many new burlesque performers and audiences about our history. They inevitably want to learn more and this legitimizes our place in the world.
Perle Noire. As the first Queen of Burlesque she has shown me that audiences love when you push the envelope—push yourself physically and emotionally, give them all of you. Interact with them and let them be a part of the show. She does this in every single performance and I do my best to do the same. Her enthusiasm and genuine love for her art is delicious.
Michelle L’Amour. Michelle is inventive and creative and truly built to be a burlesque legend and businesswoman. The hours she spends cultivating her art is staggering. She presents on-stage what she would want to see—innovation, sexiness, perfection. Off-stage she creates a business, a way for her to continue to do what she loves and be around the people she loves, admires and trusts. This type of work takes true genius and ingenuity. Her ability to run her business and be such an incredible performer is remarkable.
Dirty Martini. Dirty does what she wants and does what she loves. She’s a classically trained dancer and it shows that she’s had a long and fruitful love affair between what she can do with her body and how the music moves her to use it. I’ve never seen her take focus off of her audience for even a split-second. As an audience member she holds you and molds you and by the end of it, we all feel invigorated and sexy, ourselves. I can not only see but feel her joy of being on stage. She radiates fun and appreciation for her audience and for her art.
Queen Indigo Blue, Miss Exotic World 2011, Reigning Queen of Burlesque. Her majesty has been such an inspiration to me as a performer, a producer, an instructor and a student. She is constantly learning how to improve upon her art and she is gracious enough to share that knowledge with her students and colleagues. Her genuine love of people and the world around her extends to her performances. Her legend’s tributes reflect not only their style, but she takes it a step further to know their story, know them and their energy. In Indigo’s performances she commands respect and honor not just for herself, but for the legends she learns from and admires, as well. She has made it her life’s work to legitimize the burlesque art form and perpetuate its growth in a way that honors our legends and our history. Her work in her Academy of Burlesque is truly inspirational and success of burlesque in Seattle can be attributed to her work and perseverance.
There are so, so many others to name and I have so much more to say about each lady I’ve mentioned. The Queen of Burlesque title has opened so many doors for me this year. I am truly grateful for all of those who have supported me, and even those who did not because you all have made me a stronger performer and strengthened my resolve to be a true and active member in the burlesque society and family.
For the next Queen, enjoy your new title. Take a moment, even if it is by yourself, to put on your crown, have your favorite cocktail and try to reflect on what this means. This means that you did great in ONE show, now that you’ve done this you have many, many other shows to prove to yourself and the audience that you deserve this award. This title makes it easier for producers to book you. Having the Queen of anything on a poster draws a crowd and producers want to fill that venue! Go to them, they won’t always come to you. Let them know that you are available and what you can do to wow their audience. If there is anything you’d like to do or anyone you’d like to meet, do it this year, you won’t have this title forever and you should always make the most of what you have. Now is the time to be seen. Take as many great photos as you can, do interviews, make appearances, contact the local press and let them know about your upcoming shows. Improve upon your routines, be versatile and above all enjoy what you do and be gracious to your producers and your audience. They are why you are on stage to begin with.
I will always be here for you with a hug and any advice you may want from me. I wish you all of the luck in the world. With all of my love,
Queen of Burlesque
New Orleans Burlesque Festival, 2010