Working regularly with talented women in gorgeous costumes encouraged me early on to up my wardrobe game so I like to think I am known for that. My routines include a lot of sight gags and goofy props including a trio of acrobatic plush pigs (“The Flying Swine Circus”) and a quintet of daredevil toy penguins (“The Penquini Brothers”). I also do several combination tricks with head or mouthstick balancing plus juggling. Sometimes I juggle while wearing a stainless steel blindfold, to which I have taped Steve Buscemi eyes, or even with my entire head covered with a box, which I call “headless” juggling.
I was looking for something a little more upbeat. I enjoy using music that is intense and tells strong stories. This was a song I had loved from when I was in college, and it was so fun creating something using a song that had so much personal history. And I just love using assels, and using them with a rock song just felt so right.
I've performed at a lot of strange places. I've probably forgotten a lot of them but...On top of a school bus in the streets of Manhattan. That's probably the strangest and most dangerous.
Whenever I hit a really interesting contortion pose, I love hearing the expletives or gasps that come out of the audience. One time after debuting a new number another performer came rushing up to me to tell me “Yep, I’m into women now.” I thought that was pretty cool.
I stumbled across Michelle’s classes, and thought “props, fun costume, a chance to get naked? Sounds great!” I fell in love in love with burlesque from the first bump.
My first burlesque performance was my audition! it was at a bar in Minneapolis on a sunday afternoon, the bar was open and they told me to hit the stage, so i did. I've been acting and singing since i was 6, I've been comfortable on stage from the beginning.
Your bill is past due," which was an actual letter I received from ComEd). Then I stripped rather aggressively while singing the National Anthem a capella.
Friday, April 18, 2014 - 7:15pm
My first show as a solo stripteaser was in 2010, as part of Studio L'amours Student Showcase. It combined my love of can-can and burlesque, and confirmed for me that I was moving in the right direction.
When was your first burlesque performance and what got you into burlesque in the first place?
In early 2010 I met a woman with whom I quickly became infatuated; she was a member of Vaudezilla, and was about to debut her new act, and invited me to the show. I was amazed and impressed.
First, it was the music; if I happen to love the song choice, I’m already three-quarters won over, and that show pulled from several different genres. Second was the range of talents; I saw a Blues Brothers tribute, a hula-hooper, a tap-dancer, others.
A fellow performer once messaged me explaining, "My mother & I are sitting here watching your videos while we eat lunch. She thanks you for helping her believe in sex again. She loves you”. Another compliment came after a show. A man walked up to me and said “I want you to know that 9 out of 10 lesbians and straight men agree, Ray Gunn makes you question your sexuality”
I was meeting a friend from work at the Hideout for a burlesque show back around 2002. It sold out and she couldn’t get in, so I ended up sitting by myself and taking it all in. I was hooked. I looked up the Sissy Butch Brothers, as they were having a show shortly after and I emailed them. I was broke and told them that I would trade them set up and tear down for a ticket, and if they didn’t email me back, I would assume that was a yes and just show up. They didn’t. I did. I ended up stage managing at Subterranean and performed in their next show at Martyrs. I was a natural!
My husband is responsible for burlesque coming into my life. His friends took him to a burlesque show, he came home & said, “you’d love it.” A few months later we went to a show, in another few months I was performing. My first performance was at The Lakeshore Theater alongside of Sasha Darling, Vivian Velvet & Dominque Trixx, all of us students of Michelle L’amour.
I first performed burlesque in one of Michelle L’Amour and Franky Vivid’s very early burlesque ventures, back in 2002. There were only a small handful of burlesque performers in Chicago at that time, and Michelle and Franky were searching for actors and dancers who didn’t mind taking their clothes off. At the time, I was working as a fine art model, so I was already used to appearing in front of people in far less than pasties and a thong! Between that and my degree in acting, burlesque seemed like a good fit for my skill set.
My first routine was a partially scripted, partially improvised bit called The Pasty Chef, where I would pull an unsuspecting audience member up on stage with me to assist in a naughty cooking show segment.
I performed in a burlesque show for the first time with my mentor, friend, muse, and guardian angel at the time Miss B. Sharp at Cobra Lounge on Halloween night in 2009. I worked as a go-go dancer for a short period of time in Albuquerque, NM before training at what was then named the National Conservatory of Flamenco Arts and a variety of dance forms at the University of New Mexico while earning my Bachelor's degree in fine arts and psychology. When Miss B discovered my dance history, she insisted I join her onstage. After that fateful halloween night, I discovered a call for performers put out by Red Hot Annie and joined her monthly roster of bar shows thereafter.
I have two numbers that are particularly special to me. One is "Made of Stone" and the other is "The Beginning is Near". Both numbers have a dark, emotional edge and tell a story that can be interpreted at the viewers discretion. I'm a big fan of pieces that allow each audience member to have a unique interpretation and response.
Last year for a marijuana trim camp party in Humboldt County the middle of no-where Northern Cal! Friends I used to tour with years ago flew me out to Northern Cal last year for a big party they have for all of their trimmers. Trimmers are people that hold-up in camps all over northern Cal for harvest season over several months. All they do is trim marijuana cola's (long buds straight from the plant) all day long. At the end of a season the farm owners spend a shit ton of money and throw a big party for the camp. I performed for them in the middle of a farm on a big porch stage and did my aerial burlesque off of a makeshift gazebo arch. It was epic!
Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 8:15am
I have performed for the Milan Burlesque Award, New Orleans Burlesque Festival, New York Burlesque Festival and Beggar's Carnivale in St. Louis. I also performed for Tedx Midwest, which was really interesting in that I created what I considered to be a performance art piece (Transform) with a component of clothing removal as a story-telling device. But when I perform it in burlesque shows, people consider it neo burlesque, and some of the Tedxers were still mildly scandalized. So I feel like I snuck burlesque into a Ted Conference.
I always get a kick out of hearing what the bachelorettes would have to say after I would perform at the Naughty Little Cabaret, since I was often the only female performer in an otherwise all-male revue. I would always worry the girls wouldn't respond to my performance, but they were generally positive with their feedback. I've also heard the "If I were in to girls, I would totally be in to you" line drunkenly announced to me a few times.
But when it comes to receiving compliment, I really value when someone feels compelled enough to come find me after a show and tell me how my piece affected them. It means a lot to me.
My first taste of burlesque started in Indiana at a pageant where at the end of the act I ripped off my pants. I have been hosting drag shows and male review shows as a singing emcee on and off for about 4 years. When I realized the demand for a higher quality male review style show, I turned to burlesque as an inspiration. I wanted to create a classy and sexy show which would still keep the audience keep like they are witnessing something naughty. 5 Months later, I produced our first show at Naughty Little Cabaret.
My first performance in Chicago was Feb. 2003. I started doing burlesque because I was asked to, frankly. I started working with Franky Vivid in Champaign, IL. He had a band and I was his back up dancer. Then, he suggested we do a burlesque show to open for the band.
It's hard for me to really remember the exact details of my first burly q performance but I'll tell you this much: it was a certified mess. November of 2010 I was approached by Trixie Darling & Jeez Louise, both members of the late and great burlesque troupe, The Ripettes. Jeez was going to be out of town for one of their shows and I had been selected (unbeknownst to me) to be her burly q sub. So there I was with the tackiest burlesque name imaginable (Champagne Mystique) filling in for the incomparable Jeez Louise. I have never been more thankful for a small house than I was that night.
In October, 2009, I was in Peek-A-Boo, An Ooky-Spooky Halloween Burlesque. I played the character Luminiţa Ardelean, a Romanian diva and accordion-playing bitch. I got into the show by being “discovered” busking in Lincoln Square. Chris Biddle was hanging out at the square and he heard me playing the accordion. He asked me if I’d be interested in doing a show with his troupe and I said yes! I’ve been working with Chris ever since, and loving it. He is one of my favorite performers and one of my favorite people.
They are high energy, balls to the wall bangers! Costuming is more along the steampunk genre, either modified or custom made. I've had people scream from balconies from these acts. I bring them out if I want to leave the stage in smoke with people's jaws in their laps!
Our lives are full of hard work every minute but it would not be worth the struggle if I didn’t have such an amazing partner and a totally delightful toddler along for the ride! No regrets!
My first taste of burlesque came when I was 13 years old - I got a gig playing in the pit orchestra for a summer rep theater production of Gypsy. It planted the notion that taking off your clothes was fun, glamorous and sometimes involved gladiator helmets. I also always point to my formative years as a highly competitive synchronized swimmer as the other influence that got me started on the road to burlesque. The sparkly little headpieces and swimsuits, the choreographed routines, the kitsch factor, the precision, the work ethic, the running about mostly naked... just as in burlesque, synchro takes a lot of hard work to make something beautiful look effortless.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 6:45pm
Actually, it’s the thought of losing the art behind this art form. We need more venues where we can do more than a traditional burlesque act, where we can push the boundaries of nudity, art, comfort and heteronormativity. Keeping burlesque Queer is so important to me. Venues/Productions like the 1901 Gallery were so important to this community.
I was enamored with the idea of burlesque at an early age because of my love for naughty Tex Avery cartoons and a teenage crush on Dita Von Teese
Our Q&A With featured Chicago burlesque Superstar Frenchie Kiss, the Temptress of Twirl! Known for her award winning performances at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, Frenchie took a moment to share some of her adventures with ChicagoBurlesque.org readers.
Our Q&A With featured Chicago burlesque Superstar Marie Curieosity! Known for her dramatic performances, Marie took some time to share some of her experiences with Chicago Burlesque.
Our Q&A With featured Chicago burlesque Superstar Donna Touch! Donna Touch is an independent performer who has been part of the Chicago burlesque community since 2008. Know for her class, sass, and style, Donna took some time to share some of her accomplishments, experiences, and opinions with ChicagoBurlesque.org readers.
Friday, September 6, 2013 - 5:15am
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