"Is it Vienna "La" Rouge, or Vienna "Le" Rouge?"
Officially, it's Vienna La Rouge, but I'm fine with the other version if there's ever a typo somewhere.
"What made you want to become a burlesque performer?"
I think it all started at a very young age. My earliest memory of getting hooked on glamour and costumes was at about age 8 when I saw my first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, "Top Hat". Ginger's white feathered gown to me was the epitome of beauty and elegance.
However, many things played a part in my future on the burlesque stage; I have always loved anything to do with costuming, makeup, dance, art, burlesque & theater history, and music. Along with 15 years of classical and modern dance, I spent countless hours listening to works by composers like Handel, Scarlatti, and fell absolutely head over heels in love with the music of Mozart. When my father and I would travel to Vienna, Austria to visit family I would spend hours wandering SchŲnbrunn Palace until I knew the maze of gardens by heart.
What does Mozart and the palaces of Austria have to do with burlesque, you might ask?
It was sort of the key that unlocked my love of history and all its forms of artifice and embellishment.
I poured over old family photographs, and practically devoured books on fashion history and construction starting at about age 10. My grandparents (on mom's side) owned an antique shop and often bought large collections of clothing and costumes from estates and old theaters. It was actually attached to their house, so whenever we visited 90% of the time I was playing dress up in old showgirl costumes and running around wearing ostrich plumes and beads. I guess this could have been where my literal introduction to the concept of burlesque theater started, since along with the costumes, there were often boxes of old posters advertising the shows. Including ones highlighting the star strippers.
It was, and still is, an attraction to history and all the things people have ever found beautiful and glamorous, even dark and attractively controversial. I wanted so badly to go back in time when I was a kid, so as I grew up I continued to sew and experience the past through the clothing history I recreated, and wore.
Years later I discovered that burlesque was returning from a long slumber and quickly took the stage when I was offered the chance to perform at a novice night with a Seattle troupe. I was instantly hooked and it felt like something I was always meant to do.
What I love about burlesque specifically is not only the ability to tease and titillate, but to show people what I love about the glamour and sensuality of the past. It's an inspiring thing to see all the old photographs of these glamorous and bawdy dancers in all their finery. It's also so satisfying to bring that energy and style back to life, and set it back in motion on stage.
"Do you ever perform on the east coast or tour internationally?"
Yes! I've performed in many other US cities as well as abroad. I have toured Canada, France, Portugal, Germany and the UK. For the most part, I perform along the west coast in cities such as Seattle, Portland, And San Francisco.
I will gladly discuss my rates in regard to performing and travel compensation via email at email@example.com
"Who makes your costumes and clothes?"
I design and create all of my own costumes and props, and have been sewing since I was a kid.
As far as my current wardrobe is concerned, I've been seriously collecting and wearing vintage fashions from the Victorian era to the 1950s for nearly 20 years. I began wearing some form or combination of vintage styles in my very early teens, sometimes not always in the best combinations of eras. I was still figuring out that whole "less is more" thing.
Sewing from old patterns has also filled my closet with wearable fashions from the 1930s and 40s. I can wear them on a daily basis and not worry about the possibility of damaging one of my more delicate vintage pieces.
I save my vintage wardrobe for evenings at the theater, living history events with other vintage enthusiasts or photo shoots. Even when I dress casually, I like to add a little glamour. Instead of sweats around the house or between burlesque performances backstage, I'll wear a 1930s style satin pajamas or lounging gown.
For some occasions; however, there is something to be said for an outfit with vintage inspiration. Some of the "modern" clothing I make for myself might have a 1940s military flair, or a trim design from the 18th century.
"Why did you start making your own costumes?"
Since I started sewing so young, I made all of my own Halloween costumes (sometimes with help from mom). When I started doing burlesque I already had a strong passion for classic burlesque and historical fashion details. Iíve incorporated that into all my costume designs, even the more fetish-inspired number I do. I also make my own props, like my two pairs (so far) of giant ostrich feather fans and my huge satin boudoir cushion. The corsets I wear in my shows are all from patterns I draft and sew myself. I began making these things myself not only to save on cost, but this way I can create exactly what I have in mind, and make as many changes as I want along the way. Often times, putting together a stage costume can literally be described as 'Burlesque Engineering'. Not only does it have to fit correctly, it has to come off smoothly as well!
"What are some of your favorite hobbies besides burlesque and sewing?"
I have always loved collecting and reading books on historical fashion, and researching all the style changes and trends specific to each decade. I also love books about the figureheads of style from various eras, and scandals both true and fictional, involving beautifully dressed people.
When I have the time and ability to travel if needed, I also love attending costumed events and conventions.
I do Victorian, Deco and WWII living history, and I'm just starting to get into WWI events.
When I do watch TV, I enjoy an interesting mix that includes Agatha Christie's Poirot, Sherlock Holmes (both Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch), Masterpiece Theater, Vikings, Game Of Thrones, Walking Dead, Archer, and Downton Abbey.
I even have a deep love for Scandinavian/Russ/Viking metal. My favorites include Ensiferum, TYR, and Arkona, plus classics like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. You can usually find me in the crowd whenever a band of these 'Vikings' rolls through town! There are also other bands that while very northern European, may not fall into the 'metal' category such as Wardruna or Corvus Corax, which often find their way into some of my performances.
"Do you ever sell any of your costumes?"
I never sell any of my stage costumes. Perhaps they will be donated to the Exotic World museum when I'm old? After all, I need them for my performances. Sometimes if I rework or replace a costume, and there is a component left over that can be used, I will sell it or see if a fellow performer can use it in a new creation.
Otherwise, I also make and sell accessories on Etsy. I am currently selling a few 1940s-inspired hats and sometimes a few dresses as well. You can see what my current listings are here.
"Are you single?"
"Who inspires you?"
Ah, there's so much! Most of my inspiration comes from the burlesque ladies, famed beauties, and theater stars of past centuries.
My favorites are Veronica Lake, Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Hedy Lamarr, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Gina Lollobrigida, Evelyn Nesbit, Camille Clifford, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Marlene Dietrich and the designers that clothed them.
"What was the appeal of the (burlesque) scene?" "It's been a relatively dead art that few are trying to revive, have you found others open to it?" Home | Bio | Gallery
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The appeal to me above all was the glamorous costumes! Along with that, I enjoyed the idea that being sexy or sensual through dance didnít have to be dictated by what we often see in popular culture. I can express my glamorous, sexy, or innocent sides when performing a burlesque routine, beyond modern strip club themes. Burlesque is a more creative outlet, and it lets performers to tell more of a story with costuming and props, to a broader audience of both men and women.
I should add that I recently had someone approach me who was "confused" about my stance on the difference between strippers you see at a strip club, and the burlesque performers of today. I do not take a holier-than-thou attitude toward strip club dancers. When you break it down, I am also a stripper, and modern strip clubs are what the burlesque of the past morphed into as cultural changes dictated. There were quite a few performers who did things back in the good old days that would still make even the most seasoned strip club regular blush these days. It wasn't all giggles and feathers. I strip in a different way that pays tribute to a different era of striptease, and it seems to appeal to quite a large number of women, as well as a male audience.
It was nearly a lost form of entertainment up until almost 15 years ago and many are helping to revive it. Including the lovely Dita Von Teese, who was also one of my inspirations. Over the last 10 years or more, burlesque has been booming and you canít visit a major city and not see a poster for a burlesque show. One of the reasons I believe many people are open to classic and modern burlesque is due to its focus on a sensual kind of striptease performance that is more theatrical. Both men and women are attracted to and inspired by it and for myself as a performer, I just think itís more fun!
"It's been a relatively dead art that few are trying to revive, have you found others open to it?" Home | Bio | Gallery
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Home | Bio | Gallery | Shows | Calendar | Press | FAQ | Main Site