Halloween 2009 I attended Vaudezilla’s Monster Burlesque Academy. This was the first Vaudezilla production that I attended and it was an amazing show. After the show I got the opportunity to interview Red Hot Annie, the president and one of the performers for Vaudezilla. If you’ve never been to a burlesque show you should do yourself a favor and attend a Vaudezilla show, they’re beyond entertaining. For more information and a full calendar of events visit www.Vaudezilla.com and www.RedHotAnnie.com.
1. First off tell us who you are and what you do?
I’m Red Hot Annie and I’m a burlesque dancer. I’m a big part of the Chicago burlesque scene, but I also perform nationally, and I’ve even been to Vancouver!
2. How did you come about being a burlesque performer, was it something you always wanted to do?
I didn’t know it was called burlesque, but it’s certainly something I’ve always had an interest in. I remember always being drawn to pictures of super feminine ladies when I was younger – ladies in the circus or showgirls, even. I never really saw myself as a burlesque dancer until a couple years ago, though. I’ve been watching Chicago burlesque shows since 2002-2003, maybe, and I was just a fan for a long time. It wasn’t until the end of 2007 that I started actually dipping my toe in the pool. Now, I can’t imagine *not* doing it!
3. What can people expect from one of your shows?
People can expect to have a good time. We put together each and every one of our shows with the audience in mind, from the free swag bags to the jokes that our audience will *really* laugh at, we like to make sure we’re putting a show together that puts our audience first. Even though we consider burlesque an art, we shy away from anything that makes it seem pretentious or “above” the audience in any way. You can also expect a lot of glitter, glamour, and wonky fun.
4. How do you come up with the themes for your shows?
The themes come up in a variety of ways. Usually, Dick Dijon and myself are just chillin’ and talking about something totally unrelated and we’ll throw out an idea just to make the other person laugh. Sometimes it sticks. Sometimes it’s a good start for a show – for example, the Vaudezilla Monster Burlesque Academy actually started as the Vampire Academy of Arts & Polytechnics. Not exactly a practical concept, but it gave us the jumping off point. Recently, Wham Bam Pam has also been coming up with some brilliant ideas, and she’ll be producing some new and exciting themes next year with Vaudezilla.
5. Tell us about Vaudezilla.
Vaudezilla is a team of performers who specialize in burlesque.
6. You teach as well as perform correct? Tell us about that, how can someone become your student?
I sure do. I teach for Demaira Dance Company. Ladies are welcome to become students by emailing me or just showing up for the class! Details regarding my burlesque classes can always be found HERE.
7. Is burlesque your whole career/life or do you do other things as well?
I’m an artist by profession and burlesque is definitely a large part of my career – I perform an average of three times a week! I’m also a professional hair/makeup artist.
8. Who/what are some of your influences?
There are a lot of really great burlesque dancers in Chicago, but my greatest influences in performance are old vaudeville performers like Charlie Chaplin and Lucy. And the girls in my troupe are the ones I have the most contact with inside the Chicago burlesque scene, so they are often influential.
9. Where do all your costumes and props come from?
Costumes/props come from all over the place, actually! I have a custom costume from www.Limebarb.com (which is run by our very own professional costumer Bonny Babs), but I also have a lot of old vintage pieces and even some modern stuff that’s been re-worked specifically to be part of a burlesque costume. There’s a lot sitting at the kitchen table, leaning over a bra and gluing rhinestones one-at-a-time. I’ve only got a couple props, and one of them is a life-size hot dog cart that my father-in-law made for me.
10. Do you have any advice for girls with interest in becoming a burlesque performer?
Of course. If you are interested in becoming a burlesque performer, one of the most important things you can do is find a mentor who will support you. Find someone who wants you to succeed, and will push you as much as you want/need to be pushed – and the rest will be a piece of cake.
11. Are there any special events you’d like to tell us about?
Yes! Vaudezilla is proud to be one of the co-producers for the Windy City Burlesque Fest – we’ll be featuring performers from all over the United States (and maybe even the world). It’s going to be in April 2010. We’re also planning on remounting Big Lebowski Burlesque in 2010, as well as some new vaudeville shows in Skokie (a Chicago suburb), along with our regular weekly Thursday show at Blue Bayou, BROADZILLA! once a month at Exit, and a variety of other shows that are still in pre-production. 2010 is going to be a very busy year, indeed! You can find out about our shows HERE.
12. How can people contact you for more information on booking and classes?
Email is my favorite – email@example.com
13. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the fans out there reading this?
I love you guys. Thanks for making this so much fun!
-Interview by Shaun May