10 most-read stories on PopSmart NOLA in 2016

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The most popular stories on PopSmart NOLA in 2016 are reflection of how the site has evolved over the course of the year, in some ways serving as a forum for New Orleans’ creative community to share their stories, thoughts and ideas. There were some fascinating ideas put forth, and so I thought it would be fun to close out the year with a look back at what you read. Here’s to more fun stories in 2017.

10) Big Freedia and Carl Mack: Queens for a weekend, with Krewe du Vieux and Satyricon
“Considering their respective senses of style and ties to the LGBT community, it should come as no surprise that the two would cross paths, as they did when Mack created the costume for Big Freedia’s appearance at the 2014 Voodoo Fest. (That it had such a royal appearance should shock no one, either; check out the photos!) His ball costumes are even more elaborate.”

9) Bella Blue to launch Foxglove Revue, a new burlesque troupe in New Orleans
“The inspiration behind the troupe might sound counterintuitive when you consider her stating the obvious of the current status of the scene: ‘Burlesque is really saturated right now.’ So why add another troupe? To make it better, she said. ‘The challenge is making it stand out. Making it unique. Making it really set apart from the others,’ Blue said. ‘What we feel we have done is chosen all very strong performers who are committed to not just bringing their A-game, but are also committed to learning.’”

8) Fleur de Tease’s Chris Lane on life as a burlesque emcee: “My job is to get off the stage”
“It’s a sticky wicket to address, as a male host, sexuality and female empowerment in burlesque; I’m not a woman onstage disrobing for strangers, I don’t have to deal with real life and online stalking, or body shaming. There have been a lot of great essays and discussions about empowerment and the Male Gaze, presented by much greater intellects; but at the end of the day burlesque is still a mediated experience, people are still paying to see someone onstage, there are still voyeuristic and exhibitionistic elements, so issues of sex, power and commodification collide alongside boas, pasties and glove peels. To navigate that minefield as a host, I personally do lots of crowd control and make sure the audience is getting their money’s worth, but without indulging in ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy or throwing performers under the bus.”

7) New Orleans actress Kerry Cahill on her own loss, following Pulse Orlando shooting
“I do know that I will probably not make it out of a mass shooting alive. I won’t win against an AR-15 or a Glock 45. I won’t, and that’s OK. I never want to have to fight one again, I already got lucky once: I was robbed at gunpoint and made it out alive. And if you think you’re tired of the violence, imagine how the 13-year-old in my school who lost her 3-year-old sister to a drive-by shooting feels. Imagine how I feel, imagine how a 9/11 survivor feels, imagine how a president who has had to hug more than 100 victims’ family members feels. So don’t get tired — get mad, get energetic, and don’t stop because I’m never moving out of the USA. I will stay and make it better. I hope you do, too.”

6) Check out the best in New Orleans burlesque, circus and sideshow for 2015
I’ve looked at the New Orleans burlesque and circus scenes for 2015. This was capped off with a series of ‘best of’ polls recognizing the work in several areas. The reasons for the polls were many. It seemed like a nice way to help put a cap on what became for me a year of covering a vital facet of New Orleans’ performance scene. It also seemed like a nice way to shine a spotlight on both the performers and productions throughout the year, both to provide exposure for the scene and to serve as an informal taking of the pulse on what fans were responding to.”

5) Vinsantos: Cabaret and drag shows turn into fundraisers after French Quarter fire
“We live in a very special compound on north Rampart Street that consists of the Temple, Deity Arts, our home as well as the homes of five residents. Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to put the pieces of these people’s live back together, The Voodoo Temple suffered a huge amount of fire, smoke and water damage and will not be reopening in its long-standing location. Both Hannibelle and the tenant adjacent to her have lost their homes. This is painful to us as we had the best neighbors that we could ask for. This isn’t something that can be fixed with a little drywall and some paint. This mixed-use building will be out of commission for a long while.”

4) David Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson recalls 1972 Ziggy Stardust show in New Orleans
“I loved that tour and I especially love New Orleans because I have a specific memory of, when we weren’t playing, I went into some of those clubs and just sat in with some of those Dixieland bands and played some of that music with them … So that was a thrill for me. And the inspiration for ‘Time’ I would suspect would’ve come from there. I was there, and he was writing that music through that whole tour and being affected by every city we went to.”

3) Polly Watts takes the Avenue Pub staff to Belgium (Field Trip)
The memories we created in Belgium always involved beer, but they were rarely about beer. The brewers we met talked as much about their families, the history of their regions and politics as they did about beer. In fact, geeky American-style beer discussions can be dangerous territory with a Belgian and filled with landmines when speaking to a Belgian brewer. Just like religion, converts to craft beer can be very enthusiastic and opinionated. The peeps in Belgium have been living beer for generations. There is a right way and a wrong way to brew/market/drink beers … and don’t imagine that all Belgian brewers agree on what is right and what is wrong. Introduce enthusiastic (but not professional brewers) American opinions and you will be quickly dismissed.”

2) The woman behind the coolest kiss at Southern Decadence
“The protesters seemed confused, and just tried yelling about how disgusting we were. They repeatedly condemned us, saying that we’re ‘gonna burn in hell’ and my friend calmly responded, ‘Well, at least I’ll be with her.’ And aside from a few giggles, those were the only words either of us said. The onlookers cheered and drowned out the negativity, someone with a bullhorn was taunting them asking why they liked watching it if it was such a sin, and a woman came up and “beaded” us before we walked off hand in hand.”

1) At Dook’s Place at the airport, New Orleans-style family of fare
“‘Dook’ spent a few years at Dooky Chase’s (which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2016) after graduating from the “intensive track” program at Le Cordon Bleu in France back in 2008, and then after working for Entergy and having two children with his wife, Gretchen, helped open Dooky Chase’s out at the airport before starting to chart his own path. A spot nearby, but with more of his influences, seemed a logical progression.”

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Trans, Planted: Brooklyn Shaffer and AJay Strong look back at a life in transition and toward an uncertain future

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“STEEL POINSETTIAS”
WHAT:
Holiday spook from the creative team behind “Ditzyland,” featuring Ricky Graham, Varla Jean Merman, Jefferson Turner, Sean Patterson, Brooklyn Shaffer and Michael P. Sullivan
WHEN:
Dec. 2-18
WHERE:
Rivertown Theaters of the Performing Arts, 325 Minor St., Kenner
TICKETS:
$30
INFO:
Rivertown Theaters website

“POPSMART NOLA”
WHAT: This week’s show will focus on transgender issues, with guests Brooklyn Shaffer (“Steel Poinsettias”), AJay Strong (Bella Blue Entertainment), Wesley Ware (BreakOUT!), and journalist Katy Reckdahl
WHEN: Sat. (Dec. 3), 3 p.m.-4 p.m.
WHERE: WHIV (102.3 FM); www.whivfm.org

Sitting in between Brooklyn Shaffer and AJay Strong in the back of the CC’s Coffee House in the French Quarter this week was watching, and listening to, one of most bizarre and fascinating mirror images one might imagine. There sat AJay Strong, the co-producer of Bella Blue Entertainment who, after transitioning from a femaile during relocation to New Orleans a couple years ago, discussing how his transgender journey has finally helped him feel comfortable in his own skin.

Across the back table from him sat his friend, Brooklyn Shaffer, the actor who, just a few years ago as Brian Peterson, was one of New Orleans funniest and campiest performers — often in drag. And, after having transitioned to female at almost exactly the same time, Shaffer could only nod her head in agreement with Strong and expressed her own improving sense of self. She feels so comfortable, in fact, that Shaffer returns to the stage with her current co-conspirators that include Ricky Graham, Varla Jean Merman and Sean Patterson in the holiday spoof “Steel Poinsettias.” It’s got the same kind of campy fire that Shaffer used to produce in Running With Scissors’ annual “Grenadine McGunkle’s Double-Wide Christmas” as well as the Graham-Merman concoction, “Ditzyland.”

When one was speaking, really, the other would nod their head. For even though these are two people who have transitioned from exact opposite gender to the other — conjuring the image of two genders crossing in the night — they both appear to have landed in the same type of contentment one gets when they better recognize themselves in the mirror.

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“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 5: Extended interview with Alexandra Scott, helpful links on sexual assault and harassment

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(NOTE: Regretfully, it appears due to a technical glitch, Ep. 5 might not be saved for archival purposes. Until this is figured out, please enjoy this extended version of the Alexander Scott interview, which was incredibly revealing and offers some of the most sobering examples of what New Orleans performers go through on a regular basis in terms of sexual harassment. Also check out the helpful links and other resource info at the bottom of the page.)

Even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States back on Nov. 8, women across the United States were horrified at the language about and attitude that Trump has expressed toward women — and those most horrified might well have been women who have experienced some form of sexual assault, abuse or harassment. As increasingly more women come forward to share their experiences, especially on social media, those numbers become more apparent.

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The Reverend Pastor Father Brother Ben Wisdom explains his spiritual path

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WHAT: Brother Nutria
WHEN: Tues. (Sept. 20), 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hi-Ho Lounge

With his work as a producer and host for the Snake Oil Festival and Slow Burn Burlesque along with emceeing Bella Blue’s Dirty Dime Peepshow, Ben Wisdom has carved out his niche as the fallen preacher man who has succumbed to, revels in and even peddles the sins of the flesh. It’s as if Jimmy Swaggart had decided to stay on Airline Drive. It’s something into which he’s evolved over the years, and when he’s at the top of his game he’s one of the funniest comedians in New Orleans. He’s even become a radio host with his show “The Ministry of Misbehavin’” on 102.3 FM WHIV and WHIVfm.org, Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. But there is a context to his conversion, and he was gracious enough to share his journey with us as his band, Brother Nutria, prepares for its gig on Sept. 20 at the Hi-Ho Lounge.

I have a pretty interesting and fun life. I’m a burlesque emcee and show producer in New Orleans, Louisiana. I love “the city that care forgot” as well as a healthy dose of downright debauchery, so burlesque in the town I love is a good fit for me. However, I haven’t always been down with the “ways of the devil,” or the promiscuity of the Crescent City. In a different life I was a devout follower of Pentecostal Christianity. I was baptized three times. I spoke in tongues. I even, for a brief time, considered becoming a preacher.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen, I guess? My going from devout holy roller to filthy burlesque emcee was a long journey, and as you can probably guess, my relationship with religion is now and really always has been complicated. And, that’s why I can’t seem to get it out of my act. I’m known for some of my, I guess you would call them catch phrases — “amen and amen again,” and “hallelujah and hallelujah to ya.”

I often incorporate religious themes into my performance, and I even have a character, The Rev. Pastor Father Brother Ben Wisdom, that is a full-on, bent, Pentecostal preacher who extolls the virtue of having no virtue. This character was first born at a Slow Burn Burlesque show called, “Jesus’ Big Birthday Bash” — it was our twisted version of a Christmas show). I further developed the character in a show I co-produce with my partner and co-creator, Little Luna, called the “Unholy Roller Revival,” which is a mock tent revival that we have put on every year at the variety arts festival that we also produce, called Snake Oil Festival. I use the Preacher character as a lens to hold up to what I consider to be the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the people who use Christianity to rule us.

And, now, the preacher character is going through another evolution. A year ago, I joined a group of great guys (MarkAlain Dery, Nate Pendergast and Kit Keen) here in New Orleans, and we formed the band, Brother Nutria. We all share in the songwriting duties, but I probably write two-thirds of the lyrics, and as you might have guessed those lyrics are full of thoughts questioning the world view as seen through the eye of so-called modern Christian America. We have song titles like “Gospel Billy Preacher,” “Ready to Sin” and “Holy Ghost Drone Strike.” In the latter, we sing, “We’re all good people. We’re all sanctified. And, when it comes to Christian white folks, his love is double wide.”

ben-smokeI was introduced to religion at a young age. My father was raised in a conservative Catholic household in New Orleans. My mother was raised in non-denominational, full gospel churches is Forth Worth, Texas. As young adults and parents, mine weren’t super religious, despite their upbringings. Before I was about 9 or 10, I don’t remember going to church that much except for with my grandparents. However, my most vivid early memory is from when I was somewhere around 4 or 5 years old. It is a memory of my parents allowing me to attend the Pentecostal tent revival being put on by two of my Dad’s friends, who were former drug addicts turned holy-rolling missionaries. Their son was the same age, as me and we were fast friends. I can recall the sites and sounds of that night. We were in some field in or around Vidalia, La., which is right next to Ferriday, the hometown of Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis, which is where we also lived. In the field they had set up trailers for the ministers and singers. There was a humble stage at the center of it all. That stage was equipped with some ancient PA system that amplified each of the speakers and singers to the point of over-modulation. It was all lit in the dark night by blinding construction lights of some kind.

There was a smell of boiled peanuts in the air.

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More cool Southern Decadence events that didn’t make the Advocate story

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While the New Orleans Advocate ran my perfectly adequate round-up of familiar and offbeat events for the 45th annual Southern Decadence weekend, there’s sooo much more that could’ve gotten in there.

That said, here’s that more part, including some really offbeat stuff:

Decadence ExtravaGAYnza featuring Violet Chachki
Fri. (Sept. 2)
Masquerade, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino
No cover
That Advocate roundup includes Atlanta drag queen Violet Chachki’s appearance at Bella Blue’s New Orleans School of Burlesque, but there are key omissions, including her appearance on Saturday at Bella’s “Dirty Dime Peepshow” Saturday night (Sept. 3) as well as this fun Decadence-themed show. So the Season 7 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has a chance to own the evening on this one. More acts will perform as well.

Glitter Tits Is a Drag: Southern Decadence Addition
Sat. (Sept. 3), 10 p.m.
Sidney’s Saloon
$5 cover “(with drag/androg/glitter/costume/weird)”
$10 cover (“basic”)
You should go to this party that’s moved over from the Voodoo Lounge if for no other reason the creators make the weirdest-ass videos in the New Orleans social-media world (and that’s saying something). But yes, as one can glean from the dress-code possibilities, this party is about as genre- and gender-bending as Decadence gets (although “CREAM” is in the ballpark, too). Music will be provided by DJ Rusty Lazer and DJ Nice Rack. (Pro tip: Bring and/or wear glitter, because you are probably going to be wearing it by the end of the evening anyway, one way or another.)

Horse Meat Disco
Sat. (Sept. 3), 10 p.m.
Ace Hotel
$20
The folks at Club A present the New Orleans debut of popular British disco party DJs with a mix of “underground disco, Italo and rarities that have been rocking crowds from their base in Vauxhall, London, to dance floors worldwide since 2009.”

Am I missing something? (Or at least something that’s at a club not already listed in the Advocate story — for fairness?) Holler at me at dlsnola@gmail.com and I’ll add to the roundup.

BONUS CONTENT FOR BONUS CONTENT — Check out the trailer for the pilot of “Atlanta’s a Drag,” starring Violet Chachki.

For Vinsantos, Tuesday’s another “Draguation” day with the New Orleans Drag Workshop

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WHAT: New Orleans Drag Workshop Cycle 4 Draguation
WHEN:
Tuesday (May 10), 8 p.m.
WHERE: AllWays Lounge, 2240 St. Claude Ave.
COST: Tickets $15. Click here for tickets.
Cycle 4 class: Cate Swan (aka Tarah Cards), Dane Baxter (aka Kedavra), Rocharlotte Raphael (aka Bellagio Showers), Angie Zeiderman (aka Shebrew Internationale), Cory Greenwaldt (aka Slenderella), Sadie Edwards (aka Mx. Mystic), Evan Spigelman (aka Carrie Mehome), Logan VanMeter (aka Candy Snatch), Justin Gordon (aka Jassy), AJay Strong (aka Boy Gorge)

Kedavra is nearly flawless.

Working the AllWays Lounge stage to the sounds of “Bring On the Men” (from the Broadway musical “Jekyll & Hyde”) on a recent weeknight, the aspiring drag queen struts and preens and glares at the audience, shifting from the main stage at various times to the piano at left or over toward the right. When she’s finished, Kedavra’s audience — fellow students in the fourth iteration of the New Orleans Drag Workshop — applaud wildly both out of support and awe.

As the applause fades, a voice booms out from the back of the room, up in the sound booth.

“I actually have some notes for you.”

It’s Vinsantos DeFonte — aka the New Orleans performer Vinsantos — who oversees the workshop and never misses a detail. This is where the “nearly” in “nearly flawless” is revealed.

“I feel like you straight up stole two of Jassy’s moves,” DeFonte says, noting for starters a cartwheel that Kedavra did, almost as an afterthought. But it’s a move heretofore only done by Jassy, one of the other classmates, and DeFonte is clear about each act of the 10 students being singular and unique. No borrowing allowed. Jassy smiles, almost as if to say, no harm done. Still, DeFonte concludes with, “I’m just letting you know you stepped on some drag toes.” With that, and a note to use the main stage more, Kedavra’s last rehearsal before the class’ “Draguation” day on Tuesday (May 10) looks promising.

That Kedavra seems promising shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Her creator, 26-year-old Dane Baxter, also happens to be one of New Orleans’ most popular and in-demand body-paint artists — a fixture at BUKU Fest, Voodoo Fest, Jazz Fest, you name it, whose social media presence includes more than 31,000 followers on Instagram. (He took his drag name from “Avada Kedavra,” or the “Killing Curse” from the “Harry Potter” series. He’s a fan, and has the shoulder tattoo to prove it.)

Several of the other classmates also are known as creative in other areas as well. There’s Angie Zeiderman, who as Angie Z was voted one of New Orleans’ most popular burlesque performers (and a talented vocalist) but in this workshop has created the hard-rocking persona Shebrew Internationale and will lip-synch to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” And there’s Logan VanMeter, who as Danger Rockwell is one of New Orleans’ few regularly working boylesque performers.

Then there’s Cate Swan, an in-demand makeup stylist by day who on Tuesday night will transform into Tarah Cards, dancing a crazed dance to Diamanda Galas’s “I’m Gonna Live the Life.” And, perhaps most unlikely of all, there’s AJay Strong, a recently transgendered male who will revisit his previous feminine life onstage as a whip-cracking Boy Gorge performing to Marilyn Monroe’s “Teach Me Tiger.” This run-through is being done without costumes, but it’s their last time to get their act just right.

This Cycle’s class is a study in diversity: There are men, women, transgender, white, black, gay, straight, performers from other disciplines, and newbies. Like many drag queens, several tuck their junk, while others pump up their boobs, and yet another creates the illusion of junk — with a codpiece.

“My drag family was always a healthy mix of men, women and trans folk that were exploring their identities on and off the stage,” DeFonte says. “I’m glad I was raised in this kind of drag world. If there’s one thing that drag should not be, is narrow-minded.”

While there are plenty of complete newcomers to any kind of stage performance, the New Orleans Drag Workshop also gives New Orleans artists a chance to tap into something different, to add another arrow in their creative quiver.

But it’s also helped fill New Orleans nightclubs with fresh drag talent; “draguates” of the workshop over the past three years include Hannibelle Spector, Liberaunchy, Dasani Waters, and Neon Burgundy, a performer and producer known for such shows as the monthly “Gag Reflex” show at the AllWays Lounge.

“I’ve had many talented performers pass through the Workshop,” DeFonte says, but also notes, “The best thing about the Workshop is that it is completely transformative. It works for the people involved, including myself, on so many levels. It’s definitely a confidence builder. Whether or not a student chooses to pursue a career in drag, they leave the class changed.

“The group dynamic really creates a family style bond,” DeFonte adds. “Each of the cycles have their own connections, and most of them draguate having made life-long friends.”

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Bella Blue reaches top 10 in 21st Century Burlesque poll

17-Bella Blue Touche LoRes-016

Bella Blue

New Orleans burlesque producer and performer Bella Blue was voted No. 8 in the 21st Century Burlesque magazine readers’ poll of the top 50 burlesque performers, as the results of Nos. 4-10 were released Sunday (Jan. 31). Blue was voted No. 16 in the 2015 poll.

Blue, reached late Sunday night, said she was both appreciative of the honor but focused on moving forward with her seemingly myriad projects:

Seeing my accomplishments listed out over the last year really put things in perspective. Like ‘Oh, whoa. I feel really good about what I did that past year. That’s a lot of great stuff to be proud of!’ Because how I operate is just in constant state of setting goals for myself and then not stopping until they are done. There’s not a whole lot of ‘reveling,’ It’s more about ‘Oh man! That was so awesome! Whew! Ok, now what’s next?!’ I just strive to top myself over and over.”

She also emphasized the contributions of her partner in Bella Blue Entertainment, AJay Strong, who started collaborating with her in late 2014.

The poll noted several highlights from 2015 for Blue:

In 2015: Bella headlined The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston, The Vienna Boylesque Festival, The Oklahoma City Burlesque Festival and The Snake Oil Festival. The New Orleans School of Burlesque opened its own studio after a successful Go Fund Me campaign, and she started producing new show ‘Risq: A Burlesque Revue’ at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans (alongside regular shows ‘The Dirty Dime Peepshow,’ The NOSB Student Showcase, ‘Strip Roulette’ and ‘The Blue Book Cabaret’). Bella spoke to 21st Century Burlesque Magazine about the now infamous Lucky Pierre’s incident early in 2015, but emerged from the episode with her usual class, integrity and professionalism.”

Blue recently announced the formation of her new troupe, Foxglove Revue. She also rode as the Queen of the Krewe of PUEWC in the Chewbacchus parade Saturday. She recently was voted one of New Orleans’ top 10 performers as well.

Fellow New Orleans performer Charlotte Treuse was voted No. 46 in the poll. Chicago’s Jeez Loueez, a frequent visitor to New Orleans, finished No. 4. The final three are expected to be announced soon.

 

 

Bella Blue to launch Foxglove Revue, a new burlesque troupe in New Orleans

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UPDATE: Guest performer Ray Gunn of New York City was just voted No. 13 in the 21st Century Burlesque magazine readers’ poll.

New Orleans burlesque performer Bella Blue will launch a new troupe, Foxglove Revue, she announced at her “Touché” show Thursday (Jan. 28) at the Joy Theater.

The inspiration behind the troupe might sound counterintuitive when you consider her stating the obvious of the current status of the scene:

“Burlesque is really saturated right now.”

So why add another troupe? To make it better, she said.

“The challenge is making it stand out. Making it unique. Making it really set apart from the others,” Blue said. “What we feel we have done is chosen all very strong performers who are committed to not just bringing their A-game, but are also committed to learning.”

It’s a strong and varied lineup, indeed: Darling Darla James (sideshow/neo/classic), Charlotte Treuse (classic), Queenie O’Hart (musical theater), Stevie Poundcake (boylesque/musical theater), Madonnathan (drag), Angie Z (classic/vocals), Cherry Bombshell (classic), Miss Monarch M (bellydance/classic), Cherry Brown (classic) and The Lady Lucerne.

“It’s our take on the burlesque troupe formula but including a wide array of performers that don’t fit into one type of genre or style,” she said.

But, importantly, she’ll hold her performers to the same high standard she’s held for herself, with a healthy dose of collaboration.

“They have to take classes,” said Blue, who for years has led the New Orleans School of Burlesque, which found a permanent home in 2015 at the Healing Center. “They have to attend peer reviews. They have to bring new acts to the table. And in turn, we do all we can to help them out. Pitching in for costumes, props, whatever they need.

“Any of my ‘perks’ extend to them,” she continued. “Discounts, products, etc.”

The troupe premiered an act at “Touché,” and will spend the upcoming weeks finalizing details on its opening production, including date and venue.

 

Madame Rosebud channels inner David Bowie for “Touche” appearance Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater

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(NOTE: For event info on “Touché,” click here.)

Madame Rosebud has been going through a David Bowie phase for, oh, maybe about a quarter-century now.

Or phases.

As a child, the New York burlesque performer went from being terrified of his presence when Mom showed a BBC documentary, to being obsessed with him through adolescence and very painful teen years.

“He looked so beautiful and terrifying,” said Rosebud. “There was something about the power of his physicality. It was his sort of reptilian physicality and the fact it was equal parts masculine and feminine, and it was threateningly seductive. There was nothing cute about (Ziggy Stardust). It was intentionally threatening and I had never seen that before. I fell in love with all of those ideas mixed together.

“He was taking all those things I wanted to see, but didn’t know I wanted to see them, and it put them all together.”

Growing up in Sedona, Ariz., she could count the number of friends on one finger, and she went through as many iterations of Bowie that she could think to cope with a persistence sense of alienation. She remembers spending an entire school year in a three-piece suit to honor the Thin White Duke phase of his career.

“I was in a constant state of performance art,” Rosebud said.

The Thin White Duchess from Abe Goldfarb on Vimeo.

She still is, really, and has become one of the more cutting-edge performers in the typically edgy New York scene. And when Bella Blue asked her to perform at her “Touché” show Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater, she asked for Madame Rosebud to resurrect her act inspired by the Bowie song “Wild Is the Wind.” The death of the rock star and pop-culture shape-shifter on Jan. 10 only underscored the need for a little Ziggy Stardust magic. Not that either Madame Rosebud or Bella Blue believes that Bowie’s THAT gone from us.

“I don’t think that he died,” said Rosebud. “I think that he ascended.”

Madame Rosebud, a few days after the ascension, gathered with other performers at The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side, “and it sort of became an impromptu celebration. DJs played Bowie music, and I did two of my Bowie pieces. We all needed to collectively work out this lump in our throat together.

“For me, it’s not gone. I’ve talked to my mom about it several times.”

It’s performers like Madame Rosebud that enjoy mutual admiration with Bella Blue, who loves tapping into that New York sensibility of variety and cabaret performance that often walks crazy fine lines between drag and burlesque. Rosebud will bring husband Bastard Keith — the self-styled inventor of “Burletiquette” — for the show, which includes fellow New Yorker Gal Friday, Chicago boylesque performer Ray Gunn, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant BenDeLaCreme as emcee. (Bella Blue and Nona Narcisse will be among the New Orleans performers.)

The fact that Bowie left this mortal coil after Bella Blue signed up Madame Rosebud isn’t lost on either performer.

“With, Bella it’s perfect,” Rosebud said. “I get to come down here and celebrate with her. She’s from the same weird place. You just kind of know other aliens when you see them.”

 

 

 

 

Perle Noire, New Orleans burlesque star, named Vienna Boylesque Festival headliner

Perle Noire performs at Bella Blue's "Risq" show at Harrah's New Orleans Casino. (Photo by David Lee Simmons

Perle Noire performs at Bella Blue’s “Risq” show at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. (Photo by David Lee Simmons

Internationally acclaimed burlesque performer Perle Noire, who got her start in New Orleans and returns for shows, has been tabbed as the headliner for the 2016 Vienna Boylesque Festival, it was announced Wednesday (Jan. 13). The festival will be held May 18 and 20 in Vienna.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 1.04.31 PM

This marks the second consecutive year that a performer with New Orleans ties has been named the headliner. Bella Blue performed in 2015. Perle Noire also performed at Bella Blue’s “Risq” show this past summer at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

A former regular with Bustout Burlesque, Perle Noire won the inaugural Queen of Burlesque title at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, and more recently finished No. 2 in the 21st Century Burlesque magazine readers’ poll and was first runner-up to Miss Exotic World 2015 at the the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. While she’s currently based out of New York City, she still claims New Orleans as her home.