So a while ago you may remember finding out more about Rachel Rouge, well here’s more from another slinky sage Wellingtonian, Eva Strangelove. I’m sure that like me, you have been transfixed by her movements, and here she shares some of her insights.
1. Where do your source your inspirations from for you acts? Do you have a process around building choreography?
No particular process, per se, and it usually depends on the track. I do not have a rule about what type of music I use, and go fromtraditional to popular to alternative, depending on my mood and what is appropriate for the gig. I have a handful of acts already set that I use regularly, yet I often shake it up by either swapping the track, lengthening or shortening it or mixing and matching the costume pieces. Its important to be able to do this I believe – because when I was starting out, a lot of technical issues and miscommunication between the dancers and the Sound Guy meant that the wrong track would play…but what can ya do but keep dancing? It’s important to be able to “wing it” should the need arise!
I do not have set choreography that I cannot deviate from, but I know which parts of the track I want to accent with particular moves or garment removal, and everything in between I improvise, and then I simply do it over and over again in my living room, very quickly figuring out what works and what doesn’t:)
2. When you first started performing Burlesque did people treat you differently? Was there any good responses?
A big reaction came from my name change! Strangelove is a stage name of course but when Eva became my first name (ex Sherie), I explained to those who asked that I felt it was an important part of my new found stage persona, and I simply liked it better. Those who thought it was “stupid” were ignored and those who were supportive were awesome.
The burlesque resurgence certainly was in full swing overseas three years ago when we started, so people were very intrigued that myself and my troupe The Sisters of Strange Love were doing it (guess who named us) Courtney L’Amourand Ponie Ryder (costumier Flo Foxworthy)! We had no trouble getting gigs that’s for sure. The public curiosity was peaked and they came in droves:)
It’s important to be able to “wing it” should the need arise!
Naturally we spent a lot of time explaining what burlesque actually is, and the difference between burlesque and modern stripping, Flo was kept busy making our costumes and Courtney is a mother of four (three back then) and were certainly met with resentment as well as encouragement. My partner gave me my first pair of ostrich fans (which I have only recently passed along to another performer) and called me Eva, but one reporter was asking me questions like “so what is it about prancing around half naked that you like so much?” and “but you are not really any different than a stripper, are you? Admit it!” and naturally that article was full of misquotes and excluded the points I was trying to make. But more importantly was the support – The encouraging articles from open-minded reporters, our gigs were often sold out and we were busy with private corporate events. Girls were realising quickly that they too could do this, photographers wanted to shoot us, and we were approached about a reality show based around the three of us building our brand (but we decided against that in the end).
3. What goes through your mind before you step onto the stage?
I am a beautiful confident showgirl dammit, I love me the crowd loves me, remember to project, full the stage somehow with my tiny frame, bugger I need to pee again, I hope the DJ knows I start OFFstage this time, I could use a shot, am I wearing pasties? Breathe! Breathe! And….go!
4. How well are NZ performers received in the US? Are there any huge differences between the two besides the huge popularity in the US?
US people are intrigued by us, starting with our strange accents! A lot of Americans are completely unfamiliar with NZ, or think its a part of Australia (which is fine by me because I adore Australia). I am often quoted Flight of the Conchord lyrics or asked if I was a Hobbit extra. I wouldn’t say there are huge differences between the two – as with both nations you get the classic style, you get comedic style, narratives, circus etc. But of course with the population difference there more variety over there, because there are much more people doing it, more of a range of people in general – black and ethnic girls, curvy girls and much more Boylesque, fantastic and original use of props and of course, better availability of costumes to die for!
The Austin burlesque girls are some of the loveliest human beings I have ever met – so welcoming and supportive! My first trip to Texas I Myspaced as many as I could find, and they all got back to me with lists of the upcoming events, email address of the event organizers and their own phone numbers in case I wanted to meet up with them (I did), and at the shows they all cheer loudly from the front row! I felt so accepted and had warm fuzzies:) The Dallas girls are initially more stand-offish but lightened up when they got used to me:) Many of the gals I shared the stage with at the Dallas Burlesque Festival I have remained close with:)
My good friend and Wellington local Tanya (the Magenta Diamond) is one of the most incredible performers Ive ever had the pleasure of knowing, and she is tearing it up all over the world at the mo, and has just performed at the Toronto Burlesque Festival with my idol Michelle L’Amour (I made her get me an autograph)! Shes currently in Berlin. When she returns soon, I’m sure she’d make for an interesting interview! I sure as hell will be drilling her
Miss LaVida performed at this years New York Burlesque Festival, and I am looking forward to hearing what that is like!
5.What’s the weirdest and most wonderful thing that has happened to you through burlesque?
Being flown overseas to perform and model for a start! It is wonderful that a bogan from the Hutt gets opportunities like that, which of course stem more and more opportunities and it snowballs. Getting fan mail is always a pleasant surprise, and it still phases me that I work as a model! I guess I could say that it still feels weird to have been successful thus far, having come from my humble beginnings. I love how gritty burlesque can be sometimes – we dream of our private dressing room at the Crazy Horse when really, before we deserve the royal treatment we have to be able to handle getting ready in a tiny toilet cubicle, an industrial restaurant kitchen or behind a threadbare curtain with our audience inches away, talking about you, and applying our make up in in our tiny compact mirror, and climb down the side of a muddy cliff to get to the location!
Last winter I shot a music video out in the absolute middle of nowhere (three hours west of the Wairarapa or somewhere, with no reception), where I slept and got ready in the back of a van, and then for two hours trekked with the crew into dense, slippery and muddy, wild bush, to get to this stunningly beautiful but very remote natural waterfall, where I was then filmed go-go dancing on an awkward rock in my red sparkly Flo Foxworthy two-piece and knee high PVC platforms. Did I mention it was the middle of winter? None the less I did my thing and collected my cheque. Funnily enough this video is yet to be released!
6. What can each of us do to help build a supportive culture of burlesque in Wellington?
Ah yes! There really are only a handful of us, but it seems that wherever there are a congregation of women, all whose job it is to be as beautiful and talented as possible, drama ensures. I could be here all night talking about this but it boils down to simply not saying anything all if you dont have something nice to say! Sometimes nothing feels better than to have a good rant to whoever will listen about how so-and-so somehow did you wrong or your opinions of whats-her-name’s acts are not complimentary, when really, we need each other, so should all strive to nip that in the bud before chinese whispers and general cattiness certainly hurt us more than imaginable! Show up to each others gigs, cheer genuinelly and remember that there are many types of burlesque and there are many types of women. We dont have to all get along but if we’re all doing burlesque for whatever reason, we’re all on the same team. Apologize when necessary, shut your mouth when necessary, and celebrate being women!
7. Finally, any tips for beginners?
Know where burlesque came from and why you want to do it, choose an original and memorable stage name, develop your character (which often takes time), attend many dance courses to become fully aware of yourself and your body, and commit to rehearsals:) You will be discovered!
Looky Links – - >
You can look Eva Strangelove up on Facebook, or Myspace, or check out her interview with The Great NZ Pin Up Blog. Eva’s also working on a 2011 Calendar check her facebook for more info to buy your rele’s a real treat for Xmas. Previous posts on Eva.