Are you looking for something sexy AND entertaining? Well you’re in luck! The 2nd Annual Texas Burlesque Festival is being held tonight and the 16th at Emo’s (603 Red River). The festival is described on the website as a “two-day hoedown and showdown celebrating the raucous revival of Texas burlesque and vaudeville”. There are at least 50 different performers from around the nation coming to our dear old Austin to entertain you. Austin Daze was able to sneak a few moments with two stars from Chicago who will be performing at the festival on Saturday.
Natasha Minsk is model, burlesque dancer, and vintage clothing entrepreneur. She’ll be dazzling you with her performance Saturday night but first she’ll be answering some of our questions.
AUSTIN DAZE: What is your favorite aspect of Burlesque?
NATASHA MINSK: The opportunity to interact with an audience and draw them into an experience with me.
AD: Is this your sole profession or do you have an average day job?
NM: I design interiors for homes and events, as well as run a vintage clothing business, Cheesecake Vintage (www.cheesecakevintage.etsy.com). In addition, I have a Masters Degree in opera and occasionally perform in that realm.
AD: Does your personality onstage differ from who you are off stage?
NM: Not really – my burlesque persona and my real life are pretty integrated. The integration process for me took place years ago when I was struggling to express who I truly was rather than hiding behind a shy exterior.
AD: You are also part of a duo called The Honey Buns. Can you tell us a little about that?
NM: Lola Getz, the other Bun, and I met 2 and 1/2 years ago in a burlesque class and did a routine together for that class. We enjoyed working together so much that we decided to continue to perform duets as well as provide a support base for each other’s solo careers. Working with Lola is a blast because we each bring different things to the table and as a result, are always learning from each other. We are each pretty laid back ladies too, which has been so wonderful – there is none of that territorial competitiveness that can arise in a performance arena. Love you, Lola!
AD: Do you prefer to perform solo or as a pair?
NM: It depends on the day! I love the thrill of being the only one on stage and getting to play with the audience so intimately, but when I go too long without collaboration, I get antsy. It is the same with opera – there is an insane high when you are the one weaving a aria into an audience’s conscious, but the feeling of working with other singers provides a whole different energy because there is that ability to play off of each other as well as the magic of having all these diverse parts come together to create this wall of sound.
AD: How do you decide on what you will perform at each show? Is there a process or just what feels right for the location?
NM: Often, a show or venue will have a particular feel or theme – classic, 1980’s, speakeasy – and that definitely informs the choice of a number. If there isn’t a prescribed feel, I pick whatever piece I am most passionate about at the moment. That passion will translate to the audience!
AD: Some people think that Burlesque is too risqué. What are your thoughts on that?
NM: I think there is a time and place for it – I certainly wouldn’t walk into corporate America and start a routine, but I think that burlesque is classy. Of course it’s titillating – that’s the point – but for the most part burlesque performers are a theatrical bunch, not a raunchy bunch. Burlesque is a theatrical venture, with an additional focus on the story and the illusion, not solely the physical.
AD: I am in love with the whole pin up look! Any advice for a girl who is interested in getting into the biz?
NM: Learn how to do your hair! It’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it – it just takes practice. Once you’ve got the hair done, you could throw on some jeans and a t-shirt and people will still be amazed by your pin-up-ness. Then find an amazing photographer with pin-up experience and start learning how to pose. There are lots of great books of the old pin-ups out there to inspire both your look and your pin-up style posing. Most of all have fun! To me, pin-ups are about inspiring people, from women who are learning to love and embrace their figures, to people at a pub who may feel like there is no longer glamour in modern life.
AD: What are your plans for the future?
NM: I am going to be taking Cheesecake Vintage on the road a lot this summer to Rockabilly and Pin-Up events so that will be consuming much of my time. But I do have plans for creating some new burlesque routines, bringing a few women positive events to fruition, and then traveling to NYC to perform at the Coney Island Cockabilly Festival and Pin-up Contest. Whew!
Red Hot Annie also hails from Chicago. She started out as just a girl selling hot dogs on the city streets but soon heard her calling as an entertainer. You can catch her act on Saturday night as well but first we talk here about monthly bills and how important it is to love the body you were born with!
AUSTIN DAZE: What attracted you to Burlesque?
RED HOT ANNIE: I am an exhibitionist, and I enjoy the idea of expressing myself – specifically – in front of an audience. Burlesque lets me do that, but it also has an aspect of theatre and glamour that I adore. Plus, I get to express myself sexually, which – even as far as we’ve come – is still a rare thing for women to be able to do socially without reproach.
AD: I would never have the balls to pull of what you all do on stage. Have you always been this comfortable in your skin or did it take some time?
RHA: It took some time, of course. I actually started acting on stage when I was 16, and acting/singing in front of an audience was enough to help me overcome a lot of my physical insecurities. But, just because I embrace my cellulite on stage doesn’t mean that I always feel 100% about my body. So, certainly there are times when I’m climbing the stairs to the stage and I have a momentary freak-out about my ass, my dirty bare feet, or whether I have lipstick on my teeth. The fact is – for me – the joy of being on stage trumps any of feelings of insecurity.
I firmly believe that Empowerment is a Process.
AD: I read on your web site that getting “the monthly bill” never stops a dancer but something called a “diva cup” can be used. I can’t imagine having to be sexy while going through my period but also having to wear some kind of cup?! How do you do it?
RHA: Haha! It’s not always easy, that’s for sure. Sometimes, I feel like sitting on the couch, eatting a chocolate cake, and watching Sex in the City reruns instead of performing – especially when I have my period. But, it’s rarely hard for me to just throw some glitter on and dance because I love burlesque so damn much!
AD: Fans must go bananas over you! Can you tell us a little about your fan base and how they help fund your travels?
RHA: I am very lucky to have such enduring fans. I’ve been a pinup model for 7 years, and my biggest fans have been around since the very beginning. There are a lot of gentlemen and a few ladies who send me regular emails that really help make it all worth doing! When I was preparing to travel for the Vancouver International Burlesque Fest, many of my fans sent me donations to show their support. I don’t think I could have made it to Vancouver without their help! It’s very expensive to travel internationally.
AD: Your photo spreads are beautiful, do you have a favorite style to shoot?
RHA: I am constantly trying to evolve my work. It tends to stay in the Pinup genre, for the most part, but I’m always looking for new and interesting photographers who want to push my boundaries.
AD: Is your family supportive of your career choice?
RHA: They are not unsupportive. My parents pull that, “I may not love what you do, but I’ll always love you,” line, but the rest of my siblings – I have six! – are sorta “Meh,” on the whole thing. My sisters have come to a show or two, but the fact is, they’re really not interested in any of it.
AD: Are there Burlesque dancers that you look up to?
RHA: This is going to sound corny, but my favorite dancers are the girls in my troupe, Vaudezilla. Wham Bam Pam always has these amazing ideas for acts and ways we can engage the audience, Donna Touch is a master marketer – oh yeah, and hot as hell, and Bonny Babs makes these incredibly intricate costumes. We also just signed-on Maria May I who is brand new but can shimmy like no one else in Chicago.
AD: I was looking through some of your acts: Annie’s Panties, Chocolate Kisses/Strawberries, etc. There must be a whole lot of work that goes into each act you perform like music, costumes, choreography. Where do you get your inspiration from?
RHA: Honestly, I guess because I’ve only been doing this for a little more than a year, I still see inspiration in just about everything, so coming up with concepts for 3 minutes of stage time comes easy at this point. Ask me again in another year. 🙂
AD: Lastly, what does the future hold for Red Hot Annie?
RHA: Who knows? I’m ready for whatever comes my way. I hope I can learn from the bad and be humble about the good, and remember it all when my tits are in my shoes. 🙂
For more information on the Texas Burlesque Festival go to: http://www.texasburlesquefest.com.