In honor of Women’s History Month, and inspired by the #5WomenArtists project led by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, we are asking burlesque artists to share with us their thoughts on their art form. This week, we are talking with 2006 Miss Exotic World, Julie Atlas Muz. Based in New York, Muz has performed on stage and television, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was featured in art exhibits at the Whitney Biennial and Deitch Projects.
If you missed it, be sure to check out our previous interview with burlesque legend Judith Stein.
BHoF: Why did you choose burlesque as your art form?
I moved to New York City to be a dancer and a theater maker. In experimental theater/dance making, there is so much rehearsal for so few performances. I fell into burlesque aka nightlife entertainment because it was immediate performance with an immediate audience and I love the performing.
BHoF: What do you want to get across with your work?
A feeling of freedom.
BHoF: What is your process for putting an act together?
It depends on the act. Sometimes it’s music first, sometimes it’s sketched out in advanced, sometimes it comes together last minute as an onstage improvisation. The one through-line in my process is that I try to listen to the act, and listen to the audience. I try to get out of my own way and listen. That said, every act should have a beginning, middle that builds, and an ending. Also, I like to have a story, a reason to strip aside from just taking off my clothes.
BHoF: How do you know if an act is “working”?
The audience likes it and I get booked.
BHoF: What makes you feel best about being a burlesque performer?
My friends in burlesque. The ease in which you can perform, having fun and freedom.
BHoF: What has been your greatest challenge as a burlesque artist?
I recently have been hosting as Juicy Hardcore, and that was a big challenge for me, but if I’m to be totally honest, my biggest challenge as a burlesque performer is keeping my mouth shut in dressing rooms when other performers put too much emphasis on rhinestoning costumes or online politics and not enough on the power of dance, making a great, unique act and loving the audience.