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Meet the Contenders: Best Debut

The hour is almost at hand – but first, a word from the gorgeous performers competing for Best Debut…

 

Imogen Kelly (©Angela McConnell)

Imogen Kelly (©Angela McConnell)

Imogen Kelly

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
Outrageous Divine Gorgeous.

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
Yes I can – taste wise I’ll be serving strawberries and cream.

What would it mean to you to win?
I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into here and I don’t hold any expectations. I do know I will be seeing my friends from all over the world in one week. This alone is enough to make me burn into a frenzy of overjoyed, busting-at-the-seams with rambunctious fufuzalism (new word = burly queen foofer valve melt down). Sure I’m happy to go out and win gold for Australia but if anyone starts chanting Ozzy Ozzy Ozzy I think I’ll barf. I’m just very excited to be coming.

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
It is wonderful that in a world of tacky porn, there are those of us who will not submit and stand tall in our decision to make erotica tasteful and hot. There are those of us who say poo to bad fashion choices; who will not succumb to wearing shit clothes but will adorn our near naked bodies in Swarovski and feathers. In a man’s world where folks are all too ready to pass judgement on striptease artists, this event celebrates us as the bona fide entertainers we are. That is why this event is so special and in it’s own way wickedly political. In our various states of undress we celebrate who we are in a week long creative streakfest.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
I’ve been eating lots of cream cake, burning villages, spanking the maid, scoffing at starving peasants – you know the usual.

 

Charlotte Treuse (©POC Photo)

Charlotte Treuse (©POC Photo)

Charlotte Treuse

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
My act, ‘L’Heure Verte’, was created specifically with the Burlesque Hall of Fame in mind. It is my biggest, grandest routine, inspired by the speakeasy where I tend bar, and my time spent in New Orleans. The mood starts out very mysterious and sexy, and ends playful and mischievous.

What would it mean to you to win?
Honestly, the fact that I will be competing already feels like winning to me!

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
The first time I attended BHoF, sat in the showroom, and watched Dixie Evans bring the whole house to tears, I realized that I had found my home. As a performer from a young age, I have experienced many different entertainment communities, and never anywhere else have I felt the amount of love, acceptance and reverence for the past that the burlesque community exudes.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
Well, I have had a lot on my plate this Spring, and I have been taking it one event at a time to avoid living in a constant haze of anxiety. I have, of course, been rehearsing and rhinestoning, and this week I actually bought myself a pick-up truck so that I can transport my props from Oregon to Nevada!

 

Miss La Vida (©T Pinups)

Miss La Vida (©T Pinups)

Miss La Vida

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
No I can’t. I’m too verbose. Three word sentences. I love them.

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
Its theme is the celebration of the female form and the best asset a woman can have. It encapsulates classic burlesque moves and costuming juxtaposed with modern/neo-burlesque. I can say with some certainty that there aren’t many acts out there like it.

What would it mean to you to win?
Since I started burlesque three years ago, it’s been a personal goal to be chosen for BHoF so, as corny as it sounds, it’s a dream come true and I feel I’m already a winner just from being chosen.

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
I’m a great believer in the preservation and recognition of burlesque as it was done back in the day. There is so much the legends can teach us to help us become better performers and to continue their legacy. BHoF is the only event in the world where you can meet, learn from and watch so many legends. And to be part of the same event is a huge honour.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
Getting high on glue fumes (from sequin sticking, not from glue sniffing). Trying to work out how to fit my costume into my suitcase. Deciding what outfit to wear on each night. Maxing out my credit card on showgirl accessories I can’t afford. And boxing (it’s a great stress reliever).

I’d like to thank all the burlesque girls in New Zealand who have supported me and helped get me to Vegas. I’m the first performer from New Zealand to be chosen for the event and I mean to represent the land of sheep and rugby to the best of my ability.

 

Randi Rascal (©Takako)

Randi Rascal (©Takako)

Randi Rascal

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
‘No, I can’t.’  Just kidding!  Had to start with some snark. But that is a tall order – how about “Incorrigible, Naked Smart-Ass?”

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
It’s a fun, accessible number with an element of contortion and a clever
stocking removal technique. It also uses a novel prop in interesting ways. While it is enjoyable on that level alone, it is additionally a comment on the ways the female body is anatomized and segmented.  While I would stop short of calling it my signature number, it is easily the one I’m asked to perform most often.

What would it mean to you to win?
I would be overwhelmed with gratitude!  Though I believe that an assessment of any artist’s value begins within, there is an amazing pride that comes from being  recognized and appreciated by your peers.  I would be so blown away to know that my work was valued by folks whom I respect so much!

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of  it?
I think BHoF is so significant, to me and to our community, because of its  comprehensiveness and dedication to preserving and sharing our art form.  No other event is so recognized as a showcase for the best of burlesque, past and future.  The pageant is a grand tradition in which I am incredibly honored to participate; a priceless chance to share my best work with our little global community, and to be inspired by the best work of my fellow performers.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the
competition?
This! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g-kJ6of7YE)

 

Angelique De Vil (©Matt Adamik)

Angelique De Vil (©Matt Adamik)

Angelique De Vil

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
Antithetic, anomalous, pizzazz!

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
My act is entitled “Music Box” which is a description of both it’s literal presentation as well as its  symbolism. Its fusion of dance styles tell a story about the dichotomy of love and perception.

What would it mean to you to win?
I am not generally one to think in terms of competition, so this is a tough question. As far as I am concerned, being invited to perform at BHOF is already winning, but I am sure most of us feel this way.  My entire purpose for performing is to inspire my audience- to laugh, to create, to dance, etc. So I imagine that winning would be the ultimate confirmation that I had done my job, and generated the impact I intended.

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
Wow – that question invokes so much emotion in me, it’s difficult to portray it in words. BHOF is like every burlesque performer’s dream come true. To be in the same room, and to have the opportunity to observe and speak with these artists of all generations is just incredible. Therefore, to actually share the stage with some of them is the absolute highest of honors. These people represent all facets of burlesque performance and being a part of BHOF affirms my place in this amazing world.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
It’s rather funny to answer this question because the truth of the matter is my main preparation was having my right hamstring reattached to my pelvis!  I had surgery two and a half weeks ago after I ripped my hamstring off my sitz bone while executing a very enthusiastic splits during a burlesque performance (and, you bet your booty I finished that performance – for no one was the wiser until I collapsed backstage). When I found out that surgery was my only option, I demanded it take place immediately, because there was no way I was missing out on the biggest opportunity of my performance career.

With the insurmountable support of my friends and community, numerous holistic medicine practices, and an unstoppable determination, six days after my operation I could walk and was released to begin physical therapy. So it’s been a whirlwind of therapies, acupuncture, ice, and herbs, . Fortunately for me, adding hundreds of rhinestones and various other costume/prop upgrades did not require two legs!  In a few days, on May 20th, I will perform again for the first time since the surgery.  I will perform Music Box complete with all the changes applied from my peer review at BurlyCon last fall. I will perform it with amplified love for the community and my burlesque family that took such good care of me and with renewed pride that I could overcome such circumstances.

 

LouLou D'Vil  (©Neil Kendall)

LouLou D'Vil (©Neil Kendall)

LouLou D’Vil

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
Fiery and flirtatious hurricane 🙂

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform? I want to share a little piece of magical Finnish winter…

What would it mean to you to win?
It would mean that my creativity and passion has touched people’s hearts.

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
I’m very honoured to be part of The world’s top showcase of international burlesque entertainers. For me it’s also being a part of history that we should keep alive and going strong. BHoF weekend is a great place to meet friends and make new ones. Having a strong bond between performers and just having fun together is one of the most important things!

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
I have been enjoying my life 🙂

Can’t wait to see you all in Vegas!

 

Minnie Tonka (©PEZ Photo)

Minnie Tonka (©PEZ Photo)

Minnie Tonka

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
One Woman Riot.

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
Partial disclosure: I rock out to two of my favorite songs on stage. (Hint: Think ’77 and ’83.)

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
It is mind-blowing and beyond thrilling to have the opportunity to share my love and artistic expression with my peers, role models, and the Burlesque Legends!

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
I’ve been preparing myself with a rigorous diet of Prosecco, sweet potato fries, and hours and hours of The Gilmore Girls while rhinestoning every g-string I own!

 

Ginger Valentine (©Kaylin Idora)

Ginger Valentine (©Kaylin Idora)

Ginger Valentine

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
Generous. Flexible. Sex.

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
When I was a little girl, my mother made me a royal blue taffeta skirt; it quickly became my most treasured item in my closet and I felt so chic and decadent whenever I had an occasion to wear it ( such as Christmas Eve or a wedding). The primary inspiration for this act was that beautiful color, and Johnny Staccatto’s version of Tombstone Blues to me, was the perfect soundtrack for my royal blue costume that I get to wear whenever I want!

What would it mean to you to win?
I am still pinching myself over my acceptance letter! At this point, I can’t imagine adding any more excitement – I’m so high right now. I will just have to wait and see…

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
I believe in the inspirational and transformative power of striptease and performing arts – for both the performer and the viewer. I love BHoF for its devotion to preserving our wonderful art form so that as many people as possible can be inspired and entertained by burlesque. To be a part of that movement is a huge honor, and I am so very, very grateful to bring my show to BHoF.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
I am focusing on living in the present as much as possible and squeezing as much fun out of this experience as I can. It only lasts a minute!

 

Stella LaRocque (©Stella LaRocque)
Stella LaRocque (©Stella LaRocque)

Stella LaRocque

Can you encapsulate yourself and your signature style in three words?
Elegant, sexy, and, most of all, playful

Can you describe or give us a taste of the act you have chosen to perform?
I’ve played music all my life in many forms and my number incorporates my trumpet which I’ve played for 15 years. Along with my trumpet, I pay tribute to the great flappers of the 1920s like Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. These two pieces together were a huge inspiration for me while creating my routine and I can’t help but have a riot when I’m on stage.

What would it mean to you to win?
I think winning in any of the categories is a huge achievement for all of the performers and provides the responsibility to represent the burlesque community worldwide – bringing positive attention and education to the historic art form.

Why is BHoF special to you, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
To me, the BHoF is an amazing organization that has preserved the true art of Burlesque. I am incredibly honored and excited to be given the opportunity to be part of the BHoF and I’m so humbled to be in a category with such a talented group of women. I keep pinching myself that I’ll actually have the opportunity to meet all the fabulous performers, experienced and new, that I admire and I look forward to seeing all the costumes, characters and celebrating all of the victories.

What have you been doing in the recent weeks in preparation for the competition?
Practice! Practice! Practice! As the final weeks have come, I’m really focusing on relaxing and having fun with my routine. At the end of the day no matter what the outcome, I want people to recognize that I was having a ball on stage performing.

This will be my first time at the BHoF weekend and I am so excited to share the experience with my dance family, Michelle L’Amour and The Chicago Starlets.

 

Also competing…

Iva Handfull

Iva Handfull (©Fiona Minx)

Iva Handfull (©Fiona Minx)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.21stCenturyBurlesque.com

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