A MUSE MONDAYS: Rhapsody Blue

I have only met today’s Muse once. She was pretty in pink at the Mean Girls show, a fundraiser for the Ottawa Burlesque Festival. Her long pink wig flowing in the breeze she created as she ran around putting out fires and pumping up performers. Though I didn’t have much time to get to know her, I could tell by the way those around her reflected her glow, she is a charismatic and caring burly beauty. Ladies and gentlemen, the oh la la from Ottawa: Rhapsody Blue!

Photo by John Finnigan Lin

Photo by John Finnigan Lin

Gracie: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions! First, as always,  how did you get your name?

Rhapsody: My name refers to one of my favourite pieces of music, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I think it has the same sort of character and energy that I try to bring to the stage.
Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?
Rhapsody: I had my performance debut in early 2010
Gracie: Signature colour?
Rhapsody: Pink and white, probably?
Gracie: What is your signature move?
Rhapsody: I dedicate each reveal or movement to a different audience member, while the act as a unit is for everyone. I often make eye contact and try to say “Hey, you. Yes, in the third row. This glove peel is just for you.” 
Gracie: Do you have a favorite body part?
Rhapsody: I’d say it’s a coin toss between my hips and my smile. I like to have fun with both.
Gracie: What is your favourite part of a new act?
Rhapsody: I love when that last puzzle piece slides into place; you find the perfect song, accessory, movement pattern or whatever that just ties the whole thing together in a way you weren’t necessarily expecting. Sometimes this happens when you’ve done an act a few times and you figure out what you didn’t even know you were missing.
Gracie: Favourite venue in your current city and on the road?
Rhapsody: In Montreal, I really like La Sala Rossa. In Toronto, the Metropolis Factory was super fun. Here in Ottawa I will of course always have a soft spot for Babylon Nightclub, since it was the first place I ever performed and is kind of home base for my troupe, Rockalily Burlesque. It used to be a strip club called Fanny’s back in the day, so it has that fun history. I also adore the Gladstone Theatre, and performing at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Saint Brigid’s and Centrepointe Theatre were all very memorable experiences.
Gracie: Do you have any words for budding showgirls?
Rhapsody: I’d like to repeat some advice that Sucre À la Crème gave to me, since it’s simple but important: don’t forget that your exit is every bit a part of your act as the rest of the performance.  So don’t flee the stage! Also, go to shows and get a mentor, if you can: someone with a bit of history in the industry off whom you can bounce ideas and who will be frank with you if something is overdone or inadvisable. Set goals for yourself based on why you perform burlesque, because that will anchor you when you’re struggling.
Gracie: Thank you so much for all your insight! Follow today’s Muse at the links below, and have a great week!
Facebook: Rhapsody Blue

Instagram: @RhapsodyBlueBurlesque

MySpace: Rhapsody.Blue

 

Also:

Rhapsody’s food tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/blueplatespecials

Rhapsody’s cats tumblr: http://kittumblr.tumblr.com/

A MUSE MONDAYS: Jolie Stripes

I met today’s muse backstage at the Rivoli, where she lit herself and the audience on fire, figuratively speaking. This was after her grand tour. This sweet little french flower has a bag of tricks that can knock your socks off, while she takes off her stockings. And though I have had the pleasure to perform in shows with her, I haven’t had much time to really get to know her, which in showbiz, is often the case. But I look forward to rectifying that in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, the feisty Francophone: Jolie Stripes!Photo credit: John-Finnigan Lin

Gracie: Thank you so much for taking the time to share a little of yourself with us. First, how did you get your name?

Jolie: I didn’t really have any character or persona in mind when I chose my name; it sort of came together naturally. “Stripes” was the name of my character in Fallout 3 when I first started burlesque; it comes from the song “Scars and Stripes” by Angelspit. I liked Jolie because it’s French, and it was the name of a character that I really admired in Emilie Autumn’s book, “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls”.

Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?

Jolie: It’s going to be three years next Halloween!

Gracie:Signature colour?

Jolie: Black and white.

Gracie: Do you have formal training?

Jolie: Ironically, no. Like every little girl on this planet, I tried ballet (I lasted one year), and ballet jazz (one year again). I did synchronized swimming for five years (my team even won a bronze medal at the Jeux du Québec), two years of belly dance and one year of burlesque classes when I started, and now I do pole dance!

Gracie:What is your favorite peel and reveal?

Jolie: I love when I have a full costume (like a gown) that I can just drop on the floor to reveal a totally different layer underneath; I feel like a majestic newly hatched butterfly!

Gracie: Your most unique prop or costume piece?

Jolie: My most genius costume piece is my Whore of Babylon “wing cape”: it is essentially a cape made of ribbons that attaches to my neck and is secured to my wrists, It’s a pretty expensive and intricate costume piece (ribbon isn’t cheap), and I haven’t seen anything like it, yet!

Gracie: What’s the most unique show you’ve been a part of?

Jolie: It’s a hard one, but I would say “Bad Ladies and the Detective” by Productions Good Ladies was the most unique, extravagant, and ambitious production I have had the honour of taking part of. The care with which Cherry Typhoon and Lady Josephine wrote, produced and curated their two shows in Toronto and Montreal was something I had never seen before and still sticks with me today when I myself put shows together.

Gracie: Do you have any words for budding showgirls?

Jolie: We have enough cookie-cutter stereotyped showgirls, and not enough of YOU. Do what YOU want and exploit what YOU are. Study burlesque, choreography and marketing like you had an exam to pass tomorrow, and always think of yourself as a business woman first.

Gracie: Thank you so much! Follow today’s muse at the links below, and I’ll see you lovelies same time next week! ❤

Facebook: Jolie Stripes

Twitter: @JolieStripes

Instagram: @JolieStripes

A MUSE MONDAYS: Thrasher

Today’s muse is truly a chameleon. She is never the same performer twice. Her ability to embody a character and entice with their unique articulation is truly inspiring. She’s also has a soft sweetest backstage presence that can ally all the nerves that can be rampant in the performance arts. Her ability and talent are a beacon within our community. I’m always delighted to see her, both onstage and off. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome: Thrasher!

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Gracie: How did you get your name?

Thrasher: I was about to do my first ever burlesque show in Stratford, Ontario and Nicole Poynter looked at me and asked what my stage name was. I was at a loss, I didn’t realize I needed one. I was so new to burlesque that it didn’t occur to me to have a stage name. So I thought about it, and as I was thinking Poynter looked at me and said, girl, your last name, duh! so thats what I did.

Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?

Thrasher: 4 years

Gracie: Signature colour?

Thrasher: hmm…. maybe Florescent pink….

Gracie: Do you have formal training?

Thrasher: Yes 🙂 I did 2 years at York U for dance, didn’t like the program, so I left and did the George brown Dance program. I loved it 🙂 I am trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop, Belly Dance and Arial Silks

Gracie: Do you have a favorite body part?

Thrasher: I like my bum, that spot in the lower back right before the bum thats my fav!

Gracie: What is your favorite part of a new act?

Thrasher: I love how nervous I get about how its going to go, is the thingy with the thing going to get stuck when I take off the other thing… I use a lot of improv when building a new act so when I first perform it its exciting to see how my ideas work

Gracie: What’s the most unique show you’ve been a part of?

Thrasher: Love Letter Cabaret!! all the way. Its not just burlesque its a story told through dance and burlesque, sometimes singing and arial arts. We bring the audience into the show and turn the whole venue into our world. its awesome 🙂

Gracie: Do you have any words for budding showgirls?

Thrasher: Take risks, don’t be afraid to do the strange things. Push yourself into doing the act that you really want to do not the one you think is easiest. And NEVER give up, if this is what you love, then do it.

Gracie: Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know us;) I look forward to Love Letters: Eden this coming October! Follow our Muse at the links below. And have a great week!

Facebook: Thrasher

Twitter: @MzThrasher

A MUSE MONDAYS: Bella Barecatt

Photo credit: Ireva Photography

Photo credit: Ireva Photography

The first time I saw today’s muse perform it was still sunny out, and I was eating eggs, and she was cozy in her PJs, getting ready to sleep in the quiet jungle. Since then I haven’t seen much of her, cuz she lives far away in the land of Ottawa. Our affections though long distance have remained. She’s a sweet blonde baby, and I love her kitty. No, literally, Tyson is a face batting feline without a mean claw in his body. Please help me welcome my first Ottawa-muse: Bella Barecatt

Gracie: Thank you for taking the time to share yourself with us. First up: How did you get your name?

Bella: Sitting in a pub day drinking with a few burly ladies, my burlesque name previously when I first started burlesque 10 years ago was Diamond Scratch but I didn’t really feel it suited me so I wanted to come up with something new. Lila Livewire had been researching 1920’s slang and she mention the word Bearcat, which I felt suited me perfectly, being a lover of animals and being sort of a wild child. Bella came from loving the actor Bela Lugosi as well as it was already a nickname my girlfriends and I shared, so it was something i was used to being called already. I decided to update Bearcat to Barecatt to make it more my own. It was only after that I found out that burlesque legend Jennie Lee had started the burlesque softball team the Bearcats and how much history that term has with burlesque makes me feel that I made the right decision.

Gracie: When did you start performing?

Bella: I started performing burlesque 10 years ago, co-founding Ottawa’s first troupe the Devil Dolls. We were very young and green and performed mostly to a live band in choreo’ed group numbers. We performed for a few years with the roster changing here and there until finally most of the girls moved on and grew up so to speak. I took a hiatus for a couple of years and came back full force in 2010 and haven’t looked back since.

Gracie: Do you have a signature colour?

Bella: My signature colour is probably leopard print. I know it’s a little cliche for a burlesque performer, but come on… Barecatt! lol Also it has been said that i invented the colour purple. I will neither confirm nor deny this. I also love blue…all kinds of blue.

Gracie: Who is your showgirl inspiration?

Bella: There’s a couple, Koston Kreme locally has been my hero. She’s a true star and being able to work alongside her and learn from her is incredible. Also locally my sisters from different misters Lana Lovecakes, Lila Livewire, Headmistress Holly Sin and Meena Jatrois really inspire me to keep performing and embracing all things completely ridiculous. Indigo Blue, Amber Ray, Lola Frost and Khandie Khisses are the burlesque stars I have been paying close attention to lately. I love their creativeness, beauty, movement and costuming.

Gracie: What was your burlesque A-HA moment?

Bella: When I saw my first burlesque show here in Ottawa at Barrymore’s back in 2002 by the touring group the Fluff Girls. I got on stage for the shimmy contest and lost. I caught the fever at that point and said to myself “someday I will make this my reality” and then I did.

Gracie: Do you tassel? Both ways?

Bella: Yes, tassel and assel. And yes both directions. And individually. I try to practice tassling as much as possible. Once i get them on i can’t stop

Gracie: Do you have a favourite peel and reveal?

Bella: My favourite peel and reveal on stage to perform is the stockings. I love how many different ways you can do it. With your hand, teeth, someone else’s hand, in front, behind, fast, slow, upside down, standing. It’s a lot of fun. Oh also, I just love spinning tassels. Love it!

Gracie: How would you describe your style of movement?

Bella: I’m more of a comedic performer, I do have rhythm and can dance, but I don’t see myself as a sensual performer. I’m more high energy get the audience to laugh with me, kind of performer. If that makes any sense. I also do a lot of improv on stage depending on what kind of reaction I’m getting from the audience.

Gracie: When building an act, where do you start?

Bella: Song comes first always for me. I will hear something and want to dance to it, then the concept comes after. I get inspired for my concepts through everyday things I have at home. For instance for my signature act the Lion Sleeps tonight; I have always loved the song and for about a year whenever I heard the song I knew I had to do something to it. Then one day I saw my leopard print house coat and pink leopard print jammies and then the act just came together.
It has definitely grown and improved since I started performing it. I like to change it up at least a little bit, each time I do it so the audience won’t know exactly what’s coming if they’ve seen it before.

Gracie: What is the most important part of your act?

Bella: Connection with the audience for me is so important. They came there to see you perform (whether they know it or not). I try and make sure I engage them as much as possible and make them feel that I am including them in on my act in some way. You can have the most put together act, costume and dance, but if you don’t connect with the audience it’s not a complete act. It’s live theatre and you only have them for your 3 to 6 minutes you’re on stage. It’s so important to be able to connect with them somehow.

Gracie: What’s the strangest thing you’ve had happen backstage?

Bella: After performing on a wrestling ring in the middle of a forest at Shazamfest Lana Lovecakes had a gang of tweenaged boys and girls following her around. They even snuck backstage (which was a yurt) and hung out with us while we were getting our things together. It was hilarious and quite surreal. They didn’t care about the nudity, they were more interested in the feathers and the glitter. Gotta love hippytype festivals!

Gracie: What’s the most unique show you’ve been a part of?

Bella: I can’t decide which one because they’re all so unique. My favourite one that I produce is Strip Cheese. This year will be the third annual Strip Cheese and it’s an homage to power ballads, rock anthems and love songs. There was also the Dirty Dancing and Dr Seuss tours which were incredible and I’m so lucky to have been a part of. As well as most recently the Ottawa Burlesque Expo which was the first of it’s kind here in Ottawa and it was amazing. Also I can’t forget Shazamfest it’s such a crazy experience, I can’t wait to go back this year. And of course the Great Canadian Tease Burlesque Brunch – it’s bacon and legs! So much fun!

Gracie: Where is your favourite venue at home and on the road?

Bella: Favourite venue in Ottawa – there’s a few for different reasons.
Barrymore’s – that stage and venue is incredible
Maxwell’s – they treat us so well and are so accomodating. It’s like family.
The Rainbow – again treat us so well and the stage is pretty fantastic to perform on.
on the road my favourite place was probably the Hudson Theatre in Hudson Quebec or the Pearl Theatre in Hamilton or Shazamfest

Gracie: Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Bella:  I hope not.

Gracie: Is there any showgirl words of wisdom you’d like to share?

Bella: Don’t take yourself too seriously, have a sense of humour, an audience will always forgive a mistake as long as you let them in. But they won’t necessarily be so forgiving if you’re not forgiving on yourself. Don’t cry in public if your act goes wrong. Take it backstage or outside. Eyes up, look at that audience even if you can’t see them because of lights etc. If you’re eyes are down it means you’re not performing for the people who paid to see you on that stage. If you want to dance and strip for yourself do it at home, don’t waste the audience’s time. It sounds harsh but it’s true. Also your pictures will turn out much better Also Enjoy yourself and smile – this is probably the best advice I can give.

Gracie: Thank you Bella, for taking the time to introduce yourself to us, and for letting us get to know a more about you! Catch Bella Live, Sunday, Sept 13th: Great Canadian Tease Burlesque Brunch Bring Back the Classics at Maxwells Bistro Ottawa, then the Ottawa 21st of Sept Burlesque Festival Sinner’s Brunch. She will also be producing the third Annual Strip Cheese in the fall, details TBA.  Follow her at the links below

Great Canadian Tease Burlesque Brunch  (Co-producer)

Ottawa Burlesque Playground (Creative Director and co-founder)

Burlesque Starz Page

Twitter: @Bella_Barecatt

Instagram: @scratchphoto