According to a recent press release: "The Michigan Burlesque Festival started in 2012 with the intent to bring some of the world’s most unique performers to Detroit in hopes of reuniting the traditional concepts of original burlesque theater, where dancers and vaudevillians shared a stage to provide well rounded and entertaining sexy comedic show. It has grown into a two-day festival featuring not-to-miss local talent and award-winning performance artists and world renown burlesque performers, such as past headliners: Lushes LaMoan, Bella Sin, The Weird Sisters, Red Hot Annie, Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, Russell Brunner, Roxi D’Lite, Dangrrr Doll, Ray Gunn, Mr. Gorgeous, Jeez Loueez, Satori Circus, Hank E Panky, Dirty Martini along with so many more phenomenal performers." We get the performer Ada Vice to discuss routines, influences, and much more...
1. Tell us a little about your latest developed routine. What drove you to choose the particular piece of music, create the costume, and pull together the specific moves in the routine? Are there any links between that routine and your “real life” that tie the two side of you together?
Funny you should mention it, I’m currently working FOUR different acts at the moment, to be debuted next month for 2 different events. Crazy? Yes! Awesome? Hell yes! In the works are: A cheerleader routine. Yes, your sweet Ada was a cheerleader for 6 years of her life back in the day, and boy oh boy it still runs deep! A chemist act where things are about to get all sorts of sexy and sciency up in here! See those two at the “Back to School” Tease a Go-Go on August 17th in Lansing! Plus two new 1920’s esque routines. One ultra-dark and vampy, and the other is vintage circus-esque! Both 20’s routines will be debuted at the August Speakeasy Sunday at Cliff Bells in Detroit on August 18th. Honestly with all my routines I generally get a spark of an idea just while I’m doing the daily stuffs (usually driving). Whether it’s a song that strikes my fancy or a costume idea or even just a general feel or theme for an act, and then I run with it!
2. What got you into burlesque, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a performer? Building on that, is there a specific performer or act that guided your performances in the beginning?
I’ve truly always been fascinated and titillated by the ye old days performers, in all their wonderful forms. Old Hollywood actors & actresses, Moulin Rouge dancers, anyone from Vaudeville, theater performers, portraits of the splendid “Gibson Girls”. Anything with incredible costuming or makeup, I was positively smitten. Couple all of the above with a want (need?) to run around nekked (seriously, ask Mama Vice, she’ll tell ya the stories) and you’ve got the recipe for a burlesque performer on your hands. I’ve been a pinup model for years and years, and it would occasionally interweave with the local burlesque community. So then a little bit after I had my son, now almost 2, I asked my husband for burlesque 101 classes from the Detroit School of Burlesque for my first ever Mother’s Day present. Luckily he obliged me, and I’d say the rest is history!
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
Oh my word I don’t even know where to begin! Originally, as with many others, Dita Von Teese was (is) a big inspiration. She was my first taste of the burlesque revival back in the day, and I’ve admired her ever since. Such an icon. Then I discovered Medianoche. I fell positively head over heels. Her musicality, intensity, costuming... she’s intoxicating! Everything she does leaves me wanting more! Now that’s a performer. I relatively recently also came across Pearls Daily, and my word, such a dynamo! She sings, dances, and my gahh the passion! All wrapped up in a fiery redhead package! I admire that passion that she brings to every single performance so damn much.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
Tila Von Twirl! She’s a wickedly talented dynamo based outta Chicago, and my gah her floor work!! If you’ve ever seen me perform, you know I love me some floor work!
5. How would you describe your performance style to someone who’d never seen you perform before? What is one review from the media, an audience member, or a fan has made that made you cringe?
I say classic with a twist! I may look the part of old timey swan about glamour girl most times, but then I’ll get down n downright dirty in the next moment. Probably the most cringe worthy thing I hear, and hear it FAR too often is: “You must wish you were born in another time!” Mmmmm that’s a hard NOPE for me. I will admire the clothing, architecture, decor, & general stylings of many a bygone era, however I will never long for the way things were.
6. When it comes to the musical component of your performance, is there a certain musical genre, artist, or specific song you have always wanted to use? What was the first song you ever used – and what does that song mean to you now?
I’m a classic girl at heart who loves some good ol bump n grind instrumental tunes, and sometimes even more so when an artist puts a classic twist on a modern song. All hail Postmodern Jukebox foreva and eva, amen. The first song I ever used was a modern tune called "Strip & Swing," and it just made me wanna strut and bump! When I hear it now, as I relatively often do as the act is still a current in my repertoire, it leaves me feeling fulfilled, and damn proud that I’ve done & continue to do something that brings me so much joy in so many ways.
7. What is one thing you wish audience members knew about you, your performances, or burlesque in general? What do you feel is the biggest misconception about you and your burlesque career?
To be quite candid, it’s that I struggle greatly with anxiety + the occasional bout of depression. I know there are many of us out there that do, and I just wanna say I see you, I’m with you. To all those performers, audience members, & general people alike who get out there and do the damn thing, whatever it may be (burlesque or not) day after day. You’re putting yourself out there and I applaud each and every one of you. It’s hard. REALLY damn hard sometimes. Burlesque is wonderful & also kinda terrible in the way that as a creative YOU are your art. So you’re literally putting yourself, your body, your creativity your all out there for everyone. It’s amazing AND insane AND I love it.
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
First time: Last year meeting Dirty Martini at MIBF 2018. Talk about another icon! Kind, talented, passionate, gorgeous and so much more. What’s not to be star struck about! Last time: Getting to perform with both Medianoche & Perle Noire at the 2019 Dirty Show XX. Both are so warm and kind, and are absolute powerhouses. I truly was, and still am, in awe of these two insanely talented women.
9. What is the best part of being a burlesque performer? Conversely, what is the worst part? If you could no longer be a performer for whatever reason, what would be your other artistic outlet?
Best: getting to share so many different facets of yourself with so many different people. Also, the costuming! One of my absolute favorite parts of creating an act is dreamy up & executing my costuming. Worst: The anxiety of putting yourself out there (see answer to question 7)
10. What is one question you have always wanted someone to ask you as a performer – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?
I’m with Hannah the Hatchet here. The slightly tired question of “where did you get your sparkly lipstick?!”
11. Looking back over your burlesque career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?
Well my anxiety tends to make me a chronic over analyzer who goes over and over and OVER things that I’ve said or done. You know the ol shoulda woulda coulda. I’m working really hard on reframing my thoughts and treating “missteps” as learning moments, and not dwelling needlessly on them.
12. What is one thing you still want to achieve in the burlesque world? At the end of the day, what contribution to the local burlesque scene do you hope you will be remembered for?
I’d love to perform internationally one of these days! I hope to be remembered for spreading the gospel that is burlesque to any and all that’ll watch/listen, while growing our local burly community and honoring the powerful women that paved the way for us! I wanna make our legends proud!
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