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 Darryn Storm 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?
My latest act was for the most recent Black Sheep Burlesque show “Bottom Forty: Burlesque to the Worst Songs Ever” I chose the song ‘Kiss From a Rose’ by Seal. I’ve always had a thing for super cheesy songs, and this one happens to be one of my go-to karaoke songs, as well. So, knowing it inside and out made it a no-brainer. The concept, and thus costume, were created out of the idea of a super dramatic 90’s music video. All drama and seriousness, and cheese. Can’t forget the cheesiness of it all! My sense of humor is like that of an old man. I love my dad jokes, and puns. This routine allowed me to kind of play with that visually.
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?
My fellow performer, Tommy Gun, is basically 100% behind me getting into burlesque. She introduced, and sort of gently pushed me to the world of burlesque. It took a little warming up for me to get behind the whole idea of it, but once I realized that I got to do my favorite thing in the entire world (dance!) and I didn’t need to wear pants...I was sold! I’ve been involved in dance since I was 3, I even have a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Dance, and a Dance and Movement Minor. I knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to dance as much as possible, but until I learned about burlesque, I was lost. So, I owe a majority of my happiness to Tommy. Love you, girl!
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
As far as influential performers, I don’t have any who majorly stick out. I look up to every single performer I’ve had the pleasure of seeing perform. Every time I get to see someone-anyone-perform, it renews my love of the craft. I’d like to think I’ve been influenced by everyone. Now, in terms of admiration, I’m basically in love with Shimmy LaRoux and Leena Mynx Allure. I had the amazing opportunity to perform with both of them only a month after I debuted. Any chance I get to see them perform, I’m completely blown away. They’re both on this entirely different level. Like, Goddess-level. I have so much respect and admiration for them both.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
Oh boy. This is a hard one! I actually have an entire list of people I’d love to collaborate with. No really, it’s written down in my burly journal, and everything. Most of the Michigan performers are on that list! Growing up in the dance world, group routines and working with others is what I know best. As such, I’ve been planning lots of collaborative acts - just need to approach everyone!
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?
My style is very dance-heavy. I like to move. I like to make my body work. I’m a bigger gal, so popping out some splits in the middle of an act is a fun way to surprise the audience. Or dancing en pointe! Once, I had a fan approach me after a show. She gushed about how much she loved my act, and how I’m one of her favorite performers ‘even if I was larger.’ Like, did you need to include that last sentence? It made the conversation super awkward. Burlesque has been great for my self-esteem, but then to get little statements like that throw me back a bit.
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 have an entire playlist created in iTunes called ‘Burly Music’ that houses all of my future potential songs. The styles and artists range from Jason Derulo, to kpop artists like BTS, to Queen, to In This Moment, and Van Morrison. Someday, I hope to get to use all of them. But more often than not, a routine I’m creating for a specific theme just doesn’t fit with the songs on the list, so then I have to find new songs. My list just keeps growing. The first song I ever performed to was an electro-swing cover of ‘Song of Storms’ from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time video game soundtrack. Funny enough, I didn’t realize the name of my song, and my stage name, were related until after I started choreography. But now, I love that my first song was so appropriate to my stage presence. I’m super happy every time I hear my song, whether it’s my actual version or the original.
I get a lot of people telling me that I’m brave for doing burlesque. It’s not bravery. It’s simply that I’ve found something that I love to do. If you think you’d like to try it, then just try it! At worst, you don’t like it and you move on. At most, you find something that gives you immense joy, and a community of amazing people that will continuously lift you up - even when you can’t lift yourself. Especially then.
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
Back in May, I was fortunate enough to perform in Indianapolis for an entirely orange-themed showcase called ‘Fresh Squeezed: A delightfully Citrus Showcase’ put on by the amazing Vivacious Miss Audacious! I got to meet so many new and wonderful performers that night. But out of everyone, I’d have to say I was incredibly star-struck by Ethel Loveless. I found myself having a hard time trying to talk to her because I suddenly became so shy! But she was such a warm, and inviting person. Her presence just made me feel so happy. And watching her perform was such a treat! I hope I get the chance to perform with her again, someday!
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?
The best part about being a burlesque performer is simply being on stage. Hearing people cheering me on fuels me. Not only am I up there doing what I love, but to hear that people are also loving what I do...there’s no words. Worst part, would definitely be that I’m in a lot of rhinestone debt, currently. Ha! But seriously, I also suffer a lot of anxiety leading up to a show. I’m constantly worried that people aren’t going to like my act. Additionally, when people praise me or my acts, the impostor syndrome kicks in and that’s never a good time either. If I couldn’t perform burlesque anymore, I’d probably kick my martial arts and gym time into overdrive.
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 not sure if there is a question I’ve been wanting to answer. But I’m open to any and all questions! I don’t get many questions, so nothing’s gotten tiring, yet.
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?
Not really. I tend to live my life without regrets. My feeling is that even if you’ve messed up, you’ve learned something. What’s the point of being perfect all the time if you never learn anything? Sure, it would be nice to go back and be less awkward when I was taking burly 101 classes, or to tell my beginning-self ‘Just go down to pasties. You’ll love it’ but those are all things that helped to shape me not only as a performer, but just as a person in general.
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’m still really new to the amazing world of burlesque, I have many goals I hope I get to achieve someday. Getting into the Michigan Burlesque Festival had been my latest goal, and I’m still a bit shocked I’m in. In terms of huge goals, I’d love more than anything to be able to perform around the world. I hope that I will be remembered for being that performer who loved and supported every performer she ever met. Also, a person who helped to inspire others to go after their dreams and ‘what-ifs.’
DARRYN STORM LINKS:
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: