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 Dotty Dart 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?
The most recent act I developed and performed was my Sims act. It was for a video game themed show. I've been playing that game since I was a kid, so it was a natural choice for me. As for the costume, that was easy! I was able to pull pieces I already had since the Sims is just an everyday life simulation game. The inspiration for the whole act came from my husband who casually said it would be funny to somehow rig an oven to catch on fire. My imagination ran with that. Of course, without the real fire.
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 always had a craving to be onstage but was usually too nervous. I did some school theater but when I was around 23, I started with the Michigan Rocky Horror Preservation Society in Wayne, MI. I was able to act and costume in a different way but ultimately lead me to burlesque. I honestly draw inspiration from anyone I perform with. There's so much talent in this area.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
I admire quite a few people in the Detroit scene but on a grander scale, Dirty Martini is amazing. Her humor and grace onstage are phenomenal. I also am a character performer, so I have to say that Redrum is a huge inspiration. They're characterization and costumes are out of this world.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
I'd probably have to call one of my best friends, Loretta La Rioux. We've collaborated before and she always puts up with my extra ideas.
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?
Honestly, I tell people that most of my solo stuff will leave them scratching their heads and asking, "what the hell?" While ultimately making them laugh. I haven't gotten too much negative feedback (thank god!) But anytime someone says I'm sexy I have to fight back laughter.
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 don't stick to just one genre of music. Honestly, it's whatever fits my picture of what I want. Songs tend to just hit me when they're right. My husband is a musician and I've always wanted to use one of his songs but haven’t had the opportunity to just yet. The first song I ever used was The Way I Walk by The Cramps... There was no significant meaning.
I'm lucky enough to where I feel like I can and do portray what I mean while performing. If there are misconceptions, I haven't heard them yet haha.
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
Probably last year at the Michigan Burlesque Festival when I got to perform with Dirty Martini.
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 by far is getting to show the world my 'funny'. It's empowering. The worst part is my own insecurities and concerns. If I didn't do burlesque, I always have Rocky Horror to fall back on.
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 love to know how they come up with their acts. What inspires them. The answer to that for me is just sheer dumb luck. I don't like being asked how much I either spend or make on acts.
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 particularly. I've had not so great acts but honestly, I've loved every single part of this journey.
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 working towards it, but I want to create an amazing space for performers to come and feel safe while they perform in an amazing show. The Lounge Cat Collective is that venture for me.
DOTTY DART LINKS:
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: