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 Kitten Von Mitten 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 piece I am currently developing for MIBF is kind of the culmination of all the things that contribute to my style, who I am as a person and some of my most recent struggles and experiences. But it will still contain PLENTY of over-the-top, ridiculous components. I’m definitely going to start the routine by making people laugh--which is how I always connect best with an audience. I will also use a lot of my raw and sexier moves while telling almost entire pieces of the story in my performance with just my facial expressions.
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 took a series of classes in California way back in 2009. My instructor told me to take it further, but it just never panned out and then I moved back to MI and came out to the Detroit area. And there didn’t really seem to be much going on at the time. But Lilly Rascal, Hot Tawdry and Gurl Haggard were major inspirations when I was still developing my style.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
From an influence perspective, again I would say Lilly Rascal was a huge influence along with Foxy Tann in regard to emceeing. As for performers I admire, locally I adore the f*ck out of Mabel Syrup, Kitty Hawkk and Eris, Darryn Storm and Dotty Dart. There’s also a lot of change being done in the local community that I believe is definitely for the better and there’s a lot of new local shows and producers that are to thank for that.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
I am still overdue to fight Kitty Hawkk onstage, and I am pretty sure that Shrimp Cocktail and I could put something pretty amazing together.
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 tagline answers that question: The T-Rex of Burlesque. Anyone who expects burlesque to be like the Pussycat Dolls.
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?
The first song I ever used was "Portions For Foxes" by Rilo Kiley and it’s a pretty great theme song for my life. One of my favorite songs I perform to is called "Nothing But The Water" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I sing the first portion acapella and then dance to the rest and sing again. My daughter insists on listening to in anytime we’re in the car and she calls it “The Water Song”. Whenever I perform it, I can hear her little voice singing it with me.
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?
I have zero performing or dance background. I think people think it takes a certain type of history or qualifications to get up onstage--but you just gotta do it is all.
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
I filled in for Jeez Loueez hosting last year’s Dirty Show 19 and it felt so insane to be standing in for the absolute best. Finally meeting Lilly Rascal was huge and also Dirty Martini at last year’s MIBF.
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?
Having something outside of myself where I get to express a side of myself without having to censor anything. I’m not sure what I would do instead of burlesque, I just began singing onstage and would love to explore that more.
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?
Wanted to ask - Pastie application: I am team Krazy Glue. Tired of - Yes burlesque is stripping. Just don’t even go there.
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?
I wouldn’t have done as many shows. Trying to produce acts at a faster pace than I could keep up with.
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?
To truly enjoy it first and foremost. And I’d like to dip my toes into singing more. Just being the one and only T-Rex of burlesque that pulls unsolicited pictures of myself from forbidden places and hands them to audiences.
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