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 Bebe Rose 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 developed act is my Guy Fieri/Flavortown act, and it is pulled from my real life! I’ve been tagged in Guy Fieri related posts and memes constantly since I dressed as him for Halloween a few years back. I had a few people joke that I should do a Guy Fieri burlesque number since I decided to start performing, but it didn’t really become an actual idea until I came across the song, I ended up using. He has such an iconic look that deciding on a costume was easy!
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 saw Super Happy Funtime perform a few years ago, and that was the first time I realized that burlesque could be more than just the classic style. I knew I wanted to do it but had no idea where to even start. It was just something that I sat on until I joined the Michigan Rocky Horror Preservation Society and met Dotty Dart. She was so patient with all my questions, cast me in “Science Friction Double Feature” (our cast-featured burlesque show), and encouraged me to apply to Burlypicks all within a year of meeting her. I owe a lot to her guidance, and sort of half-joke that she’s my Burlesque Mom.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
So many! Dotty Dart, Darryn Storm, Delta Van Damn, Tommy Gun, Dish Delish, and Veronica Lockhart are just a few local performers I’ve admired for a while. Kitty Glitter, Florence of a’Labia, and Phaedra Black are also huge influences for me. Honestly, I could probably fill a whole novel with all the performers who inspire me.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
Tad Snug! He’s been my best friend for years and we bounce ideas off one another constantly. We’ve talked about putting a collaborative number together, and I would love for us to make that happen in the very near future.
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 performance style is evolving into “Things That Should Not Work, But Weirdly Kind of Do”. I mean, who would ever think that Guy Fieri and burlesque would go together?
6. 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 get a lot of comments about how “brave” I am to do burlesque. I’m not brave; I’m an attention-seeking Leo! What better way to ensure that all eyes are on me for a while than by stripping on stage with a spotlight? One thing people should be aware of, though, is that if you compliment me, I may cry. Don’t let that stop you, just please come with tissues.
It had to be meeting Darryn Storm backstage at the first Lounge Cat Collective show. I’ve loved her work and getting to know her a bit was a little surreal.
8. 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 so far would have to be getting to meet and work with so many amazing people. The amount of support and positivity that I have been met with is almost overwhelming, in a good way. The only downside is that I now seem to be allergic to free time! But, if I didn’t have Burlesque, I’d still have Rocky. I also like to crochet (badly), so if performing entirely were off the table I would have that.
9. 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?
“Hi, would you like to perform for Guy Fieri himself?” (Seriously, if you have connections, hit me up.) A question I don’t like is “Would you ever do a classic number?” I am so awkward and have a hard time being “sexy” without feeling ridiculous. For now, I’m happy making people smile doing silly stuff.
10. 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 think the only thing I’d change is that I would have started sooner!
11. 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 would love to produce my own all fat/plus size show someday down the line, even if it was just a one-time thing. As a fat performer, I want people to see me as a force for body positivity and joy. I want to make other fat performers feel safe and let other fat people who may be thinking of starting burlesque know that there is space for us and that we have value as performers.
BEBE ROSE LINKS:
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: