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 Ruby Claret to discuss routines, influences, and much more...
It's been a while since I've made anything new for myself. I'm currently working on my first group choreography for an upcoming space themed show. I wanted to do something a bit more beautiful and serious with this act. The costuming is inspired by each of the planets and the movement is based in modern dance. I tend to keep my real life very separated from my performance life, but space is an interest of mine in both my real and performance lives.
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 had been living in Chicago for a while and was having a hard time making friends, so I decided to look into dance classes. I grew up dancing so it seemed like a logical choice. I settled on taking an intro to burlesque class and after performing in my first student showcase, I knew that it was something I wanted to do as a career. I remember having this moment on stage, as I did my first clothing reveal, where I felt so confident in who I was as a person for the first time in a long time. It felt like I had revealed a truth about myself, and from that point on, I've been using burlesque to learn more about who I am.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
I've always admired Po' Chop. The way that they tell a story through movement is awe inspiring.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
I absolutely love my current duet partner Heather and Lace of Chicago. She is wonderfully supportive and incredibly creative and puts everything into every act she is a part of. Although we already collaborate, I hope that we will continue to bring all our dream acts to life 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?
I usually describe my style as comedic burlesque. The majority of my acts have funny aspects to them.
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 do have a playlist of potential burlesque songs, but for the most part, I come up with the act concept first and find a song that fits. I tend to gravitate to songs from the eighties with femme vocals.
I think the biggest misconception about burlesque is that it's always glamorous and sexy. While it can be those, I find that it's so much more than that. It gives me a place to be goofy, to be sad, to explore the fluidity of gender, and so much more.
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
I am always star stuck by Jean Wildest of Chicago. They are an amazing choreographer and always invoke incredible feeling in everything that they do.
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?
My favorite part of performing is getting to share my strange art with the world. It feels amazing to share that part of myself and to feel that it's appreciated by an audience. The worst part of performing, for me, is having to hustle for gigs. I'm not very practiced with things like cold emails or networking, so that aspect of performing stresses me out. I enjoy many other forms of artistic expression, but my favorites are knitting and working with watercolors.
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 wish more people would ask about the joy of performing. I could talk about why I feel the need to perform and what drives me as an artist all day. I wish that people would stop asking performers "what's your real name?" There are a ton of reasons that performers don't use their day time names, but for many of us, it's an issue of safety.
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 can't think of a specific moment that I would do over, but with learning any new skill there are things that I wish I could go back and tell myself. Mostly, I would tell myself to do the things that scare me. At the beginning, I spent so much time in my comfort zone, which is understandable since burlesque is quite a vulnerable art form. I wish that I would have pushed myself to reach out to more producers or apply to more festivals.
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?
On a personal level, I'd like to be able to travel and perform. For the rest of the community, I'd like to help cultivate a welcoming environment for new performers. As someone who struggled to break into the scene, it would mean a lot to me to be able to help newer performers learn the ins and outs, while also giving them an opportunity to practice their art.
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: