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 Wednesday Wilhelm 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 routine was actually set to Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda". I chose to create this act because when I would listen to the song, I thought it would be hilarious to use a stuffed snake and engage in a little "floor f***ing". I start in a safari dress, with the snake draped over my shoulders, and finish in am outfit similar to what Nicki wore in the music video. I also knew I wanted to use tassels to throw it back to my debut act which used a cover of "Baby Got Back."
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?
The moment I was drawn to Burlesque was actually at the MIBF 2016! I saw some amazing performers and was drawn to the more goofy acts I saw and knew I had to give it a try! Shrimp Cocktail, Leena Allure, amd Kitty Hawkk were some of my favorites from that show, and they showed me the side that wasn't the standard classical burlesque style.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
Kitty Hawkk, Eva La Feva, Shrimp Cocktail, Tommy Gun, Darynn Storm!
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
This is such a difficult question because I would love to work with so many people! Eva La Feva for sure, she has such an elegance and humor to her acts and she is such a wealth of knowledge.
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 describe my style as pretty goofy, laced with a lot of James Bond (seriously, I have 4 James Bond acts presently), ass shaking, and sparkles. No one has said anything that has made me cringe!
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 really like to use music that my audience will be able to engage with right away, and I tend to pick more upbeat music, disco, fun covers of a song everyone knows, movie themes (again, 4 James Bond acts). I always wanted to do a Princess Leia act to "Slave 4 U" by Britney Spears, so I ended up putting together some fun instrumental covers of Star Wars themes (mixing disco, surf rock, jazz) with the Britney Spears to get a unique blend of music for the act. My first act was to Richard Cheese's cover of "Baby Got Back." I loved how goofy the song was and how perfect it was for using tassels! I will always remember it as my debut music that went further than I ever expected.
I think when it comes to burlesque, you can forget that so many performers have a normal "muggle" life too! I have a full time day job, and I also practice aerial arts, and weight lifting. Anyone who wants to perform certainly can, regardless of your background. And if you don't want to perform there are so many ways to be involved, stage kittening, stage managing, emceeing, raffle, producing, costuming, and others I'm sure I am forgetting!
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
When I was a stage kitten for Dirty Show and met Chris Harder, and Roxie D'Lite for the first time! They were awesome, and it was so surreal to meet such big performers.
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?
I love knowing that I am an inspiration to other performers, it is always so humbling to be complimented, especially by a new performer. I had a new performer come to me and say that when she saw me at the MIBF she wanted to perform because of it, and that made me cry happy tears. The worst part is keeping it a secret from my "muggle" life, but for various reasons it needs to be separate. My other artistic outlet is aerial arts, I train Silks, Lyra, and Pole! I bring the Silks and Lyra to the burlesque stage as well!
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?
It might be corny but I always want someone to ask about something they enjoyed! If they liked my pasties, or costume, usually there is a story there, so I'd love to share those details more often.
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?
Putting too much pressure on myself to keep creating new acts, I would have given myself some more time in between to plan a little better and make them stronger, in the end I don't regret it as I can actually put together an act somewhat quickly now!
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 really hope to get the opportunity to perform at Theater Bizarre or The Dirty Show in some way, shape or form some day! I really hope to be remembered for my humor and being relatable. I love to share tips and tricks and support our new performers, and encourage everyone along the way! I love to stage manage student showcases and encourage/ease nerves back stage.
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