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 performer Tad Snug to discuss routines, influences, and much more...
I have at least three more routines currently in the works, but my latest fully developed routine is actually my debut act. The song "My Type" by Saint Motel is sort of about this dude who sees himself as a total Lothario at the club, but is actually sort of begging anyone, please, to just come home with him. I thought, perfect, that totally works for me, because I tend to gravitate toward comedy especially in situations where I’m not super confident (...like doing burlesque for the first time). The actual “stripping” aspect of the act, the sort of desperate rending of clothes I do, is very much my personality as well. I’m definitely an oversharer and tend to bare my soul to those around me really quickly. And the fashion. . . I wanted 70's, cheap, and clashy, and I ran with it. I love that costume. I’d wear it every day if I didn’t think I’d get canned for wearing tearaway pants to work.
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 loved performing in any capacity, but I didn’t really do much as an adult until my roommate and I joined the Michigan Rocky Horror Preservation Society shadowcast last year. Rocky Horror is a longtime love of mine; I discovered it in high school and quickly became obsessed. As an adult, and as a trans guy who isn’t always comfortable with his body, joining the cast was a really cool way for me to project confidence and, I dunno, fake sexy? Which ended up giving me ACTUAL confidence. As we grew more into the cast, we learned a fair few of our castmates were alumni of the Detroit School of Burlesque and were burlesque performers themselves. Dotty Dart is on our leadership panel, and does periodic burlesque double features with our cast. I was nervous as hell, but it was the natural next step and it’s been a great experience so far! Dotty has definitely been a great mentor for me and Bebe, who consider ourselves burly babies of the Haus of Dart.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
My top three are Dotty Dart, Delta Van Damn, and Dish Delish (wow, all D names). They’re very different in terms of performance styles, but all eclectic, unique powerhouses in their own right, and excellent friends. I couldn’t ask for better guides into the burlesque community.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
I would love love LOVE to collaborate with anyone in the Black Sheep Burlesque family, but my number one choice would have to be my best friend and roommate, Bebe Rose. We spitball ridiculous act ideas all the time, and we’re definitely in each other’s heads—I feel like it would be the most natural thing in the world.
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. . . you know in The Birdcage, when they’re just about at the end of the dinner and Robin Williams is in the kitchen chugging wine straight out of the bottle while his voice gets higher and higher in panic? That feeling. I would describe my style in two words as “Horny Trainwreck”. It’s not so much a review (keep in mind I’m pretty new), but I did have a fan tell me that during my “Sadchelor” act I should use pull MORE glitter-filled scarves out of my junk. I use two full tubes of glitter! You ever tried panic-peeing before a show with a scarf full of loose glitter in your undies?! There’s already enough risk for disaster! I’m not playing with those odds!
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 joked before I even started, while I was brainstorming ideas for my first act, that I wanted to be known as the Dude Who Only Dances to Ska. I feel like that would be a fun (if really stupid) thing to be known for. I’ve definitely kicked around ideas for an act set to Reel Big Fish’s "Cannibal." "My Type" cracks me up even more now, I have to say. Although I do find myself a little unable to separate it from the act; every time I hear it I do the motions (which is maybe not such a great thing while I’m, say, at work. . . or driving).
I feel like there’s this weird mystique surrounding burlesque, like it doesn’t really feel like a touchable or achievable thing to a lot of people. It’s not something “regular people” can do; you have to be a very specific type of thin, but also curvy, and also blonde, and also the perfect type of pinup model, and also be classically trained, and also and also and also. . . But the reality is that it’s just like any other hobby or skill. Anyone can do it if they want to! I think the biggest misconception about me personally is that I have any idea what I’m doing.
8. When was the last time you were starstruck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
I find myself being starstruck by every performer I get to share the stage with, but I would have to say I was incredibly starstruck by Hermione Stranger, of Black Sheep Burlesque. Gorgeous, funny, talented—the total performer package.
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 for me is getting to act. I love acting. I love having the opportunity to be someone else for a while, to really get inside the head of a different character, even if it’s only for three and a half minutes. The worst part. . . is probably actually buying costuming and props. Just the spending money part. Actually putting everything together is a blast, but it’s hard to remind myself of the end result when there are cartoon moths flying out of my wallet. If I could no longer perform. . . well that would be depressing. But I do also write a lot of fanfiction, and do a lot of weird art. I tend to work through my issues in loud and colorful ways.
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?
“May I give you this stack of crisp $100 bills?” Why yes, yes you may. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get tired of answering questions related to burlesque. As a person I love questions, the more awkward the better. And I’m still experiencing so many new things that I want to talk about!! Ask away.
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?
My career is really still starting. I think if I could go back in time and give myself any message, it would be “Sew the goddamn bias tape on.”
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 would really love to be named as someone’s dream collaborator. That would mean the world to me, honestly. And I’d love to be known as a Cool Dude who created a little bit more space for trans and queer folks to celebrate themselves in local burlesque.
TAD SNUG LINKS:
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: