My introduction to burlesque happened when a friend asked if I wanted to go see a show. It was the Von Foxies' "Bye Bye Bush" right after the 2008 election. Now imagine three full figured women standing with their backs to the audience. In each of the women's right hand is a can of shaving cream. In the other hand they make a mound of shaving cream and apply it to, well, their mound. The razors come out and in long dramatic stokes the shaving cream is quickly removed. In unison, they turn to face the audience in nothing more than heels, pasties, and little American flag merkins*. From the moment of that first reveal a small fire started to burn deep inside my soul.
A little over four years later, my love for this amazing art form hasn't waned in the slightest. I have met amazing and beautiful women and handsome men of all shapes and sizes, orientations and expressions. This feminist art form with glitter and rhinestones, tantalizing teases and bawdy humor has been the best thing I have ever done for me. Margaret Cho wrote in her forward to Jo Wheldon's The Burlesque Handbook, "I learned that happiness wasn't a dress size." I couldn't agree more.
So what does a girl like me like to do in a show like this? It depends on the show really. The inspiration for my acts comes from a variety of places. Sometimes it's a fact of life that drives me forward, but usually it's some geeky topic that gets my blood pumping. From steampunk to Star Wars, film noir to the Muppets, romance to Legos, and so much more.
This week, I'm giving two performances of my ode to my favorite scoundrel, Han Solo. The first will be this Thursday at Lily Divine Productions' Debauchery, a show I've done many times that benefits the LGBT community in the process by giving grants to queer health and social organizations. The second show is on Saturday with the Tempting Tarts as they return to RustyCon to perform for members of the convention in what is sure to be a fun show.
The word "burlesque" comes from the Italian "burla", meaning to mock, joke about, or parody. This particular act-The Fastest Piece of Junk in the Galaxy-has multiple reveals with at least one jab at the Special Edition of the original trilogy and a whole lot of love. There are references to Darth Vader and our favorite wookiee. And perhaps even an accordion serenade, if you can call it that.
Since I started performing burlesque in July of 2010, I've been in over 60 shows in four states on both coasts and almost twice as many performances. With one show down, Captain Royale, produced by my production company, Purple Devil Productions, and three more to go in January alone with travel plans already on the calendar, 2013 is getting off to a fine start for this nerdy show girl.
Miss Violet DeVille is a trans woman and a class act from a history that never was. She's a steampunk who has found a love of dance, performing, and taking her clothes off for other people in raunchy and entertaining ways! Miss DeVille broke out onto the Seattle stage in 2010 and began creating memorable and entertaining shows in 2011. She is the executive director at Purple Devil Productions in Seattle. Since then she has toured both coasts and is planning more national and international tours. When this national performer is not producing and performing in burlesque and cabaret shows, she belly dances, works both in front and behind the camera lens, and spends far too much time in her workshop building devices to make the world a better place for her. You can find more about her on her website, violetdeville.com or her twitter feed: @violetdeville.
*A merkin, also called a pubic wig, is a small and usually bedazzled piece of clothing to cover the crotch of the performer.