Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Dirty Martini Isn't Just a Cocktail - She's the Most Recognized Name in New Burlesque -


Photo courtesy of Dirty Martini


After taking in all of the splendor of Strip Strip Hooray! (House of Blues 5/19/12, Las Vegas) I caught up with one of my all-time favorite performers of Neo- Burlesque, the one and only Dirty Martini. Read on to find out what this world-renowned innovative Burlesque Performer had to say about Las Vegas, Rome, New York City, and where to catch her on film.

FT: It's such a pleasure to meet you for the second time and interview you. I had the lucky chance to interview Melody Sweets, Absinthe Star, last week and she spoke so highly of you. How far do you two go back?
DM: I met Melody Sweets in Bombshell Burlesque years ago in New York City when she was still called Scrappy, which she is - in the most awesome way. It was so funny because I went away to Europe, and when I came back everyone was saying "Melody Sweets, Melody Sweets" and I'm like, who is this Melody Sweets that's totally movin' and shakin' around New York? And then I realized it was this girl that I've always loved under a different name. I remembered her acts, and I remembered how much I loved her. I'm so proud that she's got some real steady work here in Las Vegas, and she's knockin' crowds dead. She's fucking stunning, and I'm really proud of her.

FT: One of the things we spoke about is when she performed in Rome, you were all over the buses. Can you tell us about your Rome connection?
DM: Yeah, because there's a great club called the Micca club, they did a lot of research about Burlesque, and they knew who I was and had been following Burlesque a long time. They had been trying to start their own scene, similar to the American Scene: Less glamour Burlesque and more innovation, more ideas. So this man Allasandro (I can't remember his last name), he's the Artistic Director at Micca. He was showing videos of us, all The New Burlesque people. He was talking about uniqueness, and giving them music - because he's a music person - and hosting the shows. So, they got some money together and brought me over to do a musical called La Dolce Diva. I recreated acts from the Trevi Fountain, you know- the big scene from La Dolce Vita. I did it a little more my style. A little crazier, more fun, and punk. And less sets [laughs]. To my amazement they printed pictures of me everywhere: theater walls, buses. I was performing with some pretty famous Italians.

FT: So it was harkening back to the days where Burlesque took over actual Opera Houses?
DM: MM mmm. We were in a funny section of Rome, it was all 1930's, post-Mussolini architecture, communist looking structures, super Deco.

FT: You've performed all over the world. What is your favorite place to perform? I know that's a loaded question.
DM: I love performing all over, but my favorite place to perform is New York. Hey, it's my home. New York City is my favorite because the crowds are really game to watch, and not be too drunk. They give you a lot of energy, they respect performance. They respect Performance Art, and the artists who make it. Everyone is super supportive in New York.

FT: You started as a Dancer, became a Burlesque Dancer and are now obviously a combination of Burlesque and Performance Artist. To me, you're a game changer.
DM: But from the time I was in college, I was working with some of these ideas. Even before college, my choreographic pieces and some of my solo and
group work pieces were very Burlesque. We took a lot of clothing off in some of my pieces. I've always been working toward doing Burlesque. When I moved to New York, I didn't know what to call it. I was like “well I'll just try and audition for companies and see where it goes”.

FT: When did you move to New York?
DM: I moved to New York in 1993, and that's when I started really trying to be a dancer and audition for everybody. I was technically very proficient.

FT: And I know you have a Ballet background.
DM: Yeah, sure. I've danced since I was six, and went through college as a dance major, and the whole thing. But the problem was that they were not wanting to see my type of body at the time, and that time had passed and so... with all of the people like Mark Morris and all that. He'd started working with really buff African American dancers, that was their thing. At that point there was really no place for me so I had to make my own way. In the process I found Burlesque.

FT: It's like it was waiting for you. What films are you in?
DM: Tournee', Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque the documentary by Director Gary Beeber. And I've had short rolls in many other films. Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque was a self-release, that's just how we had to do it. It's a film that is a time-capsule of all the people that were innovators in New York for Burlesque. Murray (Hill) is in it, Julie Atlas Muz, Bambi, Bunny Love, Jo Boobs, who runs the School of Burlesque in New York. They're all in the film talking about their journey in Burlesque, and how it related to me and my journey. It's a beautiful film,
and Tigger is in it too.

FT: I know you have to run, but how was playing Vegas?
DM: Amazing. I was really expecting, well in L.A. I'm scared they're not going to get it, to get me. I thought this was going to be like L.A. times 13- kind of like Miami - where I'm not very accepted when I perform. But, hell, it was amazing. The crowds were incredible.

FT: Vegas is about the wild, weird, and exciting I think.
DM: Yeah. And I think the 'Old Vegas' is coming back. We went to the Neon Museum today, and I was really inspired by all the work done to preserve everything. I'm really likin' the way Vegas is going right now.

Related Links:
Dirty Martini’s website http://www.missdirtymartini.com
Artist IMDB film profile Dirty http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1800614/

This exclusive post "Strip Strip Hooray!" Show interview is also available
at eBook retailers iTunes and Amazon  The Best of Frankie Tease Magazine Vol. 1

Friday, May 11, 2012

Si Cranstoun brings Jackie Wilson to life during Viva Las Vegas 15, 2012


Stew Pannaman and Si Cranstoun at Viva Las Vegas
Rockabilly Weekend, Las Vegas, 2013.


Before Viva Las Vegas 15 (Rockabilly Weekend held April 5-8, 2012 in Vegas), I had never heard of Si Cranstoun (Si is short for his birth name Simone). It turns out I had heard of a 50's style singer from the UK who worked with a Portland,
Oregon area Pin-up a few years back, though I never new there was a connection.

I stumbled into the Bienville Room for the first set that Si Cranstoun played at Viva Las Vegas, and to my pleasant surprise I found a man with the ability to belt out tunes with utter style and control, backed up by a masterful band. Oh, and the man can dance. He played his voice like the instrument so many 50's Rock N' Roll stars used to do. Vocals weren't auto-corrected by top-notch producers in a studio, back then they were laid down clean. 

By Sunday of his visit to Viva Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel, a mass amount of people had heard about Si Cranstoun and that they shouldn't miss his finale' performance in the Ballroom. I caught his second performance too and it was met with a thunderous applause from the audience, and three encores. The set was electric and like so many this year at Viva, I became a Si Cranstoun fan. With musical influences like Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Nappy Brown, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, and having written his first song over 16 years ago, Si is meant to be heard by more than just a few British across the pond, he's poised to be world-wide. Here is my exclusive interview via email waves, of the "Sensation from Surrey" that is known as Si (sounds like sigh) Cranstoun. During our conversation he made sure to tell me, he will always be a music fan first. 

FT: Are you currently married with children in the UK in the city of Surrey where you were born?
SC: Yes, it's wonderful here.

FT: Your stage show is so very energetic and impressive. It's obvious you stylize your moves after Jackie Wilson and Elvis. What training have you had to create those steps?
SC: Wow thanks for the compliment. Erm- wella wella wella. I've had no training. In fact I'd really like some. I just love the rhythms and the no nonsense melodies. When a man is smack bang in the middle of what he loves, he's not thinking. He's just reveling, and reveling is all I do if the music is good !

FT: Can you explain your song-writing experience working with famed Grammy winner Graham Lyle (wrote for Michael Jackson and Tina Turner)?
SC: Graham Lyle offered a huge amo+unt of encouragement when I was teenager in my first school band - he really turned the path I was heading down into one of musical study. I was originally going to join the services, the RAF or the Navy.

FT: You've experienced some commercial success in the UK in your previous Ska duo project The Dualers. As a solo artist do you find overseeing everything including the recordings more organic, fulfilling, and autonomous? If not what's the difference for you? 
SC: It has been incredibly rewarding to have free reign on the music but it did take a while to really feel completely at ease with it. My brother is and was a huge talent and I early on I felt there was this big empty space on the stage, but after a while it became more comfortable.

FT: Was Viva Las Vegas 15 your first tour to the states?
SC: Yes!

FT: Both your scheduled performances were received with great enthusiasm [at VLV15], what was it like to play that crowd?
SC: Well thanks very much again for your complimentary question. Having been an outsider to the scene up until a few years ago, it struck me how this scene was so much more than just being about the music. It was and is a complete
lifestyle. In particular, (being a red-blooded male) what also stood out were the stunning Rockabilly Pin-Up Girls. These girls had the dress, the hair, the shoes & the figures. So, I was compelled to write about it. Bernie Dexter and her legendary husband Levi Dexter had become friends and supporters of me and we all got together in England one day and Bernie agreed to be in the video. I remember she came onto the set in her jeans looking lovely, went into wardrobe, and came back out a little while later and BAM! Everyone on the set was drawling and gawping - She looked outrageously good.

FT: How does having Nappy Brown's original bass player Stewart Pannaman help set the tone of your band?
SC: Stew is the knowledge, he's the man. Seriously. Apart from being a great Double Bass & Electric Bass player, there ain't a thing Stew don't know about the Rockin' Scene & Vintage R&B. The band are serious. There's no drugs or alcohol here—we are on stage to serve the public to best of our abilities.

FT: You are describing the new album "Dance Halls and Supper Clubs" (July 2012) as having the "melodies up-front, and the pulse dance friendly." That's a great niche to hold. Can you tell us more about it, and what musicians are featured on on the album?
SC: On the album we have a super talented piano player Paddy Milner. This man can play the piano, WELL! I'm talking about hitting the right keys in the right order at the right time! Paddy is gifted and I'm so proud and lucky that he was in the country to record for me. We also have a my mighty mighty brass section Dan Faulkner-Sax, Jon Radford-Trumpet, and Bob Dowell-Trombone. These guys could make a racket like a great big band and then go on to sound like they were out on stage with Louis Prima. Then there's "Mez" Mighty Mez on drums thumping down the beats. Yeah baby - thump that rhythm - cuz the feet's got to dance!

FT: When can we expect to see Si in the U.S. again? Please say soon.
SC: Well I really hope we can get something together. We'd love to tour the west coast, we just need to source the right promoter. Someone sensible that can make it cost effective for the venues and of course my band and myself. If you're out there contact the website immediately [SiCranstoun.com].

Si Cranstoun is scheduled to play at Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend March 28-31, 2013 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas.

This interview was originally published in the eBook 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dita Von Teese brings 'Strip Strip Hooray' to Vegas in May

One thing often said about Dita Von Teese, is that she spawned the modern Burlesque movement. Whether you agree or not, Dita Von Teese has dominated Burlesque and high-fashion for almost a decade, with styles from the Turn of the Century, to the 1950's. Her milky white skin and waify yet curvy figure, are dreamy for fashion designers to work with, and easy on the eyes.

The show known as Strip Strip Hooray began in 2010 with a few select engagements leaving fans drooling for more. Luckily more they shall get. The 2012 tour is set to begin May in Los Angeles, and continue to San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Orange County. 
Audiences will be delighted to see more of the fantastic two legged Burlesque Ballerina who learned her Martini glass moves from original showgirl "Catherine D'lish", one of the world's leading exotic female performers, and a gorgeous red-head, who will be among the show's stars. Other lucious tour cast members include: MC Murray Hill, Dirty Martini, Lada, Selene Luna, Perle Noir, and Monsieur Romeo. 
Whether you like the riding of the pink bull, the martini glass routine, or her fan dance, Dita will be bringing it to you in high style set to amazing musical accompaniment. It's wonderful to see a star such as Dita Von Teese, who is also a style leader of this century, billed as the diamond in a traditional variety show setting, a show format that is fast-paced and has been proven to stand the test of time. 
The rave revues of Strip Strip Hooray are still resounding from 2010, and this tour will be met with the ferver that Miss Teese deserves, without a doubt. Creating gorgeous Dita clones around the world, there have been many an interview where Dita states that one of her delights is seeing women who adapt her style show up to the shows. Besides her entertainment value, she's creating beauty everywhere she goes. Viva Dita. House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, $62, May 17-19, 2012.

Related Links: 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rob Riggle creates more than a Giggle May 10-12 at the Paris, Las Vegas

Photo courtesy of ParisLasVegas.com
Rob Riggle has a manic professional talking head style of hilarity that can crack anyone's smile, make them proceed directly to giggles, and lead them promptly to gut laughs. His successful jump from sketch comedy to Stand-up came in 2006, when he toured nationally with now famous John Oliver and other Daily Show writers. Sarcasm is his middle name, and his delivery never falters. You may have also seen him on Saturday Night Live circa 1994/5, among the many other TV appearances and roles he's played. Rob Riggle Jr. has also appeared in several box office success films including 'The Hangover'.
He's known for tying in jokes and skits about his actual role as a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps. He uses his knowledge to act as the 'Military Analyst' on the Daily Show with John Stewart, a character that gets endless mileage and laughs. His stand-up videos indicate he's a top-notch story teller. His life leaves him no shortage of fascinating things to talk about, including the 'first draft' of his hypothetical Academy Award Acceptance speech with lines like "the world is my toilet". 
Riggle was born in Midwest United States, and his go-to topics include Sports, the Military, Politics, and the News. His hilariously written stories about real and fake happenings have kept the Riggle fan-base growing from his early 90's work to his current stand-up. His role with Will Farrel in the film Step-Brothers didn't hurt much either. Comedy geeks may remember UCTB (The Upright Citizens' Brigade') in which Riggle and his hilarious partner Rob Huebel performed their two-man show 'Kung Fu Grip'. Riggle also appeared often with his partner on Late Night with Conan O' Brien for comedic sketches during the '90's. He's worked with the best.
Photo courtesy of RobRiggle.com
His recent projects have included a collaboration with long-term partner Robert Huebel and Paul Sheer, including Seasons one and two of HBO's Designated Driver and Death Hunt 2010 and 2011. With organizations like NFL, HBO, SNL, Comedy Central, CBS, Nascar, Bravo, and the Marine Corps on his resume', Riggle has shown his mass appeal, and longevity through many outlets. He's just five years into traditional stand-up, but decades in comedy. This is one of the funniest observational comedic sarcastic writers and character comedians around. His insights are original and familiar at the same time. Riggle's three night stent at Paris will be a brush with a professional long-term comedian, who has avid fans throughout the United States, plus his name, Rob Riggle, is super fun to say.
May 10-12, 2012. Empire Comedy at ParisLasVegas.com, $39.99-$59.99, (702)777-7776.