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