Here Kitty Kitty: Burgundy Brixx

When it comes to the entertainment industry, it seems Canada always loses its greatest stars to the lure of the bright lights down south. The list of prominent Canuck comedians, actors and musicians who have packed up and gone to the United States is long and prestigious.

But every once in a while, we pluck one of their best and the Vancouver burlesque scene is certainly richer since Burgundy Brixx brought her tremendous performing chops north of the border. This multi-talented singer, dancer, producer and teacher has settled in and taken Vancouver by storm with her weekly Kitty Nights Burlesque event.

Sexlife Canada caught this kitty by the tail and chatted about all things tassled.

SLC: How did you become involved in burlesque?

BB: I had been working for a number of years in New York as a singer/dancer and actress and had been feeling creatively limited. I randomly came across the New York School of Burlesque and registered for a 4 week course. After the first class, I knew I had found my calling.

SLC: What is your burlesque style?
BB: I have a hard time defining my style. Because of my theatrical and dance background I'm certainly very well-suited to the classic, elegant 1940's style striptease aspect of burlesque and I love performing it, but I also love creating performance art and realizing my ideas onstage, so you're just as likely to see me in a gown and gloves as you are to see me in a 70's funk number, a gender-blending pants piece, or dressed as a snake or a rock lobster. And I feel a huge obligation to really entertain my audiences. I love having a lot of surprises and twists in my acts. So I guess I'd have to say my style is a modern re-defining of classic burlesque.

SLC: What is your favourite routine to perform?
BB: Once again, that varies from day to day. I have a large body of work since I've been performing regularly for so long, and I keep getting inspired to create new ones. I have several signature pieces like La Vie En Rose and my "Green and Black Fantasy" that I never tire of performing, but I'm constantly challenging myself and I love bringing new works to the stage. A couple of my newer pieces I'm having fun with right now are "Brixx House" and my assless dress number, "Burgundy's Buns".

SLC: What is the difference between a New York audience and a Vancouver audience?
BB: New York audiences can just be tougher to entertain. There's so much amazing entertainment to choose from on any given day of the week that the stakes are higher for everyone. You really need to have something special to offer if you want to get an audience for your show so both the desire and the need to create excellent, interesting entertainment is intense there. I guess that's where I get my drive. But the alternative arts culture has been growing so much here in Vancouver that the same attitude is starting to permeate the burlesque scene. I see some performers here really starting to push the envelope.

SLC: Is it challenging to put on a burlesque show every week?
BB: Sometimes I just get exhausted, but I've been doing it for so long now that I have it pretty much down to a routine each week, and doing it weekly actually keeps my momentum going. I started co-producing Kitty Nights in New York with Fem Appeal in 2006 and have been doing it every Sunday pretty much straight through until now, with the exception of the couple of months when I first moved here that our show was just monthly. 5 years—that's the longest I've ever had the same job!

SLC: Why did you decide to start teaching burlesque?
BB: My teacher and friend Jo "Boobs" Weldon runs the New York School of Burlesque and right before I moved to Vancouver she contacted me about becoming her assistant for her school and classes. When I told her I was moving to Vancouver she said she thought I should teach out here, but I didn't know if I wanted to yet. After being in Vancouver for about a year, so many people had come to me asking if I would teach them that I finally broke down and opened my little studio. Years ago, I taught dance to young people for several years, so the transition into teaching burlesque to women was fairly easy for me.

SLC: What can prospective students expect from your School of Tease classes?
BB: A lot of very fun and useful information! Most of my burlesque classes are not really "dance classes". There is definitely some movement involved, but true burlesque is a performance art with deep roots in history, not a dance style. The fact that we use a combination of music and movement to create that art is deceptive to many, and it's easy for people to categorize it as "dance" because they don't have a point of reference for calling it anything else. 8.

SLC: Who are your burlesque inspirations?
BB: Recently I've been inspired by the Weimar performer Anita Berber. I connect strongly with the wit and resourcefulness of Gypsy Rose Lee, the inclusive joy and spirit of Jennie Lee, the grace of Lili St. Cyr and the raunchiness of Patty Waggin. Plus my teacher Jo Boobs, of course!

SLC: If you actually have any spare time, what other activities or projects are you involved in?
BB: Haha! Well, since I make all my own costumes and props on top of everything else, that's where a lot of my "spare" time goes, but I also really love cooking and my husband and I love exploring and getting out into the parks and natural beauty that's all around us here in Vancouver. I also work with my husband on rock-theatre projects with his company, LiveStage Performance.

SLC: What are your plans for the future, in burlesque and otherwise.
BB: I'm planning on doing a lot more traveling in the near future. I've been invited to perform at a few different Burlesque Festivals and shows in the US and Canada, so I'm juggling my local schedule to make that happen. I'm also working on expanding my studio into a larger space to be able to offer more actual dance and theatre classes in addition to my current curriculum. Other than that, I'm continuing my work on getting burlesque recognized as a legitimate art form within the traditional performing arts community.