Performance As Time Machine: Emily Lola Lockheart

She's been given the name "Canada's Sweetheart" and was a core member of one of the most influential burlesque and cabaret theatres in Canada. A regular performer aroun Vancouver for many years, Emily Lola Lockeheart has since relocated to Seattle to pursue a different kind of role: motherhood.

Sexlife Canada spoke with her about her days tearing up the Vancouver performance scene and what she plans for the future.

SLC: How did you get into burlesque?
ELL: I love theatre, and I love classic movies, and I always wished I had a time machine—doing burlesque, for me, is like my own way of travelling back in time to an era I wish I had known. But that’s more the “why”….Theatre is the “how”…I didn’t take a burlesque class—apart from dance classes—I just applied my theatre background. I first discovered that burlesque was something one could do in this day-and-age when I was doing The Rocky Horror Show and I met Violet Femme of Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society. I asked her if I could be a part of the Brrr-lesque Show that she was in and she got me an audition in front of Melody Mangler, Norm Elmore, Darla DeVine and Deeter Van Toes. I was in their Christmas show, and the rest—as they say—is history.

SLC: What was it like to be a part of Screaming Chicken just as it was taking off?
ELL: Well, Screaming Chicken were an established troupe when I joined in 2006: they had already produced one Burlesque Festival (with Sweet Soul Burlesque) and were quickly gaining recognition in the fringe theatre scene. After I joined in 2006, I think burlesque is really what took off, thanks in part to Screaming Chicken’s Taboo Revue and their Becoming Burlesque classes. It was exciting to be part of an art movement just as it began exploding (or re-exploding)…when I first started doing burlesque there were no weekly shows in Vancouver and now there are two! (or maybe more?)

SLC: How would you describe your performance style? Classic, modern, both or something entirely different?
ELL: Hmmm…. I have been described as “cute, bubbly and fun” (Teddy Smooth), “so much more than the girl next door” (Rosie Delight) and “Canada’s sweetheart” (Little Miss Risk)…My burlettas all reflect this personality whether I’m dancing to a Michael Jackson song or an Ella Fitzgerald song. I like to use the burlesque medium to push the envelope, do something original and fun! If I had to call my performance style something I’d say: theatrical and playful.

SLC: What was/is your favourite routine to perform?
ELL: Oh gee...I have two. One is the number I did for my husband called “Almost Like Being In Love” where I play a girl who is in denial about her feelings and finally admits them, and is so deliriously happy about it that she takes off all her clothes!
   The other one is an insanely passionate teacher who teaches her class (the audience) their ABCs, 123s and then, the anatomy, to The Jackson Five’s “ABC”.

SLC: If you could have any one person in the world watch you perform that routine, who would it be and why?
ELL: Well, I’d have my husband watch “Almost Like Being in Love”... and I think it’s obvious why.
   For the Teacher number, I’d love for the King of Pop himself to watch it, but that’s impossible! So, I think I’d say, mega-fans of MJ like my cousin Candice and burlesque starlet Cherry on Top—to see what they thought of my interpretation of the song.

SLC: Have you started performing again since relocating to the US?
ELL: I haven’t! You see, babies. They usually take up a lot of time…and they like to hog you all to themselves... and although I do miss doing burlesque, I don’t want to introduce pasties to an already over-worked area if you get my meaning.
   However I am in a play right now…a fringe theatre show, so I am still performing. The play is called c.1993 and is being produced at Annex Theatre in the Capital Hill area of Seattle.

SLC: Is performing for a drag king show different than performing for a dedicated burlesque show audience?
ELL: That’s a good question. There is some crossover in audience attendance, and for the most part the crowds are all loud, appreciative and classy. I found that the drag king audience was a bit more forgiving if they couldn’t hear me singing or if someone missed a step in their routine, and I really liked being able to break out of my shell and be a sleazy guy instead of a cute girl (for 3 minutes anyway)—it was a safe environment to do that in, and that appealed to me. I think the drag and burlesque scenes are experiencing more of a crossover in Vancouver since I left and that’s a good thing. In Seattle, we have drag performers and burlesque dancers on the same stage often.

SLC: Who are your burlesque inspirations?
ELL: I’m pretty sure that Lola Lockeheart was inspired by Audrey Hepburn and her incredible balance of childlike wonder and graceful elegance, and Marilyn Monroe’s naïve sexuality and underappreciated intelligence and comedic timing. But as a performer, I am inspired by the people I know and have seen perform live…my peers: April O’Peel for her originality and her ability to look hot as a giant banana, Burgundy Brixx because she can literally do anything, Melody Mangler for her ability to be super sexy and then super crazy-weird, Nicky Ninedoors for her voice and her complete grasp of the sultry, classic style, Lola Frost for her sexy-you-can’t-look-away-while-she-is-on-stage magnetism and Darla DeVine for her complete adorableness and beautiful costumes. Although I have a great appreciation for Gypsy Rose Lee etc, they don’t inspire me to do what I do… my friends do and mostly, the audience does.

SLC: What are your plans for the future, burlesque and otherwise?
ELL: I would love to open a theatre for burlesque and give it the home it so rightly deserves, so I’m kind of working on that right now. I do plan to get back into dancing once my son has relinquished his need of my mammaries.…haha
   Right now I am doing some straight acting and just rockin’ the real-life-homemaker pin-up thing.