From Raunch and Rock to Class and Sophistication: The Firecrackers

“Sex plays a big role in my performances; although I like modern music and storytelling, I personally feel the striptease is the most important part of my numbers,” acknowledges Scarlett LaFlamme of The Firecrackers. “And I never want to get away from the fact that it is sensual, and it IS stripping.”

The Firecrackers as a troupe are relatively new to the Toronto burlesque community, but that doesn’t mean the members are new to performing. Scarlett started the group in January 2010 when she decided she wanted more performance opportunities and creative freedom. “By the end of 2009, I was a little fed up with a very, very small group of producers trying to define what burlesque was, and only engaging performers who fit that narrow definition (which changed from person to person)...or their friends. So I messaged a bunch of performers that I respected and was friendly with, and asked if they'd be interested in meeting to form a new troupe. It's been an amazing experience, and I've never regretted the decision.”

Those messages garnered Scarlett a fantastic group who light up stages individually and as The Firecrackers. Each has her own style she brings to compliment and complete the group shows. Scarlett provides us an introduction to each of her colleagues: “Miss Mitzy Cream is our star, who has over 150 acts, from traditional to completely out-there. Li'l Relly is incredibly creative and funny; she won the Boston Burlesque Expo's 2007 Rising Star award with her trademark 'Chocolate Salty Balls' act. Fan Tan Fanny is our sophisticated, classic performer who is a talented dancer and singer as well. My stage persona is a lot of vamp with a hint of playful/coquette, and I mostly perform to rock music.”

Despite the retro popularity of burlesque, some people don’t quite understand the difference between it performance and stripping in a club. To the general public, the two can be seen as the same. Scarlett explains how she and the Firecrackers see the burlesque performance and stripping as two different roles, and why they aren’t interested in working in a club. “I can't definitively speak for the other girls, but we've all had the "stripping for real" discussion, and what I think and what most burlesquers say is that we like the distance of burlesque. If real stripping was just dancing naked onstage, or pole dancing, I don't think most of us would object to making that kind of money! However, we all know it's not...when we've just had the light discussion as a troupe, the girls say they’re not interested in the sex work portion of working in a strip club, and neither am I. I used to actually want to try stripping until I found out that you make all your money from lap dances and 'extras.' But I would never disrespect strippers and certainly don't think we're somehow superior. It's just that most of us like the tease and don't really want to go beyond that.”

The first half of 2011 promises to a be a busy time for the Firecrackers. Next month they present Advancing Allure: The Evolution of The Firecrackers , where they will reminisce with their burlesque debut acts and then also present their newest numbers. In June the troupe introduces their Halfway to Christmas show “because we're all either too busy during the holidays or not in Toronto to have a real Christmas show!” They are also planning to apply to appear at the Toronto Burlesque Festival. As an immediate and future goal, Scarlett hopes the Firecrackers can keep growing and building their audience. "Originally, when I first started the Firecrackers, I envisioned a whole troupe of raunchy, rock-n-roll burlesquers, because I think it's a style that's sometimes looked down upon or shied away from. But as the troupe came together, I realized that our strength as a troupe lay in our
differences as performers. We really have something for everyone, no matter what style of burlesque you prefer. We also always try to define our shows with a theme, which means you're going to get a fun, creative show that hopefully gives you something you haven't seen before."
Catch Advancing Allure: The Evolution of the Firecrackers, Friday March 5, 9pm doors at The Dominion on Queen, 500 Queen Street East.