Tuesday, May 8, 2012


This is Part Ten of my continuing series on Dancers Backstage Rituals… cause we all have personal and often quirky stuff we do backstage to prepare for our shows.

Today’s subject is New York-based international burlesque star Dirty Martini. I’m fixing the follow-spot on her because this coming Thursday, May 10,2012, Dirty will begin a multi-city West Coast jaunt as part of Dita Von Teese’s “Strip Strip Hooray Tour”.

Dirty and I have a long history together, we’ve shared many a dressing room, usually filling it with loud guffaws, laughing til we’re almost crying, unable to get our false eyelashes on!

We first met in the mid 1990's, during the early days of The Velvet Hammer Burlesque, the legendary troupe that pretty much singlehandedly kicked off the Neo Burlesque movement in the United States. Dirty and her New York City co-horts World Famous *BoB* and Julie Atlas Muz would fly in from the East Coast to do shows with us West Coast Velvet Hammer gals on a regular basis.

Dirty always stunned me with her insane rendition of the classic burley balloon-popping act, which she did en point. Equal parts a human incarnation of The Venus Of Willendorf and a post-modern Mae West, Dirty, who was crowned Miss Exotic World 2004 by The Burlesque Hall Of Fame, was always way too much fun backstage, and her acts were exceedingly well conceived and executed. We also shared the stage during the 2007 run of Margaret Cho’s burlesque and variety show “The Sensuous Woman”.

Dirty has been spending a lot of time in Europe the past few years as part of Cabaret New Burlesque, who was featured recently in the French film, “Tournee”, directed by and starring Matthew Alarick.

No stranger to film work, Dirty and I both appeared in director Augusta Avallone’s 2004 documentary, “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque”. Dirty was also the subject of Gary Beeber’s documentary “Dirty Martini And The New Burlesque”, released in 2010 (in which I appeared) and she also was featured in Steve Balderson’s 2008 documentary about my dance career, Underbelly .

Dirty is always consummate professional, but offstage she can really let her platinum blonde (or Lucille Ball red or shocking pink, as the case may be) hair down.

One of my fondest memories of our friendship is an adventure we shared that took place in London in 2009. We were in an after-hours Soho basement speakeasy, drinking copious amounts of expensive champagne. Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” blasted repeatedly… and we somehow wound up playing a cut-throat, roller derbyesque game of Musical Chairs with a group of pick-pockets, shoplifters, bartenders from other clubs, Italian gangsters, and a pair of lesbian stage hands who had just finished the West End Theater where “The Sound Of Music” was being performed …yes, really!

Anyway, I could go on and on-but I won’t, so here’s what Dirty does backstage, before her shows, in her very own words:

“I guess the strangest thing that I do backstage right before I go on for a show that I think is big or important to me is to reach out to (legendary burlesque stars) Jennie Lee or Zorita. They are like the angel and devil on my shoulders.

If the piece that I'm doing is bubbly and fun, I’ll ask Jennie to help me get through it successfully- but if it's dark and moody or slow and dramatic I ask Zorita to be with me while I channel her.

At Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2006, I found out that Jo “Boobs” Weldon had a similar experience when she tributed Honi Harlow.

The next day we both talked about how we really felt that they were with us from makeup to applause.

We talked about how lucky we felt to have such luminaries helping us out and how amazing that the room was crowded with stars of burlesque that weekend living and otherwise! “


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