Once more I am bringing you the scoop on the upcoming Rockabilly on the Route festival. This time around we’re looking at the events slice of “burlyq!”
Tell us about yourself and how you came to involved with burlesque?
My name is Vivian MirAnn, and I’m the founder, producer and executive
director of the Gilded Cage Burlesk & Varieté based out of Albuquerque,
New Mexico. I started performing in burlesque in 2009 after I realized how
much I missed being on stage. I had been involved in underground
performance arts for a number of years while living in Florida, and had
always been a little sad that I stopped. After seeing the resurgence of
burlesque and its over-the-top costumes, pageantry and sheer fabulousness,
I knew I had to get back on stage!
My break came courtesy of Matie and Molly, proprietors of Self Serve in
Nob Hill and creators of Albuquerque’s notorious Pornotopia event. Since
that night, I’ve worked hard to be the best artist that I can. I’ve had
the pleasure of performing across North America in festivals and on tour
these past few years, and now for 2013, I’ve been asked to headline and
feature in four different festivals across the U.S. I couldn’t be more
excited to get out on tour again!
What is Gilded Cage and what sets it apart from other troupes?
The Gilded Cage was originally formed as a performers guild rather than
a troupe. Our idea was to bring the aspects of Vaudeville back on to
the burlesque stage. In Albuquerque, other troupes focused mainly on
the art of the tease within the realm of their own styles. We knew we
wanted to stand apart and create a show based on the burlesque of the
turn-of-the-last century, with side show artists, belly dancers and a
host of other entertainment that when combined with burlesque would be
a feast for the senses. This was the concept that set us apart and
became our signature style, as each local troupe develops in order to
stand out rather than appear to mimic one another. The shows became
successful in a relatively short amount of time, and before long,
regular collaborators voted to solidify into a troupe. We’ve been
operating that way ever since, continually evolving how we run as a
group and challenging ourselves to come up with new ways to keep our
shows fresh and exciting for the audience.
How did you come to be involved with Rockabilly on the Route?
One of our newest troupe members, La Loca Linda, has been involved with
Rockabilly on the Route since it’s inception. She pitched the idea to
the troupe during our regular meetings to see if we would be interested
in joining the event, and we’ve been on board ever since. We’re in the
process of crafting new acts to fit the show, and will be reviewing and
fine tuning them over the next few weeks. We’ve also reached out to a
few of our regular, non-troupe collaborators to join in the event and
give the show audience a better sampling of what New Mexico has to
offer. We’re really excited to see how it all comes together!
Any bands that you’re excited to see?
Wanda Jackson has been an idol of mine for as long as I can remember! I
saw her perform in Massachusetts about nine years ago and got to meet
her after the show. She’s such a warm and gracious lady, and I look
forward to seeing her again. I know that the troupe is thrilled at the
prospect of seeing her and the Chop Tops, as well as our hometown
heroes Mr. Right & the Leftovers, who’ve donated a lot of time to help
the troupe as show volunteers and performers on stage. We’re very
grateful to them and The Shadowmen for playing our shows over the past
few years…they’re all just incredible guys.
Why do you think classic Americana has become so big with the
I think they’re a natural fit. Rockabilly and burlesque shared the same
heyday as both became prominent in the 1950’s. While burlesque has a
much longer lifespan, it was in the limelight a lot in the 40’s and
50’s due to the post-war surge of pinup and girly magazines and the
rise of Bettie Page’s career in the 1950’s. Hollywood helped out by
crafting films featuring performing girls of every stripe and
well…boys will be boys. They like to look at the ladies! When Swing
came back to the forefront of American culture in the 90’s, the kids
going through Grandma and Granddad’s closets found not only the music,
but the clothing, the decor, and of course the magazines featuring
burlesque beauties and cheesecake cuties. As all things vintage began
to come back in the ensuing years, burlesque was there as well. Thanks
to big shows like Viva Las Vegas, Heavy Rebel Weekender and
Tease-O-Rama, which is the mother of all burlesque festivals, people
into vintage music, cars and culture have gotten wonderful exposure to
some of the best in burlesque.
What do you burlesque means in the 21st century?
To the outsider, burlesque can often look like just a bunch of girls
(and now boys!) taking off their clothing. It means much more than that
to me. It means artistic creation and freedom outside of normal
channels. It means expression and joy. For a lot of women, it’s
liberation. In a culture that seems intent on conveying the message
that you can’t be happy nor acceptable if you’re not a Size 2,
burlesque is the arena in which women of all shapes and sizes can be
considered beautiful and sexy beings. Performers who may lead
relatively quiet lives can be loud and boisterous on stage, timid
people can be bold and funny. As we progress forward with this vintage
art, it’s growing and morphing into new and exciting directions. I
think we’ll be seeing it continue to evolve and staying relevant to
modern culture for quite some time.
Anything you’d like to add?
I consider myself very fortunate to be leading the Gilded Cage Burlesk
& Varieté troupe. We’ve got a great cast of people and have worked hard
to bring the best performances to local audiences during our bi-monthly
shows at our home venue of Low Spirits. We’re frequently asked how
people can learn the art of burlesque, so after a year of careful
planning, we’ve launched The Gilded Cage School of Burlesque & The
Vaudeville Arts (233 San Pedro Dr. NE, Albuquerque NM 87108,
505-266-4228). The studio is the only public studio of it’s kind,
focusing first and foremost on Burlesque and Vaudeville. You don’t need
to be a performer to take the classes; anyone looking to learn new
skills, have fun and just to feel good about themselves can sign up.
We’ll also be offering other types of fitness classes to just feel
good, have fun and keep healthy. As part of our community outreach
programs, we donate time and meeting space for advocacy groups, at-risk
and crisis counselors and support local charity organizations. There’s
still a lot of work ahead, but I’m really proud of how far we’ve come!
If you’d like, you’re welcome to additional information at….
And for more info on Rockabilly on the Route, check out their facebook group.