The Kansas City Society of Burlesque was recently graced with a visit from the lovely Red Hot Annie of Chicago, Illinois. Schedules were tight, with photo shoots and the big KCSOB show, so we chatted via e-mail. Here’s a bit of what was said… What’s fit to print, that is. *wink*
How did you get your stage name?
My stage name sorta picked me, actually. My last name is Weinert, and I wanted something that would be very easy to spell and pronounce, while still being true to myself. The kids in grade school called me “wiener” all the time to make fun of my last name…so I thought of…hot dogs…and ended up with Red Hot Annie as my very first pick!
That’s similar to how mine came about. Cherry is one of my middle names, and my family always called me Annie Cherry. I had to pick a stage name in a pinch, and that’s just what made sense to me. What attracted you to burlesque?
I’ve always liked uber-feminine things like red lipstick, corsets, and big eyelashes, and I’m also an exhibitionist. I saw a lot of burlesque shows before I got involved, and I just adored the stories and the great costumes, so it called to me, and I never looked back!
How long have you been a performer?
I’ve been performing in theatre since 1995, and I’ve been doing burlesque for just over 2 years.
What kind of theater were you doing before burlesque beckoned?
All sorts – mostly straight plays (comedies, dramas), but a little bit of musical theatre, too.
How did you feel thefirst time you performed a burlesque number on stage?
Actually, the first time I performed burlesque, I felt more nervous than I’d ever felt on stage. But, boy was it exhilarating to leave the stage afterwards! The adrenaline rush is definitely addictive!
Definitely addictive. How would you describe your performance style?
I would say that I tell stories most of the time, and my acts tend to be just a bit kitschy, flirty, and inviting.
Do you consider your style “retro”, or more modern?
Most people would probably define my style as more retro or classic.
What inspires you as a performer?
Honestly, anything can be an inspiration, but the people I find most inspiring are the other ladies in my troupe, Donna Touch for her great choreography, Wham Bam Pam for her shocking acts, Maria May I for her carefree nature, & Barrett All for her dedication to learning new skills.
It’s wonderful to work with a solid group in which everyone can lend their unique style and abilities. Is there any element that tends to serve as the germ for your numbers? For example, most of mine grow directly from a song… Others say a prop, or costume accessory will inspire an entire number.
The vast majority of the time my acts spring forth from the music, but occassionally I’ll run into a costume piece or a concept first, like with “Ballad of Red Hot Annie” or “Amazon Woman.”
Your troupe is called Vaudezilla? How long have you been together?
Yes, Vaudezilla’s been together for a little over a year.
Describe your “signature” act…
My signature act is a hot dog cart act that I’ve only performed a handful of times – it involved a hot dog cart that my father-in-law made for me. It’s pretty sweet! I basically dance around and pull random things out of the cart. Dick Dijon also makes a cameo appearance as “The Man.”
Dick Dijon is in your troupe?
Yup! He’s our only guy!
Of course, I love vintage performers like Satan’s Angel, but I also love contemporary performers – some of my favorites include Anna Fur Laxis, Kitten deVille, Penny Starr Jr, and Melody Mangler. I recently saw Tomahawk Tassels on stage, and she’s a damn cutie, too!
I’ve performed with Tomohawk Tassels a few times. She’s a doll… LOVE Kitten DeVille! What’s an interesting fact about yourself that you don’t think your fans would guess?
I have 6 brothers and sisters and grew up in a very conservative household.
I’ve found it very interesting what diverse backgrounds burlesque performers hail from! Do you have other performers in your family?
Nope. Everyone else in my family is fairly conservative and family-oriented.
Do you have any advice for burlesque performers just starting out?
My biggest piece of advice for performers who are just starting out is to find a supportive teacher or group of people will can help you create your burlesque persona and develop stage presence. It’s really important to find someone who will teach you things, but still grant you artistic freedom. I don’t like seeing cookie-cutter techniques on stage in any genre – so avoid anyone who wants to control your act.
Depending on how far you’d like to progress into the world of burlesque (festivals, competitions, etc), you may want to find a mentor who is very secure – a mentor who is threatened by your success is no mentor at all.
Great advice! Does this come from personal experience, or just observation?
Absolutely it comes from personal experience. Burlesque – like any other artform – is chock-full of politics and pitfalls. Finding people who aren’t divas and don’t play games is it’s own adventure!
Too true! Thanks, from one Annie to another, and I’m sure we’ll see each other soon, either here in KC or in the Windy City!