Photo credit Peter Jennings https://www.facebook.com/peter.jennings.7758
“An internationally renowned, multiple title and award winning burlesque entertainer. She is the co-producer of the NZ Burlesque Festival and mistress of Red Rascal Productions which boasts a burlesque academy, regular shows and tour support for burlesque artists. She is a passionate force in the New Zealand Burlesque scene and is fast building an international profile having performed around the world, including throughout Europe, the USA and Australia. Her neo-classical style of seduction always is sure to tease audiences”
She is a New Zealand Burlesque goddess. A lady who is full of passion and fire, and a lady who I admire. I love MisRed. Not only is she stunning, she is inspiring.
I had the pleasure of recently interviewing this beauty and this is how it went. This is part one, part two will be published next.
BS – How did you enter the world of burlesque?
MRD – About 7 years ago a friend took me to a theater based burlesque show called The Boom Boom Room which was run by Ian Harman who MC’d the burlesque festival last year (2015). I watched these girls on stage and I remember thinking that it was something I could possibly do. I talked to Ian after conveniently finding his number in google (not stalking at all!) and I auditioned for the Boom Boom Room but I wasn’t quite right – and fair enough too. For a year after that we tried to get together so I could learn burlesque. During that time I ended up learning pole through a fantastic woman who came to my house to teach me and then finally Ian had some free time and asked if i would like to get together and do some lessons. Of course I said that would be great because the Great New Zealand Burlesque Expo was coming up and they had the amateur competition, Miss Bombshell, (now known as Miss Burly Q) So three weeks of pretty intense lessons he took me through burlesque basics and choreography. By that point I had already started looking into burlesque history and had brought quite a few books on burlesque so my passion was already growing. My very first performance was for Miss Bombshell and it really connected with me and I caught the bug! I walked away with the title and the tiara which sparked my sparkly genes. From there I started picking up little gigs from here and there but they were few and far between (remember this was about 5 and a half years ago) as it was in the early stages of burlesque in New Zealand. I enjoyed it a lot and it gave me a common hobby with my husband who is an entertainer as well. In my twenties I was very dedicated to my career, got married,, within a month we had bought a house and within a year I was pregnant so everything in my early 20’s was focused around building my career, looking after my family, helping my husband with his entertainment business – so I didn’t really have anything that was just for me. I was very much depressed at the time I found burlesque and in quite a dark place despite what my outward appearances were. Burlesque came at a time when I needed it and it was just before burlesque exploded in New Zealand as well so it was really wnderful bing a part of that underground sorta thing I just became more and more passionate about it as I learnt more about the history and got the opportunities to go overseas. I have gotten to meet legends and well established performers who have been doing this since the modern neo-movement in the States and it’s really driven me.
BS – You touched on the fact the New Zealand Burlesque Scene really only just exploded in the last 3 or 4 years, where do you see the future of burlesque going in New Zealand?
MRD – Well it’s interesting, I think the New Zealand definitely has the capacity to take on the world. I have watched a lot of the Neo performances overseas and New Zealand is definitely as good, if not better. There are some really creative ideas out there and certainly internationally there is the potential for performers to go overseas and perform Neo there.
Classic we are definitely way behind. There isn’t a wide understanding of what Classic is so it’s interesting seeing that develop over the last couple of years and seeing that change and interest increasing. Classic is very difficult to do because you have to command attention without a gimmick, without a laugh, without a punchline. It’s quite a trick, and it’s interesting seeing that develop and it will be good to see how. New Zealand performers are very quick on the uptake though, and it won’t take long for us to catch up. It’s just whether New Zealand has the drive to get out of “World Famous in New Zealand” mentality. We are somewhat far away from everywhere else, but the opportunity is out there if people are willing to take that risk and go for it. I think there are more and more performers with that professional drive. Not saying that is their full time job or anything like that – but get out of New Zealand maybe once or twice a year; even get beyond Australia as well. Certainly with the awareness of BHOF with all the Australians that went to BHOF this year I think it is only a matter of time before we see Kiwi’s on the BHOF stage.
It would be fantastic – certainly with the amount of Kiwis going to the states on a regular basis – Duchess De Berry , Trillian, Daliha Dangerous, Coney Bow and myself going over again this year. As there’s a few of us going to Europe as well it is drawing attention to New Zealand burlesque. It’s just a matter of holding and capturing that attention.
Photo credit: Stephen Gyde – At The Blue Moon Ball
BS – On the international stage and in your performances overseas what is the best thing you can draw out of having performed overseas that you can bring back to the New Zealand market.
MRD – Honestly, I think it’s humility and being humble. A big thing I have seen on the international stage is the backstage etiquette; the way people treat stage kittens, technicians and stage managers and the level of professionalism backstage is really high – it’s still a very fun environment which we definitely have here in New Zealand, but if people want to step up to the international stage they need to put away their ego and have that humility and remember that we are small fries and still new in the world stage here in New Zealand. We need to remember that while we are over there and on stage, though we have great opportunities at the same time because not many kiwis make it overseas – we also have the novelty factor from being so far away. The other thing is to learn everything you can while you are overseas, watch the performers, what they bring to the stage, how they can modify their performances to fit the environment etc – its amazing. Go to the legends workshops – it’s fantastic! If you ever get the chance to go to a legends workshop, make sure you go – it’s well worth it. They have so much knowledge to share and they want to pass on the history first hand and it’s a wonderful experience and it’s certainly influenced me – not only in my burlesque life but in my personal life as well.
BS – How do you think international performers perceive New Zealand
MRD – I certainly think the international performers love it – for one it’s a beautiful country and everyone is so friendly and so nice – we are pretty down to earth and we don’t suffer fools. We don’t get too “Fan-girly” and i think the international scene views New Zealand burlesque as a great opportunity to expand their horizons; definitely (like I said before) we are very new on the scene with a lot to learn, but, as Ginger Valentine said, New Zealand per capita probably has one of the largest burlesque scenes in the world which is fantastic. So there is great opportunity there as well, provided that we can break out of that small town mentality that comes with it.
BS – So what satisfies you most about performing? Can you compare what satisfies you now in present day to what satisfied you when you first started performing.
MRD – Well when I first started it was the adrenaline rush of getting up on stage; it was satisfying to know I could do something for myself and play the audience. Now that I am further on, I guess what satisfies me is when I really nail the act and it’s not just the audience that enjoys it but it’s me that enjoys it; we are feeding off each other. It’s now a much more symbiotic relationship between me and the audience – a good example is the Perth International Burlesque Festival the other weekend – I walked on stage and I was nervous; I was the last one, I was closing out the after party – the last official show of the festival and I had just watched all of these fantastic neo act’s and I was going on with my neo classical blues act which was quite different. It was in a bar where I couldn’t see anything and there was no lights. All of a sudden the lights came on and all I could see was massive, massive mounds of people sitting down in front of me and it just demanded all my energy. I was just buzzing when I came off the stage because I knew I had nailed my act; the crowd was just hooting and hollering, and then I had seasoned drag queens come up and tell me how much they loved my performance and just for the rest of the night, knowing I had done a good job not only for the audience, but for myself; that was extremely satisfying.