MisRed Delicious – Internationally acclaimed, multiple title and award winning burlesque entertainer, producer and teacher
One of my favourite mentors – A year on from our last interview, we find out what had changed for MisRed and she has evolved, what drives her and her inspirations.
Part Two of our interview brings to light her Big Red Act, the New Zealand Burlesque Festival relaunch, and Cinderella.
BS: You touched on your own acts. Big Red, tell us a little bit about the spectacular act, the inspiration behind it, the preparation, and finally the costume design?
MR: Oh my gosh. Okay. So Big Red actually came out of my very first trip to New Orleans after seeing all these amazing classic acts and I did workshops when I was there which it just really inspired me. Watching the queen competition, it was just incredible to watch those people on stage and to be able to perform next to some of them. I was so inspired by New Orleans, I came back with this idea that I was going to do a proper classic act. And I contacted Velvet DeCollete and asked her to put a costume together for me, and she came up with two designs of which Big Red was one of them. And there’s another design which actually is going to be made in 2018. Basically, I just told her my inspiration and gave her the music that I wanted to use, and those designs were what came out. Big Red was actually the secondary design and as a result of seeing this design, I knew I had to create something fantastic with it. When I first made my first trip to the States in 2012, I met Rick Delaup of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival and he told me that I definitely had a knack for concealing after seeing my Marie Antoinette act so I wanted to build on that. With Big Red, I thought, “This is a great opportunity, that I can conceal fans into my costume in an obvious place, but until you get to reveal them, you don’t really know. So that was over three years go now that I started that journey. The next time I went back to New Orleans, which was 2015, I did a workshop with Jim Thornton, who was at the time the bandleader of the Bustout Burlesque jazz band, which was the band for the Queen of the Burlesque. We had this massive conversation about how to select music, and classic burlesque, and how to perform to live jazz music, and things like that. It really inspired me and so from then I was in contact with him on a regular basis talking about different songs that I could use and he was teaching me about dirty songs and sweet songs and the three-part thing that often goes with classic burlesque. It took me a really long time to find all the songs. and to put them together. I finally finalized the song track lase 2016. I think it was after all the changes that had been going on. It just finally clicked, it was like, “Cool.” And then because of my move to Auckland and the changes that were going on here I suddenly had the resources to be able to finally make the costume and everything come together. Unfortunately, Velvet wasn’t available to actually make it so she was happy for me to farm out the work to somebody else. I ended up working with Rita Fontaine and it was fantastic. She sent me progress along the way. She sent me samples. She gave me constant updates if there was any decisions that she wasn’t happy with, she’d let me know. She did a mock-up. She sent over an unfinished costume for me so I could try it out, and then of course, I started to work with Mel & Mo of CNC Kits to build the fan staves, to create something light, and that could be opened and closed because ostrich boa fans traditionally don’t open and close. So it just became this massive team process between Velvet designing it, to getting Rita on board, to working with CNC Kits, to working with Vintage Amusements who did my birdcage, to working with Jim Thornton who helped me with my music. The last piece was the choreography- I had some of the choreography but I wanted it to be better. Being able to work with Chris Olwage, who helped me choreograph a large section and bring bits of it together that I wasn’t happy with, was incredible. So I have this team of about half a dozen people that help me create this act. And at the moment, it’s like sitting with a few of my American burlesque friends/idols in burlesque who are critiquing it for me just so I can refine it and see what works in terms of the choreography that I might need to change. And I hope that 2018 I can start applying to some pretty big events with that. So, yeah, it’s been a massive undertaking so far on a three-year journey so far..
BS: Yeah, and that’s a huge amount of time. And I’m sure that it will all lead to big events for you.
MR: It is. Basically, with Big Red it is very spectacular act. It’s going to be a travelable act because we’re working with CNC kits on making the birdcage pack down. So even though I’ve launched it, it’s still developing. The props still developing, there’s still more work to be done on the choreography, and there’s still a couple little kinks in the costuming that I need to work out. So it’s probably still got at least another 18 months of development before it’s really, really great [laughter].
BS: Yeah, it’s a spectacular act. And of course, I first saw the act in its entirety at the New Zealand Burlesque festival up in Auckland, because now now it’s moved up here.
MR: Yeah, that was the debut of the act and the relaunch of NZBF.
BS: So, yep, the first time in Auckland, the New Zealand Burlesque festival, how do you think this was received in the city of Sails?
MR: Very well, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback. The vibe this year was spectacular. It returned that family vibe that I think people had been missing since the last NZBF.
BS: Because it had took a break for about 18 months.
MR: Yeah, almost two years. Having it in Auckland had its challenges and still has its challenges. It’s definitely a much costlier event in Auckland. But having Miss Cherry Lashes on board to help co-produce was fantastic in the fact that on the night I was able to actually just sit down and watch what was going on, rather than run around like a headless chicken and I knew that things would get done which was great. I think it was a bit of shock for her as well having been a stage manager and a bit of a collaborator over the last couple of years of the festival, stepping up into that co-producer role and realizing there’s multiple events and a lot of treacherous juggling of people going on [laughter].
BS: Yes, and it feels like you are herding cats as well.
MR: Yeahs absolutely. I think she found it quite challenging at times, but thankfully she’s come on board and she’s now actually officially an owner of NZBF which is fantastic. I think Devonport was a great decision having it there, everything was so local. The whole idea was trying to keep everything in relatively accessible position geographically so we can not have to cart everybody around. So having it in Devonport really allowed that. We’ve had four or five different people from around the world- big names- contact us about it since then asking “Can we come over?” So it’s heartbreaking saying, “Sorry, thank you for your interest we’ll be in touch if we decide to go that way.” but it’s wonderful that we are getting that interest. But mostly for me having it in Auckland– having it and pushing through with it this year was really important for myself. I think it was important for the community to restore that feeling that NZBF used to give, and give it new life again, and to help continue that professional development and community vibe that a large and close-knit community NZ seems to have. It’s really neat.
BS: You’ve got a new persona. Almost a Cinderella?
MR: Ah, Cinderella. Well funny enough Kerry Ella is actually my name
BS: Oh, okay.
MR: Yeah. Ella’s my middle name, so Kerry Ella. Cinderella hehe. Cinderella came about because Blaze: The Red Rose of Texas was selling her Cinderella costume and I looked at it and I was like, “That is so beautiful. I love it. There’s no way it’s going to fit me.” And then I looked at the measurements, I was like, “Oh my god. That would fit me. That would fit me. That would fit me.” And then she said, “Oh, I’m selling the shoes as well and I was like, “She’ll be like a size six or something. And I was like, no, that would fit me.” I’m like, “This must be a thing.” Like how was this going to happen? So I hummed and harred over it and talked to the boyfriend and he was like, “If you want to do it, do it” And I’m like, “No, I have a festival coming up. It’s a lot of money. Oh, okay. I’m done.” And yeah, so I went for it. It’s not often a costume comes up that fabulous that would fit me. I decided to get it for a couple of more valid reasons though. One, you can always do corporate gigs and princess parties and stuff like that, but the other reason that I did it is because for the last couple of years a friend of mine – he is actually the namesake of my son, middle name Ryan – him and his wife have been going through the treatment of leukemia for their daughter, their youngest daughter Devyn. I think she was only two when she was diagnosed and I think she’s coming up five now. She’s now thankfully all clear, but watching them having to go to Starship on a regular basis and go through chemo and just seeing that and not being able to do anything to help or to support, it was really sad. Watching how they handled it and how their girl fought it and what they did in Starship was just really, really cool to see them come out the otherside. So I thought that would be great fun to dress up as Cinderella and go and volunteer at Starship Hospital and bring a little bit of joy to some of these kids who are going through a ridiculously rough time. So, yeah, Cinderella came about out of a, “Oh, this will fit me. Well, what will I do if I’ve got it? You know what? I would like to go and volunteer at Starship”. So it’s quite fantastic and it’s come together now and I’ve just got to build a website for it because let’s face it, I don’t really want to put kids parties on my burlesque website [laughter].
BS: Probably slightly conflicting
BS: Slightly conflicting. Just a little.
MR: I might link my burlesque website to my Cinderella, but not the other way.
BS: Not the other way around, no.
MR: I’ve just been doing some market research on the Cinderella/princess party side of things and what we can offer. I’m also talking to a friend of mine who does a lot of corporate gigs and has contacts as well at Rainbow’s End, so I’m looking at different opportunities.
BS: Oh, Rainbow’s End have night rides too. Probably go down really well with that sort of thing as well.
MR: How I can utilize Cinderella and maybe make my money back [laughter] off the costume. Its got like 11 layers I think or 12 layers.
BS: Yeah. It looks pretty layered.
MR: Plus a hoopskirt. It’s just an incredible outfit.
BS: You wouldn’t want to stand near a fire.
BS: Because that’s all polyester.
MR: Yeah…. I guess because the dress itself is very much the live-action Cinderella, but I wanted to incorporate the old school Cinderella that I grew up with, which is obviously the Disney movie from the 50s. So, my Cinderella is my balance between the two. So I’ve got the old school hair and makeup with the new gown.
BS; It’s a beautiful gown.
MR; Thank you. The feedback from Armageddon has been pretty incredible and I’m still hearing people tell me about it [laughter]. And that was a month or so ago, which is fantastic.
BS: Yeah. Definitely. Now I’m down to my last question and it’s a random one but I think I know the answer. If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
MR: [laughter] I honestly don’t know [laughter]. I’m like Hulk. Hulk rocked because he owned his shit, like thee boss. Goes slightly mad but is kind of cool and geeky maybe. I honestly don’t know. I guess I can’t see myself as a superhero.
BS: But some people will view you as a superhero because you’ve brought life back into a lot of things.
MR: I guess, but if I had to pick one, I don’t know if I would be a superhero. I’d probably be the unwilling superhero, like, I don’t know, Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad – not relating to her level of craziness but she’s still got some sort of moral compass. And she’s not a hero, she like an anti-villain. I can’t see myself as a superhero. I’m just kind of one of those people that do things. It would be great to have some superpowers though [laughter].
BS; Well, what superpowers would you want?
MR; Growing money trees.
BS; Oh, that would be good.
MR; That would be really useful That would be really, really good.
BS: Yeah. I think you’re not alone with that thought.
MR: Yeah. That’s about it. I don’t know. What superhero would I be? I love Wonderwoman though I don’t have enough of the courage of conviction that she has [laughter].
BS: See, I thought– having done one of your classes, I thought, “Oh, she’s going to say Wonderwoman for sure.”
MR: No not wonder woman. Yeah. I honestly don’t know. Maybe not so much Ironman, but Tony Stark [laughter]. The thing about Tony is that he’s still– he doesn’t always do things right, but when he knows that it’s not, he does everything that he can to make it right. And while he’s pretty strong and that, he’s still very much human.
Thank you MisRed, once again it was a pleasure.