In this second interview in a continuing series with the guys and dolls of The Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, I have the privilege of picking the brain of the lovely, vivacious Red Dahlia, a singer, a stage performer, and now one of the key ingredients of our local burlesque phenomenon.
First of all, could you tell us a bit about the fiery, dynamic woman behind the Red Dahlia?
I’m an extremely passionate performer. Honestly, I cross the line into obsessive. I spend the entire week before a show fixing costumes, getting steroid shots to help with my tired voice, eating healthy, and nitpicking every iota of my performance. I’m a 20 year veteran of the stage. Theater is partly how I paid for my college education.
So, we can safely say that you’re not only talented and well-disciplined but also a professional on all levels. I must say that’s quite impressive, Red Dahlia.
How did you come to decide on that particular moniker?
My major in college is Forensic Homicide Investigation. My name is a tribute to one of the most famous Unsolved homicides in history (The Black Dahlia).
Very intriguing. The more we talk the more it sounds like you could play the roles of both the hardboiled detective and the sultry nightclub singer in a noir movie. As a writer, I have to warn you now. You may end up a character in a story sometime down the line. Hard to make up a character that is as strong, intelligent, and talented as you.
What skill set do you bring to the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company?
As a 20 year stage veteran, I’ve had tons of training. 12 years of ballet, 12 years of tap, 10 years of jazz, 2 years of opera training, and a background of almost 30 musicals under my belt, in mostly leading roles. One of my favorite shows I’ve done, “Seussical” at JSU, is still one of the highest grossing musicals they’ve ever put on.
Wow! I guess that explains your soulful sound, professional demeanor, and amazing legs. Just remember this poor struggling writer when you’re performing on Broadway someday. I’d like to be there in the front row for that too.
So, what’s your favorite part of a show?
My favorite part of the shows involves my audience. A performer is only as good as the responses they elicit from their audience. When people begin singing along or dancing to my songs, it’s like pressing the NOS button in a souped-up car. I feed off of how much they enjoy my singing.
Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the audience, but your performances certainly rev my engine. 😉
What’s your least favorite part?
Hecklers and classless bores who believe we are strippers. Yes, you paid money to see a sexy, occasionally raunchy show. But we shouldn’t have to have a bodyguard to prevent thirsty, desperate people from trying to insert ones into our clothing. Keep your sad little singles and your hands to yourselves.
I’m constantly amazed by the ignorance and idiotic behavior of my own gender. I am constantly apologizing for it.
As a follow up, do you run into biases or misconceptions about burlesque and the men and women who perform it?
Oh yes, all the time. I encounter it so much that I use it as a deterrent for clingy men. They introduce me to their moms, and I tell them what I do. They typically don’t respond well, ha ha.
I actually had to correct a JSU educator, a PhD, who referred to burlesque dancers as strippers. I raised my hand and said “ma’am, burlesque performers aren’t strippers. No one’s putting singles into panties. I’d get the facts straight before you start judging.” I guess they’re just handing out doctorates to any idiot now.
There does seem to be a bumper crop of educated idiots nowadays. And I guess it’s not just men who mistake burlesque performers for little more than eye candy and glorified strippers. Hopefully, we can change some minds and hearts with this series of interviews about you and your fellow performers.
If you could perform any song on stage during a show, what would it be? And why?
My dream song has always been “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Idena Menzel has been a vocal idol for me for the last 10 years, and I wish more than anything that I possessed that level of talent.
From my experience, you possess more talent than you’re giving yourself credit for, but I find that to be the case with many people. However, this means we can add “humble” to the list of adjectives to describe Red Dahlia.
Are you working on any new numbers at the moment or is that top secret?
Right now, I’m working on a few Queen songs, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid (Broadway version, of course), and “Let it Go” from Frozen. I’m giving my vocal chords a real workout.
Queen! *swoons* The Red Dahlia singing Freddy Mercury may be the best performance coming to the northeast Alabama region in my lifetime. Be sure to let me know when you’ll have those numbers ready. I’d love to volunteer to be in the test audience for that sensational serenade. 😀
Finally, when can we catch your next performance? And can we find any of them online?
My next performances with Cherry Sparkle are May 23rd, May 31st, and July 31st.
And check out Cherry Sparkle’s YouTube channel to see me in action 🙂
I really appreciate you taking the time to sit for this interview. You are truly one-of-a-kind. And I can’t wait for your next performance. If I can’t make it in person, I’ll definitely check it out on YouTube and direct as many fans there as possible. Good luck in your future creative and educational endeavors, Red Dahlia.
If you’d like to check out the Red Dahlia, here’s the link for Cherry Sparkle’s YouTube channel:
And this link will take you to the Red Dahlia performing Cabaret:
You can also check out Red Dahlia’s fan page on Facebook at the following link:
For information about the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check out this one:
Thanks again to Red Dahlia and the rest of the guys and dolls of the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. And keep your eyes on this blog. There will be more interviews coming soon from these performers as well as a few choice writers, artists, and other creative types.