Today, I have the pleasure and privilege of interviewing the sizzling Shay Blaze, burlesque performer, cosplayer, and, last but certainly not least, my friend. She is a petite, almost fae-like beauty with a smile and personality bigger and brighter than the sun itself. And if you’re like me, you are already looking forward to learning more about her. Without further adieu, I give you the lithe, the lovely Shay Blaze.
J: Let’s start with something simple. How long have you been performing as a burlesque dancer? And how did you start performing?
S: I’ve been performing burlesque for 5 years now. It all started when a good friend of mine told me about a local audition here in Alabama and I just fell in love with it.
J: Did you decide on your stage name or was that moniker applied by someone else? Either way, what does that name mean to you?
S: I chose my name after quite a bit of searching. Shay is something I’ve actually been called for years. Blaze came from the energy and passion I have on stage and the bright red hair I have from time to time.
J: How would you describe your style of performance? Did you develop it over time or did you know what you wanted to do when you started?
S: My performance style is always changing and has evolved so much over the years. There are so many beautiful styles of performance out there and I want to experience all of them. I love to keep my fans guessing and fully entertained.
J: Before venturing into the world of burlesque, did you have a background in dance, music, theatre, or other performance art?
S: As a child, I always dreamed of being a dancer or a circus performer. I dabbled in pageants early on and found out quickly that I thrive under the spotlight. I actually began with visual art which soon opened the door to makeup and hair styling. Then came fashion which led to cosplay and costume design. Once I discovered burlesque it was all over. I fell head over heels for it. It allows me to enjoy every creative hobby I’ve ever had or wanted all in one place.
J: When we first met at Alabama Phoenix Festival, you were helping to promote Warehouse 31, one of Birmingham’s premiere haunted houses. Could you tell us more about W31? Do you perform there?
S: I have not performed there actually. I used to do some acting at Sloss Fright Furnace way before I started burlesque. Since then, some of my friends/co-workers from Sloss are now at W31. They are all very wonderful people.
J: At Phoenix Fest, you did a fantastic job cosplaying Harley Quinn and Tinker Bell. What other characters do you cosplay and would you consider yourself a professional cosplayer?
S: Thank you! Cosplay is a hobby for me. I don’t really consider myself a pro just yet. I do have big plans for Dragon*con particularly this year. I’ve been fortunate enough to work conventions with the amazing artist Patrick Giles. He and I will be representing DC Comics for Dragon this year and I will be premiering a new Harley cosplay along with X-Men’s Emma Frost, and DC’s Black Canary.
J: What are your favorite parts of performing and cosplaying? Do you have a least favorite part?
S: It’s hard to pick a favorite part honestly. I love everything about both of them from start to finish.
J: Are there any common misconceptions about burlesque, or cosplay for that matter, that you’d like to clear up for people?
S: Oh boy, I’m not sure where to begin on that subject. Burlesque is a wonderful thing to experience. It differs a lot from what people initially think of when they hear “stripper”. To me, burlesque is beautiful and playful celebration of the body. It has a grand theatrical element that you won’t see anywhere else.
J: Finally, where can people follow you online? And when and where will we be able to see you onstage?
S: You can keep up with my ever-changing antics and show dates on my website shayblaze.com and of course social media.
Or you can come to my next show this Friday June 19th at Das Haus! It’s going to be epic!
Thanks for sitting down with us, Shay. You’ve been engaging and enlightening as always. Cannot wait to see the new cosplays as well as the performance this Friday. If you’re in the Birmingham area, be sure to come out to Das Haus on Friday night for Shay, a sideshow, and much more. Hope to see you there!