Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Illustrious Illusiona

Evening seems to come quicker in the autumn, an illusion created by turning back our clocks, a shared illusion that becomes accepted reality as the season proceeds. Today’s interview subject talks heavily about illusions, the power of the mind and body, and other esoteric subjects. As a result, I am very pleased to welcome the illustrious Illusiona, a lady as deeply intellectual and spiritual as she is lithe, strong, and flexible. This intriguing, brainy beauty comes to us from the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company and joins the other guys and dolls in this continuing series.

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Illusiona conjures up images that befuddle our senses and manipulate our perception of reality itself. After witnessing you’re breathtaking performances, I can see how this label applies to you. But how do you see it? And why did you choose to be called Illusiona?

Because everything you see is just an illusion, including me.

Not only an interesting answer, but one that coincides closely with my own view of this level of reality.

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How long have you been a member of Cherry Sparkle? And why did you join?

I have been a member for over a year, ever since day one of the group. I wanted to join because I like to dance and wanted to try something new. Always try new things.

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We actually met during the genesis of Cherry Sparkle. The first time I laid eyes on you and had the pleasure of speaking to you was in between our interviews for WLJS 92J’s Midweek Metal Fest. My friend Jon spoke very highly of you. And over the course of our burgeoning friendship, I have come to think highly of you as well.

How would you describe your role in the company and your performance style?

My role in the company is to perform with awesome, great friends, and always push to do more, to be better. Just like my life.

Illusiona with the ladies of Cherry Sparkle at Rumble on Noble 2014.

Illusiona with the ladies of Cherry Sparkle at Rumble on Noble 2014.

From our previous conversations, I take it that you have an extensive background in dance and yoga. Could you tell us more about those experiences and how it applies to your burlesque performances?

I have very little dance experience. Yoga, however, has been a part of my life for a couple years. This brings a different style of performing to the group.

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Besides yoga, dancing, and burlesque, do you any other creative pursuits or hobbies?

I like to study dreams; I practice lucid dreaming and dream walking. I am a full time JSU student and graduate with a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) this summer. All of this along with my three children keep my fairly busy. Life is exactly what I want it to be right now.

So in addition to being intellectually and physically gifted, you’re interested in introspection, self-discovery, and helping others. On top of that, you’re a busy but dedicated mom who is comfortable with her self and her life. Amazing! In case it ever comes up in conversation, I’ll be sure to cite you as an example of a living superwoman.
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At the Halloween show, you performed an amazing dance with nothing but a song and folding chair to support you. It was truly a wonder to behold, and the strength, endurance, dexterity, and flexibility required to do it looked to be almost superhuman. How did you choreograph that challenging routine, much less train for it? And will you be working on variations of it for future shows?

It’s all in your mind. If we train our minds, our lives indescribably transform to exactly how we would like for it to. I body was mostly already trained for this routine; I just had to put it together. This routine left many bruises for the two weeks I practiced it. It was all worth it, though, and I’m super excited to practice and add to it for the next show. We all are superhuman. Limitation is just an illusion.

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Given complete creative control and few limitations on budget, what song would you perform to onstage and how would you garb yourself for this performance of a lifetime?

I do everything I want without limitations already. Every performance is a performance of a lifetime.

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What’s your favorite part of a show?

My favorite part of the shows are getting to connect with an amazing group of people and feel each other’s energy.

What’s your least favorite part of performing?

My least favorite part of performing is it being so late. I like to sleep during the dark hours.

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Before I ask my final question, I’d just like to say that this has been pleasure. Rarely, do I have the chance to converse with someone so positive, empowered, and genuinely happy. I love your attitude on life, the universe, and everything we’ve discussed.

Finally, when and where will we be able to see you onstage again?

In Gadsden at the RITZ, we will be having a big show in January.

Thanks again, Illusiona. Happy to have had a chance to find out more about you and your interests. And to showcase them here on my blog. If I don’t see you again before the next show, keep up the hardwork. And keep on smiling. If not for your sake, then for ours. The world would be a darker place without it. 🙂

Illusiona and our next interview candidate.

Illusiona and our next interview candidate.

Click here to see Illusiona and Cherry Sparkle perform to Britney Spears’s Work Bitch:

To find out more about Cherry Sparkle Burlesque, check them out on Facebook.

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Discussing the Stars and Stage with Astrostud

In a bit of a twist, today’s interview has me discussing the stars, stage, and more with one of the guys of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque. He is one of the few but proud men to accompany the lovely dolls on stage. And in this interviewer’s opinion, he’s one brave soul for doing it. So without further flavor text, let me introduce you to Astrostud.

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When you joined Cherry Sparkle Burlesque, you selected the out-of-this-world stage name of Astrostud. What does it mean to you?

The name is a split of my imagination describing an astrology student as well as a good looking guy.

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How did you come to join Cherry Sparkle? And how long have you been a member?

I joined last year; Ms. Cherry Sparkle and I go back at least a handful of years.

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How would you describe your role in Cherry Sparkle Burlesque and your performance style?

I’d consider myself supportive; my style is unique. I have a lot of practice and exercise to do still.

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Do you have a background in dance, theater, or performance art?

Publicly, no.

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With your chiseled physique, one has to wonder if it is a byproduct of genetics, hard work, or both. What do you have to say on the subject? And what sort of workout do you use to keep in shape for Cherry Sparkle?

Haha! Thanks, bud. I think genetics has some to do with it. Well, I do walk a lot and drink water and pure grapefruit juice. Stretching is a big deal.

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I have a friendly wager going with Kaitie over who will get the most views with these interviews. With the number of female romance and erotica writers, editors, and publishers on Facebook and my other social networks, I am willing to bet it will be you or one of the other guys. If one of these writers or publishers approaches you online and wants to use you on the cover of a steamy tale of desire, would you be game for it?

More than likely, but I’m gonna ask them there zodiac sign first.

What is your sign? And could you elaborate on your interest in Astrology and what it means to you?

I’m a Virgo Sun. I’ve had a deep interest in astrology for some years now. it helps me talk to people. I’ve asked almost everyone I’ve met since around 2010.

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When you’re not practicing or performing with the other guys and dolls, do you engage in other creative pursuits or hobbies?

I like to draw.

What do you like to draw? How would you describe your style?

I like to draw people. They usually turn out looking cartoony. Haha! I couldn’t really put a label on my style. It’s eclectic.

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What’s your favorite part of a burlesque show?

The team talking about ideas and then performing them.

What’s your least favorite part of performing?

The wait.

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And last but not least, when and where will you be on stage with Cherry Sparkle again?

Our Halloween show at the Crimson Tiger (on the night of October 11th in Anniston, Alabama.)

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Thanks again for sitting down with me to answer a few questions about you and your pursuits. Hopefully, the ladies reading this and a fair number of the gents will come out to see your perform.

For more about Astrostud and the other guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle, check out the link below:

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque’s Facebook Page

INTERVIEWER’S NOTE: The location of the Cherry Sparkle Halloween show has been changed from Darkhorse Saloon to the Crimson Tiger.

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Gorgeous G.I. Jayne

After an unacceptable period of silence on this blog, I break my fast from posting in a most enjoyable way, by interviewing the gorgeous G.I. Jayne, one of the army of dolls and guys performing with our local Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. Stay tuned to the interview to find out more about her as well as details about their next burlesque performance.

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First of all, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to this interview, G.I. Jayne. And for your service with our armed forces. If you don’t mind, could you tell us more about your military service?

Sure! I have been in the Alabama Army National Guard for almost 7 years now. I joined right out of high school as a military police. At that point in time, I thought I was going to go to law school, so it seemed to fit as an MP. I was really girly in high school (cheerleading captain) and I had made a joke about joining. I actually got made fun of and told I could not handle the military, so I guess it started as me proving a point. Now, 7 years later and on my second contract commitment, I would not trade it for the world! It is definitely the best experience and I look forward to many more years of serving our country.

You went from captain of your cheerleading squad to a facing off against terrorists as well as military criminals. At this point, I’m thinking G.I. Jayne is the real Captain America. All you need is the costume. Not that I am complaining about the costumes you choose to use now. 😉

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Obviously, your stage name references your military background but does it have anything to do with G.I. Jane, the Demi Moore movie about the first female Navy SEAL?

Haha! You are not the first to ask this. Actually, when I came home from basic, a woman that I considered my second mother made me a cake that said: “Welcome Home, GI Jane.” It became an inside joke then and I took to the name. When coming up with a stage name, I had a hard time trying to find something that suits me. After weeks of thinking, I thought back to that and decided that it was the perfect fit! But I love people referencing me to Demi Moore because she is so bad ass and it’s awesome that it is what comes to mind when people here it:)

Well, I think you qualify for all-American badass too. Cheerleader turned military police who performs burlesque on the side. I couldn’t write a better female action hero. Demi Moore could never hope to pull off that kind of a performance without a green screen and a stuntwoman.

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How did you come to join Cherry Sparkle? And how long have you been a member?

I have been a member since December of 2013 (almost a year). My entertainment manager actually booked them at the bar I was managing at the time, The Crimson Tiger. I was very uncertain about what they did and was a little standoffish about having booked them. The night they came, we were packed! The audience was going crazy. They really showed out and had fun doing it. I knew that I had to be a part of what Kaitie had created. So I auditioned the very next week and was thrilled to be accepted.

And as they say, the rest is history, right? Having seen you perform onstage and then interacting with you offstage, I doubt I am the only one who is happy that you changed your mind about burlesque and Cherry Sparkle.

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Did you have a background in dance, theater, or performance art prior to joining the company?

I do! I took ballet, tap, jazz, and many other forms of dance as a child. I was on danceline all through elementary school, and later became a cheerleader all through high school at a place where dance performances were taken very serious! Even as cheerleaders, our sole purpose and what we lived for were our dancing skills.

How would you describe your role in Cherry Sparkle Burlesque and your performance style?

I am known as more of a neo style dancer. I always try to bring something different to the table that people would not expect of me. In our last show, I actually did a little poi with glow sticks. That was ALOT of fun!

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Given complete creative control and few limitations on budget, what song would you perform to onstage and how would you garb yourself for this performance of a lifetime?

There is one song I got really worked up over and have wanted to do forever, I just have to find the right venue that we perform at to make it work. It is a song by Five Finger Death Punch called the Wrong Side of Heaven. It is the ultimate military tribute but the video is truly what makes the song. If I could have it my way, I would do some kind of dramatic routine with a projector in the background playing that video. It is so touching. It would not be so much about me dancing, but for just a few minutes, everyone in the building paying respect to our fallen soldiers and the ones who continue to suffer. Of course I would have to have it complete with smoke and fire and all that fancy jazz just to make it even more awesome 🙂

That’s not only an exciting choice, Jayne, but also a heartfelt one. I’m sure my family and friends who have served would appreciate it greatly. After all, it was my cousin, a Marine combat veteran, who introduced me to that song and its stirring video.

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Let’s take a moment to discuss your day job, when you’re not keeping America safe or raising our spirits with your stimulating performances. I hear that you are making the change from bartender to bar owner. Could you tell me more about your new business and when we can look forward to the grand opening?

I am! It is called the Darkhorse Saloon and it is located at 1113 Noble Street. We are very excited about it. My dad, my stepmother, and I are the owners. Our vision is for it to be more of a relaxed, chill out lounge that focuses on a lot of live music. We will have karaoke, open mic, and even free food during happy hour. We are set for a grand opening on Friday, October 10th!

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What’s your favorite part of a burlesque show?

Definitely the variety of everything that we do and how it all comes together. It is about being comfortable in your own skin and loving the you that you are. I love seeing all of our hard work pay off. Show days are always the most fun because we are all a bundle of nerves and stressed to the max, but once we get on that stage it is a feeling like no other. We definitely have the best fans to always make what we do possible!

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What’s your least favorite part of performing?

I guess just the nerves. There is not really anything I do not like about performing, but you always have that thought in he back of your mind of, are they going to love me or hate me? But if I did not get nervous before a performance, there would be something wrong.

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Finally, when will we be able to see you onstage with Cherry Sparkle again?

We will be performing the opening weekend of The Darkhorse Saloon on Saturday, October 11; and I cannot wait to share my exciting weekend with all of these amazing girls. It is so nice to be able to share this moment with them and I look forward to seeing all of our fans in the audience:)

Well, I hope to share it with you. That’s one show and grand opening I don’t want to miss. And I hope our readers out there don’t miss out on it either.

Thanks again for sitting down with me for this interview. As always, it has been a pleasure. I appreciate what you’ve done for my nation as well as my morale. Keep up the good work on all fronts, G.I. Jayne. You’ll always have the support of this writer.

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If you’d like to check out more about G.I. Jayne or Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, click the links below:

G.I. Jayne’s Facebook Page

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque’s Facebook Page

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Talking Nerdy with the Sizzling Sparkletini

Just in time for arguably the largest annual event in geekdom, San Diego Comic Con, I bring you my interview with the nerdy, comical emcee for the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. I’ve had the privilege to know the brainy, beautiful lady behind the performer for a couple of years now. It was nerd-love-at-first-sight when our first conversation turned to Klingons, Vulcans, and the glories of Star Trek, so it was my pleasure to sit down and interview for my blog. Without further adieu, I bring you the smart, the sexy, the sizzling Sparkletini.

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Names, most cultures believe, have power and meaning. So I always like to start these interviews by finding out why each dancer chose her particular stage name. Why Sparkletini? What does it mean to you?

Well, the term comes from what the other girls referred to my personality as effervescent and “sparkling”, and everybody loves a good martini! What could be better than a “sparkletini?”

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Who talked you into joining Cherry Sparkle? And why did you want to join?

The owner of the company, the lovely Miss Cherry Sparkle has a wonderful man in her life AKA Killa Gorilla…lol…that has been a friend of mine for many years, and due to “life” in general we lost touch. Until a year ago, when we made contact again; and he informed me about the wonderful woman in his life and their beautiful children, and introduced us. She then asked me if I would come to a show. I was more than happy to do so…and so it began. I told her I would love to audition. I was so very entertained and in awe of this new thing happening in Annison, Alabama, and I wanted so bad to be a part. Also…believe it or not…prior to Eric contacting me, I had a dream about being in a burlesque group…maybe a little ESP. But in real life, I am a critical care nurse who works in a local ICU. This for me is a outlet and relief from the horrible things I see in a day’s work. It reminds me that there is life, grace, humor, and beauty still out there in this world.

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Had you performed as a burlesque dancer before you joined the company?

Actually no… but in my dream I did!

Did you have a prior background in dancing, theater, or performance art?

Back when I was in college I had a career in radio, I also started doing stand-up comedy for benefits shows, which led to me start doing stand-up in bars and other venues. I also have been in several plays growing up and throughout my life and was once the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”.

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How did you evolve into your role as emcee (MC) for the company?

I started in the company to provide skits and comic relief to give more variety to the show and after the very first show the owner asked if I would MC because she liked that way I used improv and involved audience in my performance. She thought I could keep a good “flow” to the show . Needless to say, I was shocked and honored!

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What is your favorite part of performing?

Seeing the audience laugh and having a good time! I love to laugh and the endorphins give me a natural high like no other! I like to provide that to the audience as well as ask them questions and “put them on the spot”. Incorporating the audience makes them feel a part of the show and shows that we appreciate them! Besides if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be here using our talents!

What are the least desirable parts of a performance for you?

I don’t like it when I have a “stiff” audience … For once something being “stiff” is a bad thing…LOL! I like my audience to “play” with me! People need to learn to relax, let loose and enjoy this thing called life! Also, I don’t like it when people yell out rude comments and boo the male performers! We all work so hard and it isn’t easy performing in front of people, especially almost naked! To the hecklers, I say, “Let’s see you get up on stage and see if you can do better!”

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From our previous conversations, I know that you’re a proud nerd, an avid role-player, and fan of science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Trek. If you had your choice, which Star Trek character would you cosplay for a stage performance? Why?

I guess most would expect the very beautiful, sultry, openly sexual, Betazoid Diana Troy. But I identify most with a mixture of Jadzia Dax, Captain Kathryn Janeway, and Seven of Nine. Jadzia Dax is a most interesting character because she is beautiful, strong, intelligent, and most of all “chosen”. The symbiotic life form that resides within her, Dax, gives her an edge by giving her a multitude of life experiences and a wealth of knowledge from both a male and female perspective over many lifetimes. I also feel I am like Captain Janeway because I am passionate about the people I care about and often sacrifice my own happiness to help them. And I am the Seven of Nine of the group since I am new to this “sexiness” and new way of life. But I would love nothing more than to just be a Vulcan science officer with sunglasses, a cigarette, and a beer, completely illogical! And maybe get down to some Star Trek emblem pasties!!

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If you could do a burlesque version of a fantasy character, who would it be? Why?

Oh, without a doubt, Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen from the Game of Thrones series – no explanation needed for the hot Mother of Dragons!! With some Targaryen sigil pasties and dragon wing fans and FIRE! Sorry got a little carried away. I am currently working in a Final Fantasy VII skit involving the unspoken tension between Aeris and Tiffa and who actually hooked up with Cloud!

So, when will we see you on stage again with Cherry Sparkle?

This Saturday night at Black Market Bar & Grille, located in Five Points, in Birmingham, Alabama at 10 PM!

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Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Miss Sparkletini. It was well worth the wait. And stimulating as always. Have fun at the show and always remember to leave them laughing. I know I try.

Be sure to check her out at the show this weekend in Birmingham. And follow/like her and Cherry Sparkle Burlesque at the links below:

To find out more about Sparkletini, like her page on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/SparkletiniCSBC

To find out more about Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check them out on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/thecherrysparkleburlesquecompany

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Vivacious Violette Rose

In the third part of my ongoing series of interviews with the members of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque, I am sitting down with the creative director of the company, the vivacious Violette Rose, a steel-eyed, socially conscious doll with big dreams for both burlesque and humanity.

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Let’s jump right in here, if you don’t mind. What does your role as creative director entail?

I help with set lists, picking songs, costumes, and anything else Kaitie needs me to do.

Why did you choose to be known as Violette Rose? What does it mean to you?

Violette because my fave color is purple…Rose as a nod to both Gypsy Rose Lee (my burlesque inspiration) and Rose Tyler from Doctor Who.

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How did you come to be part of Cherry Sparkle?

A couple month after I moved back from Atlanta, I was browsing through the Craigslist ads for performing and whatnot and came across the ad for auditions. I auditioned in early September and have been a part of the company ever since. But Burlesque is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 12…I know that seems young to know something like that, but I saw the Bette Midler version of Gypsy and I fell in love with the art.

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Had you performed as a burlesque dancer before you joined the company?

Nope. It took 20 years to make that dream happen. On a side note…I wanted to be Mary Poppins ever since I was 5 or so. So, I’ve been able to live that dream through living my burlesque dream…I found it amusing.

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Did you have a prior background in dancing, theater, or performance art?

Oh yeah, I went to arts magnet schools K-9th grade. I’ve pretty much always been on stage. I just had a longish break until recently. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back on stage.

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We’re very happy that you’re back on stage too. I am sorry to have missed your performance as Mary Poppins though.

What is your favorite part of performing? Other than leaving certain writers stunned and speechless afterward.

So many things…I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one…let me try to hit the main highlights for me.
I love the creative expression I’m allowed and the connection to the audience. BUT I also love having the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of women of all shapes and sizes and promoting the idea that it’s not ok to tell women what’s wrong with their bodies.

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Here’s an example of what I mean: “So, I wanted to share my most favorite moment in burlesque for me so far. Last Saturday, I did a skit with Farmer John, wherein he’s trying to tell me I need to modify my body. After which, I tell him ‘I like my body just the way it is.’ At that point I’m supposed to turn to the audience and ask, ‘What do you think?’ Our amazing audience didn’t even give me a chance to ask before they went wild. I love you all so much for that! I know it seems like as performers that we’re super confident, but we are still people and we still need that sort of love, support, and acceptance. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You all rock!”

We’ve explored the highs of performing. What about the lows? What are the least desirable parts of a performance for you?

The driving and how late we perform…there have been times I haven’t made it home ‘til 4:30am. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Anniston for me.

Well, I, for one, would be happy to check out the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Morning Show.

How about early evening? It takes a lot of time to get ready.

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I’ve been to one of the photo shoots. I was amazed by all of the prep work involved. But I was blown away by the results.

It’s totally worth it.

Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated.

I really enjoy getting ready…especially when we’re all together, goofing off, before the show. There’s a shared excitement that I really enjoy.

You are quite an entertaining group to hang out with before a show or shoot. Don’t think I stopped laughing most of the evening.

That’s why I love CSBC so much.

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Have you turned your love of performance art and dancing toward any other creative or competitive endeavors?

Well, I model for fun and was doing that for a few years before joining the company. I will be competing in the Miss Partner’s Pride Pageant on the 16th of this month at Partner’s Bar and Grill in Huntsville. It will be my first pageant ever.

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Best of luck with the pageant. I’ll assume from your entry in a Pride pageant that you are active in the LGBT community. Are you involved in any other activities to promote Pride or other equality/civil rights-based movements?

I will be singing at Pride with a chorus mixture of the Unitarian Universalist Church Choir and The Huntsville Feminist Chorus. But daily I try to raise awareness of minority struggles, needs, and victories. I try to not just focus on what’s wrong, but celebrate what’s going right, too. I’m all about equal rights for everyone, women, LGBTQ, minority races and ethnicities, the lower class, everyone. I try to just live it. I recognize that all of these causes are intertwined and really can’t be separated. For example, Partners is currently the only gay bar in Huntsville, so I do my best to bring them as much business as possible and contribute to their events as much as I can. It’s also an AWESOME bar!

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As someone who believes in equality for all peoples as well, I applaud your efforts to raise awareness about these issues. I think we all have to do our part to help make this a shinier, happier world for everyone.

So, when will we see you on stage again with Cherry Sparkle Burlesque?

That would be this Saturday at Twisted in Gadsden. I’ll be breaking out my uber-classic burlesque numbers.

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Can’t wait to check them out, Violette Rose. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I hope that we’ve titillated the readers enough to entice them to come to the show this weekend.

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed it.

As the Spanish say: el gusto es mio, the pleasure is all mine.

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To find out more about Violette Rose, like her page on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/violetteroseburlesque

To find out more about Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check them out on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/thecherrysparkleburlesquecompany

To view one of Violette Rose’s performances, check out the Cherry Sparkle channel on YouTube. Here is a video of her performing as Mary Poppins at Partner’s in Huntsville:

Thanks again to all of the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque as well as the photographers, makeup artists, designers, stage hands, and others who make all of this magic happen. Without your contributions, none of this would be possible.