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.

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Ravishing Red Dahlia

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 😀

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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.

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If you’d like to check out the Red Dahlia, here’s the link for Cherry Sparkle’s YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6URM2rFn6RVrXbrseA9keQ

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:

https://www.facebook.com/Cherrysparklesthereddahlia

For information about the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check out this one:

https://www.facebook.com/thecherrysparkleburlesquecompany

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.