Burlesque Interview: The Sizzling Shay Blaze!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

https://www.facebook.com/Shandycakess

Instagram: @shandycakess

Or you can come to my next show this Friday June 19th at Das Haus! It’s going to be epic!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1453077718326316/

Doors open at 8pm CST. Show starts at 9pm CST.

Doors open at 8pm CST. Show starts at 9pm CST.

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!

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D. Alan Lewis & A Double Dose of Lycanthropy

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With the release of not one but two werewolf-themed anthologies from Dark Oak Press this week, I thought it expedient and enlightening to interview one of the people who made it possible. Author, editor, and good friend D. Alan Lewis has been sweating these two Luna’s Children collections since last year, working diligently to comb through the massive amount of submissions, select the best stories, and then edit them for publication. Though he has not been alone in this daunting task, his drive and dedication have made these anthologies possible.

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This is a glowing introduction and rightly so. But then again, I am clearly biased as Alan saw fit to anchor the first volume, Luna’s Children: Full Moon Mayhem, with my edgy, ultra-violent revenge fiction piece entitled “Beta Male, Alpha Wolf.” As editor, Alan also selected my Cycle of Ages Saga story about dwarves on a submarine powered by a dirty nuclear reactor for Capes & Clockwork, Dark Oak’s recent steampunk superhero anthology.

In addition to his duties as editor, technical writer, and father, D. Alan Lewis is a writer of some of the most imaginative fiction to make it onto my bookshelf. When I first met him at MidSouth Con in Memphis, this unassuming, quiet fellow with the wolfish baby blues sat behind a table with his first novel, Blood in Snowflake Garden. After reading the back cover, I took this absurdist Cold War-era noir tale of murder, mystery, and cupcakes at Santa’s North Pole home with me and enjoyed every page. You will never read another Christmas story like this one. Since then, he has written and published several pulp stories and a few novels. Of them, the gritty, unflinching supervillain tale, The Bishop of Port Victoria, is another favorite. Of course, I could go on and on about telling you about this talented technical writer turned genre author and editor; instead, I’ll let him tell you about himself, his influences, and his projects.

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Q. As writers, we all come from different backgrounds and found our way to this profession in our own way. How did you make the transition from amateur to professional writer? When?

A. I grew up telling stories, some for honorable purposes and some not. As a teen and young adult, I got into roleplaying games and usually ended up running the games, since my friends loved the stories I’d weave for them. I’d toyed with writing for many years, but never got started. This was partly due to procrastination and partly due to a lack of support from family and friends. After my last divorce, I decided to jump in to the writing world with both feet. I hooked up with a writer’s group in Nashville and with their support, I managed to finish my first novel.

From there, it became a matter of networking. I’d been going to SF&F conventions for years, so I started talking to authors and publishers who attend. Those contacts lead to multiple book and story deals. And that leads to the latest work, the 2 Luna’s Children books.

Q. What genre(s) do you write? And do you prefer writing short stories, novellas, or novels? Why?

A. I’m a bit of a writing slut. I write a little bit of everything in all kinds of lengths. I have 3 novels out at the moment; a murder mystery, a pulp/noir tale, and a steampunk adventure. As for short stories, I have steampunk, pulp/noir, superhero tales, horror, and vampire & werewolf stories, and straight-up Sci-Fi.

I don’t have a preference about the length, as long as I have enough room to tell the story that I’m trying to convey.

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Q. What writer(s) has/have influenced your writing the most? How have they influenced you?

A. Douglas Adams has always been a favorite and a major influence. His works were so ‘over the edge’ at times and I loved that. While I didn’t want to be his clone, I did want to write like him. Early on, all my stories were developed as comedies, but I didn’t feel that I could match his level of craftsmanship. And as I worked, I found that my skills were more along a darker path of storytelling. 

Q. Is there a work of fiction that you keep coming back to, one that you read over and over again? If so, why?

A. Douglas Adam’s ‘The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul’. I just love it.

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Q. As a writer, are there common themes or topics that you like to explore?

A. I love surprise twists, so everything I write has something in it that I hope will catch the reader off guard. I also love having tortured, troubled characters. As far as topics, I don’t have anything that I include in every story.

Q. As an editor, where do you find the time and patience to edit something as daunting as an anthology?

A. Patience is needed in ample amounts, some of the time. It never fails to amaze me that some authors will send in a story riddled with errors, but if an editor misses one and it gets in the final product, those same authors will throw a fit.

 As the first reader, I look for a story first. Does it fit a need that my anthology needs? If so, then I look at the errors. If there are too many, I send them back to the authors and explain what mistakes I’m seeing and ask them to rewrite it. Then, once it comes back, I get to work. With Luna’s Children, there were so many stories that I had a team of editors helping me with all the stories, making sure that I didn’t miss anything. 

With Capes & Clockwork, I was dealing with mostly established writers who knew their craft. I also had only 16 stories to deal with, so that anthology fell into place quickly and efficiently. The Luna’s Children books were the complete opposite. While there were a number of talented writes, there are a lot of first-timers. Still, many of those first-timers were giving me great stories, underneath all the mistakes. Luna’s Children includes 43 stories in the 2 volumes, which were drawn out of over a 150 submissions.

 Needless to say, the werewolf stories took much longer to weed through, edit and put together.

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Q. What special challenges do you face in editing an anthology versus a novel?

A. An anthology is a collection of stories from OTHER people. These are not my stories, so I can read it as an outsider and can spot problems and issues. When I edit my own stuff, I have to try and remember not to read it as the writer but as an outsider. While in my mind, I know how a scene is playing out in the words. But as the reader, is that scene playing out in the same way? Sometimes as a writer, you can’t see the obvious mistakes since you’re too close to the story. 

Q. What can you tell us about your newest releases, the two volumes of Dark Oak Press’s werewolf-themed Luna’s Children anthologies? And where can readers find it?

A. Luna’s Children: Full Moon Mayhem and Luna’s Children: Stranger Worlds is now available on Amazon Kindle and will soon be available in print and other ebook versions. All will be available at your local and online book retailers. 

Full Moon Mayhem contains 22 stories that are more based in the real world. While, the 21 stories in Stranger Worlds takes the werewolf genre into new worlds, other times, different realities.

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Q. Now that these collections are finally being released, what will you be working on next?

A. Currently, I am working on the submissions for Capes & Clockwork 2, which is an anthology of Steampunk’d superhero stories. The first volume came out early this year and was such a hit that the second book was green lit immediately.

In addition to that, I’m working on short stories for the upcoming ‘Black Pulp 2’ and ‘High Adventure History 2’, both from Pro Se Productions. I’m also outlining an untitled Steampunk/Noir detective story that I hope to have out by year’s end. In the long term planning, are the next books in the Hawke Girls and the Snowflake Garden series.

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Q. Finally, where can we find out more about you and your other works of fiction?

A.  My website/blog is:  www.dalanlewis.com

      I am on twitter:  @Dalanlewis

      I’m on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorD.AlanLewis

     And I have an author page on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/D.-Alan-Lewis/e/B006DA9P2U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1331611519&sr=8-2

 

Thanks for sitting with us for the interview today, Alan. Good luck on your future projects and upcoming appearances. In the proud tradition of tired werewolf cliches, I hope you have a howling good time. 😉

 

 

 

Author Interview: The Priceless Konstantine Paradias

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing a fellow speculative fiction author, a native of Greece named Konstantine Paradias. Some of you may remember that he interviewed me for his blog Shapescapes earlier this year, before the release of Capes & Clockwork, an anthology from Dark Oak Press that features a story from each of us. In addition writing fiction, Konstantine is an essayist and professional jeweler. He’s also a helluva nice guy who makes for an enjoyable interview subject. But I’ll let you be the final judge of that.

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How long have you been writing fiction? And what genre(s) do you prefer?

If you want to be specific, I started writing fiction since I was eight years old, scribbling the adventures of Sir Kittenchild, the richest kitten in the world. I used to jot down ideas for his adventures when I was bored in class and then play out those ideas with my brother. The stories might not have been stellar, but we got Kitten child under constant threat of assassination by ninjas, turned into a cyborg, got him to built a town made out of gold and then blow it up because he realized he’d have to let people live in it. Looking back, I think that the genre I was working with could be called absurdist fiction, but I grew out of it when I was 13 and discovered the joys of science fiction through the works of Alfred Bester and H.G. Wells.

While I like science fiction, I prefer mine to be rubbery, but not too chewy. Space opera is the poison of my choice, with some of the greatest fiction works under its belt (including, but not limited to Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light which has been consistently blowing my mind even after the 12th read). While I love me some hard sf, I always find it very hard to find an author who can tread the line between establishing an outlandish technology with theoretical science and writing a good story. Greg Egan and Neal Stephenson belong to these chosen few.

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When writing fiction, do you prefer short stories, novellas, or novels? Why?

I prefer short stories, as I always had a very poor attention span and found it very hard on writing longer form fiction back when I was young. My brain, unfortunately, tends to jump between ideas and starts bugging me constantly when I try to keep it in line. Shot stories allow me to build a world and tear it down if I choose in as few words as possible, presenting snippets of history from that Universe for the reader to go through.
I also prefer short stories because, to me, they have always felt like a writer’s ultimatum. Spinrad’s Carcinoma Angles always felt like a punch to the face and I have No Mouth And I must Scream felt to me (when I was 14 and clueless) like waking up from a nightmare only to find myself trapped in a fever dream. Furthermore, short stories allow for greater experimentation. Fredric Brown’s story Answer is the best AI-gone-bad story ever and it’s only 150 words long. Silverberg’s When The Legends came home is distilled awesome and Kadrey’s still life with apocalypse is a silent parade of horror set against a burning skyline.

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What writer(s) has/have influenced your writing the most?

Well that’s a doozy. Let’s see: Michael Moorcock (because if it’s weird and awesome, it’s good for you), Chuck Pallanhiuk (like stepping into a freezer stacked to the top with nothing but jar full of human eyeballs in brine), Harlan Elisson (because the man is a typerwriter goblin that reverse-grants wishes), Maya Angelou (because I Rise is my favorite poem and I don’t even like poetry), Kurt Vonnegut (because cynicism ALWAYS works), Aldous Huxley (utopia sucks) and George Orwell (dystopia is pretty terrible, too), Ward Moore (because the end of the world is always good for a laugh) and Philip K. Dick (who is grimmer than gangrene and more bitter than arrow frog venom).

As a writer, are there common themes or tropes that you prefer to use in your work?

People tell me I always like to do this ‘fish out of water’ thing and how pretty much everyone in my stories is ‘always angry all the time’. I think this is a miscommunication, mostly on my part. See, I don’t really believe that being angry or eschewing responsibility solves anything. Going postal only serves to turn you into the butt of everyone’s jokes.

Whether it’s the end of the world or just the end of your own little bubble of reality, the only choise is to buckle down, get up on your feet and get your ass walking. I have always tried to make a point of this in my stories, especially when I deal with time travel. Anything that is even remotely a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card is anathema to me, when I write my stories. There is no magic sword that will kill the bad guy. Going back in time to make yourself rich will only make things worse for you. Machine immortality? Yeah right. R’Lyeh rises from the deep? Surprise, fart-face, deep one illegal immigrants!

Nothing can solve your problems for you. No-one can help you. You are alone against a cold and cruel and uncaring universe and the best you can hope for is for some good company everyonce in a while.

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Where do you find inspiration for your writing, especially your Capes & Clockwork story?

You know, I have no idea. Used to be, I would say it was other peoples’ stories, until I started writing in earnest and those things lost their luster as they were buried under the muck and grime of everyday cynicism. I’d like to say it’s music, but that doesn’t help anymore. Electroswing sounds like diesel-powered rocketships and people wearing power armor built out of old Cadillac parts. Movies? Comic Books? I wouldn’t dare change an iota of anything that I like. People? Maybe. I guess they are crazy enough and weird and kind and mad and cruel and loving enough to fit the bill. All the weirdos (myself included) and the mad, we each have a story to tell, if only we could have the proper backdrop.

Beneath Familiar Suns was such a story. I decided tow rite it after discovering that Isaac Newton wasted his entire life trying to prove the existence of the substance known as phlogiston, when gravity (whicvh he considered a side project) was the thing that ensured his place in the scientific pantheon. I always thought what sort of world we would live in, if Newton’s phlogiston theory had come true. If one of the things we call the fundamental forces of the universe turned out to be considered new-age hogwash. And when I thought of what sort of world that would be, I made them fight.

Is there a work of fiction that you keep coming back to, one that you can read over and over again? If so, why?

From the top of my head, I can think of three books:
-The Elric Saga, bY Michael Moorcock which was the first fantasy book I ever read, before Lord Of the Rings and Harry Potter. As to why I go back to it? Well, do you know many books that tell the tale of a sickly albino elf-prince who uses an evil balck sword and melds with his past and future selves to save the Multiverse?

-Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Bastards getting what’s coming to them, by virtue of cosmic meddling, topped with the bitter-sweetest ending I’ve read so far.

-Choke, by Chuck Pallanhiuk. The scamming adventures of a sex addict who thinks he could ever be loved so much, he would never need to be loved again. Also, time travel (in a fashion) and Jesus-clones. Or something. Just read the damn book.

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When Capes & Clockwork was published, you interviewed me for Shapescapes, your blog located at the following URL: http://shapescapes.blogspot.com/2013/10/what-i-think-about-stuff-capes.html. What other content can visitors find on your website? Can any of your short fiction be found there? If not, where can they find it?

Well the blog is filled with articles on roleplaying, comic book reviews, the first pages of a webcomic that was not meant to be, the occasional rant about the state of pop culture and yes, some of my short stories, filed under ‘Fairy Tales From Far Away’. As for where you can find my stories. Fiction Vortex has published ‘Nth Chance’ and ‘The Vilkacis’; Black Denim Literary recently went online with ‘Crucible Invictus’; Aphelion Online still keeps a copy of ‘The Gears that Ground The Hearts of Children’ in an online back issue. You can find UnFortunate, on DarkFire publishing’s website and the list goes on and on. But for a full list, then just click Here (http://www.doyoubuzz.com/konstantine-paradias_1) and you can find my complete list of published short stories.

Besides Shapescapes, where can we find out more about you and your work online?

I am currently employed as a book reviewer for Albedo One, where I post some of my work. A number of my stories are available for free on other websites but my personal favorite is Chris Boyle’s audio rendition of my short story ‘Echoes in Porcelain’ on ep 33 of Bizarrocast.

But if you are looking for a flash fiction fix, then why not try the page that I am maintaining with a few other indie writers, titled Augmentations on Facebook? There you can get your weekly cyberpunk fix in 250 words or less, with an awesome bit of art by independent artists to seal the deal! https://www.facebook.com/Augmentations?fref=ts

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As far as your own work goes, what are you working on currently?

At the moment, I am pitching a serial, trying to get a comic book going and trying my hand at a Young Adult novel. One is about a magical product reviewer in a world where science has discovered magic, the other is about serial killers trying to stop the world from ending and the third, about a young girl monster Hunter, struggling to live a normal life in the worst place in the world.

I don’t honestly know when these are going to be done, but I am guessing sometime within the year, before the advent of Tezcatlipoca’s wrath.

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What will be coming out next for you? And where can we find it?

At the moment, my work has been published in the 2014 Science Fiction Writer’s Sampler, which is available on Amazon, free for a limited time. My essay on Battle Royale has been published by Haikasoru, in the BR SLAM BOOK and my short story ‘Oi, Robot!’ is coming out in Third FlatIron’s Master Minds anthology, all of which is available on Amazon.com

Thanks for sitting with me today and telling me a bit about you and your work, Konstantine. It’s been enlightening and quite entertaining. Hopefully, we’ve helped to connect you with more readers. Best of luck with your creative endeavors. Look forward to reading them.

You can click any of the cover images in this interview to find out where to buy Konstantine’s various works, and the Shapescapes banner should take you right to his blog.

You can find him on Facebook at the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/konstantine.paradias?fref=ts

Follow him on Twitter @KonstantineP

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.