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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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Delectable Daisy Foxxx

For my first Cherry Sparkle Burlesque interview for the Spring of 2015, it’s appropriate that I welcome the vibrant, vivacious Daisy Foxx, a delectable young lady with a heart full of song and a spring in her step. She’s the original hooper for the CSBC and fast becoming a good friend, especially after offering to bake me cupcakes following my back surgery. Thanks, Daisy. Happy to have you here on the blog today. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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J: When you joined the company, why did you choose to be known as Daisy Foxxx? What does that persona mean to you?

D: Well, I’m sweet like a daisy but also foxy. 

J: Have to agree there. Definitely as sweet as a daisy. And the foxy part goes without saying.

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J: What prompted you to join Cherry Sparkle? And how long have you been a member?

D: I saw a post about it on facebook. I’ve been looking for a group like this for awhile. When you live in a small town full of people who don’t really get art and freedom of expression, it’s a bit tough. I love my group. I joined in August 2014.

J: Ah, the glories of Facebook. Happy that you found a match with Cherry Sparkle. They are some wonderful people. And very accepting. This area can be very draining for all creative types, but I hope that our influences can open people up to new experiences and forms of entertainment.

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

D: I do have a little bit of a background. I used to do chorus and drama in my church…till I was in high school. I have always been interested in dance; I think it’s so beautiful how our bodies can move and be used to create and express ourselves.

J: Well, in your case, Daisy, it’s a beautiful expression. For me, it’s more like a spastic rhino on the dance floor, so I’ll leave it to the professionals like you. 🙂

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J: What about other creative interests or hobbies?

D: I do photography on the side. I really do enjoy taking photos. You capture a moment that you can only go back to by looking at the photo itself.

J: You’re certainly in good company if you want to develop those skills. Joel did amazing work on the Cherry Sparkle calendar, and I know several of the dolls are photography hobbyists too.

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J: Could you tell us about your role in the company and your performance style?

D: I like to look sweet and innocent, but draw you in with my magical hoop and sexy ways.

J: Miss Daisy, you manage that with little more than a smile and a few kind words. The hoop is just icing on the cake.

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J: How did your hula hoop come by its name? And how long have you been performing together?

D: I used to hula hoop when I was a child. My school held a talent show and that was my first performance with a hula hoop. I did the cha-cha slide while hooping. It’s a connection, you just simply go with the flow and enjoy the movement.

J: Again, I guess this comes down to you being naturally fluid, flexible, and fantastically creative. With the addition of a second hooper to the company, I hope to see more complex routines from you and her in the future too.

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

D: Gosh that’s a hard one. Hmm…let’s see…probably Lana Del Rey. She’s inspirational to me. I would probably also use a LED hoop. It lights up with different patterns pretty sick.

J: Sounds pretty trippy. And reminds me of your psychedelic photo in the new Cherry Sparkle calendar. I’d share it here but would rather people go out and buy their own copy.

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J: What’s your favorite part of a burlesque show? What’s your least favorite part of performing?

D: Honestly, everything. When we all get ready together and set up [for the show]. Tell each other how we all look great; we are really like a team. Yet all of us are all unique in our own way. Then the butterflies set in, but it’s so rewarding afterwards. It’s a wonderful feeling almost like a high. It feels good doing something you enjoy.

J: Performance art at its best. Sounds like group synergy at its best too, when the group become family.

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Thanks again for agreeing to this interview, Daisy. Great hearing back from you about your life and times with the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. Come check out her and the other dolls and guys of Cherry Sparkle at their next show at Caldwell Tavern (formerly the Crimson Tiger) in Anniston, Alabama on the 4th of April 2015.

Stay tuned for more upcoming interviews with authors, artists, dancers, and more. It’s bound to be a busy year.

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Photographer Joel Price

As we rush toward year end and the holidays, I’d like to take the time to interview one of the people responsible for showcasing the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque. As a result, I have their primary photographer, Joel Price, with me today for an interview. I look forward to finding out more about him, his work, and what it’s like to work with a troupe of burlesque performers.

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How long have you been a photographer? And when did you know that you wanted to do it professionally?

I have been shooting for about 4 years. For three of those, I have been shooting weddings, magazine articles, families, boudoir, and whatever else in between. I am currently not doing it professionally. I still have a day job but try to be a weekend warrior and pick up either weddings or family shoots when possible. I hope in the future I will be given the opportunity to do so.

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I’m not sure there are many of us in creative field these days who are not tied to a day job of some sort, Joel. Seems to be the nature of the new economy. And the exponential growth of those realizing their creative dreams. So don’t sell yourself short as a professional because you still have to work daily to keep the bills paid.

If you had to pick a favorite photographer and/or one who influenced you the most, who would it be and why?

My all time favorite photographer is Nick Fancher, his home is Columbus, Ohio. His work is very unique and always exploring new ways to shoot. He is currently in the process of finishing up a book deemed “Studio Anywhere.”
And you can check out his work at: http://nickfancher.com/ Nick, has influenced my work for the simplicity of his setup. He has a run and gun style. He shoots with limited gear and has always been kind to show his process in photography via social media and or publications. He is either using one flash and a bed sheet, or shooting on the side of a busy interstate. He has the ability to always think outside of the box when it comes to photography.

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Have your photos been featured in any magazines or on the web?

My work has been shown in a few local magazines, newspapers, and various websites. My biggest achievement to date was having my photo on the front cover of local love magazine. The company I shot it for was What A Whirl Events based in Gadsden Alabama.

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Congratulations on the magazine cover! I’m sure it’s just the start of good things to come for you.

The nature of creative enterprises often involves carousing, partying, schmoozing, or otherwise networking with others in the same or similar fields, so I like to ask a version of the following question.

If you could party with any photographer, artist, or other creative type, living or dead, who would it be?

I would probably pick Terry Richardson. He is way out there!

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Artists rarely limit themselves to a single medium. Do you have any other hobbies or creative pursuits?

I really enjoy fashion and portraiture. Since the first time I picked up a camera, I have been drawn to taking photos of people. Either in a controlled environment or out on the streets. People are constantly changing, and I love to document the change with my added eye.

When I was younger I would sketch and doodle. At times I will still pick up a pencil and a pad to sketch. Nowadays, I just focus on photography primarily.

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Much like me, you’re a local boy, one of the Piedmonsters lurking around the foothills of Calhoun County, Alabama. How did growing up here influence you artistically?

I am very much influenced by our natural backdrop. This ranges from crumbling buildings to mountainous terrains. It amazes me each time I get out to take photos and see what we have in the sense of natural backdrops. I like that I am not confined to a concrete jungle.

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How long have you been the chief photographer for Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company? And how did you find yourself in that envious role?

I have been photographing CSB for almost a year. I was given the honor of shooting the CSB Group on a whim. I talked to Phoenix Rose and the Red Dahlia (both performers) of possibly having the chance of photographing the troupe. After a phone call with Miss Cherry Sparkle herself, we set a date for a photoshoot. I was extremely nervous and excited at the same time. I reckon they like me so they still use me today…lol!

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Could you tell us about your involvement with the upcoming Cherry Sparkle Burlesque calendar?

Yes. We are currently in the final stages of finishing up the 2015 calendar for CSB. The calendar will be 12 months of pure awesomeness! The majority of the photos were shot in a single day. Nine photoshoots in various locations around Anniston. The others, due to scheduling, were shot at Miss Cherry Sparkle’s home. Michael Hardin has also helped with some of the heavy lifting when it came to backgrounds and fine details. Look for the release at the first of the year. I do believe the group will be throwing out some teasers sometime in the next week or so.

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When and where will we be able to find this eye-popping calendar?

I do believe the calendar will be available to purchase online or at any of the shows. Dig deep, boys, it’s well worth the money!

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Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Joel. It’s been enlightening to learn more about you and your photography as well as your involvement with Cherry Sparkle Burlesque. Not sure if you’ll be able to make it, but I look forward to seeing them again for their Tits for Tots benefit at The Smoking Moose on Friday, Dec. 12th. People will either be able to donate cash or an unwrapped toy for entry to the show, with the proceeds going to Toys for Tots. If I don’t see you there, Joel, I’ll be sure to contact you about signing the new calendar when it launches. Good luck on it and all of your future projects.

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Introducing the Kickass Kittie Von Carnage

Let’s start this short week off on the right note, with something to give thanks about, the next installment of my interviews with the performers of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. This week I’m talking with the kickass Kitty Von Carnage, a snarky sexpot with a mind as hypnotic as her dark eyes and disarming smile.

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I must say that I love your stage name, Kittie von Carnage. It conjures up the image of a hardcore, hard-edged woman who doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She embraces her sexuality and uses it to empower her, to embolden her and her performances.  Is that far from the truth? What does that moniker mean to you? And does that stage persona carry over into your daily life, once you’re off stage?

Your image of Kittie Von Carnage is exactly what I want to portray. Not only does the name empower me, but I hope to spread that confident and badass energy to anyone and everyone in the audience that needs it. Being a full figured woman I definitely want to embrace my sexuality and that women (and men) of all shapes and sizes have the power to be incredibly sexy. I won’t shy away from saying that  before becoming Kittie Von Carnage I lacked confidence, but I can honestly see a huge change in how I see myself daily and keep her in my mind every day to make sure I stay strong.

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From what I’ve come to know about you and your life, staying strong sounds like what you do best. With your indomitable spirit, strong work ethic, and sense of humor, I’m sure you’ll succeed at whatever you put your mind to in life.

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

I was actually watching the movie Burlesque thinking to myself how I wish I could perform in that setting and I coincidentally saw a Facebook post advertising auditions for the company. I almost immediately messaged Kaitie for more information. I ended up not auditioning at that time because of fear that I wouldn’t be accepted being that I am a larger female. I finally decided a few weeks after that to give it a shot and I am so glad I did. I auditioned, got the job, and right off the bat I felt an amazing sense of acceptance and self-worth from this wonderful group of people I like to call my Cherry Sparkle family.

I have been with Cherry Sparkle only a short time now but I look forward to continuing on much longer. My first show was August 30th and it was a most intoxicating feeling to perform.

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With a few notable exceptions like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I never thought I’d be thankful for a musical, but I can see I’ll have to add Burlesque to the list for inspiring you to perform.

Did you have a background in dance, theater, or performance art before joining?

I performed in a few community theater productions at a very young age, but other than that I have no professional background in it. As far as dance background, I have only taken various classes at my gym for fitness purposes. But I do have an awesome group of people to ask for help if ever I get “dancer’s block.”

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How would you describe your role in CSB and your performance style?

I currently perform vintage burlesque dance, and I love every moment of the art of the strip tease. My performance style has not had a ton of chances to shine yet as I am still new to the company but it surely will soon. My first show I performed to The Dope Show by Marilyn Manson. I will be performing to that type of music mainly. I really like that hard, sexy music and may throw in a little tasteful shock value.

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One of my favorite caveats holds true here, great minds do think alike. Because I love the art of strip tease, especially coupled with hard rock and a sexy, shocking dancer like you.

What’s your favorite part of a burlesque show? What’s your least favorite part?

I love everything about the shows so far. I love the beginning of the process from picking a song and concept, to coming up with a costume and choreographing. On show days it is invigorating to get into hair, makeup, and full costume to perform for an always supportive audience.

I wish I could watch the performances because I know everyone does an incredible job, but I have no least favorite part about the shows.

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

I have a dangerous addiction to Pinterest. If I think I can DIY, I will more than likely attempt it. I love to paint, draw, any number of creative things. I have a love for learning how to do new things so I often find myself looking up tutorial videos. I can also cook the hell out of some food. I have been in chili cook offs most of my life and I often place in the competition. I make some killer pretzels too. It takes a lot of calories to keep my body in this shape so I obviously know how to cook. haha

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Whatever you’re doing, please keep it up. It’s worked to create one helluva Kittie Von Carnage!

You’re not only a self-described Disney fangirl, but you’ve worked for them as well. Given no budgetary or content restrictions, what character and/or scene from the vast Disney archives would you turn into a burlesque performance? And what song would you use while performing this fantasy piece?

You have stumped me with this question for sure. I would probably go with Disney’s darker side and do a villainous performance. I love the villains and it would tie in perfectly with my stage presence. Maleficent is my favorite villain so I think it would be awesome to use her character. I mean, she turns into a dragon so how is that not cool? J Add a little “Disney green” fire to the performance and I am set.

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Judging by our previous conversations, you’re also part of the unofficial lifetime learners club known as Nerdom. Given no budgetary, geographical, or temporal restrictions on your education, where would you go, what would you learn, and why? What would you do with your new found knowledge and credentials?

So many options, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would don a Sherlock Holmes hat and travel the world to solve Earth’s greatest mysteries. I’ve always had an interest in urban legends, myths, and anything unknown or unsolved. I would want to explore things such as Atlantis, and the Nazca lines. Just put me with Sherlock and Indiana Jones and send me on my way to explore. My mind just had a Nerdgasm so I think I’ll move on now.

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Getting back to the topic of burlesque, in my last interview with Phoenix Rose, she mentioned an upcoming Cherry Sparkle calendar. Can you tell us more about it, like what month you’ll be or when it will be available, or is that project top secret for now?

You know about as much as I do. I am super excited to find out what month I will be featured as. I can tell you that from the pictures I have seen, this calendar is absolutely something that people will want to own. We all brought our stage personalities to life in photo form so of course my photos show a dark side. And we have an incredibly talented photographer as well. There really are not enough positive words to describe what he is capable of capturing behind that camera lens.

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

We actually have two shows coming up very soon in December. “Tits for Toys” is one that will be on Friday, December 12th and The Smoking Moose and it is a charity performance so the cover charge will be an unwrapped toy that we will donate. We want people to understand that we have generous and caring hearts to go along with these lovely faces and giving back to the community is a huge interest for the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company.

“Can-Can for Cans” is another upcoming show on December 20th at the newly opening Dark Horse Saloon. This place is going to be an amazing venue so I certainly hope plenty of people come to check it out. The cover for this show is either 5 cans of food or $5.00 all to be donated to a local charity.

We appreciate all of our supporters and I hope that people will help us make this a successful form of charitable action by coming to these shows and participating in giving back.

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Tits for Toys? Now there’s a Christmas charity that I can get behind. Or in front of. Hell, as long as I’m within eyesight of the tits or toys I’ll be fine. But in all seriousness, I think it’s a wonderful thing that your organization is reaching out to the community and helping bring joy to the disadvantaged for the holidays. It’s heartwarming.

Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Miss Kittie. I’ve had a great time getting to know you. And I am sure those out there reading this feel the same. The best part about this is making new friends and introducing them to the world. Good luck with your future performances and the rest of your creative, educational, and professional pursuits.

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Fantastic Phoenix Rose

Once again, I have the privilege and pleasure of interviewing one of the ladies of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. In my interactions with her, Phoenix Rose has come across as a woman who is as creative as she is beautiful, as humorous as she is engaging. Today, I have a chance to find out more about her and showcase her beauty and talents for all the blogosphere to behold.

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How did you decide on the stage name Phoenix Rose? And what does it mean to you?

I just thought about the Phoenix being a beautiful, powerful, creature and rose because it’s a symbol of love. I feel like it’s an empowering name that I can carry with me beyond the stage.

Empowering indeed. I think your electric blue eyes transmit that energy and verve quite well. And photographers seem to have no problem capturing it when you’re their subject.

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By my recollection, you were originally the person responsible for makeup and styling for Cherry Sparkle. How, when, and why did you make the transition to performer?

I was doing Ms. Cherry Sparkle’s makeup one evening and I asked about the audition process. I’ve always loved to perform and dance so I figured I’d audition, what could it hurt? I joined in May and had my first performance on July 26th. I love doing their hair and makeup but performing with these amazing men and women was definitely higher up on the wish list. I still do their hair and makeup though. Lol

I can certainly see why they’d want to make full use of your talents, especially after seeing you work your makeup magic at the Seven Deadly Sins photo shoot. I am not sure what impressed me more, the transformative work you did on the dolls at the shoot or your quiet confidence and professional demeanor.

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

I think my main role is to keep it interesting. I always bring the crazy makeup, weird props, and slightly dysfunctional humor.

From G.I. Jayne’s candy-and-cake makeup and design for the Seven Deadly Sins shoot to your sexy, sizzling interpretation of DC Comics’s Poison Ivy at the Halloween show, I’d say you’ve nailed your role with the precision and grace of an Olympic gymnast.

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From what I have witnessed, you have a special partner that helps you out on occasion with your performances. Could you tell us more about him/her/it?

I do indeed have a very special assistant. I perform with my snake “Fluffy”. She’s a 15 year old, five and a half foot long ball python. She’s a lot of fun to work with and it’s awesome to witness the audience’s reaction when she comes out of “Pandora’s Box”.

Personally, my reaction was a full blown flashback to one of the steamy scenes of my childhood. I pictured the exotic dancer in Bladerunner taking the stage with her own snake. You really should check out that movie sometime; not only is it an amazing work of science fiction, but it might give you some ideas if the company ever does a show with a sci-fi or cosplay theme.

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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?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I think my dream routine would be a Lyra hoop/feather fan dance. Lol, of course there are hundreds of songs on my to-do list, but I think Hozier “Take me to Church” would be at the top of the list.

Speaking as a fan, and as a man, I hope you have the chance to make it through your to-do list. 🙂

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Besides burlesque, do you have any other creative interests, pursuits, or hobbies?

I have a few things I like to do outside of Burlesque. I’m a mom, wife, I’m in school full time for cosmetology and esthetics. I work full time as a vet tech at Valley Vet. My favorite hobbies are probably modeling, hair and makeup, photography, and sewing.

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It sounds to me like you enjoy working on both sides of the camera. How long have you been a photographer? And how long have you been modeling? Do you have a personal website or other location(s) where we can check out your work?

It’s definitely a lot of fun. I’ve been doing photography for a year now. I owe a lot of thanks to my mentor Joel Price for teaching me about photography. I’ve modeled off and on since I was 23. It’s one of my favorite creative outlets.

Here are the links to my hair and makeup and photography pages. I’m currently working on my website. It’s jennaQ.com, should be up and running by the New Year.

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You can find Phoenix Rose’s hair, makeup, and photography work online at the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/quinnessentialphotography

https://www.facebook.com/Quinnessentialhairmakeupandphotography

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Bringing the conversation back around to burlesque, what’s your favorite part of a performance? And what is your least favorite aspect?

My favorite part of the performance is just seeing the entire show come together. It’s truly is amazing how much hard work everyone puts into their routines.

My least favorite part (and this may sound harsh but it’s the truth) is ignorance about Burlesque. Most people hear the word and immediately assume we’re all strippers. Burlesque means an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody or performance. To entertain and that’s exactly what we do. We have singers, dancers, hula hoopers, acts of unfathomable flexibility, comedians, the list goes on. You want strippers go to a strip club, if you want mind blowing entertainment go to a Burlesque show.

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That’s a great quote about distinguishing between those two forms of exotic dancing. “You want strippers go to a strip club, if you want mind blowing entertainment go to a Burlesque show.” Really sums up how I feel about it too. For the most part, strip clubs are badly lit, boring, and designed to drain money from lonely drunk guys or people trying to impress their friends by making it rain singles. Burlesque, on the other hand, is an extravaganza, a visual feast for the eyes that tickles the funny bone at the same time. It is inspired by the combined creativity, sensuality, and wit of the performers. Over all, the energy is so much more positive at a burlesque performance.

Sadly, Phoenix Rose, we’re nearing the end of the interview. But it’s been a treat having you. One last question: When will we be able to see you onstage again?

I’m not sure when our next show is. Guess you’ll just have to keep an eye on the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company page on Facebook to find out. I can say we’ll all be making a fabulous appearance in our new 2015 Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company Calendar.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us more about you and your creative pursuits. Best of luck with all of them. It’s been a pleasure, Phoenix Rose. Although the January show at The Ritz in Gadsden fell through, I know we’ll be seeing you and the rest of the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque back on stage soon enough.

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Stay tuned to this blog for upcoming interviews with authors and burlesque performers, book reviews, and more news about the soon-to-be published sequel to The Cycle of Ages Saga.

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: 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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