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: Discussing the Stars and Stage with Astrostud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publicly, no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like to draw.

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

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

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What’s your favorite part of a burlesque show?

The team talking about ideas and then performing them.

What’s your least favorite part of performing?

The wait.

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

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

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

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

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque’s Facebook Page

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

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The 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.