Friday, September 14, 2007
The Candy Gram: Miss Dirty Martini
In our ongoing Q&A series --"The Candy Gram"-- we ask the same quirky questions of burlesque's various performers. If you want to be added to the mix, drop us a line at kellydinardo AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Miss Dirty Martini, a "feminist Superhero" who is performing in Margaret Cho's The Sensuous Woman
What is your hometown?
How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I have been a dancer since I was 6 years old. I started getting serious about my ballet training when I was about 10 to 13 and shortly after, due to the shape of my body (amply curvy as you can see), I was shuffled to modern dance. My ballet teachers said that I would be more accepted in that form. I loved all dance, so this didn't pose much of a problem. I went to college for dance and graduated from Purchase College NY with a BFA in performance. While I was there, I fostered a love for choreography and history and also womens issues.
After graduation, I came to NY and danced for the Stanley Love performance Group and got a job touring with a theater company called Pink Inc. in their lip synching girl group trio, The Fortunettes. We were essentially female female impersonators getting paid to tour the world. I was, at that time, spending most of my nights at now legendary drag clubs including the Pyramid, BoyBar, parties produced by Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti and attending Wigstock every year.
I had a video rental store down the street from my East Village tenement apartment called Kim's Video that had a section called Sexploitation where I came across Something Weird Video's compilation of old burlesque reels. I noticed that all of the women on film had varying body shapes and some had my proportions. I saw it as a platform to showcase my body -which was unacceptable in the dance world -through a new medium: 1950's striptease. I started researching fan dance through my video rentals in about 1995 and started performing regularly in NY nightclubs in 1997. My routines grew and I learned about burlesque the way the ladies in the '50s did, by doing shows - a lot of shows. The difference in performing outside of the art world and the theater world was astounding. I performed at least once a week, I was always paid something for my work, and the more I performed the more I learned about structured improvisation and the more shows I was able to book. I never thought it would become the phenomenon that it is today. I was just having a blast in the nightclubs giving a big "fuck you" to the stuffy dance world and laughing like a lunatic with the ladies and a couple of fabulous gents in the burlesque dressing room aka bar toilet and having a ball
How many pairs of pasties do you own?
I haven't really counted. I have a lot because I make them myself. I must have over 30 pairs. Generally, anything in my apartment has potential to become a pastie - forks, pretzels, fake flowers, electronics ... it's pretty endless.
What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
Black and Tan Fantasy by Duke Ellington
God Bless the USA by Dolly Parton (It makes me both physically ill and wildly excited when I hear it)
Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
What three items could you not live without as a performer?
It's funny, but since I'm writing this from Europe - I'm finishing up a 3 month run in Nantes, France - I've been dealing with this daily. When I came back to NY for a day here's what I walked one mile in Marilyn drag to buy: Emergen-C and Eyelash Glue. Also my rolling samsonite hardcase has been a lifesaver
Who had the biggest influence on your career?
Many people have had a hand in making what you see when I perform. I have a lot of amazing people in my life and they inspire me and instigate my art. My college pal and first apartment mate in NYC, Matt Mohr, has had a big influence on my life showing me the world of drag in NYC and later came into my world of burlesque as Serge LeGainswack and choreographer for drag and burlesque troupes.
My performance family in New York have constant influence in my life. They are my life! Namely Julie Atlas Muz, Murray Hill, Velocity Chylld, World Famous *Bob*, The Dazzle Dancers, Bambi and Bunny Love, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Tigger, Duelling Bankheads, Daniel Nardiccio, Starshine and Pinchbottom Burlesque continue to inspire me to make ridiculous numbers! The list fortunately goes on and on.
Who is your favorite burly queen?
I really have so many favorites. From the old days - Jennie Lee and Dixie Evans for keeping burlesque alive and founding and bringing young people to Exotic World burlesque Museum and Hall of Fame in Las Vegas Currently our Miss Exotic World is Immodesty Blaize from London and she really is marvellous.
Go look at the list of performers who perform and volunteer every year at Exotic World. As the world of burlesque continues to grow, it's harder to accomodate all of the wonderful new performers, but I'm so lucky to be able to see these people perform regularly all over America and the world.
What is your favorite item of clothing?
My gold lame swimsuit from the 1950s and whatever I buy next!
What's the last movie you saw?
Spinal Tap, again, and John Waters' Dirty Shame
What's on your must-see-TV list?
Not much, but I do love The Simpsons and South Park.
What book is on your nightstand?
Usually an autobiography of some incredible woman, but for summer it's Wicked and I'm having a great time reading it. By the nightstand - you know - the nightstand I have The Best of Meat Erotica. It's pretty corny though!
If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
I don't take vacations, I travel, but I'm currently performing in Nantes, France and I'm taking some time off in Paris this week. I guess I want to see Hawaii, though I still would like to perform while I'm there.
If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
You know, I've thought about this quite alot. Sometimes, I'd like to be an X-Man woman and be able to blow people up, but generally I'm pretty docile. Really if I could have a super power, it would be to erraticate women's self deprecation. After all, I am a feminist Superhero.
Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Princess Farhana, Miss Delirium Tremens, Paris Green, Jo Boobs, Jack Midnight, Heidi Von Haught, Diamond Minx, The Titillation Twins, Scratch, Creamy Stevens and Gina Louise.