Touring is not easy. Anyone can tell you, there’s a million things to consider when preparing for a tour and, often times, when you’re heading into a town you’ve never been before, you have no idea what awaits you.
Touring as a burlesque troupe has its own unique challenges: hauling around a ton of costumes and props, dealing with new venues and bookers and working with different burlesque troupes in different cities, who all work a little bit differently than the last.
So, our hats go off to those that can pull it off and make it seem so effortless. We’re honored to be working with the Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour for a bunch of their shows on their upcoming tour of the East Coast and Southeast and highly recommend all of you to check out their show if they’re coming to your town (Scroll down for dates and ticket links). This is world-class burlesque entertainment!
We got to sit down with the headmistress of the Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour, Miss Deanna Danger and pick her brain on the ins and outs of organizing a travelling burlesque revue. We hope this encourages all you incredible BPT burlesque producers out there to take your own show on the road. It’s a big sexy world out there, why not experience it for yourself?
So, without further ado, I give you, Deanna Danger!
Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in burlesque.
Well, I got my start in burlesque at a Richmond fetish club that I am a resident cage dancer at. They had a burlesque-themed night, and I told them I HAD to do a routine! The performance was a hit, and I started getting picked up by different shows and producers in the Richmond/DC area (burlesque had just started to grow in RVA). This was all following getting laid off from a local independent record store chain that was going under, of which I was a graphic designer & assistant marketing director for….and the performing just stuck, and became my full-time career in no time! In less than a year, I was already teaching the art and producing. I had just finally found what I was supposed to do with my life, so all the pieces fell into place!
It looks like you’ve acquired a ton of skills over the years, from burlesque to tap to aerial to cage dancing to ballet. As an independent performer, how has having all these skills been beneficial to you and your performances.
First off, I couldn’t thank my parents enough for giving me the dance education I had growing up. I’ve been dancing since the age of 3, classically trained in nearly every genre, and I believe it’s the #1 reason I’m as successful as I am. Burlesque the art form has just blasted wide open, and there is so much room for new expression within the art with all the various sub-genre’s…I never want to be pigeon-holed and want to perform in all of them! Classic, neo, nerd-lesque, ballet-esque, fetish-esque, BOY-lesque, the list could go on and on. But it has allowed me to get bookings in all varieties of shows. Sometimes I don’t perform burlesque at all and do variety skills such as fan dance (with tricks and tosses) or just plain aerial arts! I took up aerial lyra in 2010 and it has just been the most fun and amazing thing to perform! I adore it. It has taught me how to become a better athlete and performer all around, and I have picked up many aerial performances along the way (my favorite being just improvisational club atmospheric gigs…I can just go up there and feel the music and FLY)! It’s funny how being in the air all the time has kept me so grounded!
Your latest project is The Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour which takes your show and classes to 18 different cities on the East Coast and the South. What inspired the tour?
The Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour came about in the back seats of a few cars and hotel rooms at a couple festivals, between a few like-minded performers that wanted to get out there and be on the road! MDBT has been in the works for about a year, and has gone through one round of lineup changes. It was birthed by myself and tour co-producer Üla Überbusen, along with Kisa Von Teasa of Salome Cabaret & Maria Bella of Gilded Lily Burlesque. Kisa & Maria couldn’t make it out with us on this first round, but have been involved in the planning since day one and will be representing their cities of Knoxville and Baltimore on those stops! For our debut tour, we picked up two incredible ladies, Hazel Honeysuckle, who is making a lot of waves in NYC not only in burlesque but in the acting realm (you may have seen her recently on “House of Cards”), and Porcelain who is quite the celebrated and travelled alternative model & goddess. We wanted to keep the balance between northern ladies and southern to stay in the vein with our moniker and truly represent the burlesque culture of the mid-Atlantic region!
What can audiences expect at a typical Mason Dixie Burlesque show?
Drop, dead GORGEOUS women, truly talented filled performances, and of course, shenanigans. We love shenanigans. Four “classic” beauties, but behind the scenes, we are all goof balls! We are working on a group routine as well, and hope to debut that at the Richmond, Virginia (my hometown) stop on March 14th. Üla will be doing most of the hosting, and she plays ukulele. I’ll be hosting portions of the show to include audience interactive games! Probably my most favorite part of the show…it’s when I get to put the audience on the spot and make them perform to my whims! We also have guest performers from each stop on the tour and have lined up an amazing array of the best of the best in east coast burlesque!
Looks like you travel quite a bit for festivals and for your current tour. How has touring, in your opinion, enhanced your career?
I wouldn’t be able to do what I do full time if it weren’t for travelling! Richmond is still a town growing in burlesque popularity (and it’s really getting it’s wings!!!). But travelling allows me to take on more work than is available in Richmond, and it is a blessing! I have best friends in burlesque that I may see every couple months, or maybe just once a year from other cities! But I truly appreciate being a part of the greater community outside my own city. It is amazing to share my knowledge and teach workshops elsewhere to brand new performers and experienced ones alike, and to learn from my elders in festivals watching them perform and through classes they teach too! Each time I go out on a burlesque excursion, I learn something new, and it all helps me to better perfect my craft in performance and production.
Got any horror stories from the road? Funny stories?
Horror stories? Oh yes! Every performer has those! I performed my ‘Salomé’ routine at a club in North Carolina. It is one that includes sword balancing on my head. Routine went over great, and the gig was awesome! However, in my rush to get out and back home the same night, I left my sword at the club! It was my mom’s bellydancing sword that she used in the 70s when she was a performer, and it meant the world to me. I tried my hardest to track it down once I realized it was missing, but it never turned up. Breaks my heart to think about it to this day (and if I ever find the person who swiped it away…well lets just say they better watch out, my name isn’t “Danger” for no reason)! Luckily a very dear bellydance friend gifted me her sword, which was given to her by her ‘bellydance mama,’ so I now have a replacement sword, which carries as much love and meaning, and I can now perform this act on the Mason Dixie tour!
In your travels, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of different burlesque scenes around the country. What are some of your favorites?
Quite frankly, I’m very partial to my Richmond, Virginia scene. I think we have a lot of ‘specialness’ when it comes to pure talent, and uniqueness with the craft! It is a scene I’ve played a hand in growing and nurturing (through my Boom Boom Basics Burlesque & Performing Arts Studio), and it’s really become one that is about ‘community’ and working together. I’m quite proud of what we’re all growing up to! But aside from Richmond, the Baltimore/DC community has always welcomed me in with open, naked arms! DC’s former “Palace of Wonders” was the first place I performed burlesque outside of Richmond and I met a lot of the areas key players through that venue. Performers and producers that I still work with on a regular basis, who always come out to support, and always show me a good time! The ladies and gents up there are like burlesque sisters and brethren!
Finally, do you have any advice for burlesque producers thinking of taking their show on the road?
The best advice I can give producers taking their show on the road is to give themselves enough time. Plan in advance, and plenty early! There is a LOT to consider when taking a professional show out on the road for several weeks. Lots of different factors come into play. Each venue books differently, each burlesque community performs and works differently, and there are just a heck of a lot of logistics to figure out. Luckily, I am OCD when it comes to business preparedness and I’ve got a form, document or contract for everything! Google docs has become my best friend. Definitely make sure your dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s” as the more concrete you can get everything in advance, the less surprises and unaccounted for factors will arise later. You are always on the go, so if you don’t have the organization and infrastructure to back it up, you’re setting yourself up for failure!
Thanks so much Deanna and we wish you the best of luck on the road.
Here are Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour’s upcoming shows! Get out there and support this amazing revue.
TONIGHT! Tuesday, March 12 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Maria Bella – Baltimore, Maryland
Thursday, March 14 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Deepa de Jour from The Richmond Burlesque Revue! – Richmond, Virginia
Saturday, March 16 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Queen April – Asheville, North Carolina *
Sunday, March 17 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Kisa Von Teasa of Salomé Cabaret! – Knoxville, Tennessee
Monday, March 18 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Siobhan Atomica of The Rebel Riot Revue! – Lexington, Kentucky
Friday, March 22 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Truvy Trollop – Nashville, Tennessee
Saturday, March 23 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour at the Southern Fried Burlesque Festival – Atlanta, Georgia *
Tuesday, March 26 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guest Evelyn DeVere of Carnivalesque! – Charleston, South Carolina *
Thursday, March 28 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour – Wilmington, North Carolina *
Friday, March 29 I Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with special guests Virginia Scare, Meka la Creme & Purrrl Van Dammit of The VaudeVillain Revue! – Raleigh, North Carolina
* Ticketed by Brown Paper Tickets!