I first saw Harvest Moon perform at Miss Astrid’s Va Va Voom Room , I believe in 2003? Harvest and I have performed on the same bill at Bonnie Dunn’s Le Scandal and Little Brooklyn & Creamy Stevens’ Starshine Burlesque ( or at least that is how I remember it) in the early 2000’s. Last year Harvest performed a beautiful tribute to Haji in the Titans of Tease Showcase at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender. I know that Haji would have loved this tribute to her, as Harvest shares the deep love of women’s power and the beauty of a womans body in performance. Not only is Harvest an beautiful performer she is an amazing massage therapist! I recently got to spend an unexpected few days with Harvest in Seattle, and she inspired me to start this interview project. Having been actively part of burlesque since 2001, I forget how I have met people and what they have contributed to this art form, this is a way to revisit how I met my friends and colleagues.
When did you start in Burlesque?
I started in 1997- with my troupe, The Cantankerous Lollies performance at Exotic World Pageant ( now called Burlesque Hall of Fame) , “A Must in the Dust”. There were 5 of us including our own emcee. We were the first troupe ever to hit the stage and compete. We put together a short 10 minute show comprised of group dance numbers and some vocal songs. We had it all recorded on a cassette tape. The sound guy, a young kid who was obviously very over heated, hit record instead of play. Our tape was erased! The other dancers stood on stage posed while I ran out to my VW glove box and grabbed my back up copy of the tape. I learned early on to always bring a back up. Dixie Evans didn’t know what to make of us. She awarded us best troupe, and gave us each little trophy’s; wind up black limousine toys that said Exotic World on the hood. It was very charming.
Who inspired or inspires you Burlesque?
Some visual artists such as Goude, Toulouse-Lautrec, the can-can, Busby Berkeley, James Cagney, Carmen Miranda, Josephine Baker, and watching “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill” on the screen ignited my desire to dance burlesque. Those scenes of gyrating and hip shaking by Haji were so influential as well as the strong female vibe. As I discovered more and more burlesque legends I was struck strongest by Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, my recent discovery Tongolele, and Madonna her Sex book in the 90’s was super influential for me as a then teenager.
What have you contributed to Burlesque ?
The Cantankerous Lollies were awarded Best Burlesque Troupe and Can-Can by SF Weekly, and the Bay Guardian. I think that was significant at the time because it had never been an awarded category before that moment. I feel we had a big influence in shaping the neo-burlesque movement in San Francisco. As a soloist, I was one of the first few to combine circus and burlesque on the west coast. I had a hula-hoop burlesque act in 2001 and was actively attending circus school. I recall explaining burlesque to a bunch of circus students who didn’t know that it wasn’t just stripping. When I went to visit NYC’s Va Va Voom Room show in 2001, I discovered Miss Saturn. I was surprised to see another burlesque hula hooper. I immediately went and introduced myself. At the time it was a rarity. There was a lot of sideshow of course but that was different!
Create a new word for the Burlesque slang dictionary along with its definition.
Cirlesque: The combination of circus-skills and burlesque during a live stage performance.
Share one of your favorite images of yourself in your Burly Persona, with a photo credit.