Editor's Note: I saw The Indra in a small club in San Francisco last year and couldn't believe my eyes. Since then I've mentioned her to a number of people and they say 'YES I've seen her and she's amazing!'.... Everybody loves The Gorilla Girl of Burlesque.
From GorillaMen.com comes this interview:
During the course of my recent research efforts into gorilla suits and
burlesque, I had the great pleasure of speaking with the striptease
artist known as The Indra. There is a long history of Gorillas and
Girls cavorting on stage for the amusement of lecherous men but the
revival of classic erotic dance has also seen the return of the amorous
ape. Performers like the high profile Gorilla X prove that the
fascination with sex and simians is deeply rooted and will never fade
away completely. Indra puts a different spin on the traditional premise
and fires up crowds around North America with a gorilla strip that has
made her infamous.
Tell me about your great twist on the old burlesque Beauty and Beast act.
I started doing a gorilla strip about 4 years ago...It was inspired by
a scene in "Blonde Venus" where Marlene Dietrich sings "Hot Voodoo"...
it's a great song... AND she strips out of a gorilla costume... it was
also copied by Poison Ivy/Uma Thurman in Batman... My under costume is
a banana skirt inspired by Josephine Baker... And an enormous afro,
inspired by Marlene again... Her's has a lightning bolt arrow through
it I remember...
I bought my original gorilla suit about 8 years ago from Oriental
Trading.. then replaced the hands and head... Its so big on me I never wear the feet...
I bought your September issue with Giselle on the cover in the hopes of reading a brilliant and exciting article about Brazil, as promised on the cover.
I'm half-way through your sensationalist article, and rather pleased with the photographs as they build in energy and show off a lot of leg.
Here is a simple request: You feature one of the most beautiful Carnaval headdresses I've ever seen and it
stands out as the focal point in one of your full-page photos. While all fashion designers are properly credited down to the shoes and belts, all that is mentioned of the headdress is, sadly, "in a carnaval headdress".
Did you not LOOK at this thing? You think that is something Brazilians pick up at the mall or put together in an afternoon? You think this piece takes any LESS effort to create than one of these lousy little cocktail dresses that a designer clearly sleep-walked into sketching as a filler for their summer collection?
Carnaval is couture. PERIOD. It takes an insane amount of craft and patience. And the work is no less intricate a process than what takes place in the revered houses of seamstresses in Paris.
If you doubt this I invite you to revisit our article on Jair Oliviera.
Hopefully you will print this in your letters section next month with proper credit to the creators of the headdress that adds so much beauty to your fashion feature on Brazil.
I swore to myself I was not going to write about this show again. I thought I was above it, being on *gasp* television and all... it gave me shivers of watching Dance Fever as a child.
This season I got sucked in. Hok stole my heart and when Debbie Allen came on as a guest judge, well thats validation enough for me!
The show stands out from the rest of reality drek because it actually features people with real talent and
training; albeit pushing them to injury, but nonetheless... It doesn't create drama by sticking them in a house together although I'm sure behind the scenes and with so many young dancers drama happens. While I dismissed it as reaching only an audience of 12 year old girls, I take it back. Yes, clearly the little girls are voting but there is also something else happening.
Exhibit A: Last night's African dance performance. Debbie Allen brought in an African dancer to open the show with a solo backed up by live drummers. Nervously I watched wondering 'How will American audiences react to this?' The crowd cheered so wildly that I had to wonder if 'Applause' signs were flashing above their heads while cattle-prodded by the ushers. If this is any indication, this show has an incredible power to influence popular culture in a positive way.
The Fox Network still has a long way to go as the following program, Hell's Kitchen, prides itself on work-place abuse.
Baby steps.... baby steps...
Marcy Mendelson Editor
*one more note: the Crumpin' ensemble took my breath away.... can't wait to see what's next in this dance form....* Check out Lil' C and the Nephz Squad
Video recaps of the solo performances from the last 6 competitors here at Daemon's TV
The band had started to play and my heart was racing with
nervous excitement. I had performed several times before but never like this.
There was no turning back now, and so on cue I took my very first step on stage
as Trixie Minx the tassel twirler. With the beat of the music and applause of
the crowd I danced until my costume slowly stripped away to a pair of sparkling
red pasties and panties. It was then like so many before me I fell in love with
Burlesque: the art of tease.
What is burlesque?
The etymology of burlesque comes from the Spanish word burla
meaning to joke. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines burlesque as “theatrical
entertainment…comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts”. This is all important
information to understanding burlesque but what does it mean? Due to its rich
history burlesque means many things to different people. According to
anatomyofburlesque.com the earliest known performance was in 411BC in
Aristophanes’ Lystistrata where women used their sex appeal to rebel against
war. Some modern day burlesque artists use it as a medium to express opinions
on current events. However, burlesque primarily is performed for the purpose of
entertainment. To me and many others it is the Art of Tease: a form of dance
where the performer uses wit and charm through movement to engage the audience.
Prior to my career in burlesque I was a classical ballet
dancer. I trained and performed throughout the US until I broke my ankle
leaving me unable to go on pointe. With much heartache I resigned myself to
stop dancing. Not long after a move to New Orleans the Komenka Ethnic Dance Ensemble found me.
Through Komenka I rediscovered dance outside of ballet and was able to enjoy
performing again. One of the dancers in
the troupe also performed burlesque and encouraged me to pursue it as well. I
kept thinking, “I’m not one of those dancers! Why not just be a stripper!”. It
wasn’t until I went to see her show that I realized this is what I need to do.
The first rehearsal was quite difficult much to my surprise, I could do 32
fouettes but couldn’t take off stockings without falling down! With practice
and coaching I learned how to dance while removing clothing with seamless grace
while constantly flirting with the audience.
Burlesque has given me a new outlook on performing. I
sincerely believe I have always been Trixie but just never knew quite how to
express myself. In ballet I was often told to tone it down with regards to my
personality. My friends would laugh when I played the ditzy goof and ridicule
me for behaving in a ridiculous manner. As Trixie I perform almost exclusively
comic strip tease. Every choreographed turn ends with a wink that makes you
laugh. I love using dance technique to create a story that encourages the
observer to think and enjoy the playfulness between them and the performer.
With this method the burlesque audience is never passive but as active as the
dancer on stage.
Last year I founded the Fleur de Tease Burlesque Revue. I
wanted to bring back what I considered to be the highlight of burlesque
history, a true vaudeville show where the focus was on the art of the
performance not the nudity of the dancer. The Fleur de Tease cast consists of
dancers, magicians, comedians, fire eaters, and trapeze artists who all come
together to create a unique entertainment experience that delights the
senses. Last season we were the
entertainment for the New Orleans Ballet Association and for the Contemporary
Arts Center fundraisers and this season we are hoping to continue contributing
to the arts community.
Dance is an ephemeral art and it is the people who perform
and attend the shows that keep it alive. As Trixie Minx I hope to keep
burlesque bumping and grinding here in New Orleans for a long time to come.
Trixie Minx is a member of the Fleur de Tease Burlesque Revue, based in New Orleans. We thank her for taking the time from the troupe's busy performing schedule to write for Root Magazine.
August's photo of the month is of dancer, Eddie, of the Rusyny Folk Ensemble taken by Natasha Kurtak. The Rusyny Folk Ensemble hails from Tuscon, Arizona and specializes in traditional Rusyn folk songs and dances from the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia and Ukraine.