If you wear sexy costumes all year round you’ve got to really “raise the stakes” at Halloween. I chatted with Hot Night Productions Hot Todd Lincoln and Chérie Nuit and their guest artists from New York, Darlinda Just Darlinda and Üla Überbusen on how they planned to do that at their Hot Nights Halloween Spectacular this Friday at the Bier Baron.
Lucrezia: What got you into Burlesque and how long have you been involved?
Todd: I got into Burlesque by going to a show at the Palace of Wonders one night. Little Dutch and Bambi Galore were among the performers. December 11, 2010 was my first show hosting. I was a guest host for the Peek-A-Boo Revue out of Philly at the Red Palace. I’d been slated to host the first Twisted Knickers show in 2011 so I’d begun talking to Professor Sprocket and Paco Fish, Mab just Mab and anyone else that would talk to me about hosting technique. Paco was offered the gig, but couldn’t make it so he threw it my way, saying “You’re ready. Just do it.”
Üla: I have been performing in theater since I was a little kid. I did my first musical when I was 7. I started performing burlesque 6 years ago. I had an injury that took me out of NYC and put me back in Tennessee where I am originally from. A woman I grew up doing theater with invited me to a burlesque show she was in in Knoxville. Soon after she invited me to join a new troupe they were forming, Salome Cabaret. I went to the first meeting and met the other women and I was hooked immediately. Discovering burlesque felt like I found my home.
Chérie: I have been acting/performing since I was a little kid. I actually studied Shakespearean Theater for four years which weirdly enough led me to burlesque. I really appreciated the audience interaction that occurred in both art forms. I also minored in performance art in college so burlesque made complete sense for me. My first performance was after taking a class with Gilded Lily Burlesque back in 2011. Knowing me it only makes sense that my first act was a crazy octomom that kills babies. I always have had a penchant for the absurd and weird. But I guess that is what I love about burlesque – I can do that in this art form! Plus I love that I can slip my socio-political views in as well.
Darlinda: I had been doing dance, sketch comedy and comedy improv from age 11, got my BA in Theatre Direction and directed The Vagina Monologues. For my senior thesis I directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch. My roommate went to Tease-O-Rama in 2003 and told me about burlesque and it sounded like a perfect combination of sexuality, comedy and dance and I knew I had to do it! Then upon moving to NYC I discovered the burlesque community here and the rest was history. I have been doing burlesque in NYC and internationally since 2004, wow 10 years! The Village Voice called me a “Mastermind of Bizarre Extravaganza” in 2005 when I produced a show called Hedwig Hannukah, a burlesque show celebrating Hannukah and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It set the tone for the rest of my performance career!
Todd, you’ve got a lot of New York Folks playing this show. How did you lure them down?
Todd: Cold hard cash and sexual favors … but when that didn’t work … Basically Cherie and I have a list of who we want in our shows and Üla and Darlinda were way up there. I’d also met Pearls Daily and heard wonderful things and was excited to work with her.
Üla, Darlinda, what’s the attraction of playing DC/what did Todd and Cherie slip into your drink?
Darlinda: I love travelling! It’s one of the perks of my job as a performer. Chérie Nuit invited me and I said yes!
Üla: Mostly it was the sexual favors they promised. Seriously though, I have a lot of love for the DC/Baltimore performers and audiences. I like to come down whenever I can. I produce The Mason Dixie Burlesque Tour with Deanna Danger from Richmond and we always have some of our favorite shows in DC and we always make sure to come back every Spring.
Tell us about The Mason Dixie Tour
Üla: Deanna Danger and Hazel Honeysuckle from NYC and I are going back on the road from February 13 – March 8, 2015. We do a big show with classic and neo-burlesque acts, group routines and special guests in each town. Last year we covered over 6,000 miles in five weeks. We try to go to new cities each year so we can bring our show to more audiences and so that we can see more of the country. This year we are kicking off our tour in DC with Gigi Holliday as our guest. That’s how much we love DC!
That sounds awesome! Will we be seeing some cat action from you this show?
Üla: It’s possible! At this point I have four cat acts to choose from (three are part of a trilogy) so based on percentages alone I may end up bringing a cat act. I definitely want to bring my new Bloody Mary act which is perfect for a Halloween show.
If we say your name three times will you appear?
Üla: Yes exactly. And then I dance to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” – “When you call my name it’s like a little prayer…”. It just seemed perfect to me.
Darlinda, you were on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. What’s up with that?
Darlinda: I had a bit role on Season One, Episode 6, it was a fun day of shooting! That show has given a lot of performers work in NYC! It’s nice to keep showbiz alive in the city that never sleeps!
You’ve won a couple of Golden Pastie Awards.
Darlinda: I won an award for biggest hair and most creative and innovative.
Can you give us a tease of what you’ll be doing at the Hot Night Halloween Show?
I’ll be doing an old classic and an act that is a bout a year old and quite controversial! I don’t want to give away anything, you’ll just have to come see the show.
Todd, you normally host but you’ve been branching out and doing some sideshow.
Todd: That is correct. I’ve been doing bed of nails and bed of barbed wire, walking on glass, and most recently, straight jacket escape.
How did Hot Night Productions come about?
Todd: Cherie and I met one day for dinner and she asked if she could shadow me for a show as far as the casting, set lists, producing aspects and so we did and it just blossomed into an ongoing partnership. We work wonderfully together and she is one of my dearest friends.
Chérie: Todd and I started working together and it just clicked. Our goals are pretty much consistently in line with each other. We both care about creating an atmosphere that is almost family-like, where it feels like friends putting on a show in a basement, where everyone feels a part of the show. I feel like Hot Night Productions differentiates itself from other production companies because of our dedication to community. Other companies tend to focus, which is awesome, on themed shows, specific concepts and scripts, but Hot Night Productions is more about variety and community. We want to deliver a quality product that feels inclusive and welcoming.
What other kind of Halloween things can we expect from this show and by things I mean sexy treats?
Chérie: Actually this Halloween marks the one-year anniversary of Hot Night Productions. This Halloween show, for me in particular, brings in some of my favorite beautiful weirdos from NYC! I have always been such a big fan of the performance art scene there and I am thrilled to bring it here to share with the DMV area!
Todd: I think the whole cast is sexy and more than that it’s a wonderfully smart cast. Darlinda, Üla, Mab, Chérie, Pearls, Sunny and Bal’d are wonderful people on and offstage. I had a chat with Chérie at one point when the cast was coming together and we noted we had strong performers who take their art seriously.
It seems like the DC/Baltimore burlesque bar has been raised in general over this past year. Folks are really getting ambitious with more and more themed and scripted shows.
Todd: It has been. I think a lot of that has to do with the “tassel trail”, as in the I-95 corridor – NYC, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Richmond. The acts travel back and forth and everyone sees what everyone else is doing and gets motivated.
Chérie: The “tassel trail” is TOTALLY why the bar has been raised lately. There is an exposure to a high level of performance art across the country, thus we are inspired and motivated by each other. It is really important to me as a producer to create those connections and help pave the path for new performers to travel in on. Something Todd and I have always talked about is our dedication to community and connecting performers.