There is a spiritual element and aspect of ritual to burlesque and sideshow, two artforms linked to Carnival (literally translated – a farewell to the flesh). Hexwork pushes those elements front and center in their newest tour, Hexwork – A Spellbinding Burlesk Revue. I recently got to chat with two of the forces of nature behind the tour, Eyrie Twilight and Mab Just Mab.
Lucrezia: First things first – name, tagline and when and why did you get into burlesque/variety?
Mab: Mab Just Mab, DC’s Own Sideshow Girl. I’ve been involved in the Variety Arts for over 20 years. Came from a theatre background, did some bellydance, ethnic folk percussion, character work, ren faires, and then spiraled out of control into sideshow, and even some clowning I can admit it’s clowning now. Thank you Clown Cabaret.
Eyrie: Eyrie Twilight, tagline is a work in progress but at the moment I’m going with “She puts the “craft” in Witchcraft” due to my process of burlesque involving a lot of modification/embellishment as opposed to buying things ready made. I started my Burlesque journey in 2009 when Sugar Shack Burlesque out of NYC offered their first series of classes in Richmond, Virginia. My reasoning also centers around the enjoyment of creation, though I also felt drawn in by the “everybody can do burlesque” spirit. Radical Inclusion appeals to me in many ways.
Tell us about Hexwork.
Mab: I love the concept of this show – it’s not the cheesy oooooh Witchiepoo stuff. Everyone in the show has a genuine respect for the genre.
Eyrie: For Hexwork, I try to bring in occult elements, including actual material relevant to modern occultists/witches. I try to include other neo pagan/spiritually inclined people in my casts of all traditions and I’m big on Respect. This isn’t a show about bashing monotheism or being in any way blasphemous outside of its very existence…. it’s just about being visible.
I’m noticing a lot of earth religions “speak” popping up in burlesque and queer performance art communities lately – “my coven” “goddess.” Do you think there’s a resurgence?
Mab: And it would make sense that it’s a natural connection. The Divine has been ever present in the feminine magics. The Temple women were holy sex workers. It is a theme that comes back when you see women trying to discover their power which is another theme that is ever present in Burlesque. A lot of people argue that it’s about empowering women and I agree, but with slight rewording to say it’s more empowering the body. Your body is your temple.
Eyrie: We are definitely in the middle of an Occult Revival. Fashion especially. Personally I’m very pleased that people are coming back to magick, in all its forms.
Who else is involved in the Hexwork tour?
Mab: We have a regular and rotating cast. Eyrie is the main Brainchild. Miss V has been with us for several shows. Jim Dandy will be joining us on this tour. Bella La Blanc has been with us for all the shows as well. We have Danty Dandridge (who can do no wrong!!!) and Judas St. Sin who joined us for a previous run. We also have Pan, so we got that going for us.
Eyrie: Also Spooky Mandalay, whom is the brainchild behind Electrocute and is generally a force to be reckoned with.
The poster is gorgeous!
Eyrie: Thank you! It was manifested by Robert Kraiza, an amazing Philadelphia-based artist who has been centering a lot of his art around occult themes. He’s currently doing his tattoo apprenticeship at Ceremony Tattoo Society and starts working on flesh in February 2017. I really wanted the poster to reflect what we’re about, including the appropriate elemental attributions well, Western Occult attributions, along with a changing central image depending on our show theme. It is hand drawn and hand colored!
When did Hexwork start and how has it grown?
Eyrie: The show started in 2015, Mab was first on my list of possible co-conspirators. She’s the perfect hostess for this Work. The show has grown in terms of our touring reach, we’re hitting all our previous venues and even adding more stops, this time in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Mab: This tour’s theme is elemental – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. The first half will be summoning the elements and the second will be wielding them. We have added the Holy Fool to this show too, so there is a Tarot sub-theme which ties in with the elemental theme. Every show we work on more scripting. We have been adding more poetry, which I was pleased to see went over way better than you would think at a burlesque show! Apparently saucy poems stir the blood. Who knew?
So we can expect some saucy poems and burlesque at this show, what other acts of Hexwork can we expect?
Mab: Fire artistry, some juggling, music and some dance!
Any last thoughts about the show?
Mab: There is definitely a reverence and healthy respect (for the occult). No actual demon summoning though, not this show.
Mab: But there might be Sideshow Girl summoning. So, you get to decide which is worse.
Is there a safeword?
Mab: My safeword is “more.”
Hexwork – A Spellbinding Burlesk Revue stops in the DC area for one night only, this Friday, October 7, 2016, at the Bier Baron – 1523 22nd Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Tickets are available for $15 in advance online or $20 day of show. This show is 21+.