"Is it Vienna "La" Rouge, or Vienna "Le" Rouge?"
Officially, it's Vienna La Rouge, but I own both versions. When I first came up with my stage name, I used the "Le" in the middle. Everyone would always get it wrong, announcing me live and in print as "Vienna La Rouge". Eventually I just decided to change the "Le" to "La", and it's proper French grammar that way, but I've actually kept Vienna "Le" Rouge as a part of my website though.
"What made you want to become a burlesque performer?"
I think it all started at a very young age (as most burlesque performers will tell you). My earliest memory of getting hooked on glamour and costumes was at about age 8 when I saw my first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, "Top Hat". Ginger's white feathered gown to me was the epitome of beauty and elegance.
However, many things played a part in my future on the burlesque stage; I have always loved anything to do with costuming, makeup, dance, art, burlesque & theater history, and music. Along with 15 years of ballet, I spent countless hours listening to works by composers like Handel, Scarlatti, and fell absolutely head over heels in love with the music of Mozart. When my father and I would travel to Vienna, Austria to visit family I would spend hours wandering SchŲnbrunn Palace until I knew the rooms and grounds by heart.
What does Mozart and the palaces of Austria have to do with burlesque, you might ask?
It was the key that unlocked my love of history and all its forms of artifice and embellishment, so read on...
I poured over old family photographs, and practically devoured books on fashion history and construction starting at about age 10. My grandparents (on mom's side) owned an antique shop and often bought large collections of clothing and costumes from estates and old theaters. It was actually attached to their house, so whenever we visited 90% of the time I was playing dress up in old showgirl costumes and running around wearing ostrich plumes and beads.
To make a long story short; I had this strange and wonderful childhood exposure to Victorian/Edwardian style, 1930s/40s chic, the Ziegfeld Follies, vintage fetish photos, and the 18th century.
It was and still is an attraction to history and all the things people have ever found beautiful and glamorous, even dark and attractively controversial. I wanted so badly to go back in time, so I continued to sew and experience the past through the clothing history I researched, recreated, and wore.
Years later I discovered that Burlesque was returning from a long slumber and quickly took the stage when I was offered the chance to perform at a novice night with a Seattle troupe. I'll just say an inner switch was flipped, the gates opened, and I was off!
What I love about Burlesque specifically is not only the ability to tease and titillate, but to show people what I love about the glamour and sensuality of the past. While I model my costumes and fashion creations for pin up shoots here and there, there's nothing like seeing it in motion on stage. Where every single sparkling rhinestone seems to tell a story.
"Do you ever perform on the east coast or tour internationally?"
Yes! I've performed in many other US cities as well as abroad. I have toured Canada, France, Portugal, Germany and the UK. For the most part, I perform along the west coast in cities such as Seattle, Portland, And San Francisco.
I will gladly discuss my rates in regard to performing and travel compensation via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Who makes your costumes and clothes?"
I design and create all of my own costumes and props, and have been seriously sewing since I was about 10. It all started from a fascination with historical fashion, and what women wore underneath!
As far as my current wardrobe is concerned, I've been seriously collecting and wearing vintage fashions from the Victorian era to the 1950s for at least 15 years. I never hopped on the retro bandwagon, I grew up wearing some form, or combination of, vintage. Sewing from old patterns has also filled my closet with wearable fashions from the 1930s and 40s. I can wear them on a daily basis and not worry about the possibility of damaging one of my more delicate vintage originals.
I save my nice true vintage pieces for evenings at the theater, private parties, photo shoots, or a nice restaurant. Even when I dress casually, I like to be a little glamorous . Instead of sweats around the house or between burlesque performances backstage, I'll wear a 1930s satin lounging gown
For some occasions; however, there is something to be said for an outfit with vintage inspiration. Some of the "modern" clothing I make for myself might have a 1940s military flair, or a trim design from the 18th century.
"Why did you start making your own costumes?"
Since I started sewing so young, I made all of my own Halloween costumes (sometimes with help from mom). Then I saw the films Amadeus and Dangerous Liasons back to back late one night on TV when I was about 12. After that I truly began a love affair with costuming. When I started doing burlesque I already had a strong passion for classic burlesque and historical fashion ideals. Iíve incorporated that into all my costume designs, even the more fetish-inspired number I do. I also make my own props, like my two pairs (so far) of giant ostrich feather fans and my huge satin boudoir cushion. My corsets are all from patterns I draft myself. I make these things myself not only to save on cost, but this way I can create exactly what I have in mind, and make as many changes as I want along the way. It I have a vision for a project, as an artist of sorts I want to see it through using my own ingenuity. Often times, putting together a complicated costume, can literally be described as 'Burlesque Engineering'. Not only does it have to fit correctly, it has to com e off correctly on stage as well!
"What are some of your favorite hobbies besides burlesque and sewing?"
I have always loved collecting and reading books on historical fashion, and researching all the style changes and trends specific to each decade. I also love books about the figureheads of style from various eras, and scandals both true and fictional, involving beautifully dressed people.
When I have the time and ability to travel if needed, I also love attending costumed events and conventions.
I do WWII Reenactment, and I'm just starting to get into WWI events too.
When I do watch TV, I enjoy an interesting mix that includes Agatha Christie's "Poirot", Sherlock Holmes, Masterpiece Theater, Metalocalypse, Archer, and The Venture Brothers.
I even have a deep love for Epic/Scandinavian/Viking metal. My favorites include Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Epica, plus classics like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. You can usually find me in the crowd whenever a band of these 'Vikings' roll through town!
"Do you ever sell any of your costumes?"
I never sell any of my stage costumes (perhaps they will be donated to the Exotic World museum when I'm old). After all, I need them for my performances. Sometimes if I rework or replace a costume, and there is a component left over that can be used, I will sell it or see if a fellow performer can use it.
Otherwise, I also make and sell accessories on Etsy. I am currently selling a few 1940s-inspired hats and sometimes a few dresses as well. You can see what my current listings are here.
"Are you single?"
"Who inspires you?"
Ah, there's so much! Most of my inspiration comes from old family photos, the burlesque ladies, famed beauties, and theater stars of past centuries.
My favorites are Veronica Lake, Hedy Lamarr, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Gina Lollobrigida, Evelyn Nesbit, Camille Clifford, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Babe Paley and the designers that clothed them.
"Are you a Dita Von Teese wanna-be? You sort of look like her / you're copying her."
No. And no, I don't.
I get this sort of thing a lot, usually in the form of compliments, and even some attempted insults from the occasional Dita fanatic.
No matter what, it's always taken as a compliment; although, I'll admit it does get old after a while :-)
Many people not familiar with the glamour and style of the past, seem to lack the understanding that I don't do what I do, or dress the way I dress because some current fashion magazine darling is doing it. Particularly Dita Von Teese. She really is a true lady in every sense of the word, and has been nothing but professional, sweet, and kind each time I've had the pleasure of working with her. As lovely as she is; however, she does not enter into the equation when I'm deciding what to wear, be it on stage or off. In no way, shape, or form am I attempting to imitate Dita or duplicate her burlesque routines and costumes. I wear vintage clothing, have black hair in many of my photos (it was red, and is currently blonde), fair skin, wear a corset, and do burlesque in the classic vintage style.
This does not mean I am an "impersonator", "copycat", or a "wanna-be". She and I are inspired by a lot of the same things, but for every similarity there are at least 10 differences. I respect Dita as a colleague and would never try to duplicate what she does. I have more than enough imagination and creativity on my own and would never need to replicate burlesque numbers belonging to someone else. Dita herself draws ideas from past performers, yet puts her own twist on them. There may be a small resemblance between myself and Dita, but she resembles a lot of other people too.
Until I hear that Miss Von Teese has somehow magically traveled back in time to single-handedly invent burlesque, everything that comes with it and all the styles from the past, I'm going to continue ignoring people who seem to think she has accomplished this.
In my own opinion, those who do dress a certain way entirely based on the fact that someone famous is doing it, are doing it for the wrong reasons. Perhaps one could call me a "Retrosexual", a term often used by the author, Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, in his book "The Affected Provincial's Companion - Vol. 1".
"This is not a mere appetite of the flesh of which I speak: A Retrosexual is one who has rendered the yearning for that which is beautiful yet elusive into an art form. It may be said that a Retrosexual has had enough of the empty inclinations toward cheap gropery that passes for eroticism in our day. A retrosexual aches for the rarefied pleasures found within the confines of gilded frames, marble pedestals, and crumbling celluloid. To a Retrosexual, the dust of passing time is nothing less than the spice of desire."
In short, I genuinely *adore* what made 1930s and 40s styles and people who and what they were; timeless and captivating. People like Marlene Dietrich, Lilian Harvey and Hedy Lamarr, to name a few. They inspire me because they represent what true style was back then, and can still be.
Too much of it is missing in today's world of jeans, t-shirts and disposable trends, and I am one of many who choose to revive it.
"What was the appeal of the (burlesque) scene?" "It's been a relatively dead art that few are trying to revive, have you found others open to it?" "Last but not least, why are there so many photos of you in WWII German or "Nazi" uniforms?" Home | Bio | Gallery
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The appeal to me above all was the glamorous costumes! Along with that, I enjoyed the idea that being sexy or sensual through dance didnít have to come along with a tan, a neon string bikini, blatant nudity, or a pole. I can truly live out my most glamorous, erotic, or innocent fantasies when performing a burlesque routine, without any blatant sexual display. I also realized that for some performers, burlesque is a more creative outlet. It allows them to express whatever they want to a broader audience of both men and women, unlike the typical strip club clientele. Burlesque makes me feel that when I'm on stage I own the audience, the audience doesnít own me.
I should add that I recently had someone approach me who was "confused" about my stance on the difference between strippers you see at a strip bar, and the burlesque performers of today. She thought I was being snotty I guess ;-) I do not take a holier-than-thou attitude toward strip club workers. When you break it down, I am still a stripper too, and strip bars are what the burlesque of the past evolved into. There were quite a few performers who did things back in the day that would still make even the most seasoned strip bar regular blush; it wasn't all giggles and feathers. I just do the the striptease in a different way, that pays tribute to vintage style and glamour, and it seems to draw a wider audience of both sexes.
It was a lost form of entertainment up until almost 15 years ago and many are helping to revive it. Since then itís been booming and you canít visit a major city and not see a poster for a burlesque show. One of the reasons I believe many people are open to classic burlesque is due to its focus on the innocent yet sensual tease that both men and women are attracted to and frankly, itís more fun! It lets the imagination of the audience wander on itís own into the sexual or erotic side.
This is something I really need to address.
It was actually recently brought to my attention by a friend that perhaps some people who see photos of me in various modes of WWII German dress may be confused and even offended. I don't feel as though I should have to apologize, however; I need to make a few points very clear. Even having any sort of disclaimer should never be needed, but I'm someone who likes to have her bases covered. I imagine some may even take it upon themselves to make assumptions about me and my general character, based on these images, instead of just asking me about them. These individuals may even start spreading lies and rumors in an attempt to stir up drama, of which I want no part. Of course, no matter how well you explain it to people, there will always be people that see what I do it as some kind of antisemitic practice. So, for those of you who are either new friends or old here, and are curious as to why I have photos on LJ, Facebook and elsewhere of me wearing said uniforms, here's a nice serving of clarification:
1. Yes, some of the German uniforms I wear for historical reenactment events are going to have all the proper insignias, including some with swastikas. This does not mean I am a Nazi party member nor am I racist. This is purely for the proper historical impression, not due to any actual beliefs in the ideology behind those symbols, nor do I wear them for any political reason.
That said, I will never scratch off, pick out, paint over, cover or remove any of these symbols either. They are part of history and have a valid place in it, regardless of who they offend today. Lest we forget,am I right?
2. Some of the impressions myself and my friends do at WWII reenactments include the DRK (German Red Cross), and Helferinnenkorps (volunteers as auxiliary personnel. Literally translates to 'Women Helper Corps'). We reenact actual historical battles. We do not reenact scenes at a concentration camp. Here are some links to aid in a better understanding, and the DRK Yahoo group of the actual unit I belong to:
An excellent and non-biased source of information and images From Osprey books. Scroll up or down for more:
3. This mission statement pretty much explains it all, and can be applied to any German unit in the reenactment community. From the DRK group page;
"A first impression member unit of the California Historical Group, Aachen Stadt 1 is a historical reenactment unit. The group is dedicated to preserving the history of the German Red Cross during WW2. By participating in living history displays, the unit strives to educate the general public about the experiences and function of the German Red Cross during a very critical time in history. Whenever possible period items are used in the display and unit members are encouraged to interact with the public in first person impressions.
Aachen Stadt 1 is non-political organization which doesn't condone or tolerate racist ideology. Anyone interested in advancing those ideas/beliefs is not welcome and will be immediately removed from this group."
4. Sure, I will admit to having a certain thing for men in uniform, and I love to wear clothes with a bit of military flair. It just so happens that German uniforms to this day, are the best most flattering cut around, and those are the ones I tend to prefer visually. That style also ends up inspiring a lot of the clothes and accessories I sometimes design for myself.
5. Our re-enactment group is run by the California Historical Group, and is a non-profit that helps to raise money for veterans. The admission we charge each member to attend these re-enactment battles goes toward helping a vet of WWII get dentures. Or the Iraqi war vet afford the medical care he needs, even prosthetic limbs.
So, there you have it. hope that helps people understand me a little better ;-)
"It's been a relatively dead art that few are trying to revive, have you found others open to it?" "Last but not least, why are there so many photos of you in WWII German or "Nazi" uniforms?" Home | Bio | Gallery
| Shows | Calendar | Press
| FAQ | Main Site
"Last but not least, why are there so many photos of you in WWII German or "Nazi" uniforms?" Home | Bio | Gallery
| Shows | Calendar | Press
| FAQ | Main Site
Home | Bio | Gallery | Shows | Calendar | Press | FAQ | Main Site