Meanwhile, In Alberta…

Dear Alberta… I’m not mad, I’m disappointed. Well, no, that’s not entirely true… I actually AM pretty mad, as well as disappointed. Right now the source of my ire is the AGLC or Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. Over the Rockies, just one province from my own, there is judgement most foul. 

I take for granted that I can, at any given time, express myself creatively through my chosen art form – burlesque and striptease – and not face legal repercussions for doing so. It’s something I’ve very much taken for granted. When I used to tour through AB in my old band doing burlesque, sideshow and magic alongside the live music, I was told a number of times that if someone from the AGLC was in the house, to ‘Boston’ up my acts. 

For those of your not au fait with the term, it means doing a more conservative version of my show. My show got kind of raunchy sometimes, and being the headstrong 20-somthing I thought ‘fuck that’, and did my show regardless. This resulted in friction between myself and the band leader, but I refused to compromise the integrity of what I did. Little did I know how bad it is in Alberta…

There is an AMAZING performer there by the name of Raven Virgina. She wrote a great piece on the state of discrimination against burlesque and striptease by the AGLC, and I wanted to share it. It’s my hope others will, and hopefully, much like the Rio Theatre’s Corrine Lea and their liquor license fiasco with the BCLB, affect some positive change, and help get the Alberta bureaucrats caught up with the times.

XOXO

Little Miss Risk (PS: Pasties and nudity are not crimes)

My name is Raven Virginia and I am a professional actor, a burlesque performer, a feminist, a mother, a joker, a high kicker, a rabble rouser and a mother fucking clown. Here’s a condensed history of burlesque as well as an account of modern issues burlesque performers face in Alberta:

Burlesque is a century old practice of performance art that invokes all the greatest aspects of Vaudeville such as humour, satire, sexuality, dance, costume, narrative, clowning and music. Many people believe burlesque and stripping were created solely for male gratification but what they might not know is that burlesque birthed from an era where a demoralized lower class chose to challenge the status quo. In its development, women were at the fore – choosing to break free of the suppressive and predominantly misogynistic attitudes of the Victorian period, sometimes risking life and limb to do so. The earliest forms of burlesque included political, social and artistic parodies of respected theatre such as Shakespeare and Wagner. The “dirty” aspects of Victorian burlesque included, but were not limited to: gender reversal, parodies showcasing women in leadership roles, wearing tights and sometimes even loosening their corsets. As unintentional players in the approaching feminist movement, these women paved the way for female artists in every genre.

The neo burlesque movement is a present-day spin on burlesque of the past. Influenced by the history of burlesque, theatre, cabaret, stand up comedy, vaudeville and clown and with a decidedly Do It Yourself attitude indicative of the Punk Rock age, small bands of artists were attracted to the nostalgia and sophisticated style of yesteryear. This modern movement has also created the incentive for women to reclaim their sexuality in a society where we are required to keep it under lock and key. By working to omit the misogyny, we have been free to reinvestigate our female form in all it’s splendor and on our own terms. Now, burlesque is predominately run by women, for women, empowering those watching and performing to express themselves artistically, spiritually and sexually without the sexist pressure and judgement too often handed down by society.

That being said, as burlesque has become more commercial, on occasion we’ve seen a shift from something subversive that works to redefine beauty and sexuality, to something that is reenforcing the beauty magazine and fashion industry images. My company has been requested for work where we would be required to “hide” certain aspects of our body or do a weigh in before performing. We declined these requests and while I wouldn’t condemn a performer for accepting the work (we all need to put food on the table) I fear that the more the mainstream attempts to homogenize the art and co-opt the word burlesque, the more diluted the performance experience will be. In order for burlesque to maintain it’s potential for the promotion of body-positive, sex-positive feminism in a climate of sexism, participants must be free to explore their relationship to their body without restriction.

Like our burlesque legends of the past, burlesque performers, such as myself, have faced our fare share of backlash. From nasty comments on social media to snide remarks from colleagues, many people grapple with the concept that embracing, researching and reformatting for myself what many consider morally foul, has opened up a world of possibility for me. Not just in how I choose to present my body but in my activism, my relationships and how I create art.

This leads me to the most disappointing example of discrimination we’ve faced in Alberta. The AGLC or Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is a branch of the government that exists and functions unchecked in this province. The AGLC came down hard on my company and community in 2011 claiming we were in violation of their Nude Entertainment laws. The AGLC views an individual as nude if their breasts are revealed – and not just any breast – specifically female breasts. (Don’t even get me started on how frustratingly naive representatives at the AGLC are about the elusiveness of gender or the stats on how many people in the World are transgender.) The AGLC exercise the right to censor what you see in a minors prohibited establishment if liquor is being consumed in the vicinity of breasts. What you might not know when witnessing a performance in Alberta, is that we are strictly prohibited from coming within one metre of you once our pasties were revealed, that we cannot have any props or costume pieces touch you, that we are not allowed to share a dressing room with any other staff or non nude entertainers and even some of the actions we may have choreographed into the act – something suggestive with banana perhaps – have to be edited out. The rules are intentionally ambiguous and restrict not just the body being presented, but the content of the art piece itself – all in the name of protecting you from the potential “filth” of it all. Burlesque and exotic dance are not the only entertainment affected by these rules; ballet, dance, theatre, cabaret are all subject to the same regulations though we have been targeted more than any other artistic genre. They also claim that they have handed down this judgement based on what Albertans want but there have been no elections or referendums to decide these rules and the people enforcing them have not been elected to their positions. They have decided for you that what you are seeing is morally objectionable and by proxy, the performers engaged in entertaining you are objectionable too.

While the battle for equality is ongoing, we continue to strive to create more thoughtful, captivating and engaging burlesque. Despite attempts to stifle our voices burlesque continues to thrive as more people discover how freeing and delightful the experience of creating art and revealing oneself can be. Is burlesque dirty? Certainly. But is it wrong? That’s another issue entirely.

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Living In Facebook Exile

Photo and dress by Enigma Arcana

Photo and dress by Enigma Arcana

A wise man named Ferris Bueller said it best: ‘Life goes pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you’ll miss it.” I recently noticed there has been quite a passage of time between my last post to this blog, and I’m ashamed of myself as a writer that I’ve let shit slide to this point. However, I do recall lamenting finding the time to sit and pen more words, but that I found the siren song of social media too hard to resist. I’m borne of the Nintendo Generation, that group who had Pepsi, Jolt, and Tab in our baby bottles and Day-Glo and scrunchies on our bodies. In the time of 140 characters to make our points, and eight second Vines to capture our attentions, I’ve had a little trouble staying focused. I was blaming social media in general at first and then Facebook in particular.

However, the Facebook Gods are fickle and with a sense of humour. When I was casting about, wishing, cursing myself, for being so lured by it’s charms and distractions, these forces gave me what I asked for. It was Monday last I tried to login only to be told my account was being held as they wanted me to verify I was, in fact, a person. ID has been emailed, and after some back and forth, it looks like I might be laying my current personal profile to rest before drawing a new one up from it’s ashes. C’est la vie and all that jazz. But then the messages and emails on other social media started; people asking if I had blocked them, or unfriended them. I was even asked in concerned (and I imagined hushed) tones if I was okay.

The thing is, I am. Life after (or at least temporarily) Facebook has been refreshing. People actually have to make an effort if they want to get a hold of me, I’m not distracted by the abstract concept of popularity that happens when a spike in Likes happens on a posted photo or my Page. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss that rush, but it’s not like I’m missing a limb. My newly-found free time has left me with time to collect my thoughts on upcoming projects, work on writing, and reflect on the craziness of the past few months since returning from New Zealand. When I had a moment to stand still, draw a breath and open my eyes to what’s been happening around, I felt strangely invigorated.

February I travelled to Edmonton to shoot a pilot pitch for StoryHive with the gents at the House Of Heathens. It turned out, we later won the contest, and got funded by Telus to shoot the first episodes properly. So come the end of May, I’ll return to DEADmonton to finish what we started that ends with a crossbow getting fired. March took me to Scotland to get body cast for Andy Stewart’s short film Redacted. I’ve never been so hung over when in an FX shop but after puking standing up into a bucket, while encased in plaster, I can say that’s one more experience crossed off of the Bucket List. April has been a quiet month for screen, but busy for stage with shows at The Keefer, Sin City Fetish Night, and the Shameful Tiki.

Come May I travel to Atlanta to film Frankenstein Created Bikers, then to Boston to film with Nilhem Nocturne for Innsmouth, then home for a spell before I return to Edmonton. Suffice to say, there’s lots coming down the pipe, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I know that my vacation from Facebook is short lived due to the need for people to get in touch with me, I’ll enjoy it for now. I’ll just be sure next time not to let the time get away from me so quickly.

In the meantime, hold my calls. I’m having a human experience.

XOXO

Little Miss Risk

 

 

 

Etc

Posted in Frankenstein Created Bikers, Miss Risk, Moving Pictures, Redacted | Leave a comment

Redacted, Malevolent Magazine, and WiHM (Oh my!)

Hey lovers and sinners! Back fresh from my sojourn to the South Pacific, to New Zealand this past month. Fresh air, time to rest has left me recharged, and gearing up to tackle 2015, hog tie it, and make it my bitch… so many awesome things coming up on the horizon, but one at a time.

First off, as it’s now February and most folks think of this time of the year as the time when strange naked babies who are both armed and winged guilt us into buying sub-par confections for those we love. But it’s also the month that celebrates Women In Horror all 28 days, so it holds a special non-commercial place in my heart. With this in mind, I wrote a piece for Malevolent Magazine with is available online, along with s ton of other great interviews and features by other ladies of the genre. You can get your WiHM copy there right MEOW

Speaking of horror, and people I respect, there are a few gents out there who can make me squirm when watching their work. One of this small group of these folks is Andy Stewart of Shining Example Films. I first saw his short, Dysmorphia, at the first Rio Grind Film Festival. The Soskas had seen it over in the UK when American Mary was touring there, and had said that I HAD to see it. Saw it I did, and I can tell you I watched someone faint from it, so awesome were the practical effects. I did not, personally, woof my cookies, though even knowing how the gags worked, they still worked my gag reflex, somewhat…

But he went on to make two more body horror shorts, Spilt and Ink, respectively. These both followed suit as crazy and audacious stomach-turners. I was utterly thrilled when we were talking and he sent me a script for his newest project, Redacted. I won’t spoil the plot for you until it’s release, but suffice to say I’m very excited to be doing this kind of a role, with this director. As well, he is reuniting me with my friend Laurence Harvey, with whom I’ve shared the screen with in Call Girl, The Editor, ABCs Of Death 2, and Boogeyman. Now we’re getting ready for another spin on set… at this point I feel like we are starting to turn into the Boris and Natasha of genre film, but I’m okay with that. In addition to seeing favourite faces, as well as Grant Mason (The Wolfman, Sleepy Hollow, Bride Of Chucky) who made the creatures for Median in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

Initiate fan girl mode right there.

So, I’ve got to say I’m pretty damn pleased to be working on that with them and the team in Scotland. We’ve got a little indiegogo campaign going for the occasion as well, too. You can see how we are doing, or better yet, help us out if you care to click HERE.

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And as of Feb. 3rd, ABCs Of Death 2 is out on DVD and Blu-Ray! So if you missed it on the festival circuit, or you just like having the media in your hot little hand, it is out now. I should point out that the Soska’s segment, T Is For Torture Porn, is under five minutes. However, they shot over 30 minutes of behind the scenes footage which mostly show me giggling like a fiend with all my FX all over the place. For that alone (and there are lots of other good reasons to buy it, trust) is worth it’s price.

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So have a wonderful Thursday lovers and sinners. I’ll see you tonight for Sweet Sip Thursday at the Keefer Bar.

XOXO

Little Miss Risk

Posted in ABCs Of Death 2, Guest blogs / Interviews, Miss Risk, Redacted, Showgrrl Shiz, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

Call Girl Available Online!

Looking for a date?

If the answer is yes, then be sure to check out Jill Sixx’s directorial debut, Call Girl, written by Eric Havens. Starring the amazing Laurence Harvey and myself, this girl has been working the festival circuit around the world HARD this year. With her next short film, The Stylist, about to get underway, Jill Sixx has made sure people far and wide see myself and Laurence’s webcam date gone awry.

However, I appreciate that not everyone has gotten to see it yet, which is why the folks at DreadCentral are being super sassy and making sure that it’s posted online so everyone can get a fair shake to check it out. So take a moment to sit back, pour yourself a cup of your favourite poison, and check out Call Girl.

Because some people like to watch…

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XOXO

Little Miss Risk

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Daily Grindhouse: The Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)

Oh my. I can’t believe this film is forty years old this year. I don’t even know how it’s possible. It’s chronological age aside, it still stands as a really awesome little piece of campy rock and roll glory… Brian De Palma nails it and it remains one of my favourites. So I was pretty pumped to write about it for Daily Grindhouse….

Come and see what happens when he sold his soul for rock and roll.

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XOXO

Little Miss Risk

Posted in Guest blogs / Interviews | Leave a comment