Little Miss Risk Tete Et Tentacle with Dread Central

You really hope and pray, as an artist, that when you do what you do that you have, if not the attention of the public, then at least that of your peers. Of late, I’ve been getting spoiled with both from either camp, but I’m flattered as hell that Dread Central was kind enough to want to interview me on these matters and give me a platform to discuss them.

So I’m very pleased that to post the link to Dread Central that makes me feel kind of rush I get only onstage, bereft of clothing, and holding an audience’s gaze. So thank you Scott and DC for the pleasure.

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Autumn Glory

I can feel the shift and it sends a wonderful shudder down my back like the hypnotic glance from an attractive stranger. The air ceases to be heavy and damp with summer humidity, and shifts to crisper coolness with the acrid scratch of smoke in your nostrils. The leaves blush before beginning their own striptease, drifting from branch to ground as the trees stand proud and stark before sunsets that happen earlier and earlier.

Autumn is upon us.

Of all the seasons I love autumn the most. Everything from the temperature change, the coziness of the time, the fall food of the season that’s ripe in tune with the harvest, and of course Halloween. For all these reasons, I’ve always loved this time of year for not a sense of death and dormancy, but a sleepiness following the summer madness. The leaves turn, we gather the harvest, and the spirits stir.

Shy autumn proceeds in the late thrall of summer...

Shy autumn proceeds in the late thrall of summer…

Living on the West Coast in our well-wooded city affords me many walks and a chance to wander the forest primeval. Throughout the year the trees change their fashion to suit the wear; cherry blossoms blooming or flashy summer greenery, red and gold autumn hues or sleek minimalist for winter. But in that shift from summer to fall watching the trees whisper the change to one another in their silent communications, you’d swear that faeries were their jungle drums.

Trees really amaze me. Not only do they all send out a pheromone to each other to all agree to turn at the same time, but if there is a onset of insects, it warns the other trees. Not only that, but if the tree has the insect land it, it will be able to secret a substance that is repellant to the insects. If that doesn’t make them seem even more enchanted, I don’t know what will. Interestingly enough, I was thinking about this when I pulled a Tarot card earlier today. It was the Lady Of The Forest.

One of my favourite faery Tarot cards...

One of my favourite faery Tarot cards…

If you are graced with the presence of the Lady, you are being asked to look deeply at the feminine within yourself and the feminine aspects of any relationship you are in. How do you feel? What does the relationship feel like? This can be a relationship with a person, place or idea – whatever is manifesting itself in your life at the time. Connect with the emotion of what is occurring. Go back to the source of the relationship, the dream that began it, and think about what is happening right now. When you change on a profound level, those changes take a long time to become manifest in the world. You may or may not see the changes in your life immediately but they will happen in your life.”

Kind of heavy sentiments, but true. Since shooting American Mary a number of autumns ago, the things that have always been successful flames for me go the slow burn, usually from something that happened this time of year. So I’ve learned the despite what are usual challenging economic times in my line of work, to keep my ear to the ground and pay attention to that little whisper that comes in my ear round about this season. It’s served me well this far, and like those trees that listen to non verbal cues of seasonal shift, so now do I.

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XO

Little Miss Risk

Photos: David Denofreo @ Black Opal Images

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Burlesque History Lesson: Vancouver’s Hidden Horror Sweetheart

As much as I’d like to believe at times I’m an innovator with my craft, it’s hugely egotistical of me to think that way. As an artist, I’m constantly drawing inspiration from everything around me and channeling it into something I feel uniquely mine. More or less. In the past month I’ve met a non-gentic twin of mine (amazing photographer Renee Robyn), capered with latex-wearing contortionist clowns, and read through some books regarding Vancouver’s history. It would seem I’m not the first to emerge from the burlesque world to find herself in the horror genre. My reading and research into my own local lore showed me there’s really nothing new under the moon, and that there was a lady from my own fair city, many decades ago, who lived the cabaret life, moved onto film, and roosted in horror legend. A vampire lady loved by all, revered in tattooed ink, visual art, and a cult icon, this woman was born and raised in my own fair city of Vancouver.

Margaret Yvonne Middleton was born in Vancouver in 1922 and raised in posh Point Grey. In those days, waterfront property was not the hot-ticket item of the jet set that is thought of now. The genteel and well-heeled lived in the British Properties, Mount Pleasant, and Point Grey. Margret was born to her mother, Marie DeCarlo, who had been an aspiring actress and ballet dancer, running away from home at the age of sixteen to pursue a life on the stage. She met Margret’s father, a Australian by the name of William Middleton who later abandoned his young family when Margret was only three. She lived with her grandparents and upon her entry into grade school it was discovered that she had a lovely singing voice, and she found solace onstage as a performer.

Her mother, with memories of her own aspirations, moved them to Los Angeles where Margret was enrolled in dance school but after their visas expired found themselves back in Vancouver. However, stage mama Marie took them down for frequent trips to LA but in 1940 Margret won the title of ‘Miss Venice Beach’. With her new title, she was employed as a dancer for the Florentine Garden by uber-showman Nils Granland, but the immigration officials swooped in and sent her back to Vancouver again. Mr. Granland, for his merit, approached the immigration authorities and pleaded to allow him to sponsor her. She was granted re-entry in the USA and after a short stint at the Florentine Gardens moved onto contract work in films.

Modelling 'Canadian Print'. I think cannabis leaves interspersed with Maple leaves is more appropriate...

Modelling ‘Canadian Print’. I think cannabis leaves interspersed with Maple leaves is more appropriate…

What about the horror and the burlesque, I hear you ask? Ah, children, therein lies a special connection. Whilst Margret cooled her heels an awaited her return to LA and Hollywood, she worked in Vancouver clubs. Back in the heyday of neon shining brightly on slick, wet Vancouver streets, this dame was as femme fatale as you could hope for a place like Terminal City. Back in the 40s Vancouverites liked their entertainment and was a major stop on the West Coast circuit for both entertainers and vice. Adopting a handle that most will be familiar with, Margret became Yvonne De Carlo, but was still ‘Peggy’ to her friends. It was under that moniker that she performed first as part of the chorus line at the Palomar and an usher at the Orpheum theatre. The next time she’d return to Vancouver would be after making Hollywood films such as Salome, Where She Danced, Criss Cross and The Ten Commandments.

The sixties came, with their kitsch and fun. From this was born in 1964 one of two television families that the horror set felt they could model their own families after: The Addams Family, and The Munsters. Both ran the same two short seasons, but as the vampire Lily Munster and matriarch to a houseful of monsters, Yvonne De Carlo shone and is fondly remembered. She gave warmth and depth to creatures though cold and inhuman and loved her big fella, Herman, unconditionally, and set an archetype for television wives to come with tolerance towards their husband’s ridiculous antics (*cough* THE SIMPSONS/FAMILY GUY*cough). With fan art ranging from air brush work to tattoos, she is literally etched into our collective unconscious, born from the streets and cabarets of Vancouver.

The legacy to neonate showgirls with a horror bend begins...

The legacy to neonate showgirls with a horror bend begins…

And with the number of horror-showgirls this town produces, it looks like the she set the bar and gave the rest of us happy inspiration. Sleep well, Ms.De Carlo.

J’adore.

XO

Little Miss Risk

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September Sass

The dog days of summer are starting to fade, and the golden hour is happening a little earlier each night. With the summer winding down, I’m gearing up to get my gear off, and the trees will be doing the same with their blushing leaves. There’s been shows booked, reservations made, and now it’s time to get down to the business of sass…

Sat. Sept. 6th

Restricted Entertainment presents

Zombiewalk afterparty: House Of A 1000 Corpses

(gorelesque performance)

 

Thurs. Sept. 11th

Sweet Sip Thursday – Burlesque At The Keefer Bar

(burlesque performances)

 

Fri. Sept. 12th

Accordion Noir Festival

(burlesque performances with Maria In The Shower)

Sun. 14th

Vancouver Fringe Festival – RISK Awards

(host/presenter/femme-cee)

 

Thurs. 18th – Wed. 24th

Fantastic Fest

(running around, and generally being a nuisance while some features I’m in are screening)

 

See you from the stage and on the road, lovers and sinners!

Biltmore034

 

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Unicorn Pride

I’ve never seen faery tales as childish or immature. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a matriarchal household, and learned Scottish folklore at my maternal grandmother’s knee at an early age… But it was indoctrinated into my young mind about the value of the fantastic. Fae and folks in these tales weren’t the stuff of fluff and fuzzy golden dreams; there was light but there was darkness, too. Balances between viciousness and compassion. It wasn’t about being rewarded simply for being pretty or fair; these stories told often showed that in spite of these favours, that you had to suffer to gain strength of character to combat adversity when faced with it. The true wonderful nature of these stories were not that these things could occur, but rather taught the value of a promise kept, going through hardships to gain a reward, and being true to yourself, even at a difficult cost.

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I don’t think I officially ever came out as bisexual to my family. It’s not that I didn’t mean to, it’s just when I was in a long term relationship I mentioned to them, it was usually with a man. I always assumed that they knew I was bi, and loved people for the qualities they had, no matter what their gender, and that it wasn’t necessary for me to make a big deal of it. For once in my life, I was subtle about my choices. I think that at the back of my mind I knew that no matter what, they’d accept my preference and support it. But like all things I’ve had the luck to encounter in my life, I’ve not had a family I had to explain this hardwiring to, or worse, justify myself to them. It still makes me smile to think that this was never something spoken, but I’m sure my family has always known, and even if unspoken, accepted.

There is a sadness though, that I feel when I hear people tell me that this has not been their experience. That when they have gathered courage to share their true selves with their family that they’ve been cast out, cursed, and told never to darken their door again. How dare they… it was as if they had deliberately decided to be that way to frustrate and embarrass their families. Although, to be honest, I fail to see how this is an embarrassment to one’s kith and kin. As if having someone who is gay, trans or bi is somehow a poor reflection on other individuals in that family. But then again, I don’t understand humans much, and this complicated way they have of thinking. I feel sad for anyone who would eschew their own children on the basis of something they had no control over, rather than celebrating that they trust and love you enough to share it with them.

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Much like the protagonists in these old folk tales, these unwanted children have to leave their homes and go out into the world, shape shift, endure a series of hardships to grow and finally, hopefully, find happiness. I honestly hope each and every one has one hundred dazzling days for every dark hour they had to endure. So sayeth this Scary Gothmother. It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible, and worldwide, slowly these lost souls find their ways back to the others like them, where some have had a lot of difficulty and others less, but they find one another and others like them who welcome them.

There is a term in science that when a species spontaneously births a new genetic trait that is favourable, it’s referred to as a ‘hopeful monster’. I love that term. I like to think of fantastical creatures like mermaids, dragons, and unicorns as hopeful monsters from the days of when those original folk tales were told, and taught people the value of being different within their societies. It also does my heart good to hear people in the LGBT community referred to as unicorns. It makes me hope that maybe people now view these hopeful monsters as the magical creatures that they are, and embrace and celebrate them, rather than casting them out.

The road isn’t easy. Old fairy tales told me that, and even in the oldest of old, it was never about sitting around, waiting for someone else to rescue you from your unhappiness. The most recurring themes I’ve seen are that you must be content with your own company, so that when others around you doubt you, have unkind words, or cast you out, you’ve your own strength of that self’s company and character to help bring you to the place you really belong.

Pride is happening this weekend in my province’s capital in Victoria. It’s the edge of the Western world, where the Lotus Land ends before the big splash of the Pacific Ocean. It’s my hope that the hopeful monsters, the unicorns, the lovers, and loved ones all gather there, and show that sometimes you really can live happily ever after.

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XOXO

Little Miss Risk

Photos: Shimona Henry

Make up by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven Make Up Design.

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