I found out about Missy on facebook as our vegan worlds combined. Based out of D.C. we made little vegan remarks back and forth before I realized I should definitely interview her for this blog!  

Vegan Burlesque: How long have you been doing burlesque?

Missy Aggravation: I’ve been doing it for 4 years now.

VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?
I’ve been performing all my life–I started dance lessons at age 3, did theater and sketch comedy in high school, and majored in Performance Studies in college where all my performances had to do with gender and sexuality. When I saw my first burlesque show in the early 2000s I thought “I should do that!” However, it took me a long time to get there since performance and I had a break-up after college– I just needed that fire in me to perform again. Once I got my groove back I hit up my local burlesque troupe and here I am 4 years later.
VP: Which burlesque performers inspire you?
MA: Delivering the effortless sensuality of legendary burlesque performers is my current goal so Jennie Lee is particularly inspiring me right now. The legends of burlesque have so much to teach that I want to learn, whether it is by listening to them speak now or watching their old (and new!) performances on YouTube. Everyone inspires me in their own ways though and I have learned something from every performer that I’ve watched or interacted with. Of the current performers… Julie Atlas Muz, Michelle L’amour, and Dirty Martini stand out as those who I’ve learned the most by watching.
VB: Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly (food/drinks/etc)?
MA: I mostly perform at the Red Palace, a music and burlesque club in DC, which is not particularly vegan friendly… but the neighborhood is! You can go to Souk, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Sticky Rice, Ethiopic, or Toki Underground and get a good vegan meal before you go see a show. I also really enjoyed performing at the Windup Space in Baltimore which has an awesome Twin Peaks Red Room inspired stage.
VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?
MA: This is like choosing children! I’m currently creating my favorite routines right now so I sadly can’t pick those. I think my Audrey Horne (from Twin Peaks) number to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face was particularly inspired.
VB: How long have you been vegan?
MA: I’ve been vegan for 14 years. Next year is a big anniversary!  (Vegan Burlesque side note: CONGRATS!)
 VB What made you decide to be vegan?
MA: I was vegetarian for 5 years before I went vegan. I wanted to be veg since I was 10 when it really hit home to me how meat was made but it took me a few years to realize I could defy my parents and become vegetarian. I created an animal rights group in middle school and everything. I was inspired to become vegan on a trip when I was in college and met this 16 yo runaway vegan and I was like “Damn! If she can do it, I can do it!” I went vegan as soon as I came home and have never looked back. It was the best decision I ever made.
VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?
MA: Hummus. Not like hippie hummus, but good Middle Eastern resto hummus with freshly baked pita bread.
VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?
MA: I think having to deal with this off the bat forces one to be more creative much earlier in your burlesque career than you otherwise would be. From day one we have to look outside the box in terms of our costuming (no silk!) and other traditional burlesque elements. I’m lucky because my costume designer is my best friend of 15 years and a vegetarian. She not only knows all the tricks of good costuming but respects my ideals. If I want a custom fabric boa or fan, she can do it, as well as her amazing knowledge of all the kinds of fabric out there and their properties.
VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?
MA: All the non-vegan elements. Fur and feathers in particular are so cruel and it makes me weep how common they are.
 VB:  Where can we see more of you?
MA: My website is http://missyaggravation.com and I’m performing next at Capital Tassels and Tease September 14th at the Red Palace. I’ll be doing my sexy librarian number for their Back to School special!
Also, a note to other vegan burlesque performers out there, Missy and 2 other vegan performers are going to BurlyCon this year and are looking for a 4th vegan performer to room with. Interested? Email her at booking@missyaggravation.com to figure out details!


so then this happened…

October 30, 2010

Don’t ya love how blogs can become a big network of connections? It’s this kind of stuff that made it so exciting when I was email approached by Justine Quart to do an interview for Vegansaurus, a San Francisco based vegan blog that is amazing, even if you don’t live in SF.  I don’t know how she found out about me, but I was so humbled and excited to be interviewed.  I was so used to doing the interviews, it was a treat to be on the other side!


This interview is one of the reasons I was so lax in posting last week, I was trying to answer questions and figure out details and photos to include in the interview.  Seriously though, this is so awesome and I thank Justine and her editors for the chance to get to do this!

Being in the New York neo-burlesque scene, sometimes it is hard to remember that there are so many other performers all over the world.  You may remember the interview I did aussie performer Red Devotchkin, well here is another one from a lady with an accent, Tina Warren from Glasgow, Scotland! I found her early on in my vegan burlesque internet searches, but completely forgot to contact her until recently.

Along with running her own animal charity (One World Scotland), Tina Warren is a performer and impresario of the world’s biggest burlesque club – Club Noir. Based in Scotland they regularly get up to 2,000 people at each of their events!

Vegan Burlesque:How long have you been doing burlesque?
Tina Warren: 7 years, since 2003

Tina Warren as Phantom of the Burlesque Club

VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?
TW: My sister ran a burlesque club in London with her boyfriend.
VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?
TW:Dita Von Teese is impeccably groomed and has beautiful costumes. She also seems very disciplined.

VB:Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly?
TW: I run my own burlesque club at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. We love performing on the same stage as huge stars such as Blondie and James Brown. I ask for cocktails to be served at my events and I like them to be vegan.
VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?
TW:We do about 5 shows a year so I create 4 new acts a year at least for me to perform to. My favourite one is Tina Beans – it’s a grotesque burlesque homage to Dita’s champagne act. But I bathe in a giant tin of baked beans.  It’s really funny and fun to do.

VB:How longhave you been vegan?
TW: 18 years.

VB: What made you decide to be vegan?
TW:Animal welfare. Didn’t want the animals to suffer or be killed.  But now I enjoy a vegan diet for the health benefits too.

VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?
TW:That’s like trying to choose a favourite child. I love everything: Thai, Italian, Japanese, Indian, Scottish. I’m getting hungry now.

Tina as Tina Tsarina

VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?
TW:I love the challenge of making my costumes better than much of what’s out there in the burlesque world. I think I achieve it most of the time.  I use Swarovski crystals, quality faux fur, huge jewels, headdresses, 18 inch corsets, massive ballgowns, tailored tuxedoes, I’ve even had my face printed onto fabric for a costume. My acts and costumes are a lot more imaginative than a boring old ostrich feather fan dance. I think chicken feathers on anything is tacky. Sorry if this sounds catty but I’m fed up with people with no imagination resorting to animal cruelty to make themselves look pretty.  It’s an ugly trait in burlesque.

VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?
TW:The ubiquitous feathers. They are undeniably beautiful but they are hideously cruel.  I think feathers one day will be considered in the same way as fur is nowadays. Lay off the birds girls!  Here is some more information about ostrich feathers for example. I want to cry now just thinking about these beautiful animals and unimaginable torture they have to endure so some silly female can wear its plumage.  Why I don’t use ostrich feathers.

Tina doing her Egomaniac act

VB: Where can we see more of you?
TW: I perform at various private gigs; and also at my own Club Noir shows – all upcoming dates are here. Club Noir

When I had first started looking into starting this blog, I compiled a list of businesses to link to and people to interview. Red Devotchkin was the first person I put on a list.  Red, who is a vegan burlesque performer hailing from the opposite side of the world than me. Now, Australia has a pretty large and outspoken vegan community, but I don’t know much about the world of Australian burlesque, so this interview was an exceptionally exciting read.

photo courtesy of ShootMe2

Hope you enjoy it!

Vegan Burlesque: How long have you been doing burlesque?

Red Devotchkin:  I started performing in late 2006, so about three and a half years.

VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?

RD: I’ve always said that I’m a show off and did lots of drama in school, but then let it go for a couple of years. I think I first saw burlesque at Big Day Out (annual music festival in Australia) and loved it. A year or so later some acquaintances opened Bar Burlesque in Brisbane and I got a job as the door girl. It didn’t take long for me to jump up onstage though!

VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?

RD: As much as I admire many international stars of burlesque, it’s really the ones closest to home that inspire me the most – Lena Marlene and Miss Bertie Page.

VB: Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly (food/drinks/etc)?

RD: I‘ve only just moved to Melbourne and can’t really say that I have a favourite venue here yet. Up in Brisbane there were a couple – I did at monthly show at The Joynt and they always looked after me. I also really liked performing at The Zoo (not actually a zoo!), mostly because I know most of the staff and they make every night there a barrel of laughs! Unfortunately venues always seem to provide non-vegan champagne to the performers, which is always a disappointment!

Surprised Sailor, photo by Angela McConnell

VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?

RD: I think I’ve got a couple of favourite routines… One is a sailor girl show using Shirley Temple’s Good Shop Lollipop and Beyond The Sea as covered by Royal Crown Revue. It’s terribly cutesy and has lots of silly props. My other favourite at the moment is my tribute to Robot Maria from Metropolis. But it’s terribly hard to choose…

VB: How long have you been vegan?

RD: I’ve been vegan for just over four years, and was vegetarian for two years before that. So I suppose I only became vegan about six months before starting to perform burlesque.

VB: What made you decide to be vegan?

RD: One of my closest friends at the time had been vegan for twelve years and she made me see how great vegan cooking can be. She also made me aware of veganism is the true ethical choice if you’re committed to animal welfare. I kept it a secret when I first became vegan and only told my boyfriend. I wanted to be committed to it but I didn’t want any outside pressure on it. It is an ethical choice, and has only become more so the longer I’ve been vegan.

VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?

RD: Oh how I love to cook and to eat! This is a hard question! I love lasagna (the recipe in Veganomicon is great) and mushroom ragout pizza (my own recipe). I love cooking so much that I keep thinking I should start a vegan cooking blog… but we’ll see… Favourite drink is probably ginger beer and favourite alcoholic drink is Zubrowka vodka, cloudy apple juice and lime.

VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?

Footscray Folly, photograph by Angela McConnell

RD: I have scarves and have a couple of pairs of fabric fans that I use, but they’re not the focus of many of my shows. As beautiful as a feather fan dance can be, I just could never bring myself to use ostrich (or any) feathers. It’s fun to think of new and interesting props to use anyway. For example my sailor girl show uses a large lollipop, a toy drum, a teddy bear, a very large beach ball and a paper plane.

VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?

RD: I don’t know that there is anything that I would change! I love that burlesque can be so many different things to so many people. I suppose people who don’t know much about burlesque sometimes think that it does mean feather boas and fans, but preconceptions are often changed once they see a few creative and eclectic shows.

VB: www.myspace.com/devotchkinwww.modelmayhem.com/devotchkinwww.facebook.com/red.devotchkin

While researching for this blog, I copied down a bunch of info about burlesque performers and people who create vegan burlesque goods.  One of the product lines I had found was Coquette Faux Furriers, but little did I know that the creator was also a vegan burlesque star! Below is an online interview I did with the ever so wonderful and fierce Bettina May.  Make sure to check out her website, which is linked at the bottom of the interview, to see and read more about her.

VEGAN BURLESQUE (VB): How long have you been doing burlesque?
BETTINA MAY (BM): I have been performing burlesque since 2003, when I started a burlesque scene in my sleepy little town of Victoria BC, Canada with my dance partner Lulumae, calling ourselves the BettiLu Bombshells.

VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?
BM: I started off as a vintage pin-up model, doing shoots for fun with my friends, both as a model and photographer, and as a longtime collector of vintage outfits, I already had a healthy costume supply.  I started creating cruelty-free costume pieces for burlesque dancers in Vancouver, a nearby city with a burlesque scene for my company CoquetteFauxFurriers.com, and in the process became enamored with the art of burlesque.  When a local club owner in Victoria approached me about starting a local troupe, I jumped at the chance, and started choreographing an act right away!

VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?
BM: I’m inspired by ladies who really push the boundaries of glamour, elegance and humour.  Trixie Minx from New Orleans’ Fleur de Tease is amazing, gorgeous and SO funny in her acts.  Dita Von Teese, of course, is vintage perfection and a marketing genius, which I admire.  My favourite legendary performer is Sherry Britton, so beautiful and amazing costumes.


"My all-time favourite venue to perform at is Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, and it IS vegan friendly!" - Bettina May

VB: Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly (food/drinks/etc)?
BM: My all-time favourite venue to perform at is Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, and it IS vegan friendly!  It’s an old 1950s bowling alley, completely restored with the original equipment,  and the centre bowling lanes have been converted into a stage, but you can still bowl on the side lanes during shows.  The concession serves the best tofu bbq sandwich, and the curly fries are to die for!

VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?
BM: Oh gosh, I love all my routines, otherwise I wouldn’t do them!  I guess the two crowd favourites are my Weekend In Canada act, which is my tribute to my homeland, an ice-skating shimmy act, and the other one is to Josephine Baker’s “Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes” and it’s more Carmen Miranda inspired, with a big faux-feather showgirl headdress and faux feather skirt.

VB: How long have you been vegan?
BM: I have been vegan for about 3 years, and was vegetarian for about 10 years before that.

VB: What made you decide to be vegan?
BM: I was introduced to the idea of veganism in high school when I started going to punk and hardcore shows, and started listening to bands that advocated a vegan and straightedge lifestyle, both for reasons of personal health and compassion for animals.  I became vegetarian when I moved out on my own, and while I always strove to be fully vegan, didn’t fully make the commitment until 2007, when I went on my first European tour – great timing, right?  I was touring with another performer who was vegan, so in solidarity I decided to only eat vegan to be fair, and after realizing I could be vegan in Paris, the land of croissants and fois gras, I had no excuse to be a lazy vegetarian in my little west coast hippie community where vegan options abound!  I’ve been vegan ever since, and appreciate the challenge of finding vegan options on the road, in unlikely places like the Deep South and Midwest.  I’ve started a blog about how I cope on tour and the excitement of finding vegan oases on the road at http://glamorousvegabond.blogspot.com/

VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?
BM: I think my favourite vegan drink is vegan Thai iced tea, so delightfully sweet and creamy, but so full of caffeine that it makes me a bit wild!  My favourite food is deep fried mushrooms, particularly this dish I get at my hometown Buddhist veg place, Lotus Pond, called Shiitake Mushroom Delight, covered in black bean sauce and so amazing!


"The only cruelty that should be onstage is the suffering I inflict on my poor feet from high heels and my back from tight-lacing my corsets!" -Bettina May

VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?
BM: It really makes me sad to see how many animals have to die for my profession, from fur stoles to feather boas to leather shoes, when it is so needless!  I enjoy the challenge of coming up with inventive ways of making glamorous costumes that are true to the style of classic vintage burlesque, but without the cruelty.  The only cruelty that should be onstage is the suffering I inflict on my poor feet from high heels and my back from tight-lacing my corsets!  I’ve made a few different fans dances using fabric fans instead of feathers, and shred satin to mimic the fluff of ostrich feathers, and of course I use a lot of faux fur in my costumes, since that is what got me started on this path in the first place.  I have even created custom pieces for Dita Von Teese, who is trying to incorporate more cruelty-free items into her collection.  Fortunately, cute pin-up shoes are easier to come by these days with the resurgence in popularity of vintage styles, so it’s fairly easy to find non-leather heels for stage.

VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?
BM: I would love to see more people using alternatives to animal products in their costumes!

VB: Where can we see more of you?
BM: Right now I’m on tour for 3 months with the Pretty Things Peepshow – http://prettythingsproductions.com, and you can find my full tour schedule and pin-up gallery at http://bettina.ca