Interview by Mandy McGee
She is a wife, a mother, a burlesque dancer, a producer and petite. La Petite Mort is graceful, beautiful and artistic on stage and sometimes a little blood is involved; oh! and some bondage. I have had the pleasure of casting her in shows I produce as well as performing along side her in others. This multi-talented woman knows how to captivate an audience.
How did you get into burlesque and how long have you been doing it?
Around 2004 I was immersed into the scene and thrown into some acts. It wasn’t really anything I was interested at the time. I was really focusing on modeling. Before I knew it I was pregnant with my second child so I took a really long break until about 3 years ago. I started to get the bug again and focused on performance art including burlesque. I realized though I preferred the more macabre styling and the humor and rhinestones weren’t my thing.
How did you pick your name; where is it from?
It means orgasm in French. Considering I specialize in the macabre, I thought it was very appropriate.
How do you come up with your acts or your style?
It’s really what inspires me and what I’m passionate about. I get visions of act concepts. The biggest obstacle for me is music though. Songs don’t generally inspire me.
Photo by Gabino Mabalay
What is your favorite number(s) to perform?
I love my sugar skull act with the roses. It’s a very introverted piece and there’s not a lot of audience participation, like most burlesque acts. The audience get emotionally attached and lose themselves for a minute.
What is your day job?
I’m a financial analysis. It pays the bills and funds all my crazy ideas.
How do you make the switch mentally from your day job to performing burlesque? Does your job know about you being a burlesque performer?
I’m very open about what I do. Everyone knows. I wouldn’t really have it any other way. It is hard to come back to reality though after a string of shows. I like to take a day or two off to decompress. It doesn’t make work easier, but it does give me a needed break.
Photo by Mandy McGee
You have a day job, perform, produce shows and have a family; how do you balance it all?
Obviously family comes first, then my job and performing fill in the gaps. My girls like to help me costume too, so it can be a family affair. Because of the girls, I don’t get to travel much. I am planning a Portland and LA trip in the next 6 months. I just can’t do it very often. I also get a lot of disappointed groans when the girls know I have a show. I miss out on bedtimes. As with all relationships, it’s good to miss each other from time to time. I appreciate our “lazy days” that much more.
If you have time for other hobbies what are they?
I recently started singing, and have taken up the violin after a very long break. I’m thinking about buying a ukulele as well. I played guitar when I was nine and picked up the violin at that time as well. It clicked in my brain recently that I didn’t take dance classes because I was playing instruments. It’s a talent I need to tap into again. Playing an instrument and singing sets me apart. Time to practice is the biggest challenge.
What’s the most rewarding thing about doing performances?
It’s getting my art out of me and onto the stage. People liking it, is just a bonus. I need a creative outlet more than anything.
(With Twisted Monk)Photo by Mandy McGee
Who are your favorite performers?
I adore Twisted Monk. We work really well together and he is a true showman.
Who inspires you (famous or not) in life and in your work?
That is a tough question. I really try to shelter myself so I can be unique. I try to avoid outside influences. My girls are constant life inspiration though. Being a kid is really tough but they keep on at it. They are both really artistic and I’ve been teaching them music and instruments. The older of the two is gifted and goes to a special school. They enamor and amaze me daily. I am so in love with them.
Do you ever get nervous when you perform?
Singing scares the bajesus out of me still. I’m playing my violin for a show in 2 months, and I haven’t played in front of people in 15 years. I’m pretty nervous about that. I keep reminding myself most of the audience is tone deaf, so if I suck it’s not the end of the world.
What are your thoughts on burlesque versus being a stripper at a strip club?
Burlesque is stripping, but stripping certainly isn’t burlesque. I do know a lot of girls dabble in both. On average there’s a lot more money in working at a strip club. Costumes can be really expensive.
What do you want to say to the girls out there who want to become burlesque performers?
Be original. Be passionate about it and find your own inspiration. I see many of the same things over and over. It’s an old art form, and there’s a lot of girls that do it so it’s expected. Originality is always awe inspiring for me.
Why did you start producing your own shows?
There’s not enough dark shows, but plenty of performers and a crowd for it. Nightmare Before Christmas is certainly a cult favorite and a niche market. Add boobs and I think it’s pretty fun. I did start producing my own show and the response was overwhelming. People were scalping tickets. I’m trying to duplicate that recipe again.
Photo by Gabino Mabalay
Where can we see you next?
Franks’ Wild Years is an upcoming show I’m in. It’s a Tom Waits themed show at Columbia City Theater April 19th and 26th. I’ll be playing my violin for the first time in over 15 years in front of an audience.
You can keep up with La Petite Mort at her website www.glitterandgore.com
You can follow her on twitter at @misslapetite