Burlesque b*

Women Who Rock

The Red Hot Heathens were born

by Rosie the Reveller

I went to my first rock show when I was 5 years old. To say that this was the beginning of an obsession would be an understatement. In the 26 years since then, I've seen thousands of musicians. Anything from backyard guitar pickers to KISS, I've been there. I've moshed at huge festivals and politely nodded my head along at tiny coffee shops. I spent much of my early 20's (drunk) at various Cleveland concert venues.

When I started doing burlesque in 2008, it was only natural for me to want to get involved with the local music scene, and do shows at some of those same rock clubs. At the time, however, I was told by the group I was working with that burlesque is "too classy" for venues like that, and we would attract the wrong types of crowds. And then I met Aurora Sans.

Not only was she also interested in doing a not-so-classy, rock and roll style burlesque show, but a strange mind-meld would happen when we talked about our ideas on how to pull it off. So in 2011, when Aurora called and said "Hey, I'm starting a new troupe. You want in?" My response was obviously "Hell Yes." We pulled together a handful of like-minded people, including pin-up model Ooh La Lola and local celebrity Booze McKoot, and after a few start-stops and misfires, The Red Hot Heathens were born.

We decided early on to make our shows free, unless the proceeds were for a charity. Cleveland is, after all, a blue collar town, and we wanted to cater to a working class crowd. After a year of cranking out a new variety show every month at a local corner bar, we wanted to try something a little bit more ambitious. Aurora put together the first Women That Rock show in February of 2012, and it was a hit! It was held at the Rock City Tap House with Ms. Fever Blister from L.A. as our emcee, and featured two woman-led bands and about a dozen dance acts, with proceeds donated to the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center. The idea of a show celebrating women, put on by women and for the benefit of women, resonated strongly with the community. 

We decided to do a bigger, more elaborate Women That Rock this year, featuring more acts and more live music. Aurora, who is pursuing her degree while also holding down a full time job, graciously agreed to let me take the reins this year. I had heard about a crisis shelter for women in the Cleveland area, and so with a charity in mind, things started cooking. The first thing, obviously, was finding a venue. The Phantasy Niteclub stood out because I had spent a lot of time there over the years, and I knew it had all the space and equipment that we would need to host a big show. When the booker told me that The Symposium, a smaller club in the same complex, was also available, we decided to book both stages for more of a festival feel.

So on June 6th, The Heathens put on our second Women That Rock show, featuring 3 bands and 25 dance acts on two stages. We were lucky enough to have the beautiful Ms. Fever Blister return as our Phantasy Niteclub emcee, and she was just as adorable and funny as we expected. The show opened with Miss Firecracker, a raunchy and hilarious one-woman-band with roots in the punk scene, and a history in Cleveland burlesque as Queen LaTata of The Pussyfoot Girls. She was followed by a handful of wonderful burlesque acts, including a hilarious Judge Judy number from Shrimp Cocktail, and some superb "assel" work from Eliza Sidecar. Next came The D-Rays from Athens, Ohio, an amazing surf-rock group featuring Missy Pence on bass, who seared through a hard and fast set for a delighted audience. 

Meanwhile, things had started to heat up downstairs in The Symposium, where Aurora led the crowd through a cavalcade of amazing talent. After some technical issues were ironed out, things took off with acts that included singing from Violet Lee and Shy Kamikaze, a yoga inspired act from Queen Bee of The Hive...Not to mention belly dance, donuts, stilt-walking, a powerful chair routine from guest performer The Irresistible O from Detroit, hooping from our own Foxy Moon, an emotional burlesque debut by local lovely Joselin Heretik, and a finale from the emcee, Aurora Sans, Classic Rock Countess of Cleveland Burlesque.

Back upstairs, onlookers were treated to two gravity defying pole acts from the artists at Cleveland Exotic Dance, and a scary good time with a horror-themed belly dance set from The Monster Dolls. After a sultry version of "The Locomotion" from Ms. Fever Blister herself, the show finished with melodic metal from Julia Roberts' Global Warning, featuring Julia Roberts (no, not that one) on guitar and vocals.

At the end of the night, when all of the raffle money and tip donations had been included and the expenses paid out, we were able to raise over $1400. The final count at the door was 137 paid attendees, which was the biggest turn-out for a Heathen production thus far. The show wrapped that night with happy performers, a happy venue, a happy (drunk) crowd, and the satisfaction of having accomplished something that we were told we couldn't do: a rock and roll burlesque show.
Written by Rosie the Reveller
Edited by The Irresistible O

This Article was published in the Burlesque Bitch Ezine on Dec 10, 2015.
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