I recently had the great honor of interviewing the stunning Red Hot Annie of Chicago. She performed one of the first burlesque shows I had ever attended and was one of the people who inspired me to begin performing myself. Red Hot Annie is not only an award winning, international performer but also producer of the Windy City Burlesque Festival and founder of Vaudezilla Inc. Read the interview below and be sure to visit her website for additional pictures, show dates and more!
HH: What inspired you to start performing and how long have you been performing now?
RHA: I was inspired to start performing burlesque after seeing some of my friends performing burlesque – I loved the body-positivity, and that each act was self-curated by the performer. I had been performing on stage since I was 15 years old, so when the opportunity to perform burlesque came to me in Jan 2008, I was elated to start my journey. I’ve been performing burlesque for 6.5 years now!
HH: How did Vaudezilla begin?
RHA: Once I announced to the world that I was performing burlesque, people I’d known from other walks of life started reaching out to me immediately to put together shows for their venues & parties, so I needed to have artists who I knew could really commit to raising the bar as performers, and who I felt could be good collaborators in the face of many challenges. Vaudezilla was formed because I knew that if I was going to have an ensemble, we’d need to have a team name and philosophy. Since day one, the idea of Vaudezilla was to build up, promote, and support the artists within – create ongoing opportunities for performance, teaching, etc. Vaudezilla is, essentially, an Artist Collective. Our goals shift according to the various personnel and personalities involved, but at the heart of everything we do is the desire to spread love and hope through our art.
HH: What is your favorite costume piece?
RHA: I have three favorite costume pieces, and they are my favorites because someone designed them with me in mind – and in all three cases, the level of generosity shown to me by the costumers is absolutely humbling. In no particular order:
– My Viva Las Vegas 17 iridescent blue strapless dress – designed and made from scratch by Serenna Starr – it’s got the widest circle skirt I’ve ever seen, and over 40 gross of big fat Swarovski crystals spread through-out. I feel like a million bucks when I wear that dress!
– My “Died and Gone to Heaven” white gown – designed and made from scratch by Titty Perkins – it’s, by far, the most dramatic single costume piece I own. I have a particular attachment to this piece because it was one of the first commissions I asked for from Titty when I just barely knew her – so I credit that gown with putting us closer in each other’s orbit and eventually bringing Titty Perkins into Vaudezilla!
– My “In The Mood for Dr. Long John” orange lingerie set – designed and made from scratch from Heather at Corsetiere of Chicago (also a sponsor of our weekly Vaudezilla! show) – this is one of my all time favorite costumes because I feel like a million bucks in it! Having a custom made corset is a big deal, and this one fits perfectly. I love it so much!, especially because it’s a less conventional burlesque color, and the craftsmanship is out of this world.
HH: What was the best or most memorable place you have performed?
RHA: My favorite performance to date was in the 2012 Burlesque Hall of Fame, where I performed in my favorite showcase – the Movers, Shakers, & Innovators! I performed my “Art-Tease-T” piece, in which I’m dressed as a canvas and paint my clothing off. It was thrilling to be part of such a big event, and an absolute highlight of my career. My second favorite performance to date was competing at VLV 17. I had so much fun preparing for the event, making a new costume and working on choreography – it was a really fun challenge, and something I hope to do again and again and again! Honestly, it was one of the most exciting experiences of my burlesque career, and I feel like the relationships I made with the other contestants that night will last a lifetime! <3
HH: What inspired your Strawberries and Champagne act?
RHA: My “Champagne and Strawberries” act was inspired by two things – Europe/UK and Michigan Burlesque Festival! In Europe and the UK, it’s really customary for burlesque acts to be longer and a bit more theatrically-costumed. So when I got back from Europe this year, I made a vow to myself that I would create a longer piece – and because the universe works in mysterious ways, Michigan Burlesque Fest asked me to be a headliner and told me that I could bring a long piece (up to 15 minutes!) – so it was the perfect storm, and I jumped at the challenge. It also happens that I ADORE both champagne & strawberries!
HH: What is the best compliment you’ve received?
RHA: My favorite compliment was a couple weeks ago in rehearsal when Vanna Tease told me she loves when I do comedy because it’s “smart.” I really hope I can live up to that!
HH: What is next for you?
RHA: Next week, Oct 16, I’m performing at the Montreal Burlesque Festival. J’aime Montreal! After that, I’m staying here in Chicago to focus on our weekly burlesque show VAUDEZILLA! and planning my trips for 2015. It sounds like there’s another Europe trip in the works (possibly my biggest to date), and I can’t wait to share the details!