“An internationally renowned, multiple title and award winning burlesque entertainer. She is the co-producer of the NZ Burlesque Festival and mistress of Red Rascal Productions which boasts a burlesque academy, regular shows and tour support for burlesque artists. She is a passionate force in the New Zealand Burlesque scene and is fast building an international profile having performed around the world, including throughout Europe, the USA and Australia. Her neo-classical style of seduction always is sure to tease audiences”
She is a New Zealand Burlesque goddess. A lady who is full of passion and fire, and a lady who I admire. I love MisRed. Not only is she stunning, she is inspiring.
I had the pleasure of recently interviewing this beauty and this is how it went. Following on from last week, this is part two of the interview – covering the NZ Burlesque Festival and Red’s idols.
BS – The New Zealand Burlesque Festival – are you the founder of the festival?
MRD – Ok so the first burlesque festival as such was The Great New Zealand Burlesque Festival Expo which was run by Catherine Prescott. It was quite a different format to what it is today. It was a weekend during the day thing, there were intermittent shows with more of a market style event, plus of course it had the amatuer competition – Miss Bombshell which I won. It still had workshops because Jo Weldon and Jonny Pork Pie were over here. After that I was performing with Catherine quite a bit and one night we were talking about the festival and she was saying she wasn’t sure she would run it again suggesting she might sell it. My husband and I looked at buying the rights because even though it wasn’t called the New Zealand Burlesque Festival there is still common law that covers it, so we bought the rights to use the Great New Zealand Burlesque Festival Expo. Because we had been to international festivals at that stage, changed it up to meet international formats – which is night time shows, day time workshops, plus we wanted to add in professional development for the local community as well as aim it at building the market and audience. We wanted people to book shows off it as well. It’s been running three years now – it will be 4 years this October but we moved it to March next year and it’s still a huge undertaking and I am still getting over the last year to be honest. This one in particular came at a huge personal cost, so plans are still tentative fo next years event..
BS – Because you have probably 1000’s of people around for the festival and you would need to make sure there are enough stalls to feed that amount of people at least then you have the shows – 1,2,3,4 shows over the entire festival? As well as the market stalls,
MRD – We do three shows over three nights, we’ve ditched the market side of it because we found it was difficult to find the right vendors – plus we have the Golden Garter Awards which are the industry awards on the Sunday and we added the movie night which is just in case anyone is still sticking around on the Sunday night. We then we had two tour shows last year as well so it is quite a big undertaking with around about 150 – 200 people a night over the 3 nights of shows plus the tours at around about 200 people as well, so your looking at 1000- 1500 people coming through, plus the performers – I think we had 75 performers and support crew as part of the festival last year, and ….. Yeah there is the support crew … and I’m a little bit of a control freak so I only have 2 or 3 people I actually absolutely trust to do the work so it’s’ a very very close team. It’s a lesson I have learnt over the first couple of years of doing the Burlesque Festival is that if I trust somebody to do something the chances are it won’t be done (laughs) so I have had to pick and choose who I worked with and we’ve cut it down and we’ve changed it up and we will change it again next year – it will probably be a smaller event; the personal investment; we have made into the festival and subsequently the community has been quite huge and it’s now … what .. June? And the last one was October and I am only just getting my personal mojo back for burlesque – I haven’t even started on the producing side of things which, thankfully, is because we have moved it, but if we had it in October I don’t think I could have done it. Usually I start planning about January/February for the October event – that’s 10 months ahead – this year we have only just started talking about what we are going to do. It’s a massive undertaking – it’s not only the financial toll, it’s the emotional toll; it’s the recovery operation – unfortunately we have been taken for a ride on a couple of things and that takes a little longer to get over each time and sometimes you wonder is it worth the commitment. We have a lot of gratitude within the community but there is also a lot of negativity as well at the same time and sometimes it’s hard to take criticism that isn’t always constructive or from those who aren’t aware of what your business plans are because at the end of the day, it is a business.
BS – I certainly understand how much of an undertaking, emotional toll, financial toll and physical toll organising something like that would take because not only are you organising it but you are probably featuring in it as well yourself
MRD – Yeah! Certainly I am, I’ve had one performance so far that’s actually gone well (laughs) I feel like the last two years there was always something that went wrong in the middle of my performance!! Something happened or I got to busy producing and couldn’t finish my act ..so yeah that’s really hard as well, plus the husband/wife dynamic means that one of us has to be in charge and one of us has to make those hard decisions which also sometimes means one of us gets hurt emotionally as it get’s taken personally. For me as a performer as well it sucks out my passion for burlesque at times, but sometimes it really motivates me and makes it really awesome and other times I’m just like – no I don’t want to touch it. It makes it very difficult when you don’t really want to perform because you are so drained from producing.
BS – So in any ‘scene’ – or within any area of your life is there an idol or idols in any area that you can pin down to helping to influence your style of performing or how you do things?
MRD – There was one performer in particular that made me want to do Classic Burlesque actually two – and I saw them at the Kansas City Burlesque Festival in 2012 which was my first international trip. The first one was Greta Garter – she did a three part glove peel on one glove and it was the most captivating thing I had ever seen at that point. Normally when I see glove peels I think oh yeah I know what’s going to happen here – this one the way she did it she had you on the edge of your seat all the time – and that was when I realised Classic was so much more than I had been exposed to in New Zealand. At that same festival I got to see Lou Lou D’Vill for the first time and yeah, that was a major change for me, a major point in how I did burlesque, because I wanted to come back and try classic for the first time. Previously I found it to be boring, but something clicked as to what it was about watching those two performers and it just blew my mind; it was interesting; it was captivating; it was sensual; it could be funny but it was absolutely beautiful, so they are definitely two of the biggest influences I have had. Perle Noire and Red-Bone definitely influenced in their dance styles, Perle Noire in the fact she goes from sweet and subtle to sharp and sassy in a second and I love that about her where Red-Bone (she’s my sister Red!) she was the one that beat it into me that I need to stop ripping myself down when I get off stage. So where Lou Lou and Greta and Pearl have changed my style and technique Red-Bone has changed my thinking and emotional approach to burlesque and that is something I have been very very grateful for and I am still learning everyday. I still hear her in the back of head going “Gurrll you gotta stop doing that!” So yeah she is definitely one of my idols. More recently a couple of legends Judith Stein and Rita Alexander have helped me – Rita I met a couple of years ago but spent more time with her last year in New Orleans and Judith in New York last year and their personal experiences influenced, my perception of what I wanted for myself and how burlesque influenced that and how it’s ok to want that for myself; so yeah those two women pretty much changed my life.
BS – One thing I have seen surface in the two years I have been doing this is people who initially step up on stage and become full of confidence (over time) only to self criticise themselves as part of comparing to others. I find it very sad to watch, particularly after seeing them reach great ‘highs’ in confidence – as you say it’s a human nature thing
MRD – I think so, I mean self criticism and self awareness is important but sometimes you need a little bit of comparison to find yourself at that next level and to find out what else you want. As long as you recognise the comparison shouldn’t be apples with oranges – it might be that why are you comparing yourself to that person; oh it’s because their technique is better so I need to work on my technique – it’s not because they are better than me. It’s looking between the lines at what is actually irking you and what you need to improve on with your weaknesses. You can’t compare yourself to other fantastic performers because you bring something else to that stage as well, regardless as to whether or not you feel shitty or great or not, you still bring it.
I am headlining my first international Festival in October – headlining with some massive names in burlesque and I’m thinking”what am i doing? I don’t belong up there!” But I have to remind myself that I am bringing something different – the fact that I am just a girl from the bottom of the world; that in itself is going to appeal to people! That is what the marketing draw is for me; not that I am a big name, it’s the fact I have come from New Zealand – from a Pacific Island apparently! So yeah comparing yourself to others is not neccesary. We all ave something we can give.
BS – What is your favorite colour?
MRD – at the moment it’s purple – I loooooovvvvee Purple!!! I have a leopard print purple catsuit at the moments (BS Oh Man! How cool is that!)
BS – If you were mentoring someone who is very very new, say doing their very first performance in burlesque what words of wisdom would you have for them?
MRD – No matter what you do; Own It. If you’re going to suck; Own it. If you don’t know what you are doing, make it up on the spot; shimmy – do something but OWN IT! Don’t stand there and have the look of ‘oh fuck’ on your face. Just OWN IT. Or if it is going to be a look of oh fuck – REALLY OWN IT! And that’s served me well, and am pretty sure it has served others well!
BS – Lastly how did you come up with your name?
MRD – I was a redhead at the time, and listening to The Pretty Reckless song called Miss Nothing, and I thought MisRed! As in Misunderstood and Misrepresented. It was my play on the burlesque world at the time as every time I told someone I was going to do burlesque they would say so you’re going to be stripper – which now I say yes I am to, but back then I said no no burlesque is different … it would have been about 6 months or so later I discovered there was a Ms Redd in the States, but I thought “oh that’s ok I am never going to the states, and never going to perform in a show with her and it was like 6 months after I was performing in the States and about 6 months after that I was asked to perform in a show where she would have been performing as well! Researching it, it looked like we both came about at the same time and I already had the Red Delicious Burlesque Academy so I added the word Delicious just to give me a little bit of a point of difference.
Thank you MisRed Delicious – it was a total delight to interview you. Your fantastic.