Cheeky Blisses; Kiki Kisses

It was a pleasure to catch up with my friend Kiki in earlier this month as she revisits NZ. She is smart, sassy, sexy and as beautiful as can be.

She is a “Burlesque dancer, Pin-up/Alt Model, Marmite Lover” kinda gal

BS: So I’m just going to go straight into it. So how did your name evolve, and what meaning does it have for you?

KK: If you actually Google Kiki– the definition it will give you is actually an onomatopoeia for laughing. A slang term from black and Hispanic people. But I actually took it from the Scissor Sister’s song, Let’s Have a Kiki which is — a Kiki is like a party where you just have fun and laugh a lot with your friends, and it’s just a really good time. And I thought, “Why not do that on stage every time you go on stage? Let’s have a Kiki.”

BS; Absolutely.

KK; And then, obviously, a lot of burlesque names love alliteration. It’s let’s have a good time and Kiki Kisses it worked well. And kisses, I always blow kisses to the audience and thanking them for being there.

BS:  So when did you decide to get into burlesque and why?

KK: So it was kind of a natural progression. I grew up with Frank (Sinatra) with my dad. And then it grew into the fashion, so the pin-up style, the black and white polka dots, the red lipstick. And then one of my friends, Nikita who you obviously know, was just, “Why don’t you do burlesque classes?” And I said, “No, no, no. I can’t. I’ll come to your show though!” And I went to her Hootchy Kootchy show and then about a year later I was performing in it.  It took about a year. It was just a natural progression, I suppose. Music, to fashion, to– and I was a dancer so it was a combination of both my bringing up and dancing background. I combined them to one, I suppose.

BS: Married it together. So what type of dancing did you do before you hooked up with this?

KK; I did ten years of hip hop …. So a little different. Haha.

BS; Just a little different.

KK; It’s a little different. As well as a splattering of funk, cheerleading, ballet, I did two years of ballroom and Latin dancing. Just scattered a bit with a lot of different styles. But hip hop was my solid go to throughout my whole life dancing. Hip hop then progressed into burlesque and now I would say I’m a burlesque dancer over anything else.

BS; Yeah, yeah. It’s so enjoyable. So what’s it that inspires you most about performing? What gets you up on stage? And can you – this is a double barrel question – can you identify what difference from when you first got up on stage to today?

KK; What I enjoy most about performing burlesque is actually the stage reactions. That’s what I enjoy most is getting the feedback –  be it onstage or offstage –  from the audience and getting their involvement. Just simple eye contact or a smile, it warms my heart, and it’s why I do it. Very much with the eye contact and the facials because I do want those reactions and it’s what I enjoy the most about it. As well as the glitter. Haha

BS; Yeah. You can’t forget the glitter.

KK: And the champagne backstage, those are just nice perks. Haha

BS: So when you first got up onstage to now?

KK: When I first got up onstage, obviously, nerves. Before I go up onstage, I’m still nervous as hell, and have sweaty palms going backstage. Haha. I suppose the big difference would just be my technique. I’ve learned under a lot of different teachers now and I’ve been exposed to so many different dancers. I’ve learned so much and I’ve incorporated all of the information and all the techniques and all the methods and things into what I do now. I definitely think I’m a lot more polished that what I used to be– would be the big difference.

BS; So what style do think your Burlesque identifies with the most now?

KK; The most? Fine line between Classic and Neo. while I was living in Australia, I saw some outrageous Neo and some very classic Classic. And I think I am probably in the middle. I don’t do this radical stuff with octopus’s, haha. I do Neo in the way that I do have big props and Classic, I do take Classical elements. I’m somewhat kind of an in-between. Some of my acts could be called Classic, some could be Neo. Depending on who you’re talking to.

BS; So what made you decide to move to Australia and perform Burlesque there?

KK; Well, part or the reason I moved to Australia was for Burlesque. Melbourne, just full stop, had a huge Burlesque community already established there. A lot of schools, a lot of headline international acts that have gone to Burlesque Hall of Fame and things like that, and I just thought Australia would be great for my next step.

BS; How will it fit in your future plans then?

KK; What, Australia?

BS; Burlesque in general, given that you’re going to moving to another country yet again.

KK; Yes. With Scotland, my partner and I are hoping to get involved with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and be a part of some productions there, as well as do a few of the European Burlesque festivals. And eventually, hopefully, do a tour through America and Canada as well with Burlesque, because they have again, a different scene. I want to learn as many different styles around the world because what I’ve noticed is both New Zealand and Australia are quite– their Burlesque has a story line and there’s a point to taking everything, doing every movement and taking every piece of clothing off. There’s a story line. I notice with a lot of American Burlesque, in particular, it’s…… it’s more about look and there’s technique, and choreography, but there’s not necessarily a storyline there.

BS; What is your preference? To have a storyline or to not have a storyline?

KK; To have a storyline because I feel like the audience perhaps engages more with it.

BS; They can identify with it, probably.

KK; Yeah. When it’s, say, a storyline that’s based on a movie or, just, life experience, or something that the audience can relate to. I feel it’s a lot more entertaining.  Just all round.

BS; Just walk around. You’re taking them on a walk. So what other forms of dancing are you into? If any?

KK: Other styles. Basically, as I said before, I kind of speckled in other dance styles. Yeah, ballroom, Latin, ballet, hip-hop.

BS; But you haven’t been dancing since a wee little nipper. You’ve been dancing from an adult?

KK: No, I’ve been dancing since I was a wee girl.

BS: That’s why you were so good at it!

KK: My mother was a professional ballet dancer. So she always, kind of, pushed me to do dancing quite a bit. She pushed me, obviously, towards the ballet more. But, apparently, as a toddler, I just did not like it . So she’s just, like, “Well, how about we do hip-hop” because hip-hop was quite new and I of course really liked hip-hop, so I stuck with it for sure.

BS: And your partner, how does she support you with this all? Is she actually part of this scene now?

KK:  So she had never seen a burlesque show before she met me, and now she finds herself actually critiquing and getting involved a lot more. She comes to all of my shows, and she’s really supportive and amazing. I honestly couldn’t do it without her. She’s been so good.

BS; So do you have any idols that may have influenced your style, whether they be a dancing community or be any other community? I guess in general, also, what idols have influenced your lifestyle?

KK; I suppose, you know you have the classic ’50s idols like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. The people who influence me more, and the people I look up to, and that I got to learn under are fellow burlesque dancers. You get to know them on a personal level. They’ll always be honest with you, and I think that’s what influences me the most, I think, people that mentor me. And the weirdest things can influence my burlesque world as well, from like a pebble on a beach that’s funny shaped and it’s got a nice texture to it, to say, I don’t know, a gorgeous costume that I saw on Instagram. It could be anything from whoa to go. Haha.

BS: What’s your favorite color?

KK; Favorite color? If you were to ask any of my friends, they’d say purple. “Purple is Dee’s favorite color.”  But – it is, don’t get me wrong – but I also– from day to day purple won’t be my favorite color. Like one day it might be a teal, one day it might be an even green. I do have probably a set of colors that I like and it just

>BS; It’s complicated.

KK; Yeah. I’m sorry I don’t mean to make it complicated. Just put my answer is purple because everyone will expect that.

BS; No, I’m going to put your answer exactly what you’ve said. And lastly, what’s the Australian scene like compared to the New Zealand scene now, given that – probably in the bigger scheme of things – that both of them you’ve had– you most have experience in burlesque. But what is your impression of the New Zealand scene versus the Australian scene?

KK; Well, obviously the Australian scene is just bigger, just for a start. Melbourne city alone is as big as New Zealand. Obviously, it’s a lot more condensed in one small space so there are shows going on all the time and at varying levels. I’d say the big difference is, New Zealand doesn’t have as many regular shows. Australia does. There’s a lot more– of a regular following and a bigger community, just Melbourne versus the whole of New Zealand because they’re about the same size. They have things like Vaudeville clubs over there that do Monday to Sunday. They hire burlesque dancers for a term, and New Zealand doesn’t really have that. We have Hootchy Kootchy shows, Baby Burlesque, The Menagerie and a splattering of others. So it’s just definitely just bigger and grander. And the performances– the performers are just so polished and so– I can see why– The Australian Burlesque Festival is the biggest touring burlesque festival in the world.

BS: And where is it held? Is it in Melbourne as well?

KK; It tours Australia, so they start in Melbourne, they do four nights in Melbourne, then they go to different cities all over Australia.

BS: And is that where you collected your awards, was that the festival?

KK: No, I collected the awards with another competition called AAPC, which was in southern Australia. So it was a competition of West Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. And that’s where I went to the Miss Burlesque Beauty title and got the sash. Haha.

BS: You got two. You got two awards. What was the other one? It seemed to me that you got two.

KK: I got to perform in the Australian Burlesque Festival

BS; That might have been what I’m thinking of.

KK; Which, is an award in itself because the Australian Burlesque Festival is on an international scale. It is in Australia, but it’s recognized world-wide. Just to be a part of that was a huge honor.

BS: So what’s your up-and-coming show schedule? Say till Christmas, in the next six weeks.

KK; In the next six weeks, I’ve obviously got the Hootchy Kootchy show, as well as a couple of others at this stage. Obviously, getting into Christmas it quietens down a little bit because everyone goes away. So just finished Freak Show, Provocateur, and we’ve got Hootchy Kootchy, and then I’ll be a part of Provocateur’s Christmas Show.

BS; Is there anything that you would want to say to somebody who was looking at stepping into this world? And how would you describe it to them as a first-timer to get them to take that step?

KK; Get used to finding sequins in odd places would be number one. Haha. And just be you, just be yourself. Don’t pretend to be anything but yourself. I know that sounds like a cliché, but obviously, I haven’t been in the community that long, or the industry that long,

BS; It’s probably three years, so I think you started a year after me.

KK; Yeah. I’m about two and half years. But, yeah, it sounds cliche, but just be yourself, just be you. And just don’t be disheartened. If you really have a passion for it, just … Just go for it. Balls to the wall, I say. Let that freak flag fly!!

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