How and when did you get into burlesque? What’s the appeal for you?
I got into burlesque by accident – which pretty much describes most of my career choices after moving to NYC! I was go-go dancing at a party where NYC and Seattle burlesque icons World Famous *BOB*, Dirty Martini, and Waxie Moon of Seattle happened to also be working. World Famous *BOB* took me under her wing (bosom) and introduced me to this even more niche burlesque performance scene. I think what appealed to me the most about burlesque (and still does today) is the idea that I can still be an exhibitionist and combine my love of nightlife with a more theatrical, comedic spin. Burlesque gives me the opportunity to create work that is both sensual and “sexy” yet has a subversive spin.
Can you expand upon the creation and current version of Nasty Drew & That Harder Boy: The Mystery of the Family Jewels?
Boy can I! It’s my queer parody of the classic Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys‘ series. This show was really a challenge for myself to create a “longer” form of performance that toted the line between “theater” and striptease. Nasty Drew… is fully scripted and really follows the format of a musical. It’s just that instead of breaking into song, we break away our pants… and bras and underwear, etc, etc.
How did Prince influence you personally and on an artistic level?
I think like most contemporary musicians, I’ve been a fan – at various levels of fandom – since I was a kid. Aside from Bowie who I didn’t actually get into until I was a little bit older, Prince is probably the counterpoint to the childhood pop stars I was obsessed with that tended to be women – whether it was Madonna or Janet Jackson, definitely leaning more on that side – the more performative dancerly pop stars – he was also a part of that. Even for a kid, 7 or 8 years old, you see footage of him performing – it was just captivating and mesmerizing from the actual aesthetic of what he looked like and how he moved to how compelling his performances were. From a young age, he was one of the big guys. When I became a little bit more of a knowledgeable music fan, his records were part of the collection.
I think the only thing I said publicly was I have this funny memory from my first day when I moved to college, I went to UC Santa Cruz. Recently, at a Sleater-Kinney show in Hollywood, I randomly ran into my resident advisor who I hadn’t seen in probably fifteen or sixteen years. It was such a trip and we caught up a little bit but I couldn’t help but recall that that first night that I moved away to college, I was a loner, had no friends, real freaked out – she had this funny little mixer for her hall – which was somehow made up of a bunch of weirdos that I’m still friends with till this day – the people that gave me my first Smiths tape or took me to hardcore shows. Anyway, she had an event this first night to try to socialize us and she made all purple food including purple rice sushi and all sorts of other things and we watched Purple Rain and it was just a really classically fun night. The kind of thing that would easily be seen in a good coming-of-age, high school rom-com or something! [laughs]
I think also just being a fan of the music he put out himself, obviously incredible. I remember when I realized he was one of the best guitar players of all-time. Little known fact – best performer and singer and songwriter, also Eric Clapton bows down to him, you know? [laughs] Holy shit, he really can do it all. It was also a really interesting thing when I found out that the Bangles hit that I loved as a pre-teen, he had written that. I was a big Sinead O’Connor fan as a kid and teenager and realizing that he also wrote one of my favorite songs she sings. He was such the full picture – so inspiring. To lose him and Bowie so closely is just insane.
Would you consider Kristin Kontrol a natural progression from Dum Dum Girls, in particular Too True, or do you view the project as an entirely different avenue altogether?
It’s somehow both of those things. I think Too True was sort of the biggest expansion of sound but it was still in a world that could relate back to where Dum Dum Girls started. In the last month, I’ve been thinking about Too True a lot. In the moment it felt very natural but it was quite a pieced together record because I had a lot of vocal problems and it was also almost like I was trying so hard to reestablish Dum Dum Girls as my thing so that I would retain the ability to kind of change it as I desired without getting some sort of “this isn’t what Dum Dum Girls is supposed to sound like” reaction. I feel like I started to experience that with Too True. I didn’t totally process it or think about it. I just was on tour performing it and at a certain point, [I thought] “wow, I don’t think I’m getting across what I want to be getting across” and I think a part of it is because Dum Dum Girls almost has a life of its own at this point. I don’t know that I could or even should really change the trajectory. That was sort of frustrating for me because I didn’t want to do the Ramones game. I wanted to feel like whatever I felt like doing, I had the freedom to do.
So when I started writing this album, I just decided to ignore anything that in the past it would have been like “oh well, this isn’t what Dum Dum Girls sounds like, this song isn’t appropriate or whatever” and instead just kind of make up for lost time. Really just not take a sharp left turn from the path that I was on but really just expand the view to something panoramic instead of something focused. In a sense it was the logical step because just for me as a songwriter, I needed to be able to finally sort of reflect everything and at the same time, it is also sort of a shedding of the skin because I just finally realized I’ve outgrown not only Dum Dum Girls as the vehicle for my songs but the need for Dee Dee as a persona. The two are very linked.
From January-April 2016, I asked some of my favorite musicians to record quick/raw takes of their favorite Bowie tracks. Each cover is magical in its own right and I’m incredibly thankful to all participating artists.
100% of proceeds from sales of “Love You So” go towards CancerCare. CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. CancerCare programs and services help 180,000 people each year.
Track listing is as follows:
1 – Nellie McKay – Let’s Dance
2 – Hailey Wojcik – Starman
3 – The Mynabirds – Life on Mars?
4 – Rush Midnight – China Girl
5 – Felix and the Future – The Supermen
6 – knifesex – I’m Afraid of Americans
7 – GHOST COP – Dead Man Walking
8 – a place both wonderful and strange – Bring Me the Disco King
9 – Stranger Cat – Space Oddity
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