I wanted to find out more about the Detroit burlesque scene, so I contacted Lushes LaMoan, a gorgeous woman who has been performing around the Detroit area for over 10 years. From her perfectly rolled pin curls to her one of a kind outfits, she is the full package. I had an opportunity to ask her some questions about who she is and what she does. Check out what she has to say and consider heading out and seeing a love show for yourself sometime, it will blow you away.
HID- What inspired you to become a burlesque performer?
LL- "I've always been creative, and the center of attention. I am a thespian and fine artist. I've always loved acting and improv and am very good at it. It's very hard to get a role or picked up by theater companies. Burlesque combines my many passions: acting, dancing, sewing and overall creativity. Most people think I'm just a dancer when in reality I more than just. I'm a business woman and artist. I produce, design, choreograph. Lushes LaMoan has many hats."
HID- Tell us about the first show that you performed in. How did you prepare? Were you scared?
LL- "Hahaha! The first show I did was at The Elbow room with Spag Burlesque. I practiced for weeks and performed to The Cramps "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns". I even had a BB gun that looked like a machine gun. My day started at 8 a.m.; I set my hair in rollers and got on the road to drop my BF off in Pontiac. On my way home on Woodward I thought I felt my transmission slip and slowly coasted into what once was a gas station. The car wouldn't turn over. I gave it a moment and collected my thoughts. Then I noticed gray smoke escaping from under the hood. I popped open the hood to discover 3 small fires on the engine block (this was the car from hell seriously a gift from Hades, I should have driven it into the river stix). I ran towards the street frantically waving my hands and calling for help. I must have looked like a crazy person standing there because no one helped me. Why would anyone help someone who's wearing combat boots, plaid pajama pants and a lime green trench coat while wearing rollers in their hair? I was stranded in Birmingham after all. No wonder no one stopped to help, I did LOOK crazy. Anyway the car was still on fire, the flames were growing, I had to do something, I ran over to the gas station across the street shouting fire (again looking like a crazy person) and begging for a fire extinguisher. To my dismay by the time I got to the car the front end was entirely engulfed by flames and melting the windshield.The only thing I could do at this point was light a cigarette and watched that Motha burn, I am a natural born Detroiter this is my second nature. Here I am the morning of show day stranded in Birmingham looking like a crazy person and wondering how not only am I getting to the show, but how am I getting home? Then I got a ride from the Birmingham police. I ended up getting a ride to the show with a troupe sister. In my mind's eye, I was going to earn enough money to purchase another car... not knowing what the elbow room was and not understanding punk rock burlesque economics. I made enough money to buy a decent meal."
HID- Is there a big burlesque community in Detroit?
LL- "There are a lot of people who perform in Detroit... I have made strong relationships with professional performance artists from the city and surrounding areas. I don't consider these particular performers my community, their my family, we're like gypsies, circus folk, travelers of the road less traveled. There is unity in the word community I have yet to experience this with the overall burlesque scene in Michigan. So many people come from different walks of life, I think people feel they must prove themselves or compete with others instead of just existing and growing together. I've had many women in this "community" rip off my name, undercut the industry, drag my name through mud, adapt my name and admit it to me, and others tell me how entitled I am. I've learned to mind my own business, because what I run is a business. It's a lot of hard work juggling everything and trying to fit that perfect mold of people's assumptions. I have also adopted the motto, "If they don't pay your bills, they don't matter." I will say, Detroit has an amazing amount of talented people. They just need to learn to trust each other and not be so defensive and think someone's trying to hurt them. My intentions to the Detroit community have always been pure. I'm going on 10 years of performing burlesque, maybe there's something I can teach to the new blood...maybe. One love, art."
HID- How do you prepare for a performance?
LL- "This is like asking how the average person prepares for work?
1. Know the job, who's hiring you
2. You cater to the clients needs
3. The main focus is to entertain
I make my costumes mostly from scratch, that way it's original and I know its mechanics.
My mom was an entertainer and I remember as a child going to her customer's house and seeing all the fabrics, sequins and finished garments. I still have one of her custom costumes, a Santa suit. I've mastered vintage hair styles years ago and learned makeup from years of theater and art classes and from playing with my mom's old school beauty books when I was a kid. I prepare for a show by knowing the logistics and regulations as well as environment and who I'm performing with and for. There are many factors that go into a performance; it's not just about getting up there and doing it. We are all human and life happens no matter how your body feels, what happened that week to affect one's mentality; all of that needs to be pushed aside to do that one thing, put on the mask, transform, get out there with one objective, to entertain."
HID- What kind of music do like to perform to?
LL- "I like all different kinds of music. Everything has its place and time. I love to perform to classic jazz standards as well as surf rock, I'm a sucker for surf rock. I also enjoy old skool soul and RnB. Examples of music I have performed to: Mansions Scoring, Aphex Twin, The Stranglers, The Ventures, Jack Mcduff, the 1919 Classic Dardanella, The Luna Chix, Count Basie and many others. As you can see, the list is quite dynamic. I've been wanting to perform a fan dance to the instrumental version of "California Love" by Tupac and Dre."
HID- Where can one go to see a burlesque show in Detroit?
LL- "Follow the Detroit Dizzy Dames and the Tangent Gallery. I highly recommend seeing one of my Dizzy Dames productions. I guarantee a high energy, quality show, hands down the best in the D. Voted by the people; best of Real Detroit and Metro Times! I'm incredibly proud of all the hard work that's gone into the Dames as well as Lushes LaMoan."
HID- Do you have any favorite local bands, restaurants, or venues?
LL- "I'm out of the band loop. I used to follow the punk and ska seen over 15 years ago I have always loved Bourgeois Filth, Mustard Plug, Gangster Fun, but I would have to say my favorite band was the Scholars/Telegraph. I had the biggest fan girl crush on the lead singer Jeffrey. Today my favorite local's the amazing sounds of Meredith Lorde. At the 2013 DMAs I was blown away by the amazing stage show and music of HafLife and Cybertrybe. I recently discovered Rapper Danny Dip. He's an interesting character.
Restaurants, of course my home away from home, the historic Grand Trunk which has 24 microbrews on tap, and has been a bar for 80 years. If I want a good stiff cocktail, I visit The Oakland Art Novelty Company where my husband works (the same BF from the day the car caught on fire). I'm a sucker for good Japanese, Thai food or Mediterranean food. I'm convinced I was an Asian mermaid who lived in the Red Sea in a past life."
HID- Anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
LL- "I'm a down to earth girl that likes to say the eff word and often have my middle finger in the air. I have a punk rock interior and a glamour puss exterior, but I'm sweet as pie and have an incredible work ethic. Really, I'm sweet as pie. I'm like everyone else... At the end of the day, life isn't going to live itself and the garbage still needs to be taken out on trash night. I'm for hire and have worked for prestigious restaurants/breweries, venues, and private events. I love working with live big bands and orchestras. It's the bees knees."