A Few Words w/ Little Miss Risk

27 Feb

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~Liquor, monocles & revolvers, BJB & the Voodoo Dollz | Ed Araquel~

Big John Bates & the Voodoo Dollz — a rock-n-roll burlesque group from Vancouver, B.C. — bring their booze-swillin’, fire-blowin’, face-rockin’ antics to Bremerton’s Winterland tonight (Feb. 27), joining a stacked line up which features the roving Reverend Dead Eye’s No Man Gospel Band, Seattle’s Hard Money Saints, and Kitsap’s own living legend James Hunnicutt. The show is 21+ w/ a $10 cover, starting around 9:30 p.m. @ Winterland, 1220 Sylvan Way in Bremerton. More @ myspace.com/winterlandrocks, www.bigjohnbates.com.

We caught up with the lead Voodoo Doll Little Miss Risk (at right above) for a few words on booze, burlesque, BJB and life on the road for March’s upcoming print edition, dedicated to traveling artists. . .

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~Steampunk-ish Little Miss Risk | Ed Araquel~

KS: Hello, hello… Ms. Risk?
LMR: Hi there… How you doin? What’s been shakin’, what’s new with you?

KS: Many, many new things here at the Smokestack.
LMR: Many awesome things, I hope.

KS: Always awesome. So, what’s new with you? Tell me about what’s new with the show.
LMR: Well, we’re incorporating a lot more into the show, like more magic tricks and a little more hardcore steam punk aesthetic. When I say hardcore, a lot of people probably think immediately of something like the Suicide Girls, they go for the lowest common denominator… but we’re trying to think more in terms of a psychological horror, instead of just coming out and doing a show like Gwar. I mean it’s one thing to be covered in blood, but when you go to that extreme, you kind of find yourself asking, well, how can I top this now? I’m going to have a pull an albino unicorn out of my vagina at the next show if I’m going to top this.”

KS: That’s true, once you go to those ends, it gets harder and harder to take it one step further. How much further do you guys take it now, compared to, what’s it been, a year ago since you last came through?
LMR: It was almost exactly a year ago that we last rolled through Bremerton… I think that a lot of what’s changed is that the music, well it’s always been dark, but it’s really evolved in the last year. And the show itself is looking to more and more Steampunk elements. It’s got this kind of scientific romantic quality to a lot of what’s going on. It’s kind of like if Frank Miller and HG Wells got together and produced something, it would kind of look like that — deep, dark and disturbing, but kind of beautiful. . . Kind of like the haunted mansion at Disneyland.

KS: That’s a nice description. Have you had any changes to the cast?
LMR: Scare-o-line (former bass player) left us last June after eight years, so Brandy Battery, a Bellingham-by-way-of-Montana native, has been filling in, and we have a canadian girl, Katie Kerosene as well. So we have had a changing bass line up for the past year. And I think when you last saw us, we had Ms. Whiskey Rose, then we had Burgundy Bricks from New York, we’ve had Bloody Betty (she goes on). We’ve got a girl who’s got her finger in every burlesque pie in Vancouver, named Lola Lockheart, who, as well as being a very amazing performer is also a very talented singer… It’s kind of a spin on the old, ‘burlesque dancers should be seen and not heard, but more often than not you’ll hear us when we’re drunk.’

KS: How much of what you girls do is planned ahead of time as compared to just happening that night?
LMR: We do choreograph all of routines ahead of time, and some have more lewd choreography than others. Some are very heavily dance-oriented, others there are certain points, as you know, where we’ll bring people up out of the audience. Occasionally we’ll change it from show to show, sometimes we’ll do more fire, sometimes more magic tricks … We do have a considerable bag of tricks that we draw from. So even though the format of the show is generally about 85 percent similar from city to city, we do change it up, depending on what our constraints are. You might follow us for three days in a row and not see the same show twice.

KS: Last time you came through, did Bremerton leave any type of impression on you guys?
LMR: Well, I had a huge hangover the next day… which was awesome. I was impressed with how many people showed up to Winterland to see the show. We’d never played Bremerton before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. When everybody showed up, we were just floored. Interestingly enough, there was a point in the show where I was hearing this weird noise coming from backstage, and this Navy guy comes out, looking all flustered. And Scare-o-line says she’d just tanned his backside because he’d never been spanked before. I don’t know if that’s just something that happens around our show, or something that just happens in Bremerton, it was like the two worlds collided and that’s what happened… This is what happens in our world.”

KS: Sounds like quite an interesting world, speaking of, where’ve you guys been over the past year?
LMR: When we left, we were headed out on a similar route to what we’re doing for this tour. We went down the west coast of the U.S., then across and down into the Florida Panhandle and back up into the Midwest. Then up to Canada and back west again. In the summer, we did Europe twice. We did the club circuit, and then we went back and did the festival circuit. Then we came back and did the U.S. east coast up into the east coast of Canada. So we’ve racked up a fair amount of road miles… more than usual.

KS: Was that by design? Were you hoping to play that many shows or was that driven by demand?
LMR: I think It just got to the point where we found that we were able to tour as much as we did, so we did. And it was pretty intense. It was almost nine months of straight touring, which is pretty impressive for anyone who is a touring performer.

KS: How does the response differ from place to place? North America vs. in Europe?
LMR: Overseas, they’re very, very supportive of their live music and their live shows. People don’t sit home and watch TV as much, cause they’re TV, I’m not gonna lie, it really does suck over there. So Even if its not a musical genre that they’re not necessarily into, they’ll still go and check it out just because its live entertainment. In North America, I find people are a little bit of a tougher sale, but once you’ve got a North American audience and they’re really into what you do, once you have their support, they’ll come back to see you and they’ll bring their friends.

LMR: But they don’t have a ton of burlesque over in Europe, even where in most of the major cities it’s starting, it’s still more traditional and we’re, as you know, very not traditional in what we do.”

KS: How would you compare or contrast your style of burlesque with traditional burlesque?
LMR: Traditional burlesque, I find is very based on presentation, costumes appearance… Which is great, but there doesn’t seem to be a great deal to it. It’s more about the strip tease itself. I find that there’s not enough to give your audience if you’ve got the same two girls taking their clothes off number after number. It has to be a little bit more cerebral for them… I mean you’ve got to give your audience a little credit. As much as everyone likes to see boobs, you can only dress the same pair of boobs up so many times before people are like… ‘ahh, I saw you already, let’s go get another red bull and vodka.’”

BIG JOHN BATES & THE VOODOO DOLLZ join Reverend Dead Eye’s No Man Gospel Band, Hard Money Saints and James Hunnicutt at 9:30 p.m. Feb. 27 @ Winterland, 1220 Sylvan Way in Bremerton. 21+, $10. More @ myspace.com/winterlandrocks, www.bigjohnbates.com.

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