Burlesque Beauties and Circus Capers: Houston Artist Brings Burlesque Circus to Town
BY JAY AND AMANDA REMY
The Bayou City Burlesque & Circus Arts Festival takes over Warehouse Live, January 20th
Acrobats from San Francisco! Burlesque from Montreal! Trapeze from Austin! And a chorus line of “H-Town Clowns”! You don’t have to be a jet setter with an unlimited budget to catch them all in one night, you just have to be in Houston this January. The international Bayou City Burlesque & Circus Arts Festival will be returning to Houston, January 20th. The festival brings together two timeless and titillating performance styles to give the audience a one-of-a-kind experience. The event’s world-renowned acts range from Vegas style burlesque to bizarre sideshow stunts to death-defying aerialist that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
The Bayou City Burlesque and Circus Festival, BCBC Festival for short, is now in it’s fourth year. The festival has developed a reputation for featuring top-notch talent thanks to Houston’s own internationally award-winning burlesque performer, standup comic, and festival producer- KiKi Maroon. Maroon’s life as a touring performer has given her a unique advantage when curating talent, “I get hired to perform all over the world, from tiny bars and massive theaters, meeting new artist every day. I’ll see an act and know instantly, I need to bring that to Houston!” Maroon considers the festival a year-in-review, “It’s a living yearbook. My showgirl, circus, freak-show melting pot.”
Every major city has their own burlesque festival, the most distinguished events being held in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York City. Maroon and her team intend on making Houston’s event just as renowned. To accomplish this, they’ve booked over 40 local and touring artists including:
-Vivacious Miss Audacious: The Hula Hoop Hottie (Grand Rapids, MI) Burlesque and circus collide with the hooping strip tease that’s been featured at The Ibiza Burlesque Festival, Amsterdam Burlesque Awards, and Toulouse Fest (France).
-Meezee: The Klown Prince (San Francisco, CA) proving that clowns can be sexy, Meezee is a chair-stacking acrobat who has performed with Vau de Vire Society, The Hubba Hubba Revue, The Theatre Bizarre.
-Brian “BC” Carrion: The One Man Band (Houston, TX) Musician, songwriter, and vocalist known for his electro-soul hooks and dance floor antics, fresh off his 6 month Europe/Asia tour.
-Sugar Vixen: The Rock star of Burlesque (Montreal, Canada), who’s fiery energy has put her on stages around the world, even sharing the stage with burlesque legend Dita Von Teese.
KIKI took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few question for us to get to know a little nit more about here and her production
PN: What do you enjoy most about being a Burlesque performer?
KIKI: I love to travel! Before becoming a producer, I looked into a career as a flight attendant. I want to see the world and being a standup comic and burlesque performer has allowed me to do just that.
PN: What are you thinking pre-show and during the show?
KIKI: Pre-show my mind is like a laser beam. Everything else fades away and nothing but the performance matters. We are running around like glittery chickens, franticly trying to get the show ready having meetings with the sound and light guys, getting dressed, fixing last minute costume emergencies, and squeezing in a last minute rehearsal. The real talent is slinking on stage looking calm and sultry when you’ve spent the previous 4 hours in a manic state! But once you’re on stage, it all floats away. It’s the only time I feel completely present. There are no to-do list, no inner dialog, nothing exist but the moment. I think it’s why I have such an intense relationship with my audience. They give me something I’ve never had before and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude each and every time.
PN: Where have you performed so far?
KIKI: I’ve performed all over the country, too many places to name! My favorite show would probably be The Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco. Internationally, I’ve performed in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo. Tokyo was INSANE! I am making it a personal goal to get booked there again in 2018. Burlesque is fairly new there, but they are so passionate about it!
PN: Where else would you like to perform?
KIKI: On top of being a burlesque performer, I am a standup comic and storyteller. My (current) number one goal is to get my story-telling show into The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s the world’s largest arts festival and looks just amazing!
PN: What are your career goals?
KIKI: I love burlesque, but I’m heavily pursuing comedy right now. One of my comedy mentors summed it up best; “You’re used to be naked, now you’re learning to be exposed”. My goal is to keep my monthly burlesque show, KiKi Maroon’s Burly Q Lounge, running in Houston while touring comedy clubs and festivals around the country. It’s kind of hard. There isn’t really a ‘burlesque performer, standup comic, producer, podcaster’ path to follow. I’m just trying to find my own way.
PN: What is your opinion about ‘live’ entertainment and performance?
KIKI: There’s nothing like live entertainment. The performers feed off the audience, the audience feeds off the performers, and that energy exchange makes each show a completely unique experience. I think it’s difficult to get people out these days; Netflix has thousands of hours of entertainment that you never have to leave your house for! BUT, once people come to their first show, they almost always become regulars.
PN: What do you think determines the success of a stage performer?
KIKI: If you really want to make it in entertainment, you need drive. You have to want it more than anything. Dance can be learned, stage fright can be overcome, and marketing can be polished. But no one is going to do it for you. Social media has made it so that there are no gatekeepers. No bigwig you have to impress to be a full time performer. But with that freedom comes a huge cost. You are now expected to do everything. You are your own web designer, booking agent, and marketing department. You can bitch that it takes time away from your creative process or you can wake up earlier and get to work!
PN: What’s the basic concept for the show?
KIKI: The BCBC Festival is my biggest show of the year. We open applications and hundreds of performers from around the world submit for a chance to perform in Houston! After watching literally hundreds of hours of burlesque and circus acts, we narrow it down and bring Houston a one-night-only, world-class show.
PN: Tell me a bit about how you chose the cast and what their acts are like.
KIKI: The selection process is intense. The first viewing of acts, we separate the acts into styles. I like to showcase a little bit of everything so things get categorized into “Class Burlesque”, “Aerial Circus”, “Ground Work”, “Sideshow”, and “Comedic Burlesque”. After that, we re-watch every single video and rate them with in their category. From there, we select to top of each style and start to work on the set list and show flow. It takes about a month for us to finalize the set list each year.
PN: As burlesque performers in 2017, have there been any recent events that you think has kicked feminist discourse up a notch?
KIKI: I don’t think that being burlesque performers has given us views any different than anyone else.
PN: What inspired you to start Burlesque?
KIKI: I was originally a costume designer. I worked for theaters, including The Alley and Cirque du Soleil, as well as free-lance to individual artist. I began making burlesque costumes for performers in Austin and started to bring them to Houston for small events. It looked like so much fun, I started performing my self! I still make my own costumes but haven’t worked in theater in years. Burlesque and standup comedy took over my life and I couldn’t be happier about it.
PN: What are the standout moments for you from your shows so far?
KIKI: I will never forget walking out on stage at the very first BCBC Festival. It’s now in its fourth year, so while I always work hard to make it amazing, it’s established. The first year, it was a giant gamble. I had only produced small bar shows before that, the audiences being between 20-150 people.
The BCBC Festival was my first time producing on a main stage. I had no idea if we cold fill that room, I was TERRIFIED that no one would come and I’d be $15,000 in debt. But I worked my butt off and we sold out! I will never forget walking out on that stage and seeing the sea of people. I had a live mic in my hand and the very first words out of my mouth were a teary-eyed, “F**K…. There’s a lot of you here.”
I don’t know if anything I achieve will ever feel as good as that!
The Public News wanted to get a feel for what it was like to dance for KiKi at one of her shows so we sat down with Naomi Goodwin (Wynter Harlow) to see what all the hype is about …
PN: What got you into burlesque dancing?
NG: I have wanted to get into this for a good 6 years. When I saw that Kiki Maroon was looking for showgirls, I knew I had to take a chance and apply! Being a part of such an amazing community of strong, uplifting people, who want to see one another succeed is what gave me the push to do my first act! Once I debuted, I was hooked! 2018, I plan to do another act.
PN: What’s your idea of sexy as burlesque has evolved so much in the modern times?
NG: I think sexy is what you just feel with each time on stage. Burlesque has always been classic and tasteful- and to have a variety of women, all shapes/sizes, and different ideas in dance- to me, being comfortable in your own skin, and the confidence that is projected- that is sexy!
PN: Who was an inspiration to you?
PN: Oh my! There are so many out there who inspire me. Kiki is one for sure- not just because she’s my showgirl boss, But because she runs a tight ship. She has amazing ideas, and knows what she’s doing- and her shows, her followers are the proof of what magic she produces!
Another inspiration to me- Chola Magnolia. She exudes sexy, and if you have never seen her perform- you must! She is the one I watch- her confidence, her energy- how she works her audience. Her energy just draws you in until the very end! Chola is an amazing burlesque performer.
PN: What’s the main thing you want to bring attention to while dancing?
NG; My goal, is to involve our audience. they are what makes a performers energy bigger- so having that connection is so important.
PN: What are you goals for your future in burlesque?
NG: Work on more performances!! My debut in October told me a lot. I fell in love with being so connected to the audience, and being on stage. Everyone was super supportive and the energy that I received back- that meant so much to me!
PN: Do you have a message for young women who are looking to perform as you do?
NG: Do it! My thoughts are, if you never go for something that you want to do, or try- you will never know what could be. I wished I did so much more earlier on. But I’m doing it now and loving every moment being part of Burly Q Lounge. The bonds I’ve made and the support from one another is beyond amazing!
PN: Is there any drawbacks or challenges in the burlesque world?
NG: I can’t really say there is any personally. I have seen nothing but love in this community for one another.
PN: What was your best experience in this field of entertainment?
NG: Right now I can say ALL OF IT! I’m having an awesome time, and loving every show! 🙂