A Bit of Bettie, A Little Storm
An Austin tribute to the queens of burlesque at the Alamo Lake Creek
By Richard Whittaker, 1:26AM, Fri. Jan. 15, 2010
The starlets of the Austin burlesque scene will be donning their finest pasties this evening in homage to the one and only Bettie Page with a tribute show encore and a tease of a new documentary about the glamor icon. To get you in the mood, how about some snippets from their October 2009 performance?
The show will feature a cavalcade of clips of classic burlesque performers of the 1940s and 1950s, including Lili St. Cyr and, of course, Page herself, with highlights from 1955's classic Teaserama. In between, there will be live performances and recreations of vintage routines by The Jigglewatts and many of their friends, including fellow Austinites Ruby Rockit and Best of Austin winner Cardinal Cyn, plus Dallas' own Ginger Valentine.
Ruby Joule of the Jigglewatts will be doing her own homage to fellow redhead Tempest Storm, and she called the Chronicle to talk about what the show will reveal.
Austin Chronicle: So where did the idea for a tribute night come from?
Ruby Joule: This show was really driven by Coco Lectric. She was visiting New York City, early last year, and she met a gentleman called Mark Mori. He was a good friend of Bettie Page, and over the last 12 years of her life he was able to record audio interviews with her about her life and her work. This has now become a documentary called Bettie Page Reveals All. Mark gave Coco a DVD with a trailer for this, which is a picture of Bettie and her speaking, and he said, 'Please tell people about this, because I'm going to be finished with the film soon.' We thought, what better way to get the film out than to throw a big show, invite all our favorite performers from around Texas, and have a Bettie Page tribute. Then when we got together with the Alamo, they said, 'That's wonderful, because that's the perfect format. You're including film and dancing, we have a screen and a stage.' So all the pieces came together.
AC: Why are Bettie Page and Tempest Storm so important?
RJ: Tempest is more on the Burlesque side, but Bettie transcends boundaries. She was a fabulous model and burlesque star and fetish model. We look back to her example because she made it fun and not as scary as some people can imagine. They can look at her and her little smile and her giggle.
AC: Austin has a particularly vibrant burlesque scene, which seems to transcend individual troupes.
RJ: There's a lot of mutual support around town for each other. My experience is that it's always been like that, but I'm especially glad to see that now because last year, in 2009, the two longest running troupes in Austin, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang and Red Light Burlesque, disbanded. Members of thse two troupes are still active. In fact, we participated in a Christmas show that Venus Velvet of Kitty Kitty Bang Bang threw, and in the Bettie show we have Ruby Rockit of Red Light Burlesque. It seems like it's focused more on the individual now. Even though we're a troupe, we're a very small troupe, and we function more as individuals. That's really cool to see.
The Jigglewatts present Bettie Page Tribute Night Encore. Alamo Lake Creek Austin, Jan. 15, 7.30pm and 10.30pm; Alamo West Oak in Houston, Jan. 16, 7.30pm. Tickets $12-$15.