A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the hardest working women in Philadelphia. Miss Rose. When she is not working behind the scenes in local film productions, she is producing some of the best burlesque performances the city has to offer. I first became aware of her due to her Sexploitation Follies shows, where every other month she features a different director and choreographed burlesque numbers inspired by their films.
Why make her a geek of the week? If you have attended any of her performances you would see what a hard-core film geek she really is. I was lucky enough to have attended her Dario Argento Sexploitation Follies show and was impressed at the attention to detail spent crafting a show to honor one of my all time favorite Italian horror directors.
I chatted with her not only about her many burlesque endeavors, but her thoughts on film and the phenomenon that is geek burlesque, so enjoy.
So what first interested you in burlesque and how long have you been doing it in the Philly Scene?
Well I have always been into vintage pinup. One day I discovered the “Something Weird” category on Comcast OnDemand when I was 18 years-old, and I just started watching vintage striptease videos. I watched them for a long time out of fascination and then a gentleman name Robert Brown who is one of the heads of Swellco & Swellco decided he was going to do a television pilot for a reality TV show about alternative and sideshow performers .
I heard about it and was like ‘I am going to do burlesque.’ So I spent a marathon 16 hours with my best friend and we figured out how to make a costume and drafted a pattern and sewed the costume. Then I choreographed the routine and we hung out. I went to the audition for the show and the judges were some of the people from a troupe that was here in the city and upon finishing my act they were like ‘wait, this is your first time doing this ever?’
I said yes and they said ‘join our troupe’, so I joined their troupe. That was in January of 2008 and I performed with them for 2 years and the troupe eventually broke up over some silly things, like a group of girls will tend to have. That was in October of 2009 and by January of 2010 Lil’ Steph and myself had started Bravissimo Burlesque. Bravissimo was a monthly burlesque variety show here in Philadelphia that has run the last Saturday of every month since January of 2010 without a single hitch.
That led to finding the geek world of burlesque. I started performing in Carnivolution an awesome DIY sideshow, circus extravaganza at the Tiberino Museum, which is a really cool outdoor art museum in West Philadelphia. I started in May 2008, which was my first Carnivolution and from then on I have always preformed at Carnivolution.
So how did you come up with your stage name “Miss Rose”?
Oh it’s so boring. I have a rose tattoo, actually a few of them. I was just like, ’oh, Miss Rose sounds classy, cool that is my name.’ That was it.
I guess a little of it also was as a kid, my best friend Brett which was a girl she and I would make jokes about and call our no-no place our flower or our rose, and so I thought about that a little bit too. Then it came with a great tag-line later, the flower you would love to pluck. (Laughs)
I first became aware of you events, because you started to theme your Sexploitation Follies performances after directors. What was the inspiration behind that idea? Most outfits would have probably have simply done movies, but I think doing directors showed a real geek behind the scenes. I liken it to going to the TLA as compared to Blockbuster.
(laughs) That is kind of what I wanted it to be. Blockbuster is your everyday burlesque show and the Sexploitation Follies is really for film nerds. It’s for people that are going to appreciate when you have studied the nuance of a character and brought it into your act.
I have wanted to do the Sexploitation Follies about 2 years and August 18th is when I finally decided to start it and I did the Coen Brothers first. I thought that was the perfect blend of supernerd, film geeks, but also just film lovers. The Coen brothers are such a talented filmmaking duo and everything they do is pretty fantastic.There is an exception or two here or there, we had someone do Intolerable Cruelty as an act. You know you can’t hate, these things happen.
But its really just I love film so much and I love doing burlesque, to me doing burlesque is like being able to do your own mini short films. Every time you perform you have to come up with a concept, find the music, design a costume, make your props, make a backdrop, throw it all together. The goal is to make a short 3 to 5 minute performance and embody all these concepts and the ideas with it. That is so cool to me as a dork, as someone who just loves this stuff as someone who just loves watching movies and telling stories.
Speaking of which who are some of your favorite directors that you may be tackling in the future?
Well I could tell you the lineup until June, because I am that excited. December 15th is going to be Tim Burton, February will be John Waters, April is going to be Wes Anderson, and June will be Quentin Tarantino it’s going to be huge I am so excited.
Other than that there are a lot of people I have thought about and discussed. Carpenter would be a fun one, I would also love to do Peter Jackson and that is such a wide variety. I would totally do Dead Alive, if it happens in August I will have a lawn mower and you can hold me to this. It will spew blood everywhere and there will even be drop cloth cover sheets in the front rows.
For the Sexploitation Follies I also don’t want to go too mainstream, I think Tarantino, Tim Burton and the Coen Brothers while are mainstream also have a large cult appeal as well. So I am trying to keep it in the cult realm.
So, when choosing performers is it important that they are fans of that particular director or genre?
Absolutely. In fact I have had a couple of girls that I was talking to about doing things and they seemed into it a little bit, but not too super excited. So I had to say ‘listen I appreciate your interest and the fact that you want to do these things and support my nerdiness but I want people who are really excited about it.’
So I definitely take that into consideration, but I try not to be discouraging if they aren’t the biggest fan and want to get more into it, that is definitely when I make the exception. In an ideal world I want to only book fans of the genre or director.
There seems to be a lot of “Geek” themed burlesque outfits starting up why do you think that is?
D20, Epic Win, Don Wasabassco, all of those people were around before the Sexploitation Follies started and I came into their scene. I was actually in the second D20 show. It was boardgames, I got to be Queen Frostina and it was like a dream come true.
I think its because being a geek and being a nerd is becoming cool, this is great as someone that has always been an overly passionate human being in general. Luckily most of the people that I have met that aren’t geeks will usually own up to it. I personally like that the geek thing has become more popular, because it means I can produce all sorts of things I want to produce and there is going to be an audience for it.
But I am still way too passionate for most people.
Finally, what do we have to look forward to from Miss Rose in the future?
So many things…. the January Naked Girls Reading on Sunday January 20th, is Science Fiction themed and will include myself and Hayley Jane and and many others. If you haven’t seen Hayley Jane read you’re missing out and if you haven’t seen her naked you really need to do yourself a favor and be there.
In December is the Tim Burton Sexploitation Follies on December 15th, I can promise you Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. Finally, the third Saturday in February the 16th will be John Waters Burlesque, which is perfect because when I think of love, I think about John Waters. All these events, of course will be at PhilaMOCA.