The stars of the world’s original all-moms burlesque revue are letting their hair (and tops) down for a holiday-themed performance on December 26th. “Hot Mamas Do the Holidays” will feature performances by Little Brooklyn, Kat Mon Dieu, the Incredible Edible Akynos and other veteran burlesquers who also happen to be New York City moms. Believing that sexiness doesn’t stop after you have children, the host of the show, Raven Snook, founded the Hot Mama troupe in 2008, as themed burlesque shows were gaining popularity. We asked the performer, who also edits and blogs for Mommy Poppins, a few questions about her passion for the burlesque art form.
What first made you want to get involved with Burlesque?
I had been performing on and off my whole life…I did a lot of cabaret. When I was in my twenties, I made the rounds auditioning for traditional musical theater. It never really worked, because I had this big Ethel Merman voice, Elvira’s style…and Lenny Bruce’s mouth. I [wanted to] bring that all together in a venue that would showcase me the right way. In 2003, I did my first burlesque hosting gig for Red Hots Burlesque (now based in San Francisco). I was nervous, but when I got up there it was really very natural for me. It was a place where I could sing the way I sing, look the way I look, and say lots of bad words and everybody ate it up.
What is your favorite thing about burlesque as an art form?
That anything goes. There really are very few limitations…on what you can do onstage when you’re doing burlesque. It encompasses a variety of skills…it becomes a blanket term for all kinds of performances.
What made you want to start an all-moms burlesque troupe?
Part of it was self-serving, because I knew that, like me, a lot of other moms out there who did burlesque had less time to devote to performing. We’re busy; we’ve got kids. Everyone who does the show has a career beyond burlesque, too. Hot Mama was a way that we could all still get up on stage. Also…I wanted to remind the world that moms are still sexy, that we haven’t lost that side of ourselves. We still like the spotlight sometimes; it not just all about our kids. This is our night.
How can moms get involved with burlesque?
If you’re in New York City, the first thing to do is to go to Jo “Boobs” Weldon’s New York School of Burlesque …They give classes on absolutely every aspect of burlesque. There are intro classes where you learn some basic moves and also how to create a persona and a character. You [also] do a semester-end performance. There are burlesque schools popping up all over the country, but I really think nothing compares to the kind of lessons you’ll get at the New York School of Burlesque.
You edit and blog for Mommy Poppins, as well as other family publications. How did you make the transition from downtown performer to mainstream family writer?
I had always pursued both things simultaneously, so it’s not like an either/or situation. I have been writing professionally since I was a teenager…I started at the Village Voice when I was 18. I never made my living as a performer, that was always something I did for fun. So, it wasn’t really as much of a transition. I always did both and now I parent, too!
Burlesque performers have great stage names. Do you have a favorite?
It’s so hard to choose! To me, the best burlesque names are like the best drag queen names, they’re puns like Anita Cocktail (say it out loud—you’ll get it) or Miss Understood. I never came up with a burlesque name. Raven Snook is my “real” name, although not if you ask my mother. Rebecca was my birth name, but I’ve been going by Raven ever since I was a 14-year-old Goth. My then-boyfriend gave it to me… best thing he ever gave me.
As an editor and a writer, you cover a lot of ground in the parenting space. What’s one of your favorite stories you were involved in this year?
I was very proud of the Mommy Poppins post I did on inBloom, the controversial cloud-based data system that’s being rolled out by the New York State Education Department. On a lighter note, I’m pleased with the way my slide show of the best holiday houses in NYC turned out this year. And if you’ll allow me one last self-promotional plug, I loved researching and writing this Publishers Weekly article about children’s books adapted into stage shows.
Hot Mamas Do the Holidays takes place on Thursday, December 26 at 8pm at the Kraine Theatre, 85 East 4th Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, but you can buy $10 2-for-1 advance tickets online at SmartTix.