Kool Kat of the Week: Dancin’ to His Own Boylesque Beat: Russell Bruner Takes Off His Top Hat and More at Southern Fried

Posted on: Mar 20th, 2013 By:

Russell Bruner, Reigning King of Burlesque. Photo credit: Insomniac Studios

Stars both of the Burlesque Revival and of classic tease arrive in Atlanta this week for the third annual Southern Fried Burlesque Festival Thurs. March 21-24 at  the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria. Read our full festival preview here.

Just a quick glance at the line-up suggests this year will be just as good performance-wise as the first two, if not even better. But we have to admit that we’re especially excited to see Portland, Oregon’s Russell Bruner, reigning King of Burlesque, at the Free Range Burlesque show on Fri. March 22, after seeing him perform at our own Kool Kat Kitty Love‘s first Sultry Sunday of the year back in January. Male exotic dancers may be notoriously boring, but dressed in a pin-stripe seersucker suit, top hat and debonair curled moustache, let’s just say Russell wasn’t just sexy but sassy–really capturing the spirit of the tease in ways that most male dancers simply don’t. Of course, that underlines the essential difference between burlesque, or in this case “boylesque,” and striptease/exotic dance. Burlesque comes from vaudeville and variety and is all about having fun–which, well, they say gals love a guy with a sense of humor.

A little online research revealed that Bruner is a Vancouver, Washington native and Mormon-raised boy who eschewed football for the cheer squad and comes to burlesque via swing dance (He won a trophy at the Balboa Tempo Marathon in 2006) and a stint as the acrobatic Villain of Portland’s Wanderlust Circus. Needless to say, we had to make him Kool Kat of the Week just to find out more about what drew him from a tech career with a dancing hobby to a professional performer, how he developed his unique style, his influences and his act at SFBF!

So you were working for Intel, your job ended and you ran away to join the circus? Is that basically how your career in burlesque/variety got started? 

Well, the electrical engineering field wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed the work, but kept thinking about how if I was ever going to do performance art, I should do it before I get any older.

Russell Bruner, Master of the Hat and Cane Routine. Photo credit: Adam Scherer.

Just about every lady I know thinks there’s nothing duller than watching a Chippendale. You have a completely different look and approach to dancing off your clothes. To what extent do you think that playing against the expected is the key to your success? 

You’re right, I’m no Chippendale. I cater to the audience as I understand them with what I have to offer. I’m not playing against the idea of the Chippendale; I’m just more turned on by men like Gene Kelly, Tom Waits and Ray Bolger.

Your routines remind me of a cross between Fred Astaire – who also danced with a hat rack in a famous number and you’ve said is an inspiration -to ‘20s comedy cinema actors like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. Did you grow up on classic movies with dance and comedy numbers or when/how did you discover them? How influential are they on your routines? 

I didn’t see very many movies or see much television growing up, but there was this great movie place that I discovered when I first moved to Portland that’s called Movie Madness. They have nearly everything with Fred Astaire, WC Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, etc. I’ve since taken advantage of the inspiration found there, and in other sources that have old vaudeville acts film.

Were you at all nervous when you first stripped down? Any advice to men who want to do burlesque but are a little shy about it? 

I was nervous about it. Any time I do something in front of an audience for the first time I’m always concerned about things going well. If someone is shy about performing, I think it’s normal and shows they too have concern for doing well.

Who are your inspirations, either male or female, classic or revival, in burlesque?

Aside from the mentioned persons of yesteryear, for males, I am inspired by Leapin’ Louie Lichtenstein, Armitage Shanks, the Stage Door Johnnies, Burlesquire, Tod Alan, Evil Hate Monkey, Mr. Gorgeous, Waxie Moon, Captain Kidd, Curtis Carlyle, Dahktur Sick, Jonathan Burns, Scott Maxwell, Luther Bangert, Nanda, Neil E Dee, Funny Eddie Dot Com, Bobbie Burlesque, Bellini Twins, Charlie Brown the Juggler, Donny Vomit, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Ben Delacreme, Jasper St. James, the cast of Meatfest in LA, the Boxers are Brief Boylesk, William Batty in Wanderlust Circus, and many others. All those are variety performers and not necessarily burlesque. The women that inspire me is a much longer list, so let me get back to you on that when I have more time to list everyone.

Russell Bruner. Photo credit: PEZ Photo.

Where/when was your favorite performance and what made it so special?

My last performance with the Carnivalesque Tour at State Theater in Falls Church, VA, was a recent favorite of mine. It was special because it was the last show of a great run. I had a lot of fun working with Gilded Lily Burlesque & Co., and I really enjoyed the spacious stage with a nice wood floor. I really enjoy performing on stages with nice wood floors.

Without ruining any surprises, what can you tease us about your performance at SFBF? 

I think we’ve already given away that it involves working a hat rack like Fred Astaire. So other than hanging my hat up, you’ll also see some nice cane work.

What’s the secret of coiffing the perfect moustache? 

I use beeswax. I’m constantly running out of it or losing it as I’m on the road a lot, so I’m constantly using different products that have beeswax in it, and I use a woman’s personal trimmer that looks like a vibrator to trim it. And I just futz with it a lot. I stopped making circles at the ends because I can never get them to match so now I do more of a Salvador Dali type of styling.

Finally, what question do you wish someone would ask you to do but they never do? And of course, what’s the answer? 

I do wish I’d be asked to perform my partner acts more often. It’s harder to fit it in the budget for promoters and sometimes the stages are too small, but I enjoy doing partner acts the most. I would love to perform partner dance acts more often on the road.

 

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shop Around: Hats On to Jaime Ladet of Hustle n Bustle!

Posted on: Jan 13th, 2012 By:

Photo credit: Rose Riot. www.roseriotphotgraphy.com

By Jennifer Belgard
Contributing Writer

With the playful charms of Charlie Chaplin and the seductive eyes of Theda Bara, Jaime Ladet is a modern gamine plucked out of a Western/science fiction/fantasy movie.  An artist and crafter, photographer, musician and beekeeper.  A fire performer with one foot planted firmly in Vaudeville, the other in a neotribal circus.  She is a gypsy weaving between eras. She thrives in this one, but there’s no question her heart lies in days gone by.  This blend of styles and eccentric personality is what sets her accessory line, Hustle n Bustle, apart from the rest.  I was lucky enough to steal a bit of her time this week to share with you.

ATLRetro:  Tell me a little about yourself.

Jaime Ladet:  I am a designer, performer and photographer.  I create fascinators, cocktail hats, tiny top hats, headdresses and floral hair adornments for Hustle n Bustle.  I grew up in the theatre.  Tagging along with my aunt to her rehearsals and shows, I’d tuck myself away in the balcony behind the spotlight to watch.  Costumes and hats were a huge attraction for me.  I loved to spend time in the costume room on the second floor of the theatre digging for treasure.  I first performed as a showgirl at the age of 15 in a Western saloon, clad in ruffles and stripes with a small shooter pistol tucked in my garter.  These days I perform circus and sideshow arts, fire-dancing, aerial and burlesque as a part of the Hot Toddies Flaming Cabaret.  The creations that do not make it to Hustle n Bustle are the one-of-a-kind costume pieces created for special events and Hot Toddies performances.

What led to the creation of Hustle n Bustle?

Hustle n Bustle was born to fill a need.  As I designed custom pieces for events, people would stop me and compliment me on my adornments.  They would often ask where I had acquired the creations I was wearing.  When I replied that I made them, they would ask for my business card.  Hustle n Bustle is for women drawn to vintage glamour, romance and shiny things.

You also do custom pieces.  Any exciting new projects?

Yes!  I love to work with people to bring their vision into reality.  From simple, elegant pieces to extravagant showstoppers.  I’m always working on new creations.  In the coming months, I have a variety of projects ranging from stilt costumes to bridal headpieces.

What keeps you inspired?

I am continually inspired by uncovering relics of the past through old photographs and movies.  I am also inspired by objects that I find.  I work a lot with floral elements, feathers, and things that sparkle.  Just yesterday my grandmother sent me a package containing old buttons, rhinestone pieces and a sequined applique from a dress made for her when she was a girl by her grandmother.

Photo credit: StunGun Photography. www.stungunphotography.smugmug.com/

Stefan’s Vintage Clothing in Little 5 Points.  I have found some of my favorite pieces there for both costumes and everyday wear.

Hustle n Bustle is available at Libertine in Little 5 Points or online at www.hustlenbustle.com. Visit www.fireonthemidway.com to view booking information for the Hot Toddies Flaming Cabaret and a schedule of their upcoming events.

 

Jennifer Belgard is Co-Conspirator at Libertine, Curator of Curios at Diamond*Star*Halo,  Barkeep at Euclid Avenue Yacht Club, and Co-Coordinator of Chaos for the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade & Festival.  In her spare time she enjoys Turnin’ TriXXX and playing Queen of Your Distraction.

 

 

Category: Shop Around | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

© 2019 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress