Kool Kat of the Week: An Egg-centric Life: Meet Jennifer Ellis and Her Grant Park Backyard Chickens on the Fifth Annual Urban Coop Tour

Posted on: Oct 3rd, 2012 By:

Jennifer Ellis and Thelma, a Barred Plymouth Rock hen.

What’s more Retro than backyard chickens? Explore this fast-growing trend in the fifth annual Urban Coop Tour, which offers a sneak peek into 13 intown gardens built around poultry. Having tasted eggs hatched by home-raised hens, ATLRetro wondered how hard it is to start a coop, so we decided to make Jennifer Ellis, whose Grant Park coop is on this year’s tour, Kool Kat of the Week. The Retro chops of the 30-year-old single woman are further enhanced by being the owner of a 1920s bungalow/fixer-upper. Despite a time-consuming day job in health care marketing/consulting, she’s found the time to build a micro-farm in her backyard, which also includes an organic vegetable garden, and according to Jennifer, it’s helped, not hurt her social life!

How did you decide to get into backyard chicken-raising? I understand that your father raised chickens, too?

I’d say my father is a retired-hippie. He’s a huge gardener, former professional landscape designer, artist, outdoorsman and hunter;  he loves all things nature and advocates the preservation of our natural resources. I’m fortunate that the green thumb is strong from each of my parents, but veggie gardening is more prevalent from my father. I grew up with veggie gardens, and gardening is just a way of life in western North Carolina where I relocated at 10 years old. People there are utilizing their land and farming to reduce food expenses.  In high school I worked in a local greenhouse owned by a local man that helped further “hone” my gardening skills in terms of propagating, dividing, pruning, pest/disease treatment, etc .

Ellis's urban coop.

I have always found it very satisfying to have garden-raised dinners, salads, breakfasts from the gardens when I returned home as an adult – but before I owned my home. Dad would send me out to the garden to pick veggies for the evening’s salad when I was home. Even after 40-plus years, my dad still seems proud and excited to do that for his family. He now sells his surplus at local markets and farm-to-table restaurants. Dad’s secret to a lush, bountiful organic garden is due to two things:  coffee grounds saved for him by the local coffee house and his chicken poop. After years of pent-up gardening energy from living in condos or apartments across the city, I needed to get my hands in my own dirt. A healthy garden starts with the soil, so chickens came first. I worked on enriching my soil as the chickens grew from day-old chicks to laying hens.

I found that you can get paralysis by analysis if you try to over-plan your coop. I found a barn builder on Craigslist that specializes in coops – I was able to pick my roof color and then painted the coop to match my house. I wanted the coop to look like a permanent, intentional structure in the yard. I’ve made adjustments – moved the nest box, added a run, etc – as needed.

Let’s talk chicken-shopping. You have eight – a silver laced Wyandotte, two buff orpingtons, two Easter eggers, a white silkie, a black frizzle, and a Plymouth Rock.  How did you pick them, find them and do the different types have different personalities like dog and cat breeds?

I wanted a diverse and interesting group of hens, but the priority was egg production. I added the two bantams – the frizzle and silkie – because they were just so cute. Unfortunately, they’re  also on the very bottom of the food chain and a local possum found my silkie especially sweet.  My Plymouth Rock is my favorite – gorgeous, sassy but tame, and great eggs! I bought from MyPetChicken.com as they came highly recommended as a reliable and responsible breeder. All my chicks arrived happy and healthy. They certainly all have different personalities. My redheads or buffs are quite bossy.

How do the chickens interact with your organic garden? Do you grow your own feed, have to be careful to fence them so they can’t get into certain vegetables? 

Ha! Very carefully. They sheared-off my spring garden multiple times. I grew all my spring veggies from heirloom seeds, and they whacked them all back. Once they learned to jump into my cedar beds, it was all over from there. They seemed to pull “chicken Houdinis” by escaping their coop every time I turned around. Once the garden grew large, I was able to let them free range again, but when veggies are small, they are kept to their run.

My neighbors two doors down used to have an urban coop, and my collie would just stare through double fences and bark at them transfixed by their movement. I understand your dog gets along great with the chickens. How did you manage that?

Six months, lots of patience and one lost chicken. When the chicks arrived, my Weimaraner – bred for bird hunting, ha! – Neims would stare though the wire top of the stock tank and literally drip drool on the chicks. I was hoping the excitement would wear down, but it didn’t. I moved them out to the coop at six or eight weeks and had to keep Neims in the house if they free-ranged. Over time, I would bring him out with me for a few minutes, but keep him restrained. I found that if I didn’t fuss over the chickens, he started to care less. I tried to teach him they were mine, not his – he likes fetching and catching balls in the air. I read that in training dogs, it’s normal to lose one or two in the process. Neims caught one little bantam pullet in his mouth when she made an erratic movement and that was a crossroad for him. He got in big trouble. Once he accepted he could eat or play with them, he wanted to then “mount” them. He gave up on mating with the chickens quickly. Today the hens [are] annoyed by him.

Eggs and vegetables from Jennifer Ellis's organic garden.

Is it expensive to run an urban coop?

I wouldn’t say expensive, but I think you have to find more value in the process or hobby than saving money, because it’s probably cheaper to buy from a grocer. My little farm is my hobby, my therapy, companionship, entertainment, my food and health. I’d love to have dwarf goats and rabbits, but I’m limited by land and the additional expense.

Do you have to get chicken-sitters when you travel?

Free eggs make for easy-to-find sitters! If I’m not gone for more than thre days, I’m  able to put out enough feed and water for them. The most time-consuming stage is raising the chicks, as they need to be checked at least once a day.

How much time does it take to run a micro farm? Do you still have time for a social life?

Not much time at all. The chickens are so easy. I check on them every day or two, but they’re simple. My garden has a drip-line irrigation system [www.mrdrip.com] that I designed and installed by myself, which is set on a timer. It’s fair to say I could spend as much as or as little time as I like in the yard, but it takes planning and preparation.

Depending on the time of the year – spring and early fall – my garden IS part of my social life. I enjoy entertaining people in my backyard. The “girls” receive visitors from all over – my friends have their favorites. And I have friends that like to help in the yard from time to time. I couldn’t have gotten my garden and coop up and running without the help of friends.

What has been the most surprisingly fun or funniest thing about running an urban coop?

In the spring, when I’m in the garden tilling or planting, I have a couple of girls that sit and wait for me to uncover bugs. I don’t even have to pick them up. If I turn over a grub, they dart in to grab it and return to their post.  Smart girls!  They’re very entertaining and have a lot of personality.

The Urban Coop Tour is sponsored by The Wylde Center and Georgia Organics. Advance tickets are $15 (online only) for Wylde Center members and $20 for non-members. Children 12 and under are free. Day of Tour tickets are $25 for adults and available at The Wylde Center.

All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Ellis.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics Owner Kellyn Willey Talks Sexy Eye-Liner and Sells Lemonade for a Great Cause

Posted on: Jul 6th, 2011 By:

Kellyn Willey, owner of Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics. All photos courtesy of Kellyn Willey.

Warning. If you drive down Boulevard near Grant Park on Friday between 2 and 9 p.m., Kellyn Willey doesn’t want you to get distracted by the bevy of beauties selling lemonade in front of the red storefront of Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics and wreck the car. Instead, stay safe and beat the heat by stopping a while to sip some refreshing juice and support animal shelters and nonprofit rescue groups.

While Kellyn didn’t found the boutique which aims to help any gal capture the glamorous look of the movie stars of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, but since 2009 when she took over as owner, she’s been living a dream come true. She was hired as a make-up artist/shop girl with little responsibility in 2007, but her talents in photography and graphic design helped persuade her boss not just to promote the then-just-23-year-old to manager but eventually to take over the entire business. In just a couple of years and proving that Retro style is timeless and recession-proof, Kellyn moved Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics to Grant Park, tripled the square footage and partnered with Christine Starr Cookus’s Lucky Starr to sell vintage clothes on site as well.

ATLRetro caught up with Kellyn recently to find out more about Ernie’s Lemonade Stand and what’s new with Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics, as well as get a few make-up tips and keep up with her upcoming misadventures in her alter-ego as Madame Willey of burlesque troupe Minette Magnifique.

What’s Ernie’s Lemonade Stand and why should ATLRetro readers be sure to drop by on Friday?

Ernie’s Lemonade Stand is the brainchild of myself, Jillian Udelson and Liz Henderson—two major advocates for rescuing animals on a local and global scale. I was just speaking with them a few weeks ago at a photo shoot I was doing with Jillian and Liz’s pit [bull], Dash, about how I have an annual lemonade stand, complete with genuine pin-up girls as servers, in front of my shop to bring in extra business. We just thought giving it an actual cause to support was an exciting way to bring new attention to it.

Is that also a good time to take a look around the shop? Anything new you’d like us to notice?

Absolutely, my newest vendor, Lucky Starr, who sells incredible vintage apparel for both men and women at unbeatable prices is having her huge SUMMER BLOWOUT SALE! It’s 25% OFF everything she has and we will also be doing the same in my shop with various vintage-inspired corsets size S-XXL, stockings, ruffle panties, hair accessories, jewelry and even cosmetics!

How’s it going having Lucky Starr as a partner? You’ve been together now for six months, rights?

I <3 Christine, owner of Lucky Starr! I can’t imagine having my business without her. She adds a flavor of authenticity to my boutique which truly gives our customers that feeling of being swept away to Paris and stumbling into a tucked away, chic yet naughty little boutique with everything you’ve been looking for as a fashionable woman, since you were a young girl.

How did you first get interested in glamorous make-up and hair? Is it a love that goes back to childhood dress-up or did someone inspire you?

My mother really. She is still the most glamorous woman I know and she takes such amazing care of herself. She taught me that you CAN have it all as a woman. You can have a career, family and be beautiful all at the same time. Her biggest secret to her success was waking up early. She always taught me to wake up early—like two to four hours earlier than wherever you have to be first in the morning—and take care of YOURSELF FIRST! Whether it’s doing your hair, makeup, working out, eating a balanced breakfast, meditating or all the above. The morning time is the best time for “me-time”.

 

 

 

Kellyn in her Madame Willey persona poses with some members of Minette Magnifique.

 

 

 

Does Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics only do appointments or are walk-ins welcome, and about how much does it cost to have a makeover?

We mainly are by appointment only, but we accept walk-ins for all beauty services. The one and only PinUpGirl! Makeover costs $85 and includes full vintage hair styling, makeup, brow sculpting, false lashes and a spa quality skin prep. During the warmer months, we also apply a flexible sealant spray to your makeup after it’s completed to hold it in place for hours and hours against perspiration, humidity and smudging at no extra charge.

What’s the most fun makeover you’ve done and why?

I love giving makeovers to people who never have the opportunity to treat themselves. I guess one of my more fun makeovers was a client in her 60s who was a teacher, a breast cancer survivor and had been growing her hair back from the numerous chemotherapy treatments. She just came out radiant, and her smile blossomed the second I got her on set. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing clients enjoying to look in the mirror at themselves and simply smile.

Who are your clients—burlesque queens, theater performers or just ordinary women who want a little glamour in their lives? Do you have a typical client?

All the above. Our most popular client, on average, is in their mid-30s and looking to glam up their life with something more unique and tailored to their personality. Unlike many other beauty bars, my staff and I really get to know our client, even if they are only with us for a few minutes. We give the client what they are looking and make them feel self-assured.

Who’s your favorite vintage pin-up girl and why?

The incomparable Rita Hayworth. She knew how to turn it on, and she made it all look so easy. She could either be soft and innocent with her wide eyes and bright smile making you feel so joyful and carefree like in her musical, COVER GIRL, with Gene Kelly. Or she can smolder and sizzle with her luscious curves and quick yet perfectly timed hair flips in GILDA. She really teaches us women how fun it is to be a woman, and when you are having fun, you are confident and confidence is so very sexy!

What’s the biggest make-up mistake women make when trying for a vintage look and how can you correct it?

The cursed black cat eye. The look that we see Dita wear as her signature style. So many woman don’t find the right type of liner or the curve of the wing off the eye lid is too curvy or large. My best trick to fixing this common mistake is using a felt-tip liquid eye liner. My favorite liner for the perfect cat eye is by NYX Cosmetics called “Super FAT Eye Marker” sold at ULTA. It’s around $6 and HUGE and takes me less than 30 seconds for the perfect cat eye. If you don’t like a fat line or have smaller eyes, this product also comes in a “skinny” marker. It’s the BEST felt marker liner I’ve ever used and lasts all day, even in the heat. It’s so gentle that I can even line the bottom lash-line of my eyes. It’s instant sex appeal.

Performing with Minette Magnifique.

We have a few private events this month, and next Saturday, July 16, Miss Darcy Lemmonier and Luna Lynxx are performing in the Shakespeare Follies at 7 Stages. It’s going to be a great show and the girls have some new pieces to share. Many more shows and appearances to come in the fall.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta March 7-13

Posted on: Mar 7th, 2011 By:

Wow, there’s a lot flying and frying this week Retro-wise in Atlanta from Phoenix Flies to Southern Fried Burlesque Fest to a host of pop and rock performers who got their start in the ’80s. Here’s your weekly guide to where and why to get out…

Monday March 7

Atlanta Preservation Center continues its annual The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, so-named after the iconic symbol of Atlanta—the mythical bird that burns and is reborn similar to the city post-Civil War. The event which runs through March 20 offers a chance to take its neighborhood historical walking tours for free, as well as experience additional behind-the-scenes peeks inside Atlanta’s most famous buildings of eras gone by. Today’s tours include The Temple synagogue (1930), designed by legendary Atlanta architect Philip Trammel Shutze at 10:30 AM; the Gothic revival Peachtree Christian Church (1925) at noon; and Grant Park at 5 PM. Reservations are recommended. After dark, Joe Gransden & his smokin’ 16-piece orchestra present another Big Band Night of jazz at Café 290, featuring Sinatra, Bennett, Basie and Joe’s originals. Blues chanteuse Francine Reed is back at Cafe CircaNorthside Tavern hosts a Blues Jam.

Tuesday March 8

Phoenix Flies features the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center (AHC), site of lavish parties in the 1920s and ’30s; other AHC facilities such as the 1840 Tullie Smith Farm and Cherokee Garden Library and Kenan Research Center, which both house rare photos and documents of Atlanta history; neoclassic First Church of Christ, Scientist (cornerstone laid 1903); Hinman Home (1896), now Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast; Midtown’s The Castle; a general Historic Midtown tour; and Wimbish House (1906), one of the last remaining homes on Peachtree Street’s once posh Mansion Row now the headquarters of Atlanta Women’s Club.

Splatter Cinema presents 1980s vampire classic NEAR DARK at 9:30 PM. Read Mark Arson’s Retro Revue to see why you shouldn’t miss this hard-edged horror Western directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow and starring Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Fedora Blues plays Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 9

Phoenix Flies tours the Fabulous Fox Theatre and offers a rare peek inside The Herndon Home, a beautiful 1910 mansion built by Atlanta’s first African-American millionaire Alonzo Herndon which has many eclectic aspects thanks also to his drama teacher wife Adrienne who would put on theater productions occasionally on the roof.

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Catch Joe Gransden every Wednesday night at 8:30 PM at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. The Hollidays bring on the blues at Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. Cover band ’80s Band of Destiny is in the Atlanta Room at Smith’s Olde Bar.

Thursday March 10

Stonehenge Mansion, one of today's Phoenix Flies tours.

Another busy day for Phoenix Flies including tours of Fox Theatre; early Edgewood-Candler Park; Unseen Underground exploring parts of the old railway lines and viaduct system not usually open to public view; Burns Club (1910), a replica of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth home with Burns poetry reading; City Hall; Stonehenge Mansion & Sanctuary, a Gothic mansion in Druid Hills built as a residence but now houses St. John’s Lutheran Church; and the Georgia Capitol.

The first annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest kicks off with the Atlanta premiere of award-winning documentary DIRTY MARTINI & THE NEW BURLESQUE, with a Q&A afterwards with director Gary Beeber and Neo-Burlesque Revival superstar Dirty Martini, at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Decatur. Be sure to read our fest preview here. Chickens and Pigs play Pho Truc in Clarkston from 8-10 PM. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge.  Breeze Kings and Chicken Shack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

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Weekend Update March 4-6

Posted on: Mar 4th, 2011 By:

Decided it might make more sense to run Weekend Update on Friday mornings than on Thursdays. You can still find out about Thursday activities, of course, in This Week in Retro Atlanta on Mondays. And of course, you can plan ahead for the whole weekend.

Friday March 4

Blair Crimmins.

Legendary pianist George Winston tickles the ivories at Variety PlayhouseBlair Crimmins and the Hookers provide a 1920s Vaudeville atmosphere during amagical Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX themed“Night of the Kraken” tying in with its current MYTHIC CREATURES: DRAGONS, UNICORNS AND MERMAIDS special exhibition which will be open for viewing that night. Also, hear they’ll be serving up special mythic-themed cocktails, including a Krakentini, featuring Kraken rum, Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Professor Morte will be a special guest, and there’s a costume contest planned, too, so don your most mythical duds. Just about to post a last-minute interview with Blair about the fanciful festivities, so be sure to check that out.

Celebrate Mardi Gras early and decadently, or rather BART-I GRAS, with the insane crew of Avondale Estates’ Bart Webb Studios and the sexy and sassy Syrens of the South, Big Easy cuisine provided by Zatarain’s, beads, masks, and the first Bart-i Bra contest where the best decorated bra will be judged to crown the first Queen or King of Bart-i Gras.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta – Feb. 28 – March 6, 2011

Posted on: Feb 28th, 2011 By:

The Retro action in Atlanta isn’t quite as sizzling as last week, making it a great time to check out some of the ongoing great weekly events that pay tribute to vintage jazz, blues, funk and country. Or catch up on your city history with The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, starting Saturday.

Monday Feb. 28

It’s definitely worth braving the showers to hear the vivacious voice of blues chanteuse Francine Reed at Cafe Circa in the Old Fourth Ward. And there’s a Blues Jam at Northside Tavern.

Tuesday March 1

Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 2

Every Wednesday in March, The Hollidays bring their modern take on classic ‘60s soul, garage, rock ‘n’ roll and obscure blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck plays the blues at Northside Tavern. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Joe Gransden is off but jazz is still on the menu with Scott Glazer and the Real All-Stars at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. The Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Club meets at a new venue, Melton’s App & Tap, in Decatur, at 8 PM. Topic is how to do (and not do) a photoshoot with opportunity to speak to professional photographers and pin-up professionals.

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Kool Kat Of The Week: Shellie Schmals, Minette Magnifique – Atlanta’s Baroness of Burlesque

Posted on: Feb 7th, 2011 By:

Minette Magnifique may be Atlanta’s youngest burlesque troupe, but these voluptuous vixens, true to their motto “the art of delectable dance, sans the pants,” are fast forging their own ravishing reputation. Shellie Schmals, aka Baroness VONSchmalhausen, shares a few secrets about her stage and other personas, as well as a tantalizing peek behind the tassles of the House of Minette’s Valentine’s spectacular, FROM PARIS WITH LOVE, Friday Feb. 11 at Le Fais do-do in west Midtown.

Shellie Schmals of Minette Magnifique. Photo credit: Jordan Barclay

ATLRetro: How did you personally become interested in burlesque and when did you start performing?

Shellie Schmals: As a little girl, I saw the iconic image of Bettie Page and was entranced. She looked so sweet, but she was also extremely sexy in a way that wasn’t popular in 1980s mainstream media. I identified with her more than Christy Brinkley or Cindy Crawford. Living with a family of antique collectors, I was surrounded by pinup advertising of the 1940s and 50s – which I adored too. Somehow, I just always knew burlesque was there but never knew how to find it.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I was introduced to the Atlanta burlesque scene by the Syrens of the South. We collaborated on a comedy and burlesque show at Relapse Theatre, and I performed one comedic burlesque [act] under the stage name “Mrs. Velma NoHeart.” After that show, I was still very interested in performing. The right opportunity and role didn’t come along again until January 2010, when my Minette Co-Founder, Kellyn Willey (Madame Willey) was starting up another troupe and we knew we needed to combine our creative forces. Our first Minette show was on May 1, 2010 and we’ve been on fire ever since!

You dance and emcee under the show name, Baroness VONSchmalhausen? Can you share a little bit about her and how she came to join Minette Magnifique?

Photo credit: Offhand Photography

In 2006, I started my event production and marketing company VONschmalhausen, named after my family’s name before it got chopped up at Ellis Island at the turn of the century in the 1900s. My ancestors were from Poland and Hungary and I really wanted to honor my Jewish heritage. VONschmalhausen literally means “of the small house” and my tag line became “small house * BIG IDEAS” – how could it not be??!!

Since then, VONschmalhausen has grown into a brand for all my events, performance and projects. When it was time for me to name my burlesque character, Baroness VONschmalhausen seemed the obvious choice. My Baroness VONschmalhausen persona is still me, but bolder with a lot more sparkles. Although I enjoy raunchy and vulgar humor, it never sounds right when I say it. If I were to pick words that describe Baroness: elegance, innocence, sly humor, dirty innuendos with a smile, double entendres with a wink, and poetry with a little slapstick.

 

For that matter, what’s the origin of Minette Magnifique? Did I hear right that the troupe got started in New Orleans?

In the rich tradition of vaudeville performers, we rewrote our history. Each performer scribed a bio that speaks to who their characters are, and we did the same thing for the troupe itself. Although we might not come from New Orleans, our spirit lives there.

Minette Magnifique, and/or the House of Minette, is a really creative name for a burlesque troupe. Is there a story behind how you selected it?

Naming Minette Magnifique is an example of how beautifully Madame Willey and I collaborate together. Madame Willey was enthralled with the first name “Minette”, as it has multiple identities as an girl’s name (which means “protector”) and as the French slang for a girl who is all dolled up. We didn’t want to give ourselves the traditional moniker of Minette Burlesque, because we felt it was too restrictive. Being the alliteration junkie that I am, “Magnifique” came to me almost from divine intervention.

I started calling us “The House of Minette” as a way to bring all the performers and members of Minette on stage at the end of a show. The phrase is very grand, invoking images that are regal, with a splash of bordello. Just like us!

 

Blast-Off Burlesque has a wacky pop culture edge and Dames Aflame have embraced the showgirl aesthetic. How would you describe Minette Magnifique’s unique niche in the Atlanta burlesque scene?

I would describe Minette as theatrical and comical, sexy and sultry, vintage with a contemporary appeal. We love romance, sparkles, glitter, glamour and paying homage to the golden era of performers who graced the burlesque stage, pinup calendars and golden age of the silver screen.

Minette Magnifique’s Website bills FROM PARIS WITH LOVE as “a romantic, Parisian-inspired evening of musical and magical entertainment.” Can you divulge a little bit about what audiences can expect when it comes both to music and magic?

Our venue Le Fais do-do, is the perfect setting for us. It sets the mood for the Minette routines – each dancer selects their own music, and each girl was inspired from vintage French music. Expect to see a lot of interaction between the dancers. Mimi de Milo and Portia Lynn Dahl are performing a sister act. Vyolet Venom will be singing. Expect BIG SMILES, NEW DANCE MOVES and TWIRLING TASSELS!!

Would you tantalize us with a sneak preview of your own acts this Friday?

I’m excited to be performing two routines with our guest emcee, Mr. Tonguelinguist, my dear friend and improv co-hort, Jeff Wisard. I’ll be swept off my feet and into the lap of love!!

What about your emcee persona? How do you get into character and do you script it all out in advance or play it more improv?

Getting into character starts a few hours before show time, I’m very much in my head and am pretty quiet. As soon as I hit the stage to greet the audience with my signature phrase “Good evening ladies and lords …,” I’m in there, alive and in the moment. A shot of Jager always helps, too!!

I LOVE writing our shows. Before each dancer performs, I give a little intro that sets the scene for our audience. Since all of our Minette shows are themes, it’s a fun challenge to write something saucy and unique for each dancer, that not only describes their personality but also puts a time and a place on a routine. You can be sexy and just dance, but it’s even sexier to know the inner thoughts of the performer and create the world around them.

My role as Minette emcee is more of a storyteller, so much of it is scripted. Although, I play with the audience and improv as well. Most emcees announce the dancer’s credentials. We decided collectively that we wanted something different and my role has evolved with that. I’m very versatile though, and have emceed for many events without a script or notes – just going off the cuff and enjoying the energy from the audience.

Who are the guest performers for this week’s show?

We are thrilled to have Blair Crimmins, as our musical guest. He’ll be performing with Darcy Lemmonier, as she debuts a new routine. Blair’s music embodies everything that Minette is about: whisking the audience member back to a time where romance prevailed, the music was big and bawdy, and life was, too.

Joining us also will be Chad Sanborn, as our guest magician. Chad’s charisma and creativity provide an added touch that is going to make this show special and different. We’ll also be using Chad throughout the evening to help heighten our storyline.

My guest co-host for our Paris show is Mr. Tonguelinguist, [as noted previously, otherwise known as my improv buddy, Jeff Wisard]. Jeff did a guest spot with us in December as a boy toy and we loved him so much, we asked him back in a larger role! I’m excited to work with Jeff in this new capactiy too. We’ve been improv’ing together for years.

What’s next for you and Minette Magnifique?
As a troupe, Minette feels very strongly about the importance of giving back to others. In 2010, we participated in benefits for The Rainbow Center, PinUp for Pitbulls, Living Walls and Hurricane Katrina. Our next performance will be Friday, February 18 at Carnivale: A Benefit for Actor’s Express. This is a great opportunity to support the creative endeavours of our peers in the entertainment community.

When you’re not performing, what else do you do for work and play?

I can’t gush enough about my job. I work at a fabulous organization, ART PAPERS, as the director of development + public relations. ART PAPERS exists to provide an independent and accessible forum for ideas on contemporary art. I am coming off the heels of our weekend-long Art Auction fundraiser and am still jonesing on an adrenaline rush.

My heart also belongs to Relapse Theatre. I volunteer my time as director of community affairs  [and] I manage all the social media and community service/social projects that happen within our walls and in the Atlanta area. I’m also lucky enough to perform with 2Girls3Eyes, a talented group of improv performers, every Friday night on the Relapse stage.

And I, like, LOVE to shop!!! I’ve been surrounded by antiques my whole life. As a child, I would frequent garage sales, estate sales and flea markets with my parents looking for gold amongst the ruins. I was fortunate enough to amass a collection of vintage jewelry from the 1920s-1970s called VINTAGEsparkles by VONschmalhausen that is available for rental with photo shoots by PinUpGirl! Cosmetics in Grant Park.

More Secrets About Shellie:

Favorite Retro Movie: FREAKS by Tod Browning

Favorite Retro Musicians: The Beatles, The Shangri-Las

Favorite Retro Song to Dance to: “Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper

Favorite Retro Book: VALLEY OF THE DOLLS by Jacqueline Susann

Inspirational Burlesque Performers (Vintage Or Present-Day): Gypsy Rose Lee, Mae West, Bettie Page, Indigo Blue

Purchase tickets for FROM PARIS WITH LOVE here.

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