Kool Kat of the Week: From Batman to Burlesque: Stormy Knight Plays Nice and Naughty at Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge

Posted on: Dec 13th, 2012 By:

Stormy Knight. Photo credit: Jeffrey Ling.

Holy smokin’! One of Retro Atlanta’s coolest ongoing events, Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge, will be shakin’, rattle and rolling its fifth anniversary this Sat. Dec. 15 at The Masquerade. Doors open at 9 p.m., The Sideburners (formerly Junior Dolan & Cash) are headlining, Reverend Andy will be spinning, free jello shots will fly, vendors such as East Atlanta’s Grease Monkeys and jeweler extraordinaire Jezebel Blue will help you with your retro revival holiday shopping, the usual Ragin’ Raffle will be drawn and the entire shindig will be topped off with a bright red maraschino cherry: a Christmas-themed burlesque show at midnight. The latter, as usual is emceed by Miss Mason, and performers include Stormy Knight, Hada Pixie, Scarlett Page and Miss Kitty Love. All for a bargain cover price of 10 bucks!

Seeing that the holidays are a time for unwrapping and staying warm by a hot fire, ATLRetro thought this would be the perfect time of year to make our Kool Kat of the Week that red-hot performer named Miss Stormy Knight. We caught up with her recently to find out more about what drives her to dance, her soft spot for sci-fi and to get a tease about this holiday-inspired Rockabilly Lounge

What about you as a little girl would have predicted your future as a burlesque performer?

I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember and the burlesque, belly dance, and other performance arts that I do grew out of that love of creating something unique and beautiful. The fact that I get to share this lifetime love with others is an added bonus!

How did you decide upon the stage name of Stormy Knight and how does it reflect your unique style?

I’ve always loved listening to storms and the fact that they can be so many things — anything from thunderous and intense to relatively soft and light. There is great diversity in what storms are and they cannot be caged or contained. As a performer, I love the energy and diversity in my acts and love to explore different performance styles.

Nighttime is my favorite time of the day; it seems that my muse wakes up as soon as the sun goes down! Also—and here is where my geek comes out to play—my favorite comic book character has always been Batman. Since he is also known as the Dark Knight, I incorporated that spelling into my name as a little inside joke to myself.

Stormy Knight. Photo credit: Van Brown/Soul of View Photography.

When did you first perform burlesque onstage, and is there any story about how you got that first gig?

I have been on various stages since late teens and started belly dancing and doing various fetish and martial arts performances under the name Starphoenix 15 years ago. I originally joined Big City Burlesque many years ago as a bellydancer and performance artist, but soon fell in love with the burlesque art form so much that I added it to my repertoire.

Can you name one classic and one contemporary burlesque performer who is an inspiration to you and why?

Why choose just one? Sally Rand, Mae West and Satan’s Angel have been big influences on me. All three pushed boundaries, and when faced with opposition in something they wanted to achieve, they simply went about it in a new way. None of them compromised on their performances and were very forward for their times. Between the three of them, there was plenty of glamour, innovation, intelligence and ballsy wit. I have had the honor of meeting Satan’s Angel and learned quite a bit in a short time with this bluntly honest Legend.

As for contemporary performers? To narrow it down, I’ve got to ponder that one for a minute. There are so many. Catherine D’Lish is a big influence on my level of costuming. She pours her heart into her creations, and they look amazing. One day I hope to be able to create on the scale that she does. One of my inspirations is a fairly new performer who has an immense amount of raw talent and dedication. Every time I watch her perform, I am re-inspired by the creativity and imagination that she brings to her acts. I met her while working with Big Mamma D’s House of Burlesque [Charlotte, NC], of which she is a member, and am privileged to call her friend: Silver Kitsune.

You’ve recently been very instrumental in organizing burlesque shows at science fiction cons such as DragonCon and Anime Weekend Atlanta. What does sci-fi mean to you, and how have those shows gone over with fandom?

I am a huge geek. Yes, in fact I proclaim it loudly! And I have been involved with both conventions, as well as a few others for *ahem* quite a while. In fact I often got into trouble in school for reading my books in class, then breezing through the exams. Sci-fi, comic books, and later anime and manga, were ways for me to escape. Even now I revel in breaking open and pouring through a new book and follow many different series from different genres.

In mid 2007, I had the idea that a burlesque show might go over well at a con. I mean, who doesn’t like boobs? They’re pretty awesome, but hey, maybe I’m a bit biased here. But I didn’t just want to throw a show together; I wanted to give the fans an amazing show. I produced the first show at DragonCon to a standing-room only crowd. It did so well that I got the opportunity to do one at AWA, with the same results. Every year I produced both shows, the rooms were completely packed to the point that after the second year at each convention the show was moved to one of the main rooms to accommodate the crowd. To give the fans a little something different each year, I changed up the themes and pulled performers from across the country and abroad. For various reasons, I did not produce the 2012 DragonCon burlesque show though I  continue to produce the AWA Cabaret. Keep your eyes peeled though, as there just might be a development for this year’s DragonCon. (*wink*)

You recently returned from Great Southern Exposure 2012, didn’t you? Can you share a little about what that was like and maybe your favorite memory?

I did and I had a fabulous time meeting so many new people! There was a little nervousness because it was a competition, but for the most part I was so excited to see so many new performers and acts that I forgot to be nervous! My favorite memory had to be taking Perle Noire‘s movement class. That woman is such a talented dancer and I learned a LOT from her.

Without giving away too much, can you tease us a little about what you have planned for this Saturday’s Rockabilly Lounge?

Now that would be telling! All right, I’ll give you a wee hint: I will be doing something completely new. *wink* But you have to come out to the Rockabilly Lounge on Saturday night to see it!

You’ve been somewhat of a regular at the Rockabilly Lounge and other Mon Cherie Presents events. Why do you enjoy working with Mon Cherie and what do you think has made her Rockabilly Lounge such a long-time success?

I love working with Mon Cherie and, as a performer and fellow producer, can appreciate that she’s an honest person who is full of ideas, class and gumption. She’s true to her word and takes care of her people. Those qualities are rare in today’s world and are in great part why she has been a long-time success.

Besides, who else would let me play with fire?

Stormy Knight. Photo credit: R.J. Newton Photography.

Beyond the Rockabilly Lounge, what’s next for Stormy Knight?

Lots of sewing and crafting. I have a big act that has been pounding away in my head for little over a month now and a few others that, while less insistent, are still quite loudly proclaiming their will to live and be seen!

Finally, you have some beautiful artwork on your body and especially on your back. Can you talk a little bit about how you arrived at the particular designs, and do you consider your body as a canvas now to be complete or will there be more to come?

Thank you! My body is a canvas, and yes, there shall be more tattoos eventually, though they have to be *just right*. I am so very picky about what goes on my body, where it is placed and who does the work that I am content to go slowly. I do know what my next tattoo will be, but have not yet decided on the placement.

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Shop Around: Grease Monkeys Is Your One-Stop Rockabilly Shop for Kool Kats, Kittens & Your Bike!

Posted on: Apr 4th, 2012 By:

By Jennifer Belgard
Contributing Editor

Editor’s Note: Grease Monkeys is now an online shop only and their merchandise is also available at select Mon Cherie Presents and other events.

Rejoice, Atlanta Rockabilly guys and dolls! East Atlanta has something new and fab just for you. Grease Monkeys caters to your every need (even your BIKE)! That’s right, you’ll find all kinds a kool accessories for yourself or the kat or kitten in your life. I am particularly drawn to the men’s clothing. It seems to me that you can find something marked “Pin Up” almost anywhere these days, but the really great stylish items for men just haven’t been there. If you’re thinking about heading to Viva Las Vegas and you need some new threads do not, I repeat DO NOT buy online. You now have the ability to look good and support a local business. Now THAT is kool, so I just had to get the full scoop from Joe Grondalski, managing partner.

ATLRetro:  Tell me a little about yourself.

Joe:  I moved back to Atlanta in 2007 from Park City, Utah. I lived in Marietta when I was in high school, then on to Rochester, New York, to attend college. While in Rochester, I started my first business, a recording studio specializing in corporate sound tracking. After selling the recording studio, I moved to Park City, Utah to spend my days snowboarding. I was an aspiring snowboard racer until an unfortunate accident on the mountain ended my racing career. After my racing days, I opened The Phat Tire Saloon on Main Street Park City. We were open almost four years including the 2002 Winter Olympics. I closed the Phat Tire Saloon in 2004 after the building was sold to a corporate entity with other purposes for the space.

After closing my Saloon I began to seriously study the Chinese martial arts, specializing in Tai Chi and Snake Kung Fu at Shaolin Arts in Salt Lake City. While in college I had studied Tai Chi privately with a Master inNew York. Once I arrived inAtlanta, I immediately resumed my training, besides being the managing partner at Grease Monkeys I am a certified Tai Chi, Bagua and Xing Yi at Highland Martial Arts inVirginia-Highland. While growing up in Washington,DC, I was immersed in the DC Hardcore scene at a young age. I have been a part of the “Alternative” scene for over 25 years with a love of the Retro style from the beginning. I have been heavily influenced by my grandfather and his style, down to the same haircut he had in 1949.

What led you to open Grease Monkeys?

There are many factors that led me to open Grease Monkeys, I could write a book about the events that led me to this point. I will try my best to keep this from rambling on. Atlanta has a large Kustom Culture and Rockabilly scene with a ton of events throughout the spring, summer and fall. There was one thing Atlanta was missing, a retailer that specifically caters to the Rockabilly and Kustom Culture scene. I had been frustrated that I could only get the clothes that I wanted online or from a few retailers that have limited stock at a higher price than the internet retailers, without being able to try them on or see the quality in person. I also wanted to keep my prices on par with the internet stores without the shipping costs. This was one of the factors that led me to open Grease Monkeys.

While the internet is a great resource it does not allow the customer to see, feel, try on or have the social experience that a brick and mortar store does. We are also stocking a wide variety of things that no one internet site has. From pinstriping brushes and paint to womens dresses we have it. Want a custom vintage motorcycle helmet? We have that too. Men’s clothing, women’s clothing, flowers for your hair, pinstriping paint and brushes, custom motorcycle parts and accessories, glitter flake purses and crazy socks; we have it all.

After spending more time than I would like to shopping in malls, I noticed that there were not very many stores that stocked all sizes. I wanted Grease Monkeys to be able to offer all of the sizes that the manufacturers offer, from XS to XXXXL, without marking up the larger sizes. It seemed to me that there was a practice in the clothing retail and manufacturing community of tacking on an extra $2-$5 for larger sizes when it only costs the manufacturers pennies to make a larger size. I wanted Grease Monkeys to break that trend; we charge the same ammount for a XS as we do for a XXXXL. As for our non-clothing items,  there were few places that stocked the items that I was always looking for. I wanted to be able to offer pinstriping supplies without the insane art supply store markup of several dollars above MSRP. There was no retailer in the Atlanta area that was stocking restored vintage motorcycle helmets and no one stocking true custom motorcycle parts, the parts we stock are still made by hand and in most cases made in the USA.

Grease Monkeys has great retro/rockabilly clothing for women and men. What would you say are the “must have” items?

For the women’s dresses it would have to be the Captain Pencil Dress by Bettie Page Brand.

Women’s skirt: The Ruffle Sarina Skirt by Rock Steady  

Women’s top: The Zombie Sparrow Button-up by Sourpuss 

Women’s capris: The Hilda Capri in Leopard by Colletif UK 

Women’s T: The Sailor Made T by Black Market Art Company

Men’s work shirt: Grease Gas and Glory by Lucky 13  

Men’s button-up: V8 Button Up Racer by Steady Last Call

Men’s T:  Battleship T by Black Market Art Company

Men’s pants: Speedfreak Pants by King Kerosin  

Any events coming up?

We’re making a huge push to attend as many car and bike-related events as possible in the area, as well as attend shows and events that appeal to the Rockabilly, Hot Rod and Vintage Motorcycle crowd. We keep our website calendar updated with the events we’ll be attending. Some of the upcoming events include:

April 20-22 – CafeRacer Village at Big Kahuna Atlanta, Braselton,GA

May 5 – EAVMA presents Cinco De Mayo Cruise in & Bar-B-Q in East Atlanta Village

Grease Monkeys is located at 1287-C Glenwood Avenue. Hours are Mon.-Sat. from noon to 9 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 6 p.m. 404-624-1587. 

http://greasemonkeys.biz/ and https://www.facebook.com/greasemonkeysatl

ATLRetro Contributing Editor 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.

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