Kool Kat of the Week: It Ain’t Rockabilly If You Don’t Have the Right Pair of Shoes; Talking Smart, Sassy and Southern with Miss Mason of Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge

Posted on: Feb 6th, 2013 By:

Every other month for more than five years – that’s half a decade – Atlanta’s Retro hostess with the mostest Mon Cherie gathers her friends and throws a Rockabilly Lounge at The Masquerade. And we’re tickled pink that her Valentine’s Lounge this Saturday Feb. 9 features a bunch of Kool Kat alums. First off, Mon Cherie is one. Then shake rattlin and rollin’ will be one of our favorite Atlanta bands The Stumblers, featuring Kool Kat Keith Martin. The Sweetheart Burlesque Show includes performances by Stormy Knight and the magic of Chad Sanborn, not to mention Scarlett PageHada Pixie, and debuting for the first time anywhere: Sunshine Divine. Wear your jitterbug’ shoes because The Right Reverend Andy will be spinning swing, rockabilly and psychobilly favorites. And that’s not to mention the Ragin’ Raffle and vendors aplenty to help you find that perfect gift for your Retro-lovin’ Valentine. Doors are at 9 p.m. but it’s no exaggeration to say the fun always runs well past midnight, making it just about the best way to get a bang out of 10 bucks.

In the midst of all this Koolness, we realized there’s one kool kitty we hadn’t gotten to profile yet, the Rockabilly Lounge’s gorgeous, charming and dangerously clever emcee, Miss Mason. Not wanting to get stung by Cupid’s arrow in our rear, we decided we’d better remedy that situation right quick.

ATLRetro: Why Miss Mason? 

Miss Mason: It’s my maiden name. Incidentally it’s also the name I was often referred to when I was at trouble at school. Went like this: THEM: “Do you think you’re being funny, Miss Mason?” ME: “I KNOW I’m bein’ funny.”

Miss Mason and the Right Reverend Andy Hawley. Photo credit: Shawn Doughtie.

How did you get the nickname “The Mouth of the South”?

Ha, that one is courtesy of my parents, as I had – have! – the proclivity for talking when I shouldn’t, talking back, talking loud. Seemed a perfect fit for a tag line for a big-mouthed shit-talker!

To us, emceeing seems like an absolute art. How much of what you do is pre-scripted and how much is improvised?

I don’t fancy myself much of an artist. I’m just not afraid of crowds, not afraid to talk in front of one. As for scripting, information about the artists is something I collect so they can get a proper introduction. The artists work very hard at building their brand, and the last thing I want to do is mess that up. Sometimes they have developed intros to use for each performance, but there are plenty of artists who trust me to come up with something silly and fun. As time goes by and we all get to know each other better, the introductions get more and more clever. I rather enjoy it, and I hope it endears the artists to me.  So a little is scripted, but for the most part I just get up there and roll with the punches.

What do you love most about emceeing?

That’s easy: I love to make people laugh.

How did you get your start performing?

A little over five years ago I attended a birthday party for my friend’s son and Mon Cherie was there. She was just about to give birth to Rockabilly Lounge and asked if I’d like to be one of her Burlesque Beauties and give out Jell-O shots. Not long after our first Rockabilly Lounge, Mon Cherie asked if I’d introduce the band. I mentioned that I was surprised she wasn’t doing it on account of her history of being on stage and performing at The Chamber, and she said, “Believe it or not, I’m kinda shy!” – which cracks me up that THE Kitten With A Whip of Atlanta was too shy to say a few words on the mic! She tickles me like that. Anyhow, I did get up and intro the band, and she liked it, so the next time there were band intros, burlesque intros and much more. It was a happy accident. The rest is history.

How did you meet Mon Cherie and how long have you been collaborating with her?

I was introduced to Mon Cherie by Phil Solomon (AntiHeroes, Impotent Sea Snakes) for the first time at The Chamber in the early 90s. She had just come off stage. She was thrilling to watch. And I mean RAWR! We met again maybe a year or so later when she and Philip were touring with Impotent Sea Snakes in Miami. But it wasn’t until six years ago that we became reacquainted at a kid’s birthday party. There we were, grown up. HAHAHAHAHA! I’m kidding. We’re never growing up.

What’s so special about Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge and especially about this month’s Valentine-themed event?

Well, first off, there is something special about a promoter who puts her heart and soul in her work, and that is bound to translate into a great show. And this month’s edition features The Stumblers! Aaaaaand we have fresh meat debuting in the burlesque set! Aaaaaand I’m wearing my favorite red heels! I’m excited. Can we go there now?

What’s the best pair of shoes you’ve bought lately, where did you buy them, and why did you just have to have them?

Oh,man, I’ve been a good girl lately with the shoe shopping, but the last pair I bought are a fierce pair of black leather ankle booties with an architectural heel and a zipper up the back. Once I found them, it was love, and when it’s love I don’t care about the price. They’re absolutely more fetish/rock than they are anything, but I am that girl, too. Sigh, I love shoes. I have a closet full.

Miss Mason shows off her favorite pair of rocket red Betsey Johnson Mary Janes. Photo credit: Shawn Doughtie.

What’s your favorite cocktail and who in Atlanta makes it the best?

Oooooh, my favorite cocktail? That’s like asking which pair of shoes is my favorite pair!!!!  I love so many. Damn. Honestly my favorite cocktail, The Pink Lady, is made by meeeeeeee. It’s Smooth Ambler Spirits Gin and Cherry Limeade. But then I have vodka moods, SoCo moods, and I’m always in the mood for a frosty PBR.

What do you do when you aren’t being the fabulous hostess of Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge? 

When I’m not on stage, I’m a wife to The Mister and a mom to The Boy – who’s got a big old case of The Show Biz bug! – and puppet to Lily and Ginger, better known as Puggy Goodness, LLC . We love entertaining at Chateau Mason! I love to make a wicked cocktail, bake anything under the sun, make weird ice creams, and especially enjoy creating things with bacon, cayenne, Nutella, and/or bourbon. Ask around.  My skills are that of local legend! I’m a fledgling cyclist. I’ve committed to riding two centuries (that’s 100 miles! eek!) this year. Oh! And sometimes I hoop! I love to hoop!

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Kool Kat of the Week: The Flaming Heart: A Tribute to Buster the Human Blowtorch, aka Todd Kelly, as The Chamber Holds a Second Reunion

Posted on: Nov 24th, 2012 By:

Todd Kelly and Torchy Taboo.

By Torchy Taboo
Contributing Writer

“Todd was a Fire God on stage blowing his Soul of Fire for the world to see.”– Bry-baby, Chamber regular

 Back by popular demand, Mon Cherie has put together Chamber Reunion II, another gathering of the misfits who frequented one of Atlanta’s most notorious nightclubs, on Sat. Nov. 24 in Hell at The Masquerade. [Ed. note: read our Kool Kat interview with Mon Cherie on her Chamber memories and the first reunion here] It just wouldn’t be The Chamber without the presence of its favorite fire-breathing clown. However, due to his previous dinner arrangements with P. T. Barnum, Gypsy Rose Lee and Freddie Mercury, Mr. Todd Kelly will not be on the bill. I thought a tribute was in order.

Todd “Buster the Human Blow Torch” Kelly walked into my world in 2000. He strolled up to me in the Star Bar and introduced himself. His face was familiar; he had been in the front row of most of my Dames Aflame shows wearing a bright yellow motorcycle jacket. It caught my eye. My roommate had been hanging out with him in the witching hours after the “legal hours of operation” of a variety of Atlanta bars…the tales of mischievous behavior (to say the least) had been numerous at that point. Diminutive of stature, yet a flamboyant and verbose one-man cult of personality, not unlike myself, we became immediately lifelong comrades. He spent the evening regaling me with the amazing details of his fiercely colorful life.

Todd worked as fire performer and pyrotechnician for a myriad of bands including My Life With The Trill Kill Kult, Glitterdome and Impotent Sea Snakes (iss) just to name a few. He traveled constantly and spent the better part of 2001 in California where he became engaged to another performer from iss. Alas love’s misfortune brought him back to Georgia by the beginning of 2002. We took up right where we left off. Neither of us the type to waste much time, within days of his return, we began dating. He set the tone for our story by showing up for our first date in a knee-length REAL snake-skin jacket. He took me to The Chamber and promptly changed into his stilts and 7-foot-long silver sequined pants, tailcoat and top hat.

When Todd was not on the road, he worked a regular gig at The Chamber, either on stilts or doing his fire act, which I assisted as “safety” waiting back-stage with his fire-box full of fire-extinguishing paraphernalia in case of mishap. He taught me how to blow fire, and since we were both known for our snake acts as well, we soon began performing together. He was the consummate showman, yet never minded if my skimpy costumes upstaged his signature leather pants. But that’s who he was with everyone.

“The first time I saw Todd perform was at The Chamber. When he strode onto stage to the anthemic, ‘Du Hast,’ the energy in the room elevated immediately and then hung, palpable and frozen, in mid air. The audience, knowingly or not, fed him their every expectation, desire, anxiety, and Todd took it all in and let it go in a wildly cathartic and decadent rush of fire – a fine mist of fuel over an open flame. His act, although straightforward, was a bold, arcane ritual, and Todd was the Magus, sans turban, clad only in tight, red leather pants. In that room, he was more than fire-breather. He harnessed the frenetic energy of the room and focused it outwards into blazing spectacle. He was the transformer.” – Aileen Loy, creative impresario.

“Long before joining up with the Impotent Sea Snakes and when I first moved to Atlanta, I met Todd Kelly. We were both fixtures at The Masquerade and part of the core family of friends that hung out and/or worked there. We enjoyed many times together. I adored him. I just did not realize how beloved he was (to others) until I signed up with the band. We traveled the U.S.A. and Canada – this close quarters living bonds people in ways that can never be broken. ” – Mon Cherie, Chamber performer and promoter, and organizer of The Chamber Reunions I and II

“I never had to give Todd much direction. I’d tell him the theme for the event, and he would deliver. He was a natural at sideshow.” – Howie Stepp, manager at The Chamber

“Todd was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I got to know him through working with him at The Star Bar and in the band Greasepaint. He had an incredible gift for being empathetic and understanding while still being objective and non-judgmental. In the few years I had the honor of knowing him, he left a lasting impression. There are not many days that pass that I don’t think of him and miss him. The world would be a far richer place if Todd Kelly was still in it.” – Joel Burkhart, musician and fellow member of Greasepaint, co-founder of the band AM Gold.

Todd Kelly and Torchy Taboo.

“Todd had the soul of a rock star and helped me become one, in my own mind at least. He could steal the show and be totally humble in the same breath, blow you out of the water and totally supportive at the same time. I’ll never forget or be able to repay his support of my photography and my singing. If I listed the people he introduced me to or the doors he opened for me, you would think I was name dropping or bragging… or you knew him too.”  – Keith Martin, photographer, musician and singer/guitar for The Stumblers.

“Todd Kelly was a jack of all trades who mastered every trade he tried. He was willing to do anything to help a friend and was so well liked you felt like the ugly girl whenever you were out with him. A rock star who gave up the stage to help a brother, we hosted Yer 15 Fuckin’ Minutes karaoke together three nights a week and worked even longer hours together after our regular schedule. A gentle soul, he even took time out to stilt walk and breathe fire for my son’s 8th birthday. Little known fact, I stole the name ‘Blue Rat’ for a headshop I opened on Cheshire Bridge, the “R-A-T” stands for “Rotknee, Alex and Todd.” I promised him we’d open something we could put our name on. Rest in peace, brother, I finished what we started. Loved that man, still do.” – Rodney Leete, wild-man on the mic, musician and emcee, Atlanta’s Best Amateur Comedy, Yer 15 minutes of Fame Karaoke. 

Torchy Taboo and Todd Kelly.

My favorite story Todd ever told me was about how he’d injured his hands very badly while trying to rescue his 15-foot-python, Junior, from a burning tour bus. When he found that his injuries made it impossible to hold his fire torches a few days later at his next booked show, he duct-taped them to his wrists and went on. Ever a man of his word, the show must go on.

Even after parting ways, we remained fiercely loyal to one another, sharing responsibility for our pets during each of our extensive tour schedules and even working together a few more times. Todd Kelly left us in 2004. He is remembered dearly by everyone who ever knew him.

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