Kool Kat of the Week: Celebrating Cinema, One Tassel at a Time with Vyolet Venom as Minette Magnifique Goes to the Movies

Posted on: May 29th, 2012 By:

Summer may officially still be a few weeks away, but things are sure to get hot and steamy Thursday, May 31, when Atlanta’s youngest and most Paris-inspired burlesque troupe Minette Magnifique presents Minette Magnifique Goes to the Movies at the Warren City Club in Virginia-Highland. So we thought there couldn’t be a more marvelous time to celebrate the rising temperatures by declaring the vivacious and voluptuous Vyolet Venom as Kool Kat of the Week. She sweetly agreed to a sneak preview of what she and the other lovely ladies will be doing once the lights go down and the curtain goes up for this cinema-tacular evening of evocative entertainment.

How did you get started in burlesque and how did you come to join Minette Magnifique?

Being someone whose life has always revolved around the stage, and also someone who has never really been a big fan of wearing clothes. Two years ago when I was approached by our Madame [Kellyn Willey] and Baroness [VonSchmalhausen, aka Shellie Schmalsabout a new burlesque troupe they were creating, I didn’t hesitate for even a moment to accept.

Why the name Vyolet Venom and how does that name embody your personal approach to the art of burlesque?

Oh, man, finding the perfect name… one of the most trying things I’ve ever experienced in my burlesque life! To be honest, and as strange as it may seem, my approach and personal style of performance is what ultimately led to the name Vyolet Venom. I’m not really sure how to explain how or why that makes sense, but when you come to the show I promise you’ll understand. (winks)

Photo credit: Jason Travis.

Minette Magnifique is very young, feisty, sexy and most importantly – classic! Every member of Minette has very different and unique talents to offer, but as a whole, it’s very important to us that we stay true to our original, French, classic burlesque roots. And our greatest strength? We are madly in love with every audience member we’ve ever had.

What can you reveal about this week’s show and why folks should come out?

There will be an overwhelming amount of glitter, feathers, rhinestones and beautiful women taking off their clothes. Need I say more?

Without giving too much away, can you give us a gentle tease about Minette Magnifique Goes to The Movies and what you’ll be doing personally?

A perfect blend of the “art of the tease,” and the “magic of the movies.” And as for my piece personally, it’s got a little something for everyone; the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they’ll all adore it.

Photo credit: Jason Travis.

What’s your favorite burlesque memory so far?

July 2010, our very first Hot and Sticky show at Eastside Lounge, I performed to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard. And after filling an entire venue full of icing, glitter and countless beyond coundless amounts of sprinkles… I truly feel that was the night Vyolet was born.

Who are your biggest burlesque icons and role models and why?

There are so many talented people in the burlesque world it’s hard to say. Immodesty Blaize is my current obsession, but the people I have always looked up to the most are not really a part of the burlesque world – Ann Margaret, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and (above all) Barbie! Because of who they are, what they did and the sparkle that just their names hold.

When you’re not doing burlesque, what do you do for work and play?

It’s honestly hard to differentiate between the two.  I love to play, and I refuse to work on or for anything that I don’t love. Plain and simple: You will always find me singing and dancing, laughing about absolutely nothing, eating Skittles and drinking Cherry 7UP.

What question did I not ask that I should have? And what’s the answer?

What question should you have asked… “Should we be afraid?” My answer… “Terrified.” 😉

Minette Magnifique Goes to the Movies has doors at 8 pm with Act I at 9 p.m. and Act II at 10:15 p.m. Regular and VIP tickets are available here

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Tis the Season to be Spooky: Surviving Monsters, Mayhem and Renegade Pumpkins at Six Flags’ Fright Fest

Posted on: Oct 7th, 2011 By:

By Spookie Susie
Contributing Blogger

Thrills! Chills! Roller coasters! Renegade pumpkins? Yes, it’s true. You will experience all this and more at Six Flags Over Georgia’s annual Fright Fest, Atlanta’s largest Halloween event, every Saturday and Sunday in October, and Friday evenings on October 21 and 28. Come with me as Kellyn Willey, proprietress of Atlanta’s PinUpGirl! Cosmetics (and recent Kool Kat), and I step into the haunted realm and hope to return in one piece.

 

Kellyn Willey and Spookie Susie meet a few dead spirits at Six Flags' Fright Fest.

Six Flags Over Georgia opened its doors back in 1967. It has seen plenty of changes throughout the years, but on this night in particular the entire park has been transformed from summer carnival to crypt, crawling with corpses, tombstones and enough cobwebs to choke the world’s largest tarantula.

The candy-colored creatures of Monster Mansion. Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Georgia.

Our very first stop once we got in the park was Monster Mansion, the ride formerly known as Monster Plantation. I have loved this ride since I was a little kid—and, amazingly, I remembered right where it was. Monster Plantation opened back in 1981 and was revamped in 2009. While we were standing in line, flat screens played popular music videos and interviews with park attendees. Once we got in our boat and entered the Plantation, it was almost exactly as I remembered it, but everything looked brighter and refurbished. There was definitely more water and even some bubbles, but all the old favorites were in attendance, including the Sheriff, Missy Scarlett and Busby, the little monster mascot named after Georgia’s Governor at the time the ride opened, George Busbee.

Near the end of the ride, we suddenly came to stop behind another boat. Steadily, other boats lined up behind ours, and some of the younger guests started getting antsy. Several staff members arrived, and the mystery of the stuck boats was solved. The culprit? A pumpkin had fallen onto the track out of the scenery! That was one tough squash!

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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