As a member of Blast-Off Burlesque, dancer Sadie Hawkins gets around. Born in the Midwest and raised in Florida, Hawkins moved to Atlanta from Boston in 2000 and joined the Doll Squad before moving onto Blast-Off. Hawkins, Barbilicious and a handful of other Blast-Offers will join in on the Silver Scream Spook Show Saturday, July 26, at the Plaza Theatre, and the entire troupe performs its "Go West!" show at the Alcove Gallery Aug. 2.
How was Blast-Off formed?
Barbilicious and I performed together in the Doll Squad, and we shared a vision of a group that focused on the vaudeville/sketch-comedy aspect of burlesque. We wanted to ensure that the group was a collective – an open relationship – that encouraged cross-pollination with other groups, as well as discovery of new talent. When we found Dickie van Dyke and Ferris Hilton at a bus stop stripping for change, Blast-Off really began to take on a life of its own. We made our debut as Blast-Off Burlesque at a scooter rally in September 2006.
What's your "day job"?
I'm a copywriter and marketing/PR hired gun.
I see you perform as a back-up dancer with Barbilicious for Van Heineken. What are some of your other modes of performance?
I love dancing with Van Heineken. It's completely different than any act I'd ever do. We're part of the Silver Scream Spook Show at the Plaza each month. Blast-Off also provides support for openings at the Gallery at East Atlanta Tattoo and Alcove Gallery; we love to be involved in gallery events, and fans of the sort of art at our friends' galleries tend to dig our brand of burlesque. I've also been a figure model for Dr. Sketchy's and the Atlanta Photographers Guild.
How many members are in the group, and how many performances do you do?
We've grown our core group from four to six or so, but there are nine or 10 actively participating in rehearsals and various projects. We're really glad that Chinita joined us earlier this year, too. She brings a really professional approach and understanding of glamorous presentation to the development of our acts.
Our plan is for three Blast-Off Burlesque-A-Pades shows, like our upcoming "Go West!" show, per year. We perform monthly with the Silver Scream Spook Show, and we regularly participate in the Syrens the South's monthly revues. Since our first show in 2006, Blast-Off Burlesque – or someone from Blast-Off – has been in about 50 shows.
What separates Blast-Off Burlesque from the rest of Atlanta's many burlesque troupes? Is there room enough for everyone?
There's definitely room for everyone! We love to see the diversity that has developed in Atlanta's burlesque world. Atlanta really has something for everyone – variety of body type, gender identification, classic and experimental ...
But what sets us apart is probably our eagerness to make people laugh or to leave the audience asking, "What?" Burlesque is commonly identified with striptease and sexuality, but it's also about satire and humor; and our acts fit surprisingly well alongside hot, bedazzled women doing slow glove peels.
Why do you think Atlanta has embraced burlesque so much over the years?
I'd like to say it's a counter to the easy availability of T&A in the mass media, and that people appreciate the tease of burlesque. But really, I think it's because pasties are so ridiculous, and folks want to see how silly boobs look with those little hats stuck on 'em.
What is so alluring about the 1950s popular culture that seems to inspire Blast-Off Burlesque?
We really are inspired by midcentury pop culture, because it offered such a surreal vision of the world. The sci-fi tomorrow of yesterday is awesome. We mix that with two cups of Busby Berkeley, a dash of the slapstick of old sitcoms, and a scoop each of the false reality of the old Westerns and beach-blanket movies, and a heaping helping of juvenile delinquent rebel film. It's like a soufflé of some sort.
What is the value of having the male performers in the troupe, and what element does Dickie van Dyke bring to the proceedings?
Women comprise at least half of most burlesque show audiences, and while everyone likes the ladies, there's a real appreciation of the nonfemale performers. Blast-Off just wouldn't be Blast-Off without Ferris Hilton and Dickie van Dyke. Ferris is our Cary Grant: handsome, funny and surprising. Dickie ... Dickie is indescribably awesome.
What can we expect from the "Go West!" show?
Bar fights, lassos and hula hoops; Mae West; can-can dancing; crazy old prospectors; barnyard animals; and aliens. We can't forget the aliens. Seriously, though, it's a Western-themed show that's planning to have a wide range of styles and topics presented by Blast-Off and some of our best friends, like the Syrens of the South, Renea' Le Roux, Hoopsie Daisy and Naughtalie.
This summer has been filled with lots of fun events, from Monster Bash on. What's been your particular fave moment?
This summer has been a blast, but I'm predicting that the "Go West!" show is going to be my favorite moment overall. Although, someone mentioned that we were one of the gayest things at Pride this year – not bad for a group that's only 2.75/9ths gay.
What's up after the "Go West!" show?
After "Go West!" we'll be ramping up for the August Silver Scream Spook Show and beginning to plan for the next Blast-Off Burlesque-A-Pades, which will be in winter.
Who's your favorite burlesque performer of all time and why?
Honestly, it's Dickie van Dyke. It's all summed up by Dickie's intro: "If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, Dickie van Dyke is straight from Uranus." And that's Dickie.
What's your favorite routine to perform onstage? What's your most outrageous?
My favorite thing is go-go dancing with Barbilicious, I think. The most outrageous act I've ever been part of is probably a tribute to silicon that we put together for one of the Silver Scream Spook Shows. Let's just say it involved clipboards and a lot of cling wrap.
How many comments/compliments do you get on your chipmunk cheeks?
Is that a compliment?
Most folks know that Sadie Hawkins originates from the fictional holiday in the Li'l Abner cartoon strip, in which "the unmarried women of Dogpatch pursued the single men. If a woman caught a man and dragged him back to the starting line by sundown, he had to marry her." Any luck yet?
Did you ever attend Sadie Hawkins Dances growing up? Were you lucky then?
Strangely, no ... on both counts.
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