The Mess Mistress may be new to burlesque, but she is not new to the stage. As a bass guitarist, she has played in hard rock bands since she was a teenager. But even then, she had dreams of pursuing burlesque (despite being wildly age-inappropriate at the time). It was during quarantine, cooped up in her home in Tuscany, Italy, that Mistress decided to submit a video entry into the London Burlesque Festival. To her shock and delight, she got in! Since then, she has been invited to participate in the World Burlesque Games 2021, a virtual, global burlesque event in which participants compete for prizes, titles & accolades. I had the chance to chat with The Mess Mistress about her act, background, and experiences as a newcomer to burlesque in the times of pandemic…
BT: Shall I call you Mistress?
MM: Yes, you can.
BT: I don’t want to call you “The Mess”. That sound derogatory.
MM: No, Mistress is fine.
BT: It really sets the tone. I’ll be very submissive.
MM: Please don’t. (laughs)
BT: Now, you have entered the World Burlesque Games for 2021.
BT: How would you describe the act you’re presenting to the WBG?
MM: Lots of feathers and glitter. And purple, because I’m dancing to the Jimi Hendrix song, “Purple Haze”. I will be doing a fan dance. Very classic. Nothing very strange. But there is a strange part in that I’m also playing bass.
BT: So you will have a split screen. And on one side of the screen, you are playing bass guitar, and on the other side, you are performing your fan dance.
MM: Yes, I am.
BT: And this is your format lately, correct?
MM: Yes, I am mostly a bass player. I’m very new to burlesque. I started to perform one year ago, during the pandemic. I was alone, playing in my room, and something just clicked. I thought it would be fun (and weird) to put together bass playing and burlesque. So I did some research and found that nobody had ever done something like this before.
BT: So, you put this and other performances out on YouTube?
BT: And then from there you entered the London Burlesque Festival?
MM: Yes, I submitted because I saw that it was accessible for non-professional dancers. I didn’t expect that they would take me in. It was a total surprise, and I was really, really happy. I thought, Yeah, maybe this thing is working.
BT: Well, what you’re doing is wholly original and absolutely adorable.
MM: Yay! Thank you.
BT: One thing I love about your story is that you have never performed burlesque on an actual, physical stage.
MM: Yeah, never.
BT: However, you have performed on stage in other ways.
MM: Yes, I’ve been on stages all my life. I started to perform with my band when I was around 15. But it’s very different from burlesque. I remember when I was 16, I was really interested in burlesque. But of course, no company would take me…because I was 16.
BT: They didn’t want to go to jail.
MM: (laughs) But it is something I have always wanted to do.
BT: What was the name of your band when you were 15?
MM: Tequila for Breakfast.
BT: And what kind of music was that?
MM: Hard rock. A little punk-ish.
BT: And even then, you had a little bit of the burlesque in you.
MM: Yes, I used to show up on stage wearing nothing but a red corset, fishnet tights & high heels. Now I was 15, so everyone would just look at me with a weird look like, “What’s she doing? She’s a child.”
BT: You have a dance background as well.
MM: Yes, I used to be a ballerina before becoming a rock star. (laughs) But I couldn’t actually have a career in classical ballet because I have classic pin-up measurements.
BT: Nothing wrong with that.
MM: I was okay with that. I’m good with who I am. I’m good with my body. I realized I didn’t have to do ballet. And actually, burlesque is fantastic because it gave me the chance to explore my body, to be comfortable, and actually have fun.
BT: So as a result of your appearance in the London Burlesque Festival, you were invited to participate in the World Burlesque Games.
MM: I got an email saying if I wanted to join then I could. And I was like, Yeah sure!
BT: So that’s an international, virtual event based in London, where they take in all these video submissions. But it’s not just burlesque. It’s also cabaret, acrobatics, drag…
MM: Yes. This is the first time they’re doing it online. It used to be in a theater, but they decided to try this different kind of a format. Which is actually very good for the kind of project I’m doing. Playing an instrument and dancing at the same time.
BT: Something that makes WBG different is that ticket holders get to participate in judging the contestants.
MM: Yes, people have a chance to vote. They purchase a ticket, watch all the performers, and then vote for your favorite acts.
BT: Which category are you in?
MM: Newbies. (laughs) Because I’m not a professional dancer.
BT: Are you planning to perform on an actual stage at some point?
MM: Yes, absolutely.
BT: Well, you already have a resumé. Plus you are already a natural stage performer. Are you currently in a band?
MM: I am starting a new band as we speak.
BT: What’s going on in Italy? Are they opening up theaters?
MM: Yeah, they’re doing concerts now. But it really depends on the capacity of the venue. Of course, rock music is the last thing they’re going to think about.
BT: Maybe you could incorporate burlesque in your performances with your rock band. Just sayin’.
MM: They should pay me double.
To see The Mess Mistress compete in the World Burlesque Games 2021, visit www.bestofburlesque.net (and vote for her!)