The first time I saw Pearls Daily perform burlesque, I was utterly gobsmacked. She’s angelically gorgeous, with a head of bouncing red hair and an infectious smile. Her dancing was thrilling, her costume lovely, and she was pure fun to watch. Upon her exit from the stage, the audience was a-buzz with a lingering excitement. Everybody knew that they had just witnessed an artist of exceptional talent.
So it’s of no surprise to me that Pearls is also a brilliant actress. Among her many credits she played Mina Margery Crandon in the Drama Desk Nominated Off-Broadway hit, Play Dead directed by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and created by Todd Robbins. She played Minky Woodcock in Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini. She has appeared on TV and film, including roles on season one and four of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. As a model, clients include Olay, Canon, Pepsi, Bergdorf Goodman, Lindsay Adler, and the list goes on and on…
In the face of Covid, Pearls took the opportunity to produce her first short film, Briar, a haunting psychological drama starring Pearls as Briar, and featuring noted burlesque performers such as The Maine Attraction, BooBess and Abe Goldfarb AKA Bastard Keith. Briar has already been accepted into multiple film festivals and is receiving glowing reviews. So far Briar has won “Best Thriller” and “Best Cinematography” along with a “Best Actress” nomination for Pearls at the “Oniros Film Awards”. It has also won “Best Experimental Film” at the “Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival”.
Pearls visited us at the Burlesque Galaxy Studio for a chat about Briar, burlesque, and the struggles of creating while quarantined.
BG: Tell us about Briar.
PEARLS: Briar is very exciting. It’s kind of my passion project that was born in Covid times. I have a background in acting, in theater, and I’ve been writing for a while. But I’ve only dabbled on the production side of things. So I saw Covid as this opportunity. I had the time to build on this project.
BG: How was it filming during Covid?
PEARLS: My husband and I shot it in our apartment. We directed all the other actors in their homes. It uses a lot of voiceover so it was more manageable that way. We have the amazing Maine Attraction in the film and we mainly shot her at her home. I was not there. So we had her amazing wife Aisha set up the shot via FaceTime and it turned out amazing. I’ve given Aisha an assistant directing credit.
BG: How would you describe your character, Briar?
PEARLS: Briar is an up and coming indie filmmaker. She’s an artist at her core. With a dark side. She has murderous tendencies, which she has stifled through her art, but which come back to life after the loss of her best friend.
The original idea was inspired by the whole #MeToo movement. Men getting called out in the entertainment industry and women taking charge.
I was also inspired by a lot of shows like Dexter. I was talking to a friend of mine and I was saying how everyone is so fascinated with murderers. There’s a thousand Ted Bundy documentaries, and it feels like there’s something out about John Wayne Gacy every two days. But I pointed out that you never hear about the female serial killers. And she said something very interesting. She said it’s because women serial killers don’t get caught.
BG: Ah yes. Well done. Do you have plans for Briar beyond the festival circuit? PEARLS: It’s a short film, but I do have dreams of making it into a mini-series. BG: Well it feels epic already. The psychological aspect runs very deep.
PEARLS: There’s something about the isolation that came with quarantine. Everyone is experiencing having to be alone with themselves in some way. Even if they have family. I was imagining what would happen if this character was in these circumstances. I think the short film is a great way to kick off the series, knock on wood. (knocks on the coffee table)
BG: Actually this is upholstered in leather. I felt the film was a good illustration of how we’ve all been imprisoned in our own heads. Briar is clearly losing it. And yet lines between reality and fantasy are so blurred, I can’t pinpoint if she really is murdering people or just fantasizing about it. Because she doesn’t seem to be leaving the house.
PEARLS: It’s actually amazing you say that because she’s not leaving because she actually is dead. She’s haunting her own home. You’re seeing her final thoughts on a loop.
BG: So that scene where she’s looking at herself, both of those Briar’s are reflections of her actual self at different points in her life…?
BG: So she is killing people.
BG: I see. I hate to give anything away but you don’t seem to mind…
PEARLS: Oh I don’t mind. With the story moving forward, that doesn’t give anything away. This twist has nothing on some of the upcoming things I have written for her. And for the other characters as well.
BG: Will Maine Attraction’s character be reoccurring from beyond the grave?
PEARLS: Absolutely. The characters that are in the short are definitely some of the core characters that will be played throughout the series.
BG: I found it surprisingly dark.
PEARLS: I like dark things. I’m fascinated with dark history, serial killers, unsolved crimes. It’s a writing style of film and TV that I like to create.
BG: Well I think Briar is fantastic and has enormous potential. I look forward to seeing where you take it.
PEARLS: I’m excited for it. I’m aiming for film festivals. And I’m starting a production company. It’s exciting to take everything that we experience in burlesque and applying it to other mediums. Burlesque teaches people how to have impact in a very short period of time. To think of how you want people to feel in a short period of time and to make it happen. And then leave them wanting more.
BG: What a great parallel. Your film is just like burlesque in that respect. So what hats did you wear during the making of the film?
PEARLS: Like burlesque, it was a collaboration. But because of Covid, hilariously, I wore a lot of extra hats. I was the writer, executive producer, director, production designer, editor, costumer, prop master, special effects & makeup person.
Speaking of special effects makeup, I just wanted to give a shout out to Faux Pas for Briar. She’s famous for her bloody acts.
BG: Bloody axe?
PEARLS: Her blood really came through. Of course my husband was cinematographer, editor. The music was by Conrad Clifton whose an amazing artist. So I wore about, what? Seven hats?
BG: And you acted in it.
PEARLS: And I acted in it. But that truly was the last thing to work on. There were so many other things that went into it, and so many problems that came up, that it took a year to get done. And it’s only five minutes long. So that’s the thing that is humbling and terrifying and exciting. Now knowing what it takes to move forward. But moving forward, I envisioned myself as a studio head who calls the shots on what’s being made.
BG: You’re going to be terrifying.
PEARLS: Yeah right.
BG: Power suits.
PEARLS: Big shoulder pads, capes…
PEARLS: But I really love it. At the moment I’m mostly focused on developing the ideas that I’ve had over the years. But I definitely want to support other filmmakers as well. I feel like there are so many people in burlesque who don’t just do burlesque but do all these other amazing things. I like the idea of having people step out of their comfort zones. One thing I’ve learned over this year is gigs are awesome but it’s also great to stretch yourself.
BG: It is true that many of burlesquers have other hidden talents. Makeup artists, puppeteers, costumers, actors, etc. You could really compile a great team.
PEARLS: Like burlesque, with short films, you want to hit people over the head immediately. I think you should grab an audience up front. And being entertaining is so important. I think sometimes actors get in their own heads. You have to grab people. It has to be entertaining. Of course, it has to come from a real honest place, but don’t think too hard. You have to go for it.
BG: Well I’m so glad you’re going for it because I love this film.
PEARLS: I want people to see it. It’s also great to be in that place where I’m like, “I’m putting myself out there.”
BG: Well you’re putting something out there that you should be very proud of. Follow @briar_film for more updates and where you can see the film.