New Orleans Burlesque Superstar Trixie Minx Discusses Her Rise to the Top

 

New Orleans French Quarter has always had a reputation for catering to visitors carnal desires. Burlesque dancing became popular in French Quarter night clubs during the 1940s and 1950s when servicemen would pass through the city looking for entertainment. Eventually the owners of these night clubs started competing with each other to produce more elaborate shows in order to draw in bigger crowds. They invested in costumes, live music, hairstylists, and hired trained dancers. This is how Burlesque evolved into an art form.

Trixie Minx is a member of a community of burlesque producers and performers who have sought to revive the art form in recent years. She’s also achieved celebrity status in New Orleans due to the popularity of her shows and her passion for promoting New Orleans art and culture.

NCM: Where are you originally from?

Trixie: I grew up in Miami, Florida, but I have been in New Orleans since 2001. I consider New Orleans my home. I travel around the world to perform shows, but New Orleans is my home.

NCM: What brought you to New Orleans from Miami?

Trixie: I always wanted to be a ballet dancer and trained to be a professional ballerina. I trained with the American Ballet Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and the Houston Ballet Academy. Eventually I ended up working with National Ballet, which is where I injured my foot.

After the injury, I came to visit a friend in New Orleans and just ended up staying because it was the right fit. I went back to school and also started teaching Pilates. I thought I could never dance again because my ballet career was over. Luckily in New Orleans I found that there were other forms of dance, including burlesque.

NCM: Had you known about burlesque prior to your move to New Orleans?

Trixie: Prior to moving to New Orleans, I did not know about burlesque. And my first experience with burlesque was actually not positive. Now that I’ve been performing for about 14 years, I have a huge appreciation for the full spectrum of what the term “burlesque” encompasses. But in that moment,  I saw this show that had poorly constructed costumes, bad lighting, and bad music. The venue was also a tiny little art gallery. It didn’t look like a real show. These people were having fun, but it lacked any sort of professional aspect to it. I knew that I could produce and perform something better.

NCM: How did your family feel about you becoming a burlesque dancer?

Trixie: They were all very supportive of my decision to become a burlesque dancer because they remembered how I had lived to be a ballet dancer. I lived to dance before my injury. I wasn’t as happy when I couldn’t dance. My family was thrilled to see me happy again.

NCM: How do you differentiate your burlesque act from everyone else’s?

Trixie: I think that everybody is unique. For my act, I like to combine a lot of comedy elements with classic burlesque. So I use tongue and cheek humor accompanied with a beautiful and sparkly costume. My act is very playful and lightens the mood. It’s all one long joke, which is my trademark.

NCM: Why did you choose to be a professional burlesque dancer as opposed to just having it as a hobby?

Trixie: I have always been obsessed with dancing. Some of my earliest memories are of dancing through the aisles of the grocery store or dancing in my living room to music.

For me, burlesque dancing evolved into a full-time job from a hobby. I was performing on weekends here in New Orleans and, at that time, there were only two professional troupes here in the city. An opportunity to tour with a group through Comic Relief was offered to me. They were taking a bunch of musicians and burlesque dancers on tour as part of a comedy variety show. I had to make a two month commitment to be a part of the show. Initially, I thought I could just take a two month leave of absence from my regular job, but the dancing contract kept getting extended and those two months ended up becoming two years.

NCM: Do you find that it is harder being a full-time burlesque performer?

Trixie: It is hard being a full-time performer because most don’t have the insurance and retirement benefits that everyone else has. That is why I work so closely with the New Orleans Musician’s Clinic. They are an incredible institution because they work to get those benefits for performers.

NCM: Who inspires you? Do you have any role models?

Trixie: Lucille Ball is a role model for me. Marilyn Monroe also inspires me, but to a slightly lesser extent.  I love the fact that these were both beautiful glamorous women who could also be very funny. Their audience never lost interest in what they were doing. I like smart women who can also be comedians as well.

 

NCM: Do you think there is a stigma around burlesque?

Trixie: Oh, 100%! When you say, “Burlesque”, most people think of one of two things. First, there was the movie Burlesque with Christina Aguilera and Cher, which is more on the Cabaret spectrum. Or they think you are a pole dancer. It can be frustrating. The best analogy that I can come up with is that beef can be served as a steak, a hamburger, a roast, etc. They taste different and are prepared differently, but they all qualify as beef. I get frustrated when people make a hasty generalization about burlesque, when perhaps they haven’t seen the different types of burlesque shows. I think that people should keep an open mind a not be afraid to watch a burlesque show, because each performer is different.

NCM: How do you feel about working with other artists on artistic collaborations?

Trixie: I have worked with numerous photographers both locally and internationally. For example, Lena Herzog is an international photographer and was absolutely wonderful to work with. She wanted to work with dancers on her Nude series and put them in beautiful places in New Orleans.

I also collaborate with a lot of music and bands as well as costume designers for performances that are both recorded and live.

NCM: Do you have a set group of musicians that you work with?

Trixie: Right now I regularly work with two bands Gerald French and the French Follies at the Saint Hotel and Romy Kaye & the Mercy Buckets at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. I have also worked with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Galactic, and Better Than Ezra

NCM: How many dancers do you have in your troupe?

Trixie: I currently have four regular running shows in New Orleans in addition to like numerous popups in private events as well as normal corporate event work. For Fleur de Tease we have a regular cast of twelve performers. In Bourbon Boylesque we have a regular cast of six performers. But we also regularly bring in a cast of guest dancers. For Burgundy Burlesque we have a four piece band with a rotating cast of dancers. My Burlesque Ballroom show is the largest show that we work with. We have about 30 dancers in a rotation because it is a weekly show. Right now there are definitely over 100 performers in my roster.

NCM: Is it hard juggling all of those dancers and those shows?

Trixie: It is difficult because my shows are constantly growing and changing. I have an Assistant and a team to help me stay organized. In this line of work, I don’t believe anyone should just be working for a check. There is too much of a personal aspect to each performance. This is artistry and you are giving a part of yourself to your audience in each performance. The people I work with have become part of my family. I like to be aware of what is going on in their lives. We are a supportive team.

NCM: Is anyone else in your family a dancer or an artist?

Trixie: Everyone in my family is an artist in some medium, but I’m the only dancer right now. My late grandmother wanted to be a dancer, but she grew up during the Depression and World War II. So it really wasn’t appropriate for her to pursue that dream. She was a self-taught tap dancer and piano player. She also taught piano and tap dancing. She actually started her own dance troupe after she retired.

 

My father is a pianist and my mother is a visual artist. My sister is an actor and producer for the  National Theatre of Scotland. My brother is interested in video and film editing.

NCM: What do you wish you knew about burlesque before you got started?

Trixie: Well, this doesn’t only apply to being a burlesque dancer. But, as woman starting a business,  I wish had known that there were as many cutthroat people out there. I was naïve because I was always taught that if you work hard and do the right thing, good things will happen to you. People don’t always play nice together. I have been surprised by the lack of goodwill in certain business situations.

For anyone who is trying to achieve something a little different, you have 100% commitment to your goal. But I don’t hold any grudges against the people that I have clashed with over the years. I believe in moving forward with lots of love and positive thinking.

NCM: How do you deal with negative feedback? Has anyone ever said anything that really hurt you?

Trixie: Oh yeah! I get insulted all of the time. People have called me a drag queen. I have had multiple people say I was too fat. I have had multiple people say I was too skinny. I have had people say I have a bad boob job even though they are natural. But I have learned that people’s opinions about my performances are subjective. Art is interpreted by people on an individual basis.

I want honest feedback, but I have learned not to take it too personally. I have to put it in perspective. Sometimes people say hateful things because they are just angry about something that has nothing to do with me.

NCM: Do you have trouble with people getting your stage persona confused with your real life personality.

Trixie: The Trixie that you see on stage is me. We are the same person. The thing that is weird is that more people know me and recognize me on the street because they have seen my act. And I don’t always know them, so it can feel a little awkward in conversation.

 

NCM: Do you have any advice for young dancers wanting to go into burlesque?

Trixie: I strongly suggest you see multiple shows first to get an idea of where you want to get involved. This applies to anybody who wants to pursue anything in burlesque. You can start by just taking a class, pursue it as a hobby, or even become a professional and change careers entirely.

A lot of people see one show and think that’s what they want. It is important to understand how much can be done within this field. There are so many different subsets of burlesque culture. Men and women can get involved. There are even people that perform Nerdlesque, which incorporates elements of Comic Book Culture.

NCM: Do you see yourself doing this for a long time? Or do you have other dreams and aspirations to accomplish?

Trixie: When I started as a ballet dancer, it was generally understood that your career is usually over by the time you hit 40 because your body can’t take the stress. But burlesque is much kinder to the body and you can perform longer. There are people that performed in the 1960s who are still performing today as Living Legends.

Initially I thought I would have to start thinking about retiring at a certain age. But when I started to approach that age, my career started to really take off. I have decided that I am going to dance as long as people want to see me. And when they don’t want to see me dance, I’m going to dance at home!

 

To find out more information about Trixie’s Burlesque shows go to

https://www.trixieminx.com/

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