There are many different approaches to burlesque within Chicago, ranging from classic "wink & a smile" acts to savage performance art.
Although many may argue about what the term "burlesque" means, there's no doubt that when an artist is successful at their art, they
have the power to influence the artists around them. When we take responsibility for the quality of the acts we present on stage - regardless
of the style - we show that we respect our fellow artists and our audience. In addition to building a sense of community and encouraging a
dialogue of honest feedback, I would like to challenge the artists in our community to up their game. To that end, every Friday, I will
introduce you to a performer within the Chicago burlesque community that I admire. Enjoy!
Find Out More about Other Chicago Burlesque Performers
Chicago Burlesque: Spotlight on Tila von Twirl
by Red Hot Annie
What I admire about Tila von Twirl is her sense of comedic timing. Tila is one of the amazing, bendable, posable Dolls of Doom, and
brings her sense of humor to the bunch in a very likeable, offbeat way. She's a disciplined performer, too - some of the trademark Dolls
of Doom moves require massive amounts of strength and flexibility.
Name: Tila von Twirl
Zodiac Sign: Leo - meow and how!
Hometown: Des Moines, IA
Burlesque Specialty: Acrobatics, Twirling
Favorite Color: Changes often...
Favorite Cocktail: Keep it simple - Tequila and OJ or Jack and Coke
Favorite Quote: "You can't put 10 lbs of somethin' into a 5 lb bag a nuthin'" Dr Phil during the mustache years.
Biggest Crush: The Stage Door Johnnies. In particular, Jett Adore.
Pet Peeve: Negative Nancies.
Special Skill: Give me a glue gun and anything is possible.
RHA - Where are you from?
The bustling metropolis of Des Moines, IA. You can't believe how I screamed at my computer when I watched the trailer for 'Burlesque'. Xtina's character is just another girl from the cornfields of Iowa. In all reality, I did not grow up in a cornfield riding horses and feeding cows, but it was a pretty great place to grow up. EastSide Pride!!
RHA - When and how did you find out about burlesque?
I actually had an interesting talk with my mother about this not too long ago. She used to act and produce work at a local theater and they would throw these amazing NYE parties. There was a woman who would come and do her vaudeville act and twirl tassels. They even had Candy Girls and I loved 'smoking' the candy cigarettes. I had forgotten about this until now. Kind of always had the secret showgirl/stripper dream.
RHA - What is "burlesque" to you?
Well, essentially it is the art of tease. But I think it is also taking the audience on a little ride to somewhere they haven't been before, showing something that they may not expect. I think there is a fine line between Burlesque and performance art/exhibition.
RHA - How would you describe your approach to burlesque?
I really love the classic stuff. But no matter how hard I try to not have an aspect of humor, it always comes up. Deep down I want to be the sultry vixen, but I really like making people laugh as well. I think I can be both, I want to be both. Comedy can be pretty sexy if done in the right thong-tard.
RHA - Who are some of your favorite local performers and why?
There are so many! Who can deny the L'amour empire, she is an exacting performer and I love it. Jeez Loueez, Teddy Bare, Stage Door Johnnies, Frenchie Kiss, Jyldo, I could go on and on! And they all bring something a little different to the table.
RHA - What's your favorite costume?
That is a hard question. Right now I'm digging tacky retro costumes and over the top-ness. And lots of gold. This is how my Rick James act came about. And I really wanted a fan that blows glitter. However, if you ever have a glitter fan you should ask those running it not to blow it upwards. After a show at Berlin, that involved the whole box of glitter...it was actually piling up at my feet....I woke up with a stuffy nose. It was stuffy because it was full of glitter.
RHA - Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction? What was it like?
My first true wardrobe malfunction happened recently. We have been performing for Viva La Muerte's Pink Floyd Tribute. We have a 80's workout trio to 'Young Lust'. I decided instead of dumping water on myself at the end, I should do oil. Looks so much better on the skin, right? Well yes, but after a few shows, including one where I went a little oil crazy, the pasties start to wear down. Not only that, the next performance I COULDN'T GET THEM TO STICK TO MY BREASTS!!! I have never been so nervous. Coming down to about five minutes before, I got them to barely stick and I ended up not being able to do a complete final reveal. Sad face.
RHA - Do you have a "pet peeve" when it comes to burlesque?
Line, attention to detail, and walking. I think this is where rehearsing in front of a mirror is really important. It drives me absolutely nuts to watch someone with no hand/arm awareness and men/women who don't strut. Don't bend your knees in heels ladies! Use your hips. I had a long discussion with Jett Adore about this the other day.
RHA - What are your goals in performing?
I want to do it until it's not fun anymore. I want to continue to grow. You can tell when a performer has become stagnant and their is no life in the performance. I think that is along the lines of why I got a little disenchanted with the concert dance scene. Everything had to be such a struggle.
RHA - Most embarrassing moment on stage?
Halloween show, I think my first year of performing. We did a "Ring" inspired acro duet, in black wigs. Acrobatics in black wigs, challenging. Acro in black wigs covering your face, hard. Not the most embarrassing part though. Ever have those moments that it feels like you wake up and you have no idea what's going on? In the middle of the act, I totally blank. Up next is a move that I have to initiate. I end up getting close to Lola and whispering to her "Oh my god I forgot what's next". In the moment that is pretty terrifying. Watching the video, it's absolutely hilarious.
RHA - What are some of your hobbies outside of burlesque?
Dance and Yoga are pretty huge parts of my life.
RHA - How would you describe your family's reaction to your performing?
Waaaaay better than I thought. I'm pretty sure my mom was convinced I was stripping at a club until she came to one of my shows, with my Grandmother in tow no less. This went much better than expected. Since she has been super supportive, but Oma doesn't really talk about it. She gives me a lot of costumes and vintage things as she isn't doing as many productions as she used to. It's like a girls dream, free costumes! I didn't tell my dad for a long time. I kept dropping hints but didn't really tell him until he was in town for one of our shows. We were actually performing at a gay wedding and he came with. Best quote ever at the wedding..."Where's the bride? Ohhhhh....right." Ever since he is like "Why didn't you tell so and so family member that you had a show?! They would have come out!" I'm pretty lucky to have such great parents.
RHA - Where's the best place for fans to find out more about you?
dollsofdoom.com and the good ol FB. But the best stalker news and views will be up on my website which is coming soon.
Matt Liang Chaboud, Ann Oleinik
Find Out More about Other Chicago Burlesque Performers