Talking about Burlesque in Tulsa
Meet LolliePop and Honey Lynn,
Tulsa Aristocrats: What does the established Tulsa burlesque scene look like now in the year 2017?
LOLLIE: It’s an exciting time to be a performer in Tulsa. We had people that came before us to pave the way and establish the burlesque scene 10 years ago.
Now we have performers that specialize in Classic, Neo, Sideshow and other variations of performance art. The people that came before us and blazed the trail, have really allowed us to grow into what we are today.
TA: Who comes to your mind as a performer that blazed the trails for you, that others might remember?
LOLLIE: Well, Ilsa the Wolf, AKA “The Wolf”, Sarah Wilemon, she was part of the Horse Meat Flea Circus and carved out the burlesque scene in Tulsa. She will be coming out of retirement for my show at She Theater on June 20 & 21st.
TA: Do you think people are coming around to see the art of burlesque and not thinking it is pornography?
LOLLIE: Thanks to Dita Von Teese and movies like "Burlesque" and "Glitter Tribe," people understand this is the classic art of tease. Just like any movie you can choose what you watch. Every performer has a different style and a different ideology. It’s that creation and that drive to create art is really what keeps it from becoming mundane. I do everything from classic burlesque with fans and bubbles to a bloody Mike Myers performance where I am masked the entire time I am performing. Performers express an array of stories and experiences and that is really what’s important in the burlesque scene now. Accepting the wide array of styles and body types that make this art so amazing. People sometimes compare us to strippers but there are a few key differences. Burlesque is not about dancing for money, we are hired artists performing for the audience, not for their tips. Burlesque is about creating a story, bringing a fantasy and character to life.
TA: What is your Tulsa Audience like?
LOLLIE: Tulsans really appreciate the burlesque scene, that tease and allure. They come out to shows, cheer, support, take pics and buy merch. They want to share our events and they are excited to engage with us. Our guests really turn out for the theater and character of the performer. Our performers can cause the same havoc by peeling a single stocking as an athlete scoring the winning point.
TA: Burlesque seems to include all body sizes, and it doesn’t seem to have a societal shame for size but almost an embrace… LOLLIE: Absolutely, it’s about empowerment for the performer, easily 85% of our fanbase and audience is female. Sometimes when I feel like I am being too hard on myself and performing, I go to my inbox and read these amazing messages from people about how watching me has made another person feel confident in their body type, me embracing my own non-Barbie body is something they can relate to. They say that I "make them feel sexy." It gives me goose bumps to think that I have changed someone's perspective about themselves because of the confidence I have about my body. It's worth everything to me if I can help someone learn to love themselves say truly love what they see in the mirror.
TA: So, tell me about Honey, she was here for pictures and then had to go to her other job.
LOLLIE: Oh Honey! She just hatched out one day being the queen of the hive! We became friends in January during a production and now we are practically inseparable.
Honey joined the Tulsa burlesque and pinup scene about a year ago assisting and stage-managing event. Being a stage panther has given her more confidence in who she is and she will be debuting soon. I love her because she “owns it” and that’s everything when it comes to being a burlesque performer. You can be a pretty princess or a wolf or a serial killer onstage and as long as you are devoted to that, it doesn't matter how quirky or strange your act is: the audience is excited for the journey. If you want to join the journey you can find me at facecbook.com/lolliepoppink
TA: Is burlesque completely nude?
LOLLIE: Burlesque takes is down to pasties and g-string or a merkin which is like a g-string sans strings. Performers go as far as they want to and boundaries vary by performer and by state law.
TA: Misconceptions you experience: Are you a stripper?
LOLLIE: I am a stripper like a veterinarian is a heart surgeon. Strippers perform for tips. As a burlesque performer, the moment I walk through the door, I’m already paid and I am here to perform. This is a complete look and no touch show. As artists, we tell a story. Strippers tend to have a specific look and style and rely on entertaining the patrons for pay. As burlesque performers, we are paid by the venue to perform our art and do not rely on the audience for our income.
TA: I have heard you are doing great work with your tattoo company and also helping women at the same time.
LOLLIE: Yes, I own LolliePop Tattoos and I operate out of a private studio. I am a multi international award-winning tattoo artist. I specialize in super girly tattoos, coverups, flowers and bright colors. I do tattoo men but my clientele is about 80% women.
Tattoos were illegal in Oklahoma for so long, and people got terrible work done because of that. My cover-up work gives people a fresh start on their collection. Each November I do a program called “Pay as you may," women will come in and tell me what they need covered up and what their budget is and I do everything I can to accommodate them. For example a woman had her ex's name in terrible homemade lettering down her arm. What cost $20 in 1995 is now $600 to get rid of because of the size and detail that needs to go into it. Now, at this point in my life I can set aside time to make good things happen for these women and give them so they can get on with their lives. You can find me at facebook.com/lollie.art
She opened in January this year, in Tulsa. She offers a one of a kind VIP experience including reservable tables and booths, top shelf champagne, cocktails, craft beer and opportunities for guest to interact with performers. For a performer, it's not only a lovely place to be but it has a great green room and the staff is always amazing. She raises the bar for what Tulsans expect. They have aerial performances each night and the shows we produce bring in fire eaters, drag kings, contortionists and more. When someone comes to a show at She, it is an experience.