Women Who Rock
The Red Hot Heathens were born
by Rosie the Reveller
(published on Burlesque Bitch)
I went to my first rock show when I was 5 years old. To say that this was the beginning of an obsession would be an understatement. In the 26 years since then, I've seen thousands of musicians. Anything from backyard guitar pickers to KISS, I've been there. I've moshed at huge festivals and politely nodded my head along at tiny coffee shops. I spent much of my early 20's (drunk) at various Cleveland concert venues.
When I started doing burlesque in 2008, it was only natural for me to want to get involved with the local music scene, and do shows at some of those same rock clubs. At the time, however, I was told by the group I was working with that burlesque is "too classy" for venues like that, and we would attract the wrong types of crowds. And then I met Aurora Sans.
Not only was she also interested in doing a not-so-classy, rock and roll style burlesque show, but a strange mind-meld would happen when we talked about our ideas on how to pull it off. So in 2011, when Aurora called and said "Hey, I'm starting a new troupe. You want in?" My response was obviously "Hell Yes." We pulled together a handful of like-minded people, including pin-up model Ooh La Lola and local celebrity Booze McKoot, and after a few start-stops and misfires, The Red Hot Heathens were born.
We decided early on to make our shows free, unless the proceeds were for a charity. Cleveland is, after all, a blue collar town, and we wanted to cater to a working class crowd. After a year of cranking out a new variety show every month at a local corner bar, we wanted to try something a little bit more ambitious. Aurora put together the first Women That Rock show in February of 2012, and it was a hit! It was held at the Rock City Tap House with Ms. Fever Blister from L.A. as our emcee, and featured two woman-led bands and about a dozen dance acts, with proceeds donated to the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center. The idea of a show celebrating women, put on by women and for the benefit of women, resonated strongly with the community.
We decided to do a bigger, more elaborate Women That Rock this year, featuring more acts and more live music. Aurora, who is pursuing her degree while also holding down a full time job, graciously agreed to let me take the reins this year. I had heard about a crisis shelter for women in the Cleveland area, and so with a charity in mind, things started cooking. The first thing, obviously, was finding a venue. The Phantasy Niteclub stood out because I had spent a lot of time there over the years, and I knew it had all the space and equipment that we would need to host a big show. When the booker told me that The Symposium, a smaller club in the same complex, was also available, we decided to book both stages for more of a festival feel.
So on June 6th, The Heathens put on our second Women That Rock show, featuring 3 bands and 25 dance acts on two stages. We were lucky enough to have the beautiful Ms. Fever Blister return as our Phantasy Niteclub emcee, and she was just as adorable and funny as we expected. The show opened with Miss Firecracker, a raunchy and hilarious one-woman-band with roots in the punk scene, and a history in Cleveland burlesque as Queen LaTata of The Pussyfoot Girls. She was followed by a handful of wonderful burlesque acts, including a hilarious Judge Judy number from Shrimp Cocktail, and some superb "assel" work from Eliza Sidecar. Next came The D-Rays from Athens, Ohio, an amazing surf-rock group featuring Missy Pence on bass, who seared through a hard and fast set for a delighted audience.
Meanwhile, things had started to heat up downstairs in The Symposium, where Aurora led the crowd through a cavalcade of amazing talent. After some technical issues were ironed out, things took off with acts that included singing from Violet Lee and Shy Kamikaze, a yoga inspired act from Queen Bee of The Hive...Not to mention belly dance, donuts, stilt-walking, a powerful chair routine from guest performer The Irresistible O from Detroit, hooping from our own Foxy Moon, an emotional burlesque debut by local lovely Joselin Heretik, and a finale from the emcee, Aurora Sans, Classic Rock Countess of Cleveland Burlesque.
Back upstairs, onlookers were treated to two gravity defying pole acts from the artists at Cleveland Exotic Dance, and a scary good time with a horror-themed belly dance set from The Monster Dolls. After a sultry version of "The Locomotion" from Ms. Fever Blister herself, the show finished with melodic metal from Julia Roberts' Global Warning, featuring Julia Roberts (no, not that one) on guitar and vocals.
At the end of the night, when all of the raffle money and tip donations had been included and the expenses paid out, we were able to raise over $1400. The final count at the door was 137 paid attendees, which was the biggest turn-out for a Heathen production thus far. The show wrapped that night with happy performers, a happy venue, a happy (drunk) crowd, and the satisfaction of having accomplished something that we were told we couldn't do: a rock and roll burlesque show.
Written by Rosie the Reveller
Edited by The Irresistible O
We're always the first to help and this time we're the ones asking for it.....
We love our Kaycee girl, aka Foxy Moon the Red Hot Heathens own Strooper. Last month Kaycee was diagnosed with leukemia and has been undergoing chemo treatments for the last several weeks. Not only does she mean the world to us but also the community and many friends and family. We would like to do our part to help buffer some of the costs she is incurring for medical expenses. Please consider donating if you are able and we appreciate your kindness in advance. We set up a Go Fund Me page that you can contribute to at this link, here. So far as of today we have already raised over $8,000 for Kaycee. Please keep paying it forward!
A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the selflessness and big hearts of our vets and help in raising money for Ohio Chapter 1 Rolling Thunder. We were able to raise over $700 for this organization! Our last performance at the Spitfire Saloon will forever be remembered! Thank you Stosh for supporting us all of these years!!!
I wonder that sometimes...
There is so much effort and time and energy that goes into just one show. Sometimes I wonder how we even did the shows in the beginning EVERY month. Every month. Seriously. And a different theme every single time. Blows my mind. Yet somehow even now we manage to produce a new show every couple of months...but why you ask? Because we love each other. No lies. This is one special group and we are lucky to have each other. You don't really see this kind of bond in the burlesque world and the ONLY thing we take seriously is our friendship. It shows. It shows in our performances, it shows in our productions, it shows in our friendships, and it shows in our personalities. We can't lie. We love the fuck out of each other. Once a Heathen always a Heathen. What's in store for us in 2016? Well how the hell would we know that we kinda just roll with the punches...and laugh a bunch in the process. Thanks for supporting us. We appreciate you, too. Yes. Even you.
Boy, time sure does fly by. Four years ago this month we had our first show at The Richland Cafe as The Red Hot Heathens called "The Red Light Revue." All of the faces and names we had, we'll never forget. We are forever grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and friends over the years. Rosie and I had a vision...we saw a fit for burlesque in dive bars here in Cleveland. Why is that, you might ask? Because that's our jam. Dubbed, "Outlaw Burlesque," we were never the ones who enjoyed following the rules and standards set forth by our small performing community. That being said, it was our honor to represent our fair city in the corniest, and often times ridiculously funniest light that we could possible shed. This month marks four years of the Red Hot Heathens but also five years for me as a performer. Having started out with Le Femme Mystique Burlesque, then Cleveland Burlesque Company, I finally landed clumsily amongst a group of folks I proudly call my pals. We have always encouraged each other, been there for each other, listened, cried, laughed, hugged, and fed each other. The Red Hot Heathens are truly a unique group of individuals who foster the ideals of creativity, camaraderie, friendship, and family. I am so very fortunate to have them in my corner always, and to be a part of their lives. Happy birthday to us and to many more years because, as we always say, once a Heathen ALWAYS a Heathen. Cheers!
That pretty much sums up what we do and who we are. We are the face of Outlaw Burlesque and as such we feel the need to stir the pot and give you something a little off-kilter. Make no mistake, we are professionals in our own right. Professional jackasses perhaps? We love and live to entertain. There's something to be said for the special bond that we all have...going on 4 years of being together in this great family, we Heathens are a really, REALLY special group. A family of misfit toys. And there's no stopping for us in the future. Let's keep the train rolling... -Aurora Sans
April 2014 marks 3 consecutive years for the Heathens in Cleveland! Thank you to all of our fans, friends, sponsors, and guests who have kept the hype alive!
Well why should I help? Why should I care? Why should I spend my valuable time helping others? I'll tell you why....
Hey folks it's your friendly neighborhood stripper/family gal/artist/humanitarian/animal lover/accountant. It's that time of the year again where those in need come out of the wood work. Why do we Heathens care so much? We care because we are just as much a part of this community as you are. You support us, we support you. "Do unto others" seriously applies here.
One shining example of why we do what we do happened over the weekend. The 5th Annual Cleveland Heavy Metal Food Drive was this past weekend at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. I was once again (having been my 4th year in a row, participating at this event) floored by the outpouring of kind souls so generous and giving. This is a big reason why our heavy metal community in Cleveland is so special. We are family. We are there for each other in good times and bad. The bands kicked so much ass and rocked so hard. They are not just talented musicians but also dear friends to me. Bill Peters, the Metal director at WJCU & owner of Auburn Records, put on this event for it's 5th year. With the help of the Auburn Records crew, Bill had another extremely successful turnout and loads of donations, both cash and food, which was executed flawlessly. He is just one example of those that I admire, respect, and that inspire me.
We are still hanging onto our trophy from the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland for raising the most money as an entertainment group in 2012 from last Christmas. If you get a chance, swing by the Spitfire Salooon to catch a glimpse of it :)
We continue to perform for charities throughout the year and in fact, I will be performing with gal pals Dot King & Ava Adore as well as the rockin' Hemi Devils and my good pals Shades of Remembrance for a Toys for Tots benefit on Saturday, December 21 at the Maple Grove in Maple Heights.
Now I must give credit to one of the most exemplary groups in the Cleveland area. The Basement Beauties. This group has done so much in the way of helping in the community in so many different ways, shapes, and forms. As their mission goes, "We exist to connect dedicated people, talent, and all available resources to do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, and as long as we ever can." Vicci Simpkins has been at the helm since it's inception in the basement of Twist Social Club in Cleveland, 2008. She is one of the most inspiring women in my life. I continue to learn from her and I am quite certain I'm not the only one. Yet another special group here in Cleveland that has adopted me as family. From the Cleveland Dragon Boat Fest to the Gay Games to the Warehouse District Tours we have been all over this great city doing what we do best...help where we are needed.
And finally (this is just a short break....I've got a lot more to say) I leave you with the immortal words of my pal Iron Ingo from Germany, "give a little bit to help a lot."
With some of my favorite Basement Beauties Joei, Judy, myself and Vicci (left to right.)
Here I am with Cleveland heavy metal royalty Bill Peters!
with the one and only Iron Ingo & my pal Rachel circa 2010
In a community of many burlesque performers you meet and see a lot
of fun things, people, and acts. It is inspiring as well as intimidating! It's always enjoyable to see uniqueness, not the expected beautifully choreographed, dazzling rhinestone, tassel reveal strip tease show, but comedy acts full of interesting props, role playing acts with multiple people, it's not so much a sweet solo anymore.
The intimidation is mostly the anxiety of what to come up with next, how to portray your vision, what has not been done before, venues that have not been reached, with such endless creativity, I feel sometimes stumped, stunted, and scared.
It is a challenge! I have spent a great deal of time and money pressing my imagination! Stretching my dollar making duct tape shimmery pasties, mix matching costumes, adding a small detail here or there, building giant cardboard props, gluing, taping, borrowing, trying, and rehearsing. Everyone is different and in all and all it is fun, and it is intimidating! Such is Life, and what is life without it all!!
In this life, I have learned a lot from my group of merry heathens! I have received a great deal of support through them as well as our community. We are always looking for more and more ways to give back! Whether a compliment to our Burlesque sisters, gratitude and prizes to our audience members, cash and food donations to the ones in need, and a helping hand in general.
What will we come up with NEXT!!!!