How did you get started in Burlesque?
I got into burlesque by accident 5 years ago when I found a class run by Jo King. She has been in the business for over 30 years and is the only British living legend in the Las Vegas Hall of Fame - so I was in the hands of a true professional! I'd graduated from drama school (ALRA) a few years before and after some time in the wilderness, had to get myself back on the stage. It was at these classes that I found I had ideas and luckily, when I put them before an audience, they liked it.
Alice Cooper was impressed with your act. Tell us about that....
Alice Cooper asked Londons freaks to get in touch and audition for his Halloween Night Of Fear show at the Roundhouse last year. I was one of 10 acts picked out of hundreds to perform for him at the London Dungeon audition. It was a really intimate gig - apart from banks of cameras and reporters! I loved performing for him because he totally got the humour and even sang along to Patsy with me. However, Crimson has a bit of a thing for bald men...Ed the Severed Head is bald, so Alice was safe!
What is Death Row Diva about?
Death Row Diva is essentially a twisted love story. Crimson is on Death Row and is giving her final account about her childhood in Texas, the men she's killed and the one man, Ed who proved to be her downfall. Crimson is a charming, loveable murderer with a penchant for Patsy Cline.
The Lowry asked you to write the piece. Can you tell us why you like this venue?
I'd performed in the larger Quays theatre for The Slippery Belle presents Burlesque! and also for the Gawkagogo Freakshow. The staff at the Lowry are always extremely helpful and technically, it's faultless. I also like the audience as they are a very mixed crowd who might not have seen burlesque and cabaret before - so it's always nice to have fresh blood.
One person shows must be pressured as it all rises or falls on your shoulders. But what are the bonuses of about performing alone?
If it goes well, the glory! Diplomacy isn't one of my strong points so I don't have to worry about my tone of voice when it's me I'm berating. It is extremely stressful putting on a show by yourself but in reality, I've had help from so many friends who have all offered their expertise in areas I'm lacking in. Without those people I couldn't have done it....and I owe them lots of booze.
Would you like to be part of a big show or do you prefer being in intimate theatre pieces?
I would love to be in a play again. I'd love to speak someone elses lines and have the feeling of putting the pieces of a jigsaw together. I also love working on the big burlesque shows because you get to see all the other acts for free. However, I thrive off hecklers and terrorising the audience so an intimate venue gives me the chance to really get up close.
What was the last great thing you saw on stage?
I'd love to have the time to go and see more straight theatre but I did see Warhorse and that was mesmerising and moving and deserved all the accolade it's been getting. On a burlesque note, the best and most powerful thing I've seen recently was a performer called Miss Aurora Boobrealis performing 7 months pregnant. She was absolutely beautiful and terrifying at the same time...we were praying she wouldn't go into labour on the stage!
What would you say to someone who was wary of Burlesque - in an attempt to persuade them to see Death Row Diva?
A lot of people think of burlesque as posh stripping and while there is an important and glamorous element of people (men and women) taking their clothes off onstage, there is also a lot of comedy, musicality and imagination involved.. I've seen acts parodying everything from the Evolution of Woman, the Log Lady from Twin Peaks through to Scooby Doo and much more. All of the performers are funny, talented people with no intention of making their audience feel uncomfortable. I'm afraid Crimson doesn't take much off...apart from the straight jacket but she does sing and hopefully will give a cheerful, uplifting take on murder and Death Row and morals...remember, she didn't get away with it!
Death Row Diva - The Final Account Of Crimson Skye is at the Lowry on 13th August. For more details, visit the Lowry website.