This week’s artist is Kristin Walker. Kristin performs in burlesque shows around the city under the stage name as Trixie Sparx, combining her love of song, dance, and fantastic costumes. She has several shows coming up over the next couple months, so check ’em out. Thanks for sharing, Kristin!
What is your name and city of residence?
Kristin Walker, Chicago, IL
What medium do you work in?
Burlesque Theatre–stage name: Trixie Sparx
How often do you work on your art–is it a full-time endeavor or something you work on in your spare time?
This is a part time endeavor–a little artistic something to feed my soul. While it does pay, it does not pay ALL of the bills… but it does provide enough to buy more sparkly things! I am a member of Vaudezilla Productions, a burlesque troupe (Shameless plug–voted Best Burlesque Troupe in Chicago by the Chicago Reader 2011). We have a group meeting and rehearse solo/group acts once a week and I perform anywhere from three to ten times a month- full blown shows and private gigs, alike.
How does art fit into your life, in general? Is it something you think about and talk about every day, or every week, or only in certain situations, etc.?
Being a part of this artistic community is exhilarating to say the least, and I am always thinking about how to improve my craft, come up with new and cleaver ideas for acts, or promoting my company and the art itself. There are many misconceptions that shadows this art form and deters many people from experiencing it–including many of my friends. Burlesque roots are in parody, which uses sensuality and ‘tease’ in each act while reveling what is underneath sparkly costumes. We burlesque performers are NOT strippers, though we do remove our clothing. It is the element of ‘tease’ which sets us apart from the ‘dead behind the eyes’ stripper types. The important thing to remember is that burlesque is about telling a story through music and movement–sometimes funny, sometimes sexy. While everyone knows the end result (the final reveal) it is the journey that the performer takes you on where the art truly lies.
When you start on a piece, what kind of end result do you have in mind? Does it get performed or published, put in a permanent form or is it more temporary?
When starting a new act, I either get really jazzed by a song I hear, or a concept / character that I think of which leads to a burning urge deep inside me that says: THIS MUST BE DONE! So, I start playing around. I find costume bits and pieces that will work with the concept and character, and through experimenting with dance and movement, I slowly build the choreography to a final product. The unique thing about live performance is that it is organic, and it changes every time you perform. The foundation of the piece is there, but it grows and evolves the more you do it. Moreover, I perform in many different spaces–from bar tops, to small stages, to large venues, to art galleries–and the dance must be modified to accommodate the space.
What goals do you set in relation to your art, both short- and long-term? Is it something you hope to make money doing, or is it something you want to keep uncommercialized? Does the term “sell-out” hold meaning for you or do you see the art/commerce relationship as a necessary one?
As for goals–I would like to continue doing burlesque theatre for a very long time, as well as start to travel to festivals around the state, and do more private gigs. I am improving every week that goes by as a performer and it feeds my confidence and drive in my everyday life as well. The more I perform, the more I practice, the more I take classes, the more chances I have at making more money to feed the fuel that drives my craft. I never see myself ‘making it big’, or even surviving off of the income from my art, but the benefits it gives me creatively are worth so much more to me. No one in my business, in my humble opinion, has really ever ‘sold out.’ Promotion of burlesque can only lead to more acceptance and understanding of this theatrical art form and can benefit our pockets as well. Burlesque is still a rather underground movement that is surfacing on the social radar and any exposure or opportunity is greatly appreciated and used.
What role does collaboration with others play in your art, if any?
Collaboration happens all the time with burlesque theatre- quite often most shows are ‘Vaudeville-esque’ in nature, incorporating singers, magicians, acrobats, belly dancers, comedians, ect. I have done many ‘group acts’ some character driven and silly, others sensual, that have gone over smashingly. Currently, along with Vaudezilla Productions, I am working on collaborating with a local jazz ensemble for a live band show that will be held in November.
How conscious are you of your artistic influences? Who are your artistic influences?
As with any artist, I am susceptible and open to influence from everything from daily life, to music, still art, literature, culture, society, gender issues, politics and economics. Finding subtle ways to incorporate these themes into your art is a fun challenge. My artistic influences are my friends, whom for the most part, dabble in arts themselves. They impact me greatly and I strive to be a better artist myself so we can continue this ‘artistic dialog’ that inspires and encourages me. In addition, remarkable burlesque performers influence me–when you see it done right, it has a powerful effect on you.
Since this is a travel blog, how does travel relate to or affect your art? (Themes in what you produce, road trips to perform your music, thoughts on what happens to your painting when you ship it across the country to a customer, etc.)
Travel is a very deep passion of mine, and to combine that with the love of my art is the ultimate goal. I am ready and I want to take this act on the road! The best part of burlesque is that this is encouraged, and you can very easily. There are burlesque festivals all over the world, and I will be apply to a few festivals in 2012–some places I’ve never been, and really want to go such as Albuquerque, NM, Vancouver, Canada to name a few. I might also visit New Orleans and Colorado to support friends performing as well.
And finally, a right-brain question: If your art was a map, what would it be a map of?
Fantasia–with heaps of feathers, sparkles and sass.
If you’d like, share your website/Facebook page and any upcoming gigs/plans you’d like readers to know about.
Nov. 23rd at the Holiday Club
Dec. 3rd 10:30pm at the 773 Theatre; Trim! A Christmas Craptacular
Dec. 9th at the Lincoln Tap Room
Jan 21st at the 773; The Guilty Pleasure show
Feb 18th at the 773; Live Band Burlesque show