Interview with Trixie Minx
One of New Orleans' top burlesque performers talks about the shows she produces and how she got the name Trixie Minx.
GREG MILES PHOTOGRAPH
The room was properly seductive: low, hushed red-hued lighting, red velvet curtains, and free-flowing libations – all a set piece to beguilingly ease people into the right mood. It was the night of “The Big Gateaux Show” at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, an event presented by the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience combining burlesque, champagne and desserts. It was something that would attract one of the city’s top burlesque performers and producers Trixie Minx, herself resplendent in a shimmering, beaded, cream gown accessorized with two oversized feather fans. Later in the night, Minx and her other burlesque performers kept the crowd enraptured with their art of the tease.
Minx arrived in New Orleans in 2001. She and her husband moved from Nashville, Tenn. (with a brief stop in Austin, Texas) after an injury to her foot ended her career as a ballet dancer. It was tough, she says, because she had been a ballerina all of her life. The couple had fallen in love with New Orleans when they visited only a few months earlier for Jazz Fest, and like their own love, their affection for the city was love at first sight. “In other cities you reside, in New Orleans you live,” she says.
The city has loved them back as Trixie Minx and her productions – Fleur de Tease, Burlesque Ballroom and Creole Sweet Tease – have become a part of the cultural scene. Performing with the New Orleans Bingo! Show has made her a household name as well. What does this Trixie have planned next? A true minx never tells.
When was Trixie Minx born? In December 2005, technically. I was booked to do a show in town and I didn’t have a name. I was a tassel twirler, so I knew I wanted something with alliteration, with a “T.” So I knew I was going to be a Trixie – and that sort of fits my personality.
But I still needed a last name. While a photographer was taking promotional pictures for the show, he stopped to say, “Looking at you reminds me of a line in an old movie … ‘The crazy minx!’”
How did you start doing burlesque? At first I didn’t want to do it. I had seen a couple of shows – I enjoyed them, but I didn’t think there was much performance or artistry. The local shows I had seen were done on a small scale and I was used to working in a ballet where you had a theater, orchestra, a stage manager, lights; I was used to that environment. To see burlesque in a bar, well, I had a little bit of a snooty attitude.
I had friends at the time who were in burlesque – one of whom is a famous singer, she was in opera; the other was a professional ballroom dancer; while another was a college student going to school with my husband. These were educated women who had done burlesque and were insisting that I do it. Saying I was a good fit. However, it literally took me going to Paris and seeing the Moulin Rouge and the Crazy Horse, where I saw burlesque could be more than just one girl on stage. It opened my eyes to it being a stage production. In Paris, I fell in love with what burlesque was.
Tell us about the shows you produce in New Orleans. I currently run three different shows:
Fleur de Tease is more of a vaudeville, variety revue – those shows tend to have story lines, themes, usually involving circus arts. I have been doing it for seven years. It is usually at One Eyed Jack’s.
Burlesque Ballroom is a modern interpretation on a classic Bourbon Street burlesque show. This show has been going on three and half years at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse.
Creole Sweet Tease: Is a show I developed with Jayna Morgan and Gerald French. The show is basically a historical burlesque show, making the music, dancing and costuming line up with the 1900s, late ’20s. We are now doing a monthly show at The Saint Hotel, which started this past January.
Aren’t there different types of burlesque? One thing that I find frustrates people is it’s hard to define or pinpoint what burlesque is because it has such a range. In that way, burlesque is similar to jazz, which ranges from traditional to contemporary.
Classic burlesque traditionally is a beautiful girl in a gown, jeweled lingerie and gloves dancing to traditional jazz music. And a lot of time there isn’t a heavy theme. Or if there is, it’s a thinly veiled excuse for her remove her articles. It is the art of tease – it’s what Dita Von Teese does. Everything is about the sensuality and the glamour.
Neo-Burlesque is considered the new wave of burlesque: the woman doesn’t have to be in a gown and gloves; she doesn’t have what you may think is the concept of classic beauty – she can be very thin, can have crazy color hair, tattoos – a more unconventional beauty. There is more modern music, more contemporary themes, and to me it feels more like performance art than classic tease. But ultimately the vibe is still the same – a woman expressing herself through movement, through reveals.
So there is a burlesque season. September to June. Like ballet and opera have a season, I think burlesque should have a season. People think I’m crazy! It’s not like that. But I have developed a season – or at least our show is identified with it.
How many shows do you do in a season? We do 10 shows a year. Before we decide on what we’re doing, I sit everyone down and I tell them all of my ideas – then we workshop it, I ask their opinion and together as a group we decide what stays and goes.
How many people are in your company? I have 12 full-time and add one or two for each show. There are four dancers, three aerialists, one magician, one comedian, a back-of-house stage manger and a front-of-house manager. And a stage kitten, whose role is to pick up the articles of clothing (the informal name is panty wrangler).
Who have been your inspirations? Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball are my two pillars of inspiration. These are both beautiful woman who were funny. Their beauty never took away from their comedy; their comedy was never brought down by their beauty. They were both innovators for their time … went against the grain.
True Confession: I am paranoid about writing the number “9.” I missed an acceptance letter to a prestigious school because the nine I wrote looked like a four; and they didn’t receive it, and I didn’t get in.
At a Glance
Age: “I am an (19)80s ch ild” Profession: Bur lesque producer and performer Born/Raised: Miami, Fla. Resides: St. Roch Family: Mr. M inx with our dog Zeus, a black Labrador. I am trying to train him to be in the show, but he’s not doing well. He is more of a cheerleader than a performer. My parents are Mama Minx and Poppa Minx; my sister is Pixie Minx; my brother is Bro Bro Minx. Education: I graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School; I then went to New World School of the Performing Arts, also in Miami, for three years. Favorite book: Alice in Wonderland Favorite movie: Drop Dead Gorgeous. Part of the reason is because I see certain parallels to the arts – specifically competition, the ridiculousness of it. Favorite TV sh ow: I don’t have one that is currently on TV, but I like “Monk.” Favo rite food: Cheese. Any type of cheese Favorite restaurant: My husband and I have a standing date at La Peniche on Sunday mornings. Favorite music/musicians: That’s just not fair! I honestly work with so m any music ians and get used to their music. In my personal time I listen to anything that puts a smile on my face and makes me want to dance, from bad pop to punk to classic jazz; I’m all over the place. Favorite vacation spot: I love Costa Rica: specifically the East Coast. I also love visiting New York. It’s not a relaxing place to be, but it’s the epicenter for dance and culture. Hobby: I really don’t have time wi th all I’m doing. However, I do like riding my bike with my dog; trying to do Pilates; and I’m an avid scrapbooker!