Burlesque company to celebrate milestone
Lemme Addams — the burlesque persona of Whiskey Tongue Burlesque founder Gayla Jackson — has been performing since she was teenager.
“Ever since I was 14, I’ve been performing on some stage or another,” she said. “Whether it was church choir, theater arts or being in a band, I was always doing something.”
Still, it’s a bit of a leap to go from singing with a band to stripping off your clothes. And it’s a bigger leap to form a burlesque company and stage regular shows with a band of feisty dancers who prance, bump and shimmy while stripping down to twinkling pasties and a pair of peekaboo panties.
But Addams did it.
“I had only been to one burlesque show at the Abbey Underground,” she said. “And I remember [local burlesque dancer] Crystal Pistols was there.”
On the drive home, Addams had dreamed up her stage name and a company name and was seeing costumes in her head. Addams runs several shops on Etsy, selling handmade pillows, reusable feminine hygiene products and burlesque costume pieces — namely bras and pasties, the decorative patches dancers use to cover their nipples.
It didn’t take long to make Whiskey Tongue Burlesque a busy Denton troupe. Addams said she got the name through simple word association.
“I was like, ‘Whiskey. That sounds dangerous,’ and then I thought of ‘tongue’ and it made me think of Guns N’ Roses and the Rolling Stones. It was strong,” she said.
Addams said she bluffed her way onto her first show, and had just a twinge of stage fright. She’d borrowed her daughter’s high school drill team uniform.
“I took off my bra and was about to put the cowboy hat over my chest and thought, ‘Am I really going to do this?’ And then I did it.’”
There’s persistent confusion about the difference between stripping and burlesque. Stripping is generally about leaving nothing to the imagination. Burlesque is about the tease, and burlesque dancers don’t always strip. And when they do, it’s usually not a full monty proposition.
“I can tell you the difference between stripping and burlesque,” Addams said. “An exotic dancer at a gentlemen’s club makes rent in one night. With burlesque, one of our costumes costs more than what we make in a night.”
The troupe will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Saturday with a show titled “The Little Burlesque Troupe That Could” at Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor & Chainsaw Repair.
Whiskey Tongue Burlesque has had an exclusive agreement with Mable’s for the last year. The troupe is the only one to perform at the local bar, which it does on the second Saturday of each month. And the troupe doesn’t perform at any other venue, although the dancers can do shows elsewhere.
Since founding Whiskey Tongue, Addams said she’s discovered the key ingredients to good burlesque — the right music, a good costume, and understanding if the music is there to help you tell a story or just provide rhythm.
Whiskey Tongue is an 11-member company, including Beth A Licious, Willa Wisp, Ginger Rockafella, Ruby Manhattan, Carmel Sutra, Clint Liquor, Gitsie St. James. Kitty Layne, Chordella Smash, Elena Lewis. The troupe also includes “kittens,” sultry stagehands Poison Ivy and Savannah “The Onion.”
The anniversary show starts at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mable Peabody’s, 1125 E. University Drive. The show features Beth A Licious, Velvet Mystique, Ginger Rockafella, Ruby Manhattan, Chordella Smash, Kitty Layne, Gitsie St. James, Clint Liquor, Tristan Von and Lemme Addams.
Cover is $7. For advance tickets and VIP table reservations, visit www.bit.ly/1ZOSyG0 .