Behind the Scenes of Cabaret Derriere

by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS

The creators and performers of Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque are promotional wordsmiths, though some of their enticements are unprintable here. For the troupe’s recurring series at Obsidian, it promises “a titillating romp to celebrate Halloween,” with lots of “sizzle, sass and fabulous fun.” When asked about the name of that program, Cabaret Derriere, hostess and performer The Illustrious Ms. Hattie Hotpants notes simply that it’s “in keeping with the theme.” When asked what theme she means, she replies with a three-letter word, followed by a wink and a laugh.

Hotpants has been with the TUSH! collective since its debut in 2009. “I got the call to do that gig maybe a week or two before the first show,” she recalls. A few years later, she added dancing to her role as mistress of ceremonies. She was terrified, she says, but “I had seen the excitement of creating your own act. … I loved the control, the artistic license, the freedom. These days, my mind is attuned to it. If I hear a song on the radio I’ve never heard, I’m like: Hm. Now it’s just second nature for me.” It’s still the love of creating her own image and narrative that drives her. Before adding burlesque to a long list of stage credits, she says, “I had really not accessed a form of performance that just said, Okay, here’s four minutes. Go. … It’s like I’m making my music video. It’s like I’m making my movie. It’s your Beyoncé, and it’s an opportunity to take something that may have been speaking to you for years, like — I just love this song, it’s always inspired me — and then being able to create to it and then perform that.”

Cabaret Derriere is burlesque, but not just burlesque: “variety entertainment,” as Hotpants describes it. “It’s a sometimes monthly, sometimes bimonthly, sometimes semi-often, never more-than-once-a-month, variety-cabaret show (that) skews toward burlesque … We also try to book, as much as possible and as much as is appropriate, variety artists, particularly chanteuses or singers or small musical groups that don’t require a huge amount of stage setup.” One of October’s guest performers is Vanessa the Witch of Olympia, with Louis Van Camp accompanying on electric guitar. “She sings,” explains Hotpants. “Sometimes they choose to do what’s known as a sing-and-strip, which is what it sounds like.” The October show adds Violent Ten Dencies, “a member of Stripped Screw Burlesque in Seattle. That’s been to Olympia and the Capitol Theater several times with (its show) Disney After Dark. And she’s a phenomenal, powerhouse performer. She specializes in dancing on point, which is a wonderful sort of specialty in the burlesque scene. … We’re having her bring down one of those acts (themed to Poe’s “The Raven”) that we think speaks to the Halloween theme. … We like to make sure we’re bringing in a little bit of everything. We also have a belly dance from one of our members, Aurora Darling, this time around so we get dance in a different style.”

November’s show will include three guest performers from Portland and Seattle. “We’re trying to make these October and November Cabaret Derrieres really stand out with fantastic performances,” says Hattie Hotpants, “before we take a little break to ramp up for February’s show. It’s the big one. We recognize that we are one of Olympia’s favorite Valentine’s entertainment choices, and for the past few years we’ve been doing love-themed shows. We’ve decided to take a break from that style and look at doing more of a cohesive narrative. … We’re also trying to infuse this performance with a classical board game element. … It’ll be something that the audience can play along with and something that’ll involve their direct interaction.”

What: Cabaret Derriere

Where: Obsidian,
414 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia

When: 7 and 10 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4

How much: $21.69-$26.87

Learn more: Facebook | TUSH! Burlesque

Skip to content