“I did not know that there were other performers like me,” says burlesque artist Perlita Picante, “of my Latin background. … It turns out there a lot of people in that category.” Other Latina, South Sound performers include TUSH! Burlesque founder Frida Fondle, Rock Candy Burlesque’s Vanessa the Witch and Valerie Veils of TUSH! Burlesque. Picante, whose stage name means “Spicy Little Pearl” in Spanish, was invited to peform as a guest with De Colores Cabaret, a Latinx company in Portland, Oregon. That inspired her to create a Latin-themed (and cast) evening of burlesque here in Olympia. She joined forces with frequent Rock Candy host Professir Rolan Thunder, and the result, playing one time only at the Olympia Film Society’s Capitol Theater, was Azúcar.
That’s Spanish for “sugar.” Picante adopted it in tribute to one of her idols, Cuban-American chanteuse and activist Celia Cruz. “Azúcar!” was, as Picante describes it, Cruz’s “war cry. Every time she sang a song and she was into it, she would yell ‘A-zú-car!’” An idiomatic, American-English synonym might be, “Sweet!”
In addition to Picante and Veils, performers for the event include Chesty La Rue, Dahlia Kash, Jesus La Pinga, Lola Coquette and Luz de la Concha. Then there are the headliners, featured Seattle artists Jacqueline Hyde and spICE. “They have incredible stage presence,” gushes Picante. “We also have the debut of Papaya Magic Cabaret, which is Vanessa the Witch, Dulce D’jour and myself, and we’re doing two group numbers. And without giving too much away, they’re going to be fantastic.” (La Rue, spICE and Olympia’s own Lowa DeBoomboom are cast members of Dear White People, a “brown and sexy” burlesque show in Seattle’s Theatre Off Jackson.)
Azúcar will “be hosted Spanglish-ly,” jokes Thunder. “It’s all about sharing what those people are bringing. Every time I see them, it’s spine-tingling because you’re sitting there thinking, ‘That’s what my people are bringing.’ That’s what I can’t wait to share. I think that’s been my emphasis for the last year: bringing the story that these people are ready to share. It’s gonna be visually amazing, artistically amazing, and we hope to bring it back every year to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Azúcar, a Celebration of Latin & Hispanic Heritage
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia