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Red Herring

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|| Producer, performer, business owner ||

red_herring_brighter

When I was 20, I was a Dungeons and Dragons playing tomboy who owned black eyeliner and that’s about it. I wrote reviews for video games. I was the quintessential nerd, before it was cool and socially acceptable. … I’ve seen so many girls that have made life decisions after [burlesque] classes. They decided maybe not to be performers, but left a bad relationship, left a bad job, moved to another country or took a leap they didn’t plan on taking because of the things they learned about themselves [at the school] and how they can interact and deal with the world on their own terms. I think that’s really important, because people are dicks, so you need to be a bigger one.

— Red Herring

I am a business owner and teacher at the Toronto School of Burlesque. I am also a burlesque producer and have produced live shows all over the city for the past six years. I am a performer. I perform locally, but the majority of my performances are tour based. I just got back from a tour that was in Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. In two weeks I’m in Poland, which is terrifying.

I got into burlesque because I attended a halloween party. There was a burlesque dancer there and we started discussing, of all things, the cartoon Jem. She ended up dragging me to a burlesque show the next day, somewhat against my will. But that encounter planted the seed for me to get involved. I took some lessons and started my own study. Everything snowballed from there.

When I tour, I am a solo performer in a group of shows. I’ve taken several girls with me on tour before, which is a whole different experience… being in charge of several woman on the road… it’s terrifying. But I have not toured overseas yet. Going that far away to several different countries, with languages I do not speak and not having things completely and utterly planned out to my type A qualifications absolutely terrifying.

I don’t do anything that i’m not afraid of doing.

Did you grow up in Toronto?

I grew up in the country on a farm in Kingston.

Is there a place in Toronto that holds some kind of significance to you?

Well, the [Kensington] market.

Before we lived here, and we’ve lived here for about two years, and the school runs out of here, it was always an artistic center. Even when I was visiting Toronto before I moved, the market was one of the core places I would visit. It’s a very… [we are interrupted by a man who brought us chicken on a stick] the market gives you free chicken. It’s always giving. There are fire spinners in the park on Tuesday, my friend owns a bar down the street and she also happens to be a circus performer. I perform here, and not just on the street. It’s a great artistic hub. You can pretty much find anything here, legal or not.

Anything else you want to add?

Come see my shows. I think everyone should come learn burlesque. We don’t only do it for fitness and we don’t only do it for performance. There are several girls, and boys, who have come here [Toronto School of Burlesque] and really gained the self confidence to do other things, like right now, I’m eating this chicken off a stick like a lady.

When I was 20, I was a Dungeons and Dragons playing tomboy who owned black eyeliner and that’s about it. I wrote reviews for video games. I was the quintessential nerd, before it was cool and socially acceptable. I ended up learning how to play a girl on TV, basically. I’ve seen so many girls that have made life decisions after [burlesque] classes. They decided maybe not to be performers, but left a bad relationship, left a bad job, moved to another country or took a leap they didn’t plan on taking because of the things they learned about themselves [at the school] and how they can interact and deal with the world on their own terms. I think that’s really important, because people are dicks, so you need to be a bigger one.

Portrait photos: Kensington Market street sign


Want more? Check out Red Herring’s website and The Toronto School of Burlesque for upcoming classes and shows.