Name: George Blair IV as Viktor Devonne
Age: 25 playing 29
Location: New Jersey
My act consists of: emceeing, fan dances, clown, vaudeville skit routines. My music is consistently inconsistent. I range from classic 20’s sound to Top 40 of 2009. It’s about the storytelling, not whether or not a burlesque performer from 50 years ago also danced to it. I have a few personas (costume decisions): the standard emcee in stripes and suspenders; the hobo clown who has lost everything; a vamp/drag; gothic boy — but they are all ultimately Viktor, and even more ultimately-er, me.
I got my start in burlesque: in 2006, helping a friend, who would then become my co-director in managing an burlesque troupe, The White Elephant Burlesque Society. What was intended (or expected, rather) to be a one-shot became a now 5-year development. We have since performed in upwards and downwards NJ, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Rochester, New York City, and are heading to more expansive locations this fall. But we are very much NJ Burlesque—whatever that they may indicate. It’s who we are.
The special skills and/or gimmicks I bring to the stage are: a wandering accent, fanciful make-up, stripey stockings, and the cabaret charm.
My dream act is: a live band to back us up while bring the bump and the grind. In a theater I own. With money raining down on me.
My influences and inspirations are: Elaine Stritch, Madonna, Joel Grey, Kander & Ebb, the Dresden Dolls, Bette Midler, Alan Cumming, Jonathan Sharp, Cyndi Lauper, Bea Arthur, and Richard O’Brien. Whether they encourage me how to speak, move about on stage, or push forward and continue just doing it, they’re all very important to me.
The five things I couldn’t live without are: hot showers, comfortable bedding, music, water; and as it turns out, the internet.
If I was an article of clothing I’d be: A really comfortable but classy men’s dress shirt that may not be the whitest it has ever been, may be missing a button, and smeared with lipstick.
The best burlesque performance I’ve ever seen or been in was: Dirty Martini stepped it up a notch when I saw her in New York City at Margaret Cho’s The Sensuous Woman, and I think Julie Atlas Muz is fantastic. I also need to see Selene Luna again.
The worst was: I was raised to talk about people behind their backs. Get me a drink—we’ll chat.
The things that make someone a burlesque queen are: fluidity in movement—even if you’re a robot, your body has to make sense with what you’re doing. One of the most important things to realize is: SLOW DOWN. If you go too fast, you’re missing the point. Music is essential. You can strip or dance to anything, whether it’s Lady GaGa or Duke Ellington. Madonna said it: “You’ve got to just let your body go with the flow.” Additional keys include knowing you are fabulous but not essential to anything—check the attitude; be nice. You never know if you’re being rude to someone who’s very influential and could make you, is having a bad day and excusable, or is packing heat and could end you. Oh, and baby powder. It gives your skin a nice finish.
Burlesque – stripping or art? If there’s a single person who just answers “stripping,” they clearly aren’t your bag. But if anyone just says “art,” well, that’s a lazy person right there. It’s of course above and beyond that: it’s a state of mind. If your mind has tassels, go with it. If your mind is Botticelli, go with it. It may not always be grand, but it will always be honest. Being onstage is the biggest lie you can tell. You are anyone but yourself. So you might as well be honest about it, and lie like a pro.
My favorite songs to dance to are: Madonna has a healthy sampling. There’s a remix and a remake album by Shirley Bassey which are fantastic as well. It’s got to have swank, personality, or a va-va-voom quality. A lot of people assume that unless it has horns or that raunchy raaaarrr to it, it doesn’t count. Those people aren’t creative. You should be able to make anything work. My favorite numbers are “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You,” by Madonna; “If You Hadn’t But You Did,” performed by Kristin Chenoweth (which my cohort, Femme Fae La Butche, admittedly has more work than me); “The Imperial March” from Star Wars, and “If You Go Away,” performed by Cyndi Lauper.
If I could change one thing about burlesque, it would be: the implication that it’s easy.
Something that people would be surprised to learn about me is: I am actually a duo of dwarves in an overcoat.
The movie of my life would be called: Viktorian. A Musical.
If I wasn’t a burlesque performer I’d be: so fucking sad.