Raised by a wild pack of drag queens, Betsy learned early that bigger is better: attitude…ego…hair. Hailing from Victoria, BC, she is bound and determined to prove that we ALL have sex appeal no matter what age, shape, or size we currently happen to be! Armed with a powerhouse personality and devastating vocals, Betsy is a force to be reckoned with. Since 2008, Betsy has been a member of the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue as a performer, producer, choreographer, and co-emcee. She continually brings audiences to their feet with her standout showmanship and has choreographed numerous competition-worthy group acts for the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue during the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas. Betsy has also had the honour of facilitating her numerous workshops at festivals and Burlycon on multiple occasions.For almost a decade, this fierce-fatale has brought her own brand of sass, crass, and smart-ass to burlesque festivals across North America, as a headlining performer and emcee, as a soloist, and as a competitor for queen in New Orleans and Las Vegas. A splash of diva, a smash of drag queen, and a crash of heavy metal; she’s a woman who will give you her 2 cents… whether you want it or not.
1. Where are you based?
I’m from the little city on the big island in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
2. Do you teach burlesque as a dance class or something different?
I teach a variety of classes including: Pick Up The Mic! (emcee tips & microphone techniques), Wiggin Out (wig styling), Embrace Your Face (stage/drag makeup), and Dancing For Dummies (performance movement). I also give private lessons as a performance coach and teach costuming tips as well.
3. How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been coaching and teaching in the burlesque world since 2008, when I first started as a guest choreographer with the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue. Kitten Kaboodle asked if I would come help the troupe, and I hesitated, as I said I’d never considered myself a choreographer. She pointed out that I had helped choreograph a troupe of drag queens I’d been performing with for over a decade. I said, “Yes, but drag queens can’t dance.” She said, “Neither can we.” And the rest… is herstory.
4. Which do you think is better for students, one continuous course lasting several months, or short thematic courses (up to 4-5 meetings)?
I think that depends on quite a few factors. Is the class about movement? If so, are the students committed to practicing on their own to learn a new skill? Or are the students learning a choreographed piece with a performance at the end? Both types of learning are beneficial. The majority of the classes I teach work best as shorter thematic courses. That is, students learn what they can in class, and then go put the lessons into practice and sit with their new knowledge/skills for a while. Ideally, if they could come back every 2 to 4 weeks for follow-up or feedback, that would work brilliantly!
5. Do we need pedagogical education to be teaching burlesque?
Well, I think I need to disagree simply due to the fact that I had to look up the word, “pedagogical.” Ha! Additionally, brilliant teachers come from diverse backgrounds; some with formal training, some without. I think it’s important for all teachers to ask for constructive feedback and continually strive to improve. We’re all lifelong students as well!
6. Biggest moment of pride?
Last year at Burlycon! So many students had been feeling overwhelmed with the skill level they felt was required to take the majority of the movement classes. Many of the students had been questioning whether or not burlesque was really for them and they were feeling really defeated. I was so thrilled when numerous students told me that they finally felt like there was a place for them in burlesque after taking my Dancing For Dummies class.
7. Who have your favourite teachers been?
Tigger! Tigger-James Ferguson for over-the-top attitude affirmations; Coco ‘Lectric for giving me my sexy back, J. Von Stratton for incredible costuming; and The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue for constructive feedback, their über creative hive-mind, and unyielding love and support.
8. Describe your teaching style in three words.
Funny, fierce, fabulous!
9. What do you hope students take away from your lessons?
I hope my students embrace the fact that it really doesn’t matter if you’ve had 20 years of dance lessons or if you glue 20,000 rhinestones on your costume. All that really matters is that you entertain your audience.
10. What is one piece of advice you would give to new performers?
Give yourself permission to act like a superstar, love yourself so the audience can love you back, and always find the light on your beautiful face!