Fifi von Tassel can best be described as a political happy pill wearing a thong, and is ready to make you love yourself – one curve at the time!She has been producing since 2014, with her show “Fifi von Tassel presents”. In 2017, she joined Flora F. Ellation and Ricky Balboa in producing Norway’s first Burlesque Festival, Oslo Burlesque Festival.https://www.kroppspositivisme.no/burlesqueMost of it is in Norwegian, so I’m not sure if you can use any of it.
1 What do you look for in an act.
I want to feel something, and it needs to catch my attention in some way.
2 What was the best booking you ever made.
Oh, this is a hard one. I think that might have been booking Missa Blue for the first Oslo Burlesque Festival. She did a spoken word act on being a black female performer, and got a standing ovation. That really moved me.Also – to have Kitten’n’Lou in stage was a huge deal for me. I cried so much when they performed their “Last dance”, as the final act of the festival in 2017.For Fifi von Tassel Presents, I think Drag Syndrome is a clear highlight for me. I know it got a lot of people thinking and questioning the ethics behind booking drag performers with down syndrome, but it was amazing. The crowd went nuts, and the other performers was amazing to the gang backstage. I don’t think it has ever been so warm and welcoming to be backstage as when they were here.People often have a very limited perspective on what people with (any kind of) disability can do, and to be able to widen their perspective was fantastic.My profession is a as a learning disability nurse, and for my two worlds to melt together like this was a bigger deal for me than I thought.
3 Top 3 dream line up.
Dirty Martini – This woman is such an inspiration. I love to see her perform, but even more so – I love to hear her speak. She has so much wisdom on gender, politics, burlesque, and art. I think Dirty Martini is the living definition on what burlesque is to me.Zelia Rose – I saw her in London at the Dita tour, and I was amazed by how she just took the room, the second she walked out in stage. She was a delight to watch and I could not take my eyes of her.Mat Fraser – I recommend everyone to see “Exposed – beyond burlesque”. This is where I first saw Matt Fraser, and I have been a fan ever since. I would love to have him do criptease in Oslo!
4 How do you think the scene has changed.
I think the Norwegian scene has changed in a way that we are no longer underground, and is now divided in two very clear paths. One is more in the direction of classic burlesque, which you can find at Kiki Chérie Kikis Burly Q, and neo, which you can find at Miss Intoxica and The Admiral’s Carnie Cabooze, and Fifi von Tassel Presents.Oslo Burlesque Festival is a mix of everything.I think this is a very good direction to go, cause we have a bigger audience than we used to, but they like different things.
5 Do you think promoting has become easier or harder.
Harder. It might just be in Norway, but I think we are about to reach a limit for burlesque. People have a very traditional view on what burlesque is, and what they think it is, they can see on Instagram.
6 What made you start promoting.
I started promoting because I saw the demand for places to perform grew. I also had some experience from stand up (where I was asked to leave, so I was not that funny, but hey!), and the role as a compere suited me well. Since I like to have everything my way, I started producing my own shows, and this has now grown to be a place where it is safe to try doing burlesque for the first time, as well as host experienced and international performers.The festival started with me saying to Flora “We should do a festival”, and Flora said “ok, let’s do it in October!”. That was in February or so. We had no idea what we were doing, and got Ricky Balboa, who is an accountant by profession, to help us out. We are now in our third year of Oslo Burlesque Festival! Woho!
7 What are your top tips for performers applying for one of your shows.
To have a good video, especially for the festival. I am afraid we have let some really good ones go, simply because of the video quality, but when all you can see is something moving in the corner, it’s hard to tell if it’s good or not.So my top tip would be:Get a good angle, hold the camera still, and do not try some artsy-farsty stuff with close-ups, so we don’t see what’s happening. If you are going to use clips from different angles, make sure we still see the act as a whole.Oh, and ALWAYS name your track with your stage name. You do not know what a nightmare it is trying to find the right song to the right performer, and you have no idea how much we appreciate when you make our lives a bit easier by naming the track.Another thing is to not be sad if you get a reject. There are so many performers applying for a limited set of places. My, or our, reject does not reflect your talent. Maybe this act was not for us right now, or maybe we recently had something similar.Also – if you are friends with the producer, please know that, at least for me, it’s really hard telling friends of. I hate it.
8 What does a timeline of key events, for a producer/ promoter look like for a show?
I work non stop on something burlesque related, but
2. Make the performers send me pictures
3. Start making the poster
4. Remind the performers to send me pictures
5. Print poster
6. Post the event everywhere
7. Remind the performers of the deadline for music
8. Forget about the show for a few days
9. Stress! Remind the performs yet again to send me the music
10. Give all the details for the show
11. On the actuall showday I get to the venue early and clean the backstage, and get everything ready for the performers to show up. Clean the stage and decorate. Pull out the chairs, and make everything ready for the audience.
12. Fix everything you have forgotten
9 What was your first show like ? any hic ups ?
My first show happened by a coincidence. I have a huge respect for DeVilina Midnight and Miss Intoxica, who were the ones who brought burlesque to Norway in newer days. I did not want to become a competitor, as burlesque is not that huge in Norway. Then I was asked to do a debate on burlesque, feminism and self acceptance, alongside KnockOut Noire and Marnie Moonglow.I decided that we could not have a debate without knowing what we were debating, and put on a show, with KnockOut Noire, Flora F. Ellatio, Dedressed Darlings, Kiki Cherie, Phoenix D’Vine, Luna Sugarcane and Novelty Starr. It was a Monday night, it was a free show, and the place was packed! I think it was around 300 people, and the show went so well!When the debate started, several people said they had come with one thing in mind and left with another. They learned a great deal about what burlesque is after we were done. The only hiccup was that the fire alarm went of during the debate, but we were all hooked after that!’Since then I think I produced around 30 shows, including the festival.
10 Biggest achievement so far ?
Both as a performer and a s a producer, my biggest achievement was to be voted among the top 10 Mainland Europe, at the 21st burlesque. That was very unexpected but meant a great deal to me. When I found out, I was at a point where I was unsure if I should continue doing burlesque or not, and it gave me the fuel I needed to keep on producing and creating.
11 Plans for the future?
To make burlesque more recognized for what it is – an empowering, important feminist art form!
12 What makes you unique as a producer?
It’s ballsy to call on selves unique alongside so many talented producers, but I think my ability to trust my guts, and to think outside the box is my biggest plus.I try offer a very diverse lineup, and as a fat, poc women, I think it’s extremely important to represent as many different people of all shapes, sizes, colours and ability, as possible. I never saw that when I grew up, and I still feel like we have a long way to go, also in the cabaret scene, to represent the society. It might not always be easy, but we owe it to our audience to do the best we can.As a promoter we do have a very important task to not reproduce narrow minded ways of thinking, and to broaden the audiences thoughts on what you should be able to see on stage.I also try to make it so all of my show is sign language interpreted.This also goes for the festival. At the OBF, we would like to give you a bit off everything, and in sign language.
13 And what’s the best thing for you about being a show producer?
To get to meet so many wonderful performers! I have meet so many wonderful and inspiring people through the years of doing this, and I am overwhelmed by how nice this community is.I also love the thought of giving the audience an experience. I want them to leave the venue feeling empowered. I have received email from people who after attending a show, dared to by a bikini, a tight fitted dress, have sex with the lights on, or come out to their parents.
14 Advice for new producers or anyone considering going into it?
Try to not stress, and try to enjoy. Also – you will have to nag on things like pictures, music, etc, and people will probably not fill out the application forms right. This is what it is. I’ve probably been a pain in some producer’s ass myself more than once. Try not to loose you calm, and have fun. You will be so damn proud of yourself when you are done!Also – I try to make everyone feel like stars when they are performing at one of my shows. This can be little things like a poster with your name on at your makeup station, a small gift, maybe a thank you note, etc. I also try to make sure everyone gets something to drink and some snacks. It’s not much, but people feel welcome and appreciated.If you are producing together with someone, try to separate friends and business. This is difficult, but you can disagree as much as you like as producers, but still be friends afterword’s, and vice versa.
15 Do promoters/ producers have little sisters and brothers who they help/allow to shadow/ mentor with the ways of putting on a show effectively?
I am really bad at this, because I like to keep on track on everything myself. I need to know that things are done, and feel like I do not have control if I’m not doing them myself. I do however have Novelty Starr to help me, and I will slowly be trying to give her some tasks. But I will of course double check if she has done them right
16 What are your turn on’s and turn off’s when it comes to performers?
I’m a simple gal. Be nice to me, and I’ll love you forever!My biggest turn off is when people think they are bigger than all of us. This goes for life in general as well. I think everyone should just treat everyone with respect, and be humble.
17 What would you like people to know about your job that isn’t common knowledge?
That I don’t make any money from this. Producers are poor people! I always pay the performers and the rest of the crew before I take anything myself, and often I am lucky if I get the change back: I could solve this by having fewer performers, but I like to be inclusive, and to give as many people as possible a stage.I also think that sending rejecting letters are horrible. I feel awful, and I am really afraid that people will take it personally.
18 Why do you do it?
I do it because I think I can give the audience something unique, at least in Norway. And I love it. Despite all the crying in the shower and all the stress, I don’t think I can ever go back to not produce.
19 How can we as in industry reach out to new audience members?
I think we need to get more media attention and be taken seriously. I am so tired of press coverage with headlines that are supposed to shock you. Burlesque is an artform and should be treated with more respect.
20 Glitter. Love it or hate it?
I love it! My poor kittens might not love it as much, but we have had almost everything on our stage, from cava to porridge. Glitter is a minor issue for us
photo: Neil ‘Nez’ Kendall