100 Colorado Creatives: Michelle Baldwin
#52: Michelle Baldwin
Seems like burlesque shows are a dime a dance these days in Denver. But back in the twentieth century, real vintage burlesque had pretty much died out here, along with the Curtis Street girly shows of a bygone era, after changing times and urban renewal wiped away downtown's tawdry marquees and neon lights. That all changed again in the late '90s, when Denverite and burlesque scholar Michelle Baldwin, aka Vivienne VaVoom, sparked a local neo-burlesque revival.
Since then, Baldwin has joined the nationwide burlesque community as an expert and a participant; she's written a book on burlesque, with another on the way. And Baldwin's retro proclivities don't stop there: She's also a tiki aficionado, a walking advertisement for vintage style and, in recent years, a bartender and enthusiastic supporter of the cocktail revival.
This weekend, she'll hang up her 2012 Miss Modernism crown at the Denver Modernism Show, an annual paean to mid-century culture happening Friday through Sunday at the National Western Complex; on August 29, she'll be bringing an all-star regional burlesque crew to the Oriental Theater stage as part of a national fundraiser honoring the late burlesque queen Dixie Evans.
Baldwin doesn't perform as much nowadays -- more of her time is spent teaching and spreading the gospel -- but her heart's still in it. We asked her to put it all into words by taking our 100CC quiz; read on for Baldwin's saucy perspective.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Michelle Baldwin: Gypsy Rose Lee -- that woman was brilliant. We could collaborate on a novel, a burlesque show, a costume, a burlesque act, a chatty talk show -- or just work together on conquering the world. Or at least the world of pop culture.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Dita Von Teese is always interesting to me. She turned a love of vintage striptease into an international career and a brand. Plus, she's always creating new goals. A few years ago we had lunch and she was talking about creating a U.S. show to create more of a fan base here (she is mobbed in Europe; less recognized at home), and then she created Strip Strip Hooray, featuring other amazing U.S. burlesque performers, and she's been touring it for a couple of years now. She probably could just retire if she wanted to, but she keeps going. I also love that her age is no secret -- and she's a year older than me. Inspiring.
Continue reading for more from Michelle Baldwin.