This week, we're interviewing the RAWards Hollywood Semi-Finalists and today's feature is on Hells Belles, a burlesque troupe delivering seductive, edgy moves, loud rock/pop music and overall sex appeal. We interviewed Natasha Vee of Hells Belles where she discussed how they got their start, who they look up to and where you can catch them next.
Congratulations on winning the semi-finalist Hollywood RAWards spot in the PERFORMING ARTISTS category! How does it feel to win and what does this mean for you guys?
It feels fantastic! The most powerful thing about receiving an award like this is that it really reminds us of where we came from. We five ladies have been performing and dancing together for almost 7 years, and to go from 5 total strangers to Hollywood's "Performers of the Year," thats really amazing.
Who would you like to thank? Did anyone help you achieve this huge milestone?
I wish I had some romantic "thank you" speech prepared, but honestly, it's these five ladies, this family, that have built everything that we have. We've been through so much together, and have created not only a great dance troupe with a clear vision, but a really amazing business where we get to share what we love with hundreds of women. Each of us has a job in Hells Belles Burlesque, and we run our entire operation from choreography, teaching, marketing, newsletters, merchandise, everything, all by ourselves. These are some of the most talented. driven, and intelligent women I know, and for that reason I would say that we should all be congratulating ourselves for all our hard work.
Who comes up with your dance routines or is it a group effort?
I'm considered the choreographer for Hells Belles, but a lot of this particular piece was a group effort by Jaime, myself, and our good friend Duo, who is a b boy and hip hop dancer. The piece showcases chronological rock music and styles in the last three decades, so its constantly changing. Having a lot of voices and creativity made it fun, it's a bit of a rock-n-roll roller coaster!
How long have members of the group been dancing/performing?
We've all been dancing for the majority of our lives. I was a hard core ballerina, Breezsa was a gymnast and cheerleader, Ali is a fire dancer, Amy did musical theatre and Jaime was a competition dancer. We came together because we all loved burlesque, and we've been dancing together for almost 7 years. We practically grew up together, well not practically, we have!
Can you tell us about your first time onstage? What was the experience like?
Well, the first time I was on stage with these ladies, I remember it was at a bar in Santa Monica, CA. We did a rock-n-roll burlesque set and we stripped out of wife beaters or something. I'm not sure exactly what the choreography was, but I will say that none of us can listen to, "Shook Me All Night Long," by ACDC now with out laughing. It's always interesting doing burlesque with new dancers, you either feed off of each other's energy and sexuality, or it's awkward. I do think that our group had instant chemistry in the sense that we trusted each other's choices and could play off of each other easily.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform onstage?
Any really sexy rock song we've probably danced to at some point! We like to play with the the slinky and sultry of burlesque mixed with the harshness of rock-n-roll. Also some of the new pop songs with a burlesque vibe like Jessie J and Bittersweet are super sexy.
Do you have any advice for performing artists just starting out?
Know your worth. Too many people in this town try to get artists, particularly dancers, to work for nothing. Be professional, be organized, and be good at what you do and you can make a career out of doing what you love. But you have to set the standard. And above all, think BIG and always push forward.
What valuable lessons have you learned while being in the industry?
When you get organized, present, and conduct yourself as a professional company, people will treat you as such. We don't have a lot of patience for those who aren't professional when it comes to business, this isn't a game to us, it's our lives! As a performer you always have to protect yourself and make sure that you are being treated fairly, it's an unfortunate reality of the business that we're in. Contracts are important!
Who are some of your influences? Are there other performing artists you admire?
We are forever influenced by classic rock music and icons and the idea of the ultimate rock "video girl." We mix that with old hollywood glam, pin ups, and classic burlesque elements. The recipe for a Hells Belle is one part glam and one part rock: Marilyn Monroe meets Debbie Harry, Betty Page meets Joan Jett etc.
We love ACDC, Led Zeppelin, The Black Keys, Johnny Lang, Nine Inch Nails, and we LOVE a good rock n roll cover!
We've also been influenced by pop icons like Prince and Janet Jackson and movies like Dirty Dancing and Grease. We like to have fun with our routines, nothing is off limits! As long as there's sex appeal in the theme, we can make it something amazing.
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
We absolutely love dancing live with amazing musicians.
Where can we catch you next? Any upcoming shows?
We perform every Wednesday night at the Townhouse Speakeasy in Venice Beach, and once a month at The Rainbow on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.
All of our public show dates are always up on our website at www.HellsBellesBurlesque.com
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We just want to raise our wine glasses and say thank you to everyone who supports us and what we do, our fans have allowed us to do what makes us so sublimely happy, and our little burlesque family could not be more grateful.
All photos by Markus Alexander for Disarray Magazine
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