Burlesque and variety show dancer Kitty Diggins

Kitty Diggins


Based out of Los Angeles and performs Burlesque and variety shows.In the past seven years she single handedly put 50 plus shows together and performed in and collaborated in countless others.
Q: Kitty, please explain to the readers of strip-magazine what the difference is between a Burlesque dancer and stripper?
A: Well, back in the day the burlesque girls were strippers for the most part, dancers were paid a salary and did not work for tips. That came about in the 1960’s. Burlesque has more to do with the innuendo, suggestion and mystery. There are many pieces of the costume that come off and when the last piece is discarded the Burlesque dancer is not standing there in the buff, but still wearing consume pieces that retain the mystery pasties, g-string , stockings and sometimes the dancer is hidden behind, a prop such as fans or a parasol. Modern stripping is more or less about getting your clothes off fairly quickly and most often to the state of nudity. There is quite a bit of sexual suggestion and the stripper works for tips. Also, I would say there is much more humor involved in the Burlesque style strip-tease.

Q: As a Burlesque dancer are you offended when someone refers to you as a stripper or exotic dancer?
A: I have been a stripper as well as a burlesque dancer. I have been offended at times but this is mainly because I want people to know the distinction and sometimes in a Burlesque performance, myself and perhaps other performers are not stripping, because after all the word Burlesque does not mean stripper. Burlesque is about a lot of other things.

Q: How did you get interested in dancing?
A: I have been interested in dancing since I learned to walk. It has always been very natural for me and I have studied and perused many other dance forms before focusing on Burlesque.

Q: Did you have a career at anything else before you stared dancing?
A: Yes, I have always had a lot of odd jobs; In fact, I really don’t make much money all from dancing or any other performances that I do. There has been time s when I made part of my income from Burlesque or whatever, but, I have always had to do other jobs and I have had a lot of different kinds of hobs.

Q: Like what?
A: oh god…I’ve worked in every aspect of the restaurant industry and that
has been my main career for most of my life. I also had a house cleaning business, worked in several antique and vintage clothing stores, office work, production assistant, artist assistant, art model, Some made-up for films, wardrobes, ran a night club, DJ, belly dance teacher, stripper and I’m sure a lot of other things that I can’t think of

Q: Dixie Evans of the exotic work burlesque museum said ‘Burlesque is back! This is the new Burlesque.’ What’s the difference between the old and the Burlesque? You are still carrying on in the tradition of the old Burlesque, aren’t you?
A: When Dixie said, ‘This is the new Burlesque’ it partly means that Burlesque was all but left for dead for quite sometime, and obviously it was revived. There is so much argument over what is authentic and what’s not. I have been told by many and I uses I can say for my self that I have been very dedicated to presenting the old style the classic Burlesque. I think this comes across pretty obviously. However I do other types of performances as well and in this past year, I have moved away from burlesque a bit to focus on other things. It doesn’t mean that I am abandoning burlesque, but I have to answer to other intellectual and creative desires at the moment. Im working on pieces that are very burlesque, but not all traditional.

Q: You produce Burlesque and variety shows. Tell me what that entails and what venues you perform in?

A: That’s a really broad question since I have relocated to Los Angeles; I have not really focused on producing my own shows, but rather just getting hired for the most part. A lot of the places that I used to put on shows at were nightclubs where they usually hosted bands and had a fairly built in crowd. It just really depends on the situation obviously a few years back prior to my involvement with exotic world I put on the kit Kat follies in L:A which was at he place theatre, a place that I believe holds 1,300 people. That was an old theatre from the 20’s I have also put together events for festivals and more academic type situations as well.
Q: do you have elaborate costumes as part of your act? How expensive is that? What does each costume cost you?
A: I make all my costumes and it is very expensive. For me, would say a rough estimate of a consume is anywhere from 150 – 500 dollars. Just the costume alone and props not included. I also collect and incorporate vintage pieces in with what I make, but, as a person who has always collected vintage, I never spend too much on anything. I unusually find something that is maybe not in the best condition and refurbish it. Although I have plunked down some higher prices for a few thing.

Q. How long do you see yourself as a Burlesque dancer?
A: I have no idea. Gipsy Rose Lee quit when she was 42 and I am pretty close! However, I think the standards for women and age and what is acceptable have changed and so I don’t see myself quitting because of that. A lot of the women in Burlesque now are in their mid to late 30’s and I personally find them so much more interesting to watch because they are seasoned and so unabashed. I think that as you get older, you become more comfortable with who you are. I know that is definitely the case for me, It used to be that a woman was considered a spinster by the time she was in her med 20’s, that’s ridiculous!! If those were still the conditions I would’ve never had a chance at Burlesque!! But as I said before, I am a performer on many other levels too, so, I guess if I feel that it is appropriate for me to be taking my clothes off in front of people, I’ll be doing something else. I am quite well rounded so to speak.

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Author: Saxon

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