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The Burlesque Booty Queen
Editor's Note: The following was originally an exclusive interview with Luna Luna Mag, but our friends there have been kind enough to let us republish their words with Jan Tina.
Image: Michi R. Studio Rezin
Hello, Jan Tina! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with Luna Luna magazine.
Ok, so I’m going to be totally honest from the get-go. I saw you perform at #whatdatbootydo2 and I was blown away by your performance. And since then I’ve pretty much been lurking on your Facebook and taking notes. This is for a professional interview. I am notthat creepy! But I thought a disclaimer might be in order since some of the questions I have for you come directly from things I saw on Facebook.
LYNSEY: So first question: are you totally freaked out by people lurking on your Facebook? (I really hope not.)
JAN TINA: Not really…I have learned to look at lurkers as admirers. I am flattered actually! Thank you.
LYNSEY: All right, now that the air is totally clear! Tell me about yourself, Jan Tina! I hear that you are originally from the Detroit area. What brought you to New York, and how long ago did you arrive?
JAN TINA: I am a spoken word poet, alternative model, burlesque performer and dance instructor. I’m originally from Flint, Michigan. It’s about an hour away from Detroit. I moved NYC with my family when I was 15.
LYNSEY: Do you find that you have a strong connection to Motor City, even though you’ve left it? I know a lot of people from that area who are very proud of where they came from and identify as Midwesterners before New Yorkers.
JAN TINA: I definitely consider myself a Midwesterner before a New Yorker! We have a certain Midwestern charm about us. Even though I moved to NYC at a pretty young age, people to this day still ask me where I’m from.
LYNSEY: What is the performance art scene like in Detroit, or what was it like when you were there?
JAN TINA: Aside from dance recitals and concert band competitions in elementary and middle school, I was too young to know what performance arts scene is really like. I know burlesque is BIG there. The Michigan Burlesque Festival is coming up! I hope to perform there someday.
LYNSEY: You started dancing very early (according to your Facebook). What kind of training/experience is in your past?
JAN TINA: I started taking dance classes at the age of 3. I am professionally trained in Hip Hop, Modern, Jazz, and Ballet. Being a dance/theater kid I have been in numerous plays, recitals, and talent shows. I started teaching dance shortly after I graduated from high school. In college I co-produced and choreographed school plays for grades K-12. In graduate school, in addition to teaching dance, I began working as an exotic dancer (in commercial strip clubs)
LYNSEY: How and why did you transition into doing burlesque?
JAN TINA: I was an English major throughout college with a concentration in poetry. I have always been captivated with the art of storytelling. When I began exotic dancing I was fascinated by the other dancers. In the dressing room they would tell me the most interesting stories about the strip club and their customers.
They would talk about their normal everyday lives and then they would get on stage and become these characters. These “strippers” I related so much to, these women I started to write poetry about, based on their stage names. These poems evolved into my graduate thesis. My thesis then became a poetic burlesque play, a choreopoem, and a book, “Silhouettes.” Shortly after grad school I submitted my thesis to an ad on Backstage and it was picked up by an Off-Broadway theater in Times Square. Suddenly I was the star, producer, choreographer, and writer of my own theatrical burlesque Show.
I had a few small roles in burlesque before then. After my show, I decided dedicate my career to burlesque. As a writer, a teacher, and a dancer, honoring the art of storytelling was the motive behind my transition. Burlesque allows me the creative freedom to do just that and more.
LYNSEY: Who are your burlesque idols?
JAN TINA: I have admired Josephine Baker since I was a child. My thesis was influenced by Gypsy Rose Lee. I even did a presentation on Dita Von Tease in grad school. There are so many inspiring performers to date–way too many to mention. Every time I am part of production, attend a show or a class, I discover an Idol!
LYNSEY: What inspires you, besides your idols? Do you usually come up with a move you want to try, or find a song that appeals to you, or something else?
JAN TINA: Music! Any genre, Hip Hop to Heavy Metal. I love music and the poetic nature of lyricism. Music inspires the dance, lyrics narrate the story and frame the act. Music is a major motivator for me!
LYNSEY: What are some things you particularly enjoy doing on stage, or that you’re known for?
JAN TINA: I love reciting spoken word before I get into the striptease portion of my acts. I’m known for that. I also love incorporating elements of S&M with burlesque: whips, chains bondage…and then there’s also what that booty do…
LYNSEY: That was sort of a trick question, since I saw you perform at a booty-specific showcase. And… I mean…wow. “Impressed” isn’t even the word for it. You are incredible with that booty. That’s not a question. It’s just a compliment. Because seriously. But I mean…how do you learn to do that?
JAN TINA: Thank you!! Honestly I have been twerking for quite some time. Long before Miley Cyrus got popular for twerking or even the “Thong Song.” Booty shaking is just a part of my culture. I started to take twerk seriously working in strip clubs. I would watch dancers on stage and practice when the club was slow. That’s how I learned to how to booty clap and isolate. I even researched different ways to clap on YouTube. After a years of shaking it in urban strip clubs like my tips depended on it (I like to call it rain dancing ) and winning quite a few burlesque booty bounce competitions, people started to call me “Booty Queen” and I came up with my tagline “The Burlesque Booty Queen.”
LYNSEY: Nina La Voix said that you are “like a boss in a video game” with your performance, and I agree with her. You have a very specific gravity on stage–a serious persona that really captivates the audience. Is that on purpose? Or are you just a total badass all the time?
JAN TINA: I can’t say that I’m a total “badass” but I supposes that depends on what you consider “bad”! In addition to commercial stripping I was also formerly a Dominatrix. The act you saw [set to "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails] was inspired by a that. My dominant side… I wanted to portray a sexual woman in control. A Mistress. A Boss. A strong woman that utilizes all her feminine charms… and embraces the art of seduction like a superpower in comic book or a video game. The poetry for that act reads as follows:
She smelled of cinnamon cigarettes and sweat and sex
She took one victim after the next
She had no intention of monogamy
She knew no difference between crass and class
She swung bewitchingly around the brass
She said she’d never belong to me
She wore vinyl and leather and lace
She drug a whip around the place
She knew she’d put a spell on me
She stole my senses and laid it on the mast
She swayed slow and struck fast
She smiled and said Hi my name is Mahogany
LYNSEY: Wow, that’s amazing!! You are so freaking cool! But ok, enough with the flattery-disguised-as-questions! I’ve read something about a “Twerlesque” intensive class you’re teaching this month–is there a showcase at the end of it that we can come to?
JAN TINA: Due to the popularity of Twerlesque™ Summer Intensive Workshop, I have extended the class into the Fall. Be on the look out Twerlesque™ The Show !!
And that wraps it up! Thanks again, Jan Tina! It’s been a pleasure!
#Real #Burlesque #Sex #Sexuality #Performance #WomenInTheArts #CreativeExpression #FemaleProfessions #Interview
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