THE WERRRK.COM INTERVIEW : MISS TOSH
Author : Chiffon Dior | FULL ARTICLE
Well, hello there Miss Tosh! I’m so excited to be talking with you tonight! How are you doing this evening?
Hello beautiful Chiffon Dior! Thank you for having me! I’m really excited to be here. I’m so fabulous.
I know it’s been a crazy year for everyone, but especially those of us in the creative fields. How has the quarantine been treating you?
This year has been challenging for everyone in so many ways. A lot of toxicity is surfacing and we all have had to fight for each other’s survival during all of this sudden ongoing change. I am fortunate to be healthy and safe. But once showbiz shut down, I wasn’t sure what to do and felt for all my freelance performers who were out of work without any support. So I tried my best to brainstorm and came up with Beauty of Burlesque Drive In which is giving over thirty five artists a performance opportunity, while raising money for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute!
If something good comes out of this whole mess, maybe its people rediscovering the beauty of the drive in. How did you come up with your idea?
Most definitely! In times of crisis, I hope that art has its place in uplifting, inspiring fantasy, and making people laugh. I wanted to create a virtual show but something that could stand next to the production value of the Live Stage show, so why not make a burlesque feature film? What is better than bringing back the vintage glam of a drive in? All the glamour ghouls can get dressed up to go out in their vintage cars and see Beauty of Burlesque!
The promo video for the upcoming Beauty of Burlesque: Creature Feature on October 30th (Get your tickets here now!) is really fantastic, feature film worthy even. Can you tell us a bit about that? Was it difficult to pull off something like that given the current climate?
Fortunately working in Hollywood we have resources for great equipment rental. I am grateful for my co-producer / director Sarah Palmer for teaming up with me to create such amazing content. We have a Covid officer on set to make sure everyone is Covid tested. Anyone not on camera is wearing a mask. So shooting film, especially outside, can be quite socially distant. The entire story is hilarious and really gives the cult classic feature Halloween vibe.
So what can people expect from the show?
There really has never been a burlesque feature film quite like this! Victoria the Vampire takes me to a theater in the underworld to put on a show for all the monsters, and glamour ghouls in the world of the undead. Its hilarious, sexy and frightening and features burlesque queens, drag stars, and guest appearances from cult stars and legends. The show stars over thirty five LGBTQ+ artists and allies from around the globe who submitted stunning performances. I find it very exciting to see how creative everyone is during this time.
I think the choice is either be creative or to overload on snacks and Netflix. I decline to comment on my choice during these difficult times.
*Laughs* Well I keep saying our weight gain is relative because we are all snacking. My fave is a 4am mint chip ice cream binge after trolling the internet for Mike Pence fly memes!
You had me at ice cream. Fly memes are just a bonus although I am a bit jealous that fly is more famous than I will ever be.
*Laughs* He has forever changed the meaning of “being a fly on the wall
So let’s hop in the Delorean, crank it up to 88 mph and head back in time a bit, shall we? Where does your story begin?
Can we paint it pink? Well, I grew up in Venice Beach when it was more of a community of artists and misfits. I always had an affinity for glamour but Los Angeles wasn’t what it was like in the days of old Hollywood. Starving for glamour, my dance teacher, Debbie Allen, introduced me to the films of Josephine Baker, Sally Rand, and Marlene Dietrich. My little heart nearly exploded in awe when I saw these women. I wanted to be them but also date them! As an adult, I moved to Chicago to study fashion design and found myself in the club kid drag scene of Chicago, dancing on bar tops and stripping in clubs. I was a liberated gaybie blossoming into a lesbian bombshell with the support of my LGBTQ+ glam fam!
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that story…..wait, I’d only have one nickel. We’re doing this interview right after National Coming Out Day. Why do you think that is still an important day?
One nickel richer! You know I hope we can get to a place in time where humanity can be tolerant and accepting but unfortunately this is not the time we are in. I didn’t have any queer role models growing up or even a cell phone. But if I did and could look at a hashtag like #comingoutday, I would have felt less isolated and ashamed of being gay. I would have seen people in the world like me that I could relate to.
Can you talk a bit more about your time in the Chicago club kid and drag scene? How did that lead you into the world of burlesque?
Going out to the nightclubs and exploring the city, I met two stunning queens by the name of Sissy Spastik and JoJo Baby. The three of us were dressed to the nines and gravitated to each other. It felt like we knew each other our whole lives. They would take me out with them to clubs and encouraged me to express myself through glamour and fashion. We became walking art pieces, showing off to each other at the clubs. I really miss these days! At one of the night clubs, I had a party called LQQKS where performers would dance on bar tops, sing their hearts out, pierce my tits with sparklers or have boys naked eating cake off each other. It was a WILD time! I developed my burlesque act in the gay bars and clubs with my friends Kim Chi, Shea Coulee, Violet Chachki, and Pearl. We served looks just to survive the cold.
You want me to pick up all those famous Drag Race names you just dropped or should I? Did you know your friends were destined for bigger things back then?
I am so proud of the queens! I think it was such a special time right before they all took off. They all worked their asses off working day jobs and giging. Seeing everyone that I knew in that scene shine so brightly is incredible. They have all been so supportive. Pearl even starred in the debut of Beauty of Burlesque in February 2019 and left everyone literally gagging with her Cock Destroyer act. Happy Vday kids! *Laughs*
Your costumes and set pieces are so elaborate. How long does it take to pull together a burlesque number from conception to costuming to performance?
I’m a very DIY gal, making all my own props and costumes. My burlesque costumes usually start with a fantasy of where will she be, what is she doing, and why is she stripping. The clothing and how it comes off really tells a story. It’s an ongoing process where I’m always adding more rhinestones here, a new color there to each act. Sometime I can whip it up in a month while other acts take years to perfect before they are show ready.
What is your favorite number you’ve done so far? Do you have a dream number or concept you would like to bring to the stage?
My favorite number so far is “Slow Down” where I spin on a life sized carousel unicorn. It was such a fantasy act and honestly, it was a mission to accomplish it. Let’s just say I had to fall off her nearly naked a few times to get the prop just right! It features the first song I ever recorded and it was remixed by my sister. But my favorite act to perform is definitely my Peeling act in homage to Marlene Dietrich. I choose someone at random from the audience to get on their knee and eat a banana from between my legs. It’s always a surprise! *laughs*
What do you think is the biggest misconception about burlesque that people still have?
That burlesque is a way to dress and not stripping. I think popular culture confuses burlesque with cabaret. Burlesque was originally a variety show featuring burlesque comedians like the Stooges, with music, chorus girls, and of course the burlesque stripper. The modern american strip club wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the burlesque legends of the past.
Before you mentioned you’re very “Do It Yourself”. In fact, so much so that you have your own clothing line! Can you tell us a bit about that? (Check out her clothing line here!)
I just launched my Glamour Ghoul Halloween Collection last month featuring shocking new hues for dresses, spider-embellished headwraps, bat-winged shades, and an accessory line. My friend Eva Ziegfield styled and photographed the whole shoot on his phone!! We had to get extra creative with quarantine. I started the Miss Tosh clothing line about three years ago, cutting out fabric on my living room floor. Now it’s evolved into a line offering glam lounge wear and accessories. I still cut and sew about 95% of everything from my pink garage in Hollywood.
Where do you see your clothing line going in the future? Is it something you would like to see grow or would that be too big of a commitment for you considering how busy you already are?
I really love fashion and would love for the clothing line to grow. I have endless ideas for new exciting designs. The hard part is choosing which to focus on launching next. I hope it continues to grow and that my customers have fun and feel glamorous wearing the items I create.
Well things have been cruising along so well for us but now we have reached……**cue special effects**……THE LIGHTNING ROUND! Are you ready to play?
YAY! I’m ready! This has been really fun. Thank you!
Must have makeup item?
red lipstick, any and all haha I especially like the liquid long wear from stila. all shades of red. I like to mix them when I apply.
Best part of being a burlesque performer?
Worst part of being a burlesque performer?
The idea that there can only be one star at the end of the day, when we are all stars in a beautiful galaxy.
Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?
That I’m not a princess about getting my hands dirty, picking up a saw and building my girl a kitchen nook. She’s femme and butch.
Burlesque performer you would pay the most to see?
Sally Rand, if she were alive.
Last movie to make you cry?
A Life On Our Planet by David Attenborough.
Death Row last meal?
I honestly don’t think i could eat before lethal injection *laughs* but I’d totally toast with a glass of champagne.
Netflix Binge recommendation?
Disney character you relate to the most?
In the movie of your life, who plays you?
An undiscovered gen z icon.
Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?
Well, let me tabulate your score here….carry the three…..hmmm….Yep, it looks like you are going to pass the Lightning Round with flying colors!
Obviously you’ve already accomplished a tremendous amount but what else do you have on your proverbial bucket list that you would like to tackle?
I hope that as Beauty of Burlesque grows, we can tour the show. I’d really love to show the world that there are so many talented and diverse LGBTQ+ artists all over the world. My love and I have some exciting collaborative fashion projects we are working on. Really a dream come true to collaborate with my love. It’s really brought us so much closer together and I’m very grateful for that.
What advice would you have for someone who is looking to get involved in the world of burlesque?
Dream Big, Know your strengths and weaknesses. Reach out to others to grow with, learn from, and uplift one another. At the end of the day, having fun on stage is what it’s all about. If we can perform while enjoying each other’s company and celebrate each other while performing, now that’s the dream.
So besides coming to the Beauty of Burlesque show on the 30th, where else can people follow you on the interwebs to keep up with your latest adventures?
Well Miss Tosh, our late night pajama party/ interview is sadly coming to an end, but I am so glad that we finally got to talk and I’m excited to see so much more from you going forward. Do you have any final words of wisdom to leave the WERRRK. com universe with?
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been such a pleasure hanging out and answering your questions. Now be kind, speak out, and most importantly VOTE! xoxo