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“I am a burlesque performer, actress and model based in New York City. I’ve been playing dress-up all my life, and live to showcase both my love of classic burlesque as well as being a crazy, stupid nerd. I can be sweet and innocent yet also love to bump and grind. As a dancer, singer, model, costumer and actress, I’ve performed on stages all over NYC, the US, and around the world.

I am a core member of the Wasabassco family, appearing twice weekly at Bathtub Gin, and in their other productions at City Winery, the Bell House and more. I’ve been a fixture for the past three years in “The Burlesque Show” at the Borgata in Atlantic City. In NYC I also perform regularly at the Slipper Room, Nurse Bettie and more. I tour the American South annually with the gals from Mason Dixie Burlesque. Catch my cameos as Echo on the Netflix series “House of Cards” and the second season of “Orange is the New Black.”

An avid crafter, I create and sew my costumes myself, finding the development of a costume to be half the fun! I also make custom costume items and pasties for other performers, including the 2015 Mason Dixie Burlesque tour!

Jack Nickelz: What got you started in dance?

Hazel Honeysuckle: Well I was a ballerina for years as a child. We performed on weekends for nursing homes and occasionally at the local outdoor mall. I adored the costumes and putting my hair up in a bun, and entertaining the audience. In high school I also took ballroom dance lessons, which I loved.

Jack Nickelz: What made you take the jump from ballerina to burlesque?

Hazel Honeysuckle: Well, there were many years between the two. Around 2009, my husband and I attended some Dances of Vice dress-up parties, and discovered burlesque soon after that. It was so inspiring to see the women onstage, all of the different personalities and the displays of creativity. I took classes at the New York School of Burlesque, performed in the student showcase, and started what has now become my career.

Jack Nickelz: For those who don’t know can you explain the difference between exotic dancing and burlesque? 

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Hazel Honeysuckle: We sometimes cheekily refer to ourselves as art-strippers. Burlesque striptease will always have sexuality in it, but it is more than that, adding satire, comedy, drama, etc. We can create stories onstage. We can connect with the audience in a different way.

Jack Nickelz: Now you just don’t do burlesque but you do Neo & Nerdlesque. What is the difference for those who don’t know?

Hazel Honeysuckle: The golden age of burlesque was back in the 40s and 50s, so the classic picture of a burlesque queen is always big feathers, sequin gowns, and jazz music. Though there were still a variety of types of acts back then, today the range is as wide as our imaginations. Neo burlesque generally refers to an act that may have more modern music, or tells some crazy story, or a non-showgirl-style costume. Nerdlesque is a part of Neo burlesque, and refers specifically to acts which include references to pop culture. I have Nerdlesque acts as an Ent from Lord of the Rings, Jubilee from X-Men, Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager, and more.

Jack Nickelz: On your page it says that you often craft your outfits for your routines. Was crafting a skill that you have always had or was it something that came as you continued your career in burlesque?

Hazel Honeysuckle: I’ve always adored making things. I’ve moved on from one thing to another: jewelry-making, sculpting, sewing, etc. The only thing I don’t do is draw! I’m horrible at drawing. In the past several years as a burlesque performer, I’ve learned a ton about sewing and crafting, I even teach costuming and pastie-making classes when I travel! Creating unique costumes is so important to most burlesque performers because performing burlesque is such a personal thing. You expose parts of your personality and your soul onstage, not just your body, and the costume is an extension of that.DSC_9437a

Jack Nickelz: Now doing burlesque, it seems you have to have a good amount of confidence in yourself image. Is that something that you have always had?

Hazel Honeysuckle: I’ve been a very shy person my whole life. I still have a good deal of social anxiety, but burlesque has made a huge improvement in my self-confidence. It’s not just the performing and being onstage, but having created this persona and a professional life for myself using my own drive. The freedom to express yourself in burlesque is an important part of that.

Jack Nickelz: For some time it looked as if burlesque was only popular in Vegas or Atlantic City. But now it seems to have regained its once-popular status all over. Why do you think that is?

Hazel Honeysuckle: Burlesque shows in the golden age were held in large, grand theaters. When movies started becoming more popular, burlesque had cheaper competition. In the 60s and 70s there was the advent of strip clubs and pornography, and burlesque kind of faded into that scene. Today, where most entertainment is available at a moment’s notice, I think a lot of people are looking for something more original, something they can connect with. A modern burlesque show is a crazy mix of personalities, and everyone has a great time, it’s not for men or women alone, it’s for everyone!

Jack Nickelz: What have been some of your most memorable burlesque shows? 

Hazel Honeysuckle: I’ve been performing in The BURLESQUE Show for the past couple of years at The Borgata in Atlantic City. It’s a 900-seat theater, and every time the curtain opens on me on that stage, I feel amazing. There was the time I was in Hamburg, Germany, performing at the Queen Calavera burlesque club. It was a tiny, smoky place packed with all sorts of people, and they all loved it! I could share my joy with them even though I had no idea what they were saying!

Jack Nickelz: As a representative of a new wave of burlesque entertainers, what would you say to those who may have the wrong idea of the art form? 

Hazel Honeysuckle: Come out and see a burlesque show! Bring a date, or bring your friends, and keep an open mind. I guarantee you’ll have a fantastic time.

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Jack Nickelz: Can you tell us a bit about the Mason Dixie Burlesque tour? 

Hazel Honeysuckle: Mason Dixie Burlesque is a traveling burlesque show produced by Ula Uberbusen, Deanna Danger, and myself. It is an amazing show, with group acts, solo acts, comedy, dancing, singing, and more. We tour every spring for about a month, visiting as many cities as we can! Each show features at least one guest performer from the city that we’re in. This Fall we’ll also be taking a mini-tour in the Northeast states. I absolutely adore touring with these ladies, seeing new places and meeting new people! Oh, and stopping in all of the thrift and vintage shops I can on the way!

Jack Nickelz: Now if you don’t mind, tell us about The Rhinestone Follies. 

Hazel Honeysuckle: I was approached about The Rhinestone Follies only a few months into my burlesque life. Kita St. Cyr, Beelzebabe and I produced these shows in NYC, and billed ourselves as “NYC’s only all-classic burlesque troupe”. This was an easy claim as NYC has very few troupes! We had a group act in each show, and it was a showcase of classic-style burlesque. It was a great way for me to contribute to the burlesque scene while getting to know the community and me as a performer. I made many lasting friends.

Jack Nickelz: Now I see that you also do modeling, what types of modeling do you do?

Hazel Honeysuckle: I began modeling basically as a supplement to my burlesque work, since we always need new promotional photos. I actually have a bachelor’s degree in photography, which I think has helped me a lot as a model, being familiar with framing and composition, and how to plan a good image. Most of my work is pinup, fashion, and nude modeling. When I was little, I used to dress up and ask my mom to take my picture; I guess not much has changed!

Jack Nickelz: Where could we see some of your modeling work? 

Hazel Honeysuckle: I have a Model Mayhem page at modelmayhem.com/1560353. You can also check out my website, hazelhoneysuckle.com.

Jack Nickelz: Thank you for taking time out to answer some questions. Is there anything else you may want to say to the fans and readers?

Hazel Honeysuckle: Thank you for reading! I’m so happy to be able to entertain people and get my work out to the public. Please follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@hazelhoneysuckle).

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