This week, we're hosting a special Fleshbot Friday at Headquarters and all of the proceeds go to the Red Cross for disaster relief in Oklahoma! It's gonna be bananas: we've got a badass MC, tons of prizes, a date auction with obscenely gorgeous gals, and, of course, a bunch of burlesque performers doing what they do best. Let's take a look at one of our favorite ladies from the NY burlesque scene: Stormy Leather!
As we learned when we did a Field Guide to Hazel Honeysuckle, burlesque performers can be a little mysterious and hard to research. Nonetheless, we don't slouch when we search, so here's what we have on her.
Stormy Leather hails from Oklahoma but calls New York her home. We don't know when she was born, but a small picture on her press page lets us know that she's around thirty-three. Another image on that page--one discussing Stormy's work in a film called "Caprice"--reveals her real name (or perhaps yet another stage name). We're not putting it here because you should do some of the legwork.
Before Stormy became Stormy, she wasn't quite the (outwardly) glamourous dame she is today. She dropped out of interior design school and worked in the service industry, waiting tables and making drinks. She tried stripping for a while, but moved on to go-going in a few different nightclubs in Chicago. During the go-go years, a fellow dancer introduced Stormy to the burlesque scene; she didn't immediately take to it, but as she notes in an interview with BurlesqueNY, she had a "brief stint" with it at Ozzfest.
A little later, Stormy moved to New York, and looking for something to do with herself, found a "wonderful community of women and men that have fun expressing themselves and taking their clothes off and having a good time" (she's talking about the burlesque community)! That was about six or seven years ago, and she's never looked back!
Her stage name doesn't have an exciting backstory. A man named the Purrrfessor, the husband of burlesque star Burgundy Brixx, was helping her come up with names and when he spouted off "Stormy Leather," it stuck with our girl. The only other Stormy Leather out there is a leather corset shop in San Francisco, and we're sure both entities feel happy about the company.
What is Stormy's process like? According to her profile in the Examiner, it all starts with a little inspiration:
My inspiration comes from a few avenues. Sometimes it's just a song. A song will come up on my shuffle and until I create something to it, it'll haunt me. Sometimes my inspiration comes from watching too much TV or a character in a movie. I'm also inspired by the other performers in my community. I'm constantly surrounded by strong, brilliantly clever women that are definitely an influence on me, not only in my work but also in my personal life.
As for costumes, she makes all of her own apparel ("Most of my costuming is clothing that I bedazzle and make to my liking") with one important exception. Her favorite routine of all time is a tribute to "Battlestar Galactica," and it involves our dear Stormy stripping out of a full Cylon costume--with LEDs, laser lights, and guns that are all programmed to blink in time with the music--becoming a nudified "skin-job" Cylon at the end. The number took three years to develop, and the outfit itself was the product of "a mad genius by the name of Joe Inzerillo."
What else can we say about this burlesque belle? Oh, we'd rather hear what she has to say about the world. We most enjoy hearing her discuss burlesque and the community that enchanted her. From her interview with BurlesqueNY:
One of my favorite parts of it is the humor of it all, the people that I work with are brilliant and funny and beautiful at the same time. It's a good celebration of mind and body.
And when asked about her favorite part of her job:
[The] best thing is being up there, feeling that you're doing your job. Seeing smiles, hearing laughs and cheers. It's fun to be up there, to let go, throw your clothes at people and have them love it.
Dig this quote found on her website:
You have to push all insecurities aside, and even sometimes make fun of them. I'm just taking it in stride, you know. I never thought that I could actually make a living off of what I do and be an artist.
And if you ask Stormy what she'd be doing if she didn't have burlesque, her answer is simple: "I would be a desperate housewife. Or a stripper."
For those of you who haven't seen Stormy Leather work her magic on a stage, we strongly urge you to come to Headquarters this Friday for the Oklahoma relief aid fundraiser (and we urge the same to those who already have seen Stormy). In the meantime, let's take a look back at Stormy's experience with Hysterical Literature!
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And be sure to check out: · Stormy Leather's official website: Stormy Leather - The Naked Girl of Burlesque (stormyleatherny.com) · Her Twitter (twitter.com) · Her profile at The Examiner (examiner.com) · And if you want some of Stormy's health and beauty tips, check out Face Time (tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com)