Oh, how quickly the weather changes and fall is upon us! And if it’s finally cooler outside, it must be time for the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. This month I caught up with Annie Cherry, the talented performer who is making appearances at the festival, in Bonner Springs. If you know Annie, you know what a colorful character she is! If not, you’ll soon learn that her interests in performance are wide and varied and that her personality sparkles through in everything that she does.
1. I understand that you are a burlesque performer. When and how did you first become involved in burlesque?
Well, like most of the wonderful things that have happened in my life, I pretty much stumbled into it. I had been performing a bit as a belly dancer, and I caught wind of a burlesque production with a live band that was getting ready to start production, so I got brave and talked my way into it. That was around 2005. Burlesque turned out to be my theater gateway drug, and from there I began involving myself in various theatrical and film projects, emceeing events and even performing marriage ceremonies. I love a good adventure, and I love trying out new forms of self-expression, but burlesque has a special place in my heart like any first love.
2. What do you love most about performing burlesque?
In my opinion, burlesque done right is short-form theater, and it’s usually parody to some extent. It’s a performance art celebration of human sensuality, whether it’s comedic or sincere. I love the limitless options for self-expression, the taboo nature of the thing, and the focus on feminine power and visibility.
3. I know that you teach burlesque as well. What tips might you give me if I wanted to perform for my partner (or my cat)?
One: Remember that when you’re in the spotlight, literally or figuratively, you own the moment. That is YOUR moment.
Two: Your audience (man, woman, or beast) will look where you are looking, so guide their gaze with yours. Don’t be afraid of direct eye contact, even though cats are terrible at it.
And three: Enjoy yourself. That’s the biggest secret, enjoying yourself. (That might be the secret to everything.)
4. During the summer, you were in Dykes of Hazzard at Missie B’s. How did you become involved with the show?
I asked to be involved, and they agreed. I’m a big proponent of the philosophy of, “If you don’t ask, they can’t say yes.” Ron Megee has believed in me as a performer since my very beginnings, performing at his loft nearly 10 years ago. I have worked with Ron and the other writers and producers, Jessica Dressler and Chadwick Brooks, on multiple occasions, and they know just what kind of shenanigans I’m capable of!
5. How was the show received?
We received an overwhelmingly positive response from our audiences, with an almost 100 percent sell-out of the entire run. Late Night Theatre audiences are the best in Kansas City! So much fun was had on and off stage.
6. What are your current and upcoming projects?
Just now I am mid-Kansas City Renaissance Festival, where I play one of the women of Madam Red’s Brothel. The brothel characters are portrayed as strong, independent, sensual beings, so my role there goes along quite nicely with the other theatrical projects I am involved with. The festival runs through Columbus Day this year.
Teaching curious, courageous women how to embrace the performer within is my pet project at the moment. We are mid-session of my Awesome Burlesque 101 beginning burlesque class. It’s so very exciting!
I co-write and co-produce a bi-monthly series at Missie B’s called The Night Cap. The show follows the classic late-night talk show format, featuring many stars of the Kansas City performing arts community. Some appear as themselves and some as characters that they’ve created. It’s always a hilarious, great time. Past guests have included Victor & Penny, Katie Gilchrist, Ron Megee and Jon Fulton Adams, David Ford, Daisy Buckët, Michael Byars, the Latenight Callers, Rex Hobart, comedian Martin Plant, and many more.
Beyond that, I am producing another bi-monthly show, Burlesque on the Rocks, at the Buffalo Room. Currently, my assistant producer, Sara Hadley (aka Sara d’Joue), and I are working on two special features over the Halloween weekend! The shows feature classic and neo-burlesque tribute numbers to the music of our favorite rock-and-roll artists. So far we have featured Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
You can find out more about all of my productions, classes, and various involvements at AnnieCherry.com.
7. Where do you find inspiration for your performances?
People inspire me, especially other artists, no matter which discipline they create in. Musicians, painters, dancers