Kitty Irreverent builds things: a 6-foot-tall heart, a giant martini glass, a pair of painstakingly handcrafted rhinestone pumps. And a community. Kitty desires to see New Mexico’s scattered dancers congeal. "I want it to be like, ‘Go to Albuquerque. There's a great burlesque community there, and they all work together, and there are all these neat shows you can see.’"
She put together the New Mexico Burlesque Showcase at the KiMo Theatre in mid-February, expecting maybe a couple hundred people to turn up. When the ushers came to her before the curtain rose and told her they had run out of change twice and there was a line around the building, she began to realize 200 was a conservative estimate. Tickets sold: 565. It was the biggest crowd many of the women had ever performed before. "For me, the best part was watching the girls come tearing off the stage and go, ‘Oh my God! That was incredible! I want to do it again!’”
They will. Kitty's booked next year's showcase at the KiMo, two nights long instead of one, and it's already cornering a huge amount of her attention and free time. Not so much, mind you, that she didn't find time to torch and mold PVC pipe into a tall martini glass for her next performance.
Props and costuming, DIY and handmade, are part of the fun and a lot of the work involved in a Kitty Irreverent burlesque performance. She's sewn from scratch a reversible corset. She's turned an $8 Wal-Mart bra into a sequined experience, complete with red tassels from the upholstery section. She's carefully placed each and every red rhinestone on a pair of Oz-caliber heels.
Six months ago, this former BellaDonna and Lonely Hearts member would have told you that she would never work with a troupe again. Everything is just easier solo, she says. But after the KiMo showcase, she's considering forming another. "There's room for more people. The scene is very fluid." People come into it all the time, maybe because they saw the rebirth a few years ago but weren't old enough until now. Others leave, to move out of town or to simplify the strain of juggling motherhood and burlesque. Still, says Kitty, "I don't think you could ever have too many burlesque performers."
Though her goals of community building might sound lofty, in the end, Kitty's a simple gal. "I don't have any aspiration to be famous," she says. "I'm just doing it to have fun. It'll be something to tell my kids when I'm old and gray: 'Grandma was a burlesque dancer.'"