A few days ago I had the chance to sit down with my friend Cade Rockwell, personality and burlesque show producer, at Shay’s in Harvard Square to talk about burlesque in Boston and Wasabassco’s upcoming debut, “Wasabassco takes Boston,” on July 12th at the Davis Square Theatre
Featuring talent from Boston and New York, Wasabassco is the newest member of Boston’s burlesque scene and Rockwell was happy to give me some insight into their first local show.
JS: So, how did you first get involved?
CR: So, about two years ago I met a few of the people involved in Wasabassco. I’d been to burlesque shows before but I never really got involved, it was more just something I would just go to on occasion and I would enjoy it, but it just didn’t connect in a way that it did once I started going to see Wasabassco shows. It was really just a great group of people and more importantly to me it sat at this really fantastic intersection of really smart and really dumb humor. You know, striptease is not just about tittalation and there is something about that sense of humor… So it started with me just going to the shows and going regularly… and then I helped Doc out with some promotion…
JS: “Doc” refers to Doc Wasabassco?
CR: Doc Wasabassco, who started “Wasabassco” ten years ago
JS: He started this in New York?
CR: Yes, in New York ten years ago. We’ve also got the tenth anniversary coming up in November… in New York. It started out with things like I was helping him out with some promotion and some marketing. Then it was, hey! we need somebody to help out with this thing here, can you help out backstage? Can you do this? …and as time went on I got more and more involved. I was happy to do it, I was bit by the bug.
JS: What was your involvement right before you came to Boston?
CR: Right before, it was more ad hoc y’know. Doing things as they came up. I stage managed a couple of large shows. We did a burlesque adaptation of King Kong, which was this massive ridiculous show that had a lot of moving parts and needed extra hands on deck for that. So, things like that.
JS: So what made it time to “take Boston”?
CR: I got a day job offer and I was going to be moving up to Boston and I decided to talk to Doc because I did not want to be someone who left New York and was like, Why don’t I have the cool things I had in New York!? I did not want to be reliant on other people to provide those things. I mean there are certainly some fantastic burlesque outfits in Boston, but I didn’t want to just rely on them to create the kind of environment and the kind of fun that I was looking for… and so I talked to Doc knowing that he had taught a class on producing burlesque before. So initially my idea was y’know I want to learn what he’s got to teach and I would do something here. He countered with how would you feel about bringing Wasabassco to Boston? It just kind of rolled from there. I had a very limited window of time before my move but I was shadowing him and other producers at shows and having meetings and working on things.
JS: There are a few other Burlesque groups in Boston, what makes this one so special?
CR: Well, most of the Boston burlesque scene is very troupe oriented. There is a lot of group produced acts and things like that. Whereas we have a lot more focus with individual performances but also we bring the best talent from across the lines of any troupe or any city. You know we’re going to be bringing some of the best talent from New York up, we’re going to be having some of Boston’s best perform, that to me is a big part of what makes this different than what is already out there in Boston.
JS: So let’s talk about some of your performers. They all seem very special. How did you find them and how did you decide who to use, particularly for your first show?
CR: So we’ve got some of the talent that’s coming up from New York, who are people who are people that i’ve worked with plenty. Then we have some local talent as well. From New York, Nasty Canasta is… not only an amazing performer but she is also one of our producers in New York. She is a legitimately international burlesque name. Really just fantastic. “The girl with the 44DD brain,” is what we call her… and it’s accurate. She is so good at that combination of “smart and dumb,” and an incredibly talented performer and really good at nurturing newer performers and cultivating the best in them… and that to me was really important to have her presence in her launch. In August we are going to start running classes as well and Nasty is going to be heading those as well.
JS: So this is going to be a regularly produced show?
CR: Yep, once a month. Right now we’ve got dates booked through October at the Davis Square Theatre. At least between now and October it’s the second Saturday of the month.
JS: What do you hope for the upcoming show? What kind of turnout?
CR: Obviously I would love to sell it out, but i’m realistic in that, that may not happen. It’s the first show. We have fans coming up from New York. We have at least 15 people taking the Amtrak up to come be here for the Boston show in addition to the Boston locals that have embraced us, and other people in the burlesque scene that have decided that they have to come and check us out and see what we’re doing. I think ultimately what I’m expecting from the show is that everyone who is there walks away with a good impression of what we are and then when the show is done we have the room until last call. A the big thing with us for Wasabassco is the post show cocktail time.
JS: So people will be able to meet to the performers.
CR: Absolutely, absolutely! We’re a very social bunch. It’s a big part of why you have a large group that’s coming up from New York to see this show because our regular audience is part of the show. We’ll do theme shows and people will come dressed in theme and y’know they’re a part of the experience, and I really want to foster that as part of what we do in Boston. That to me is a big part of what is special about Wasabassco, so I’m very excited to have some of our regulars from New York coming up for this… I’m excited about the reception from a lot of the people I’ve talked to here in Boston.
My getting involved in Wasabassco is very much me running away and joining the circus. So, I’m very happy to present an environment that makes more people do that…
… and we’ve got such an amazing group of performers! We’ve got Evelyn Vinyl. Evelyn is FANTASTIC. She’s a fitness trainer… and she’s also from Boston, originally, and she’s in New York. Unlike Nasty who’s performed here before I don’t think Evelyn has performed here with any regularity. So it’s a personal homecoming and a professional new chapter for her. Which I’m excited about. She’s fantastic. Nina La Voix, is coming. Nina is originally from Ohio, but she has really made her name in New York. She was last up here for the Great Burlesque Exposition in February where she took best soloist. So I’m excited for her to have her come and do her victory lap with us. There’s Ludella Hahn, who is a Boston Local. She’s very much an emerging burlesque performer but at the same time she’s also a very well established pin up model and fetish performer and so she’s done some stuff with us in New York, so it’s a very natural extension to have her work with us here. Likewise with Vicky Likkerish who is another Boston Local who is somebody who performs locally here but who has also come down to New York and done stuff with us in the past. So, they both have a history with Wasabassco but they’re Boston local. Then additionally on the debut show we have doing me a tremendous favor by being our stage kitten for the first show is Allix Mortis. Allix is really just a mainstay of the Boston burlesque scene, and an amazing performer and I’m very excited to have Allix helping out in this regard. It’s a very important position for making sure the show goes off well and part of why I’m very confident that the first show is going to be a very solid effort.
JS: Finally, If you have to give people one reason why they should go see it, what would it be?!
CR: This is going to be the best risque date night in Boston. That’s something we pride ourselves on, being very couple friendly. If you want one reason, that’s it right there. Bring a date, have a laugh, see something a little sexy, go home… have a good night.