Interview with Cherry Blonde of Guerilla Burlesque – Avi Choice Awards Entertainer

Joonie: Hi Cherry. Good to see you! Do you prefer Cherry or chryblnd?

Cherry: Cherry is fine. It’s funny, I have used this name on the internet for many many years, and in that time I have met lots of online friends in first life, who by habit call me Cherry. It feels a little incongruous, a screen name can be a distillation of just part of our personality. I’m just an ordinary Aussie woman with a pretty internet name lol. It turned out to be an excellent name for a burlesque diva though!

Joonie: Lol! Well, thanks so much for meeting with me today. Speaking of Guerilla Burlesque, you guys are going to be one of the performers at the Avi Choice awards. Tell me a bit about Guerilla Burlesque and how it came into being.

Cherry: I’m thrilled to be meeting you, Joonie. I am an admirer of the things you do. :-) Guerilla Burlesque has from its inception been a self-perpetuating entity. I danced for two years with another great burlesque team, Virtual Burlesque, and on the day I left, my friends and I were mooching around and maybe mourning a little when we came up with the idea of hitting live music gigs, kind of like a flash mob but sexier. lol. Hence the “Guerilla” part of the name. The “burlesque” part just came from my previous history.

We started out dancing backup for Bowie Bravin and occasionally for Deep Sky Traveller or other live performers who didn’t mind us invading the stage at Idle Rogue. But I missed performing, and others around me thought they had solo performances they wanted to do, so we started a weekly dance revue in April 2011. We have been performing ever since, though we take several breaks each year.

Joonie: How many avatars are a part of the show and if someone is interested in becoming a part of Guerilla Burlesque, what would you tell them?

Cherry: We have a corps of 30 dancers, 16 of whom are regular soloists and another ten who “guest” a couple of times through the season. The remainder dance backup or as live props when the soloists need them. The truth is, when people ask to dance, I remind them (as gently as I can) that everyone has one act in them, but it’s a rare creator who can sustain fortnightly performances for a season of 2-3 months. I tell them to come watch the show a few times, and see if they can keep staying up that late, and it turns out they often can’t (our show is on fridays at midnight). If they’re still keen, I remind them that every time they put together an act they will need to buy 4-6 animations at 300-400L per animation, and that they will never, ever make that money back. If they still persist, I will have a look at their ideas and consider joining them to the corps. They need to spend the rest of that season in the corps before being offered a solo, but that time is usually not wasted as we are a nursery for new dancers, and they will learn a great deal not just about dancing, but stagecraft, promotion and team work. Some don’t make it, it takes too long for them and there are other dance teams who will start them immediately, and that’s ok. I have pretty strong beliefs about what it takes to put on a successful show in SL, and it’s a holistic thing.

Joonie: How did you learn about Second Life and what was your first impression?

Cherry: I’d been a bit of a “chat queen” back in the late 90s, but took a break from the internet when my second child was born. During that time my friends from chat mentioned in dispatches that they were trying places like Second Life, so when I got back online in 2008, it was one of the first things I signed up for. I was smitten, almost immediately. I didn’t really know, until then, what a visual person I am. I never had a chance in a 3D platform! Lol!

Joonie: Why have you stayed as long as you have?

Cherry: The primary reason I have stayed so long is that I have great true friends I met in Second Life, and this is where we get together. I also have commitments I regard as professional and binding, I manage 3 musicians – Jordan Reyne, Deepsky Timeless and the erstwhile Bowie Bravin – plus this incredible dance juggernaut, Guerilla Burlesque, and its 30 fully-formed personalities. These are experiences that have shaped and defined me. Second Life, and the connections I have formed within it, have been a profound influence on who I am and how I know who I am.

Joonie: Guerilla Burlesque looks like a lot of fun. What is the most challenging part of it and what is the most fun and rewarding part?

Cherry: The most challenging part is, frankly, balancing the sometimes competing interests of 30 separate egos. But the rewarding part is watching them support and nurture each other, and every single week pull off a vibrant and exciting show at an extremely high level. These are intrinsically artistic people, who want to share something with the world, and every time they do it, and it goes right, I am full to bursting with joy. Is it work? Absolutely. Is it fun? Ohhh yes!

Joonie: What do you think we all need to know before seeing our first show? Do you find people have different ideas about what “burlesque” is all about?

Cherry: haha, well the first thing you need to know before you see a show is that bit about how “burlesque” got into the name. We’re a dance show – there’s no requirement on any dancer to strip, it’s regarded simply as one of an array of special effects. If the possibility of pasties and a g-strings still worry you, then I defer to the great Dita von Teese – It’s not about seducing men. It’s about embracing womanhood. And for some of our dancers, manhood lol.

Joonie: Lol. Are you familiar with the Avi Choice Awards? What made you want to be a part of the awards?

Cherry: We became aware of the Avi Choice Awards last year, when we learned we had been nominated. We attended because I think Second Life needs glam affairs, and I do groom my team as celebrities. We wanted the red-carpet experience! We’re participating this year because many of our team are strong supporters of Relay For Life, and we mostly make those decisions democratically. When I told the dancers we’d been invited, I asked for submissions from those who wanted to participate and the response was huge. Bonnie Revink and Aubreya Joszpe are co-ordinating our participation, and some of our best-loved divas will be there to give the event the Guerilla touch.

Joonie: Thanks so much for spending time with me today! I can’t wait to see the show!

Cherry: Not at all, Joonie, I feel hardly probed at all. It’s a great honour to be invited to perform, and we look forward to being part of it.