Geek Speak: Shannon Waters, aka Sweet Sashay, Video Game Burlesque

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If Angry Birds and Call of Duty were performed as burlesque numbers, what would they look like? The audiences at Video Game Burlesque: Reloaded will find out later this month.

Shannon Waters is one of the burlesque performers who will take to the stage at the shows, which are being presented by the VanDolls troupe. The 26-year-old East Vancouver resident, who goes by the stage name Sweet Sashay, is adapting the video game Prince of Persia. Waters met her fellow founding VanDolls members in one of the Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society’s Becoming Burlesque classes.

Reloaded is the follow-up to the two Video Game Burlesque shows that the VanDolls put on a year ago. This year’s shows will take place at the Royal Canadian Legion (2205 Commercial Drive), and will feature group and solo performances by VanDolls members, including Rufflesilkskin (Donkey Kong and Silent Hill) and Malvina MasVino (Doom II). They will also guest star Trixie Hobbitses of Geekenders, and see the VanDolls’ Sherry Hymen showcase her drag king persona, Turner Over, in a Grand Theft Auto number. Tickets are $20 and available online.

The Georgia Straight reached Waters by phone on the seawall in Coal Harbour.

What will be different about the upcoming edition of Video Game Burlesque?

We’re doing entirely new numbers this time around. The theme of the show is the same. They’re still all video games, but they’re all different video games. So this time around, we’ve got Angry Birds and Call of Duty. There’s Doom and Frogger, Prince of Persia, Resident Evil—a bunch more.

We just had such a great time with the last show, and we got some really positive feedback. Considering the breadth and number of options in terms of choosing numbers, we decided that we could probably put together a whole new show on exactly the same theme.

Why did you choose Prince of Persia to perform as a burlesque solo?

For me, when it comes to the Video Game Burlesque shows, I’m usually looking for a strong female character—something that I can identify with and get a feel for. Also a character that fits with my performance style, which tends to be more of a classic striptease than a neo-burlesque-type number. So I started doing some research, and Kaileena really appealed to me. Kaileena, Empress of Time, she shows up in a couple of the games and is a very complex character, I think, and also extremely sensual and extremely strong, powerful—a compelling female figure.

What will this number look like?

It’s going to be a veil dance. It’s a classic burlesque prop. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the character or not, but part of her costume is she often has these red almost-pennants hanging from her arms. So I’m going to be using those in a classic veil-type performance.

What drew you to burlesque and what keeps you doing it?

I went to one of the Becoming Burlesque graduation recitals. A friend of mine was performing. Just the joy that I saw on stage that night—and these are brand-new performers—and the passion with which they approached the performances was something that was really interesting to me and something that I wanted to be a part of. Since joining the community—it’s just a wonderful group of people. All different walks of life, all different kinds of backgrounds, and they’re all drawn together by burlesque. Also the breadth of performance styles.

I’ve done a lot of the nerdlesque shows in Vancouver. Last summer, I put on a political activist-type show called Pipe This! and we raised money to donate to groups that are opposed to the Enbridge pipeline. I’ve been in comedy-type shows and then the really focused classic burlesque-type kind of stuff. There’s always something new. There’s always a new approach to take, and that’s part of what keeps me coming back.

Of course, the other thing is the VanDolls. It’s basically become like having seven other sisters. We just always have such a great time together.

Are the VanDolls going to take on other forms of nerdlesque?

I don’t know. The video game show, this is our second time putting it on. We participate in a lot of the other nerdlesque shows that go on in Vancouver. We were both performing in and support staff for Beam Me Up, Sexy, which happened a couple weeks back. That was produced by some friends of ours. We were both performers and support staff at Geekenders, which is run by Trixie Hobbitses, who incidentally is our guest star for the Video Game Burlesque show.

Vancouver’s VanDolls burlesque troupe is presenting Video Game Burlesque: Reloaded.
Frankie Panky
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