How To Produce Kick-Ass Burlesque Shows! – The Great Vivienne Vermuth Talks Getting Into The Business, Finding Inspiration, And Surefire Ways To Get Any Audience On Their Feet


Vivienne Vermuth is a professional makeup artist and performer who has produced one-of-a-kind burlesque shows for many years. Her over-the-top productions have a reputation for incredible success, regularly selling out venues and attracting a rabid following of loyal fans.

Want to see her in action? Vivienne’s next production is the Vaudevillian World’s-Fair-themed “Showgirl Follies” in Dallas on Friday, Feb 25th! She can also be found debuting an incredible new act in the upcoming Viva Dallas “Technicolor Fairy Tales” on March 2!

Kick back and enjoy our lovely interview with this talented burlesque pro:

What inspired you to begin your burlesque career? Was there a particular performance that sparked your interest? Was there something in particular you were experiencing in your life and looking for a way to express?

I actually met two performers in 2008 through my makeup company. They invited me to come to thier show and I was hooked! I asked to join their troupe and I’ve been hitting it hard ever since! At that time I was going through body changes that made me self-conscious, and this helped me love myself as I am.

What made you want to start producing? Did you see a particular niche in local burlesque that wasn’t being filled?

To be honest, I wanted to dance and there weren’t many avenues to do it in! I had a lot of talented friends who were also frustrated at the lack of opportunities, so I said “Fuck it. Ill do it myself!” I found that not many shows incorporated a lot of vaudeville (funny emcee, comedians, circus, etc.) so i wanted to use that avenue and show dallas a unique side of burlesque that was true to old vaudeville but with a modern edge.

Was it challenging trying to produce your first show? Had you ever done anything like that before? Did you learn on your feet or have help at the beginning?

Oh God, the first show damn near killed me! Luckily, I had so many people helping and making it easier. The group of performers I had made an amazing show. The venue (1727 on the Levee) provided such a fantastic atmosphere.  And the flyer designer created amazing artwork! It was a rush. We sold out before the doors even opened! To have a sellout first production is such a great feeling. I also learned so much about what makes a great show for the performers, the audience and venue. I must have talked to over 200 people that night trying to get opinions!

The lovely Vivienne Vermuth.

What is unique about your productions? What makes them stand out from the crowd and continues to make them so popular show after show?

I really think about great themes and go from top to bottom to create a mood for each show. For example, my show on Feb 25th is a nod to vaudeville, specifically the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1913.  I have a bellydancer who performs with swords, a magician who is our emcee, a hoopteaser, some circus action, and even a vintage scarf dance! Its going to be an experience from the moment you walk in. I think my audience also see how much goes into each show and they delight in the escapism it provides.

Do you have any upcoming productions that you’re really excited about?

The Showgirl Follies on Feb 25th. For the reasons stated above, but also because it’s at Sons of Hermann Hall, one of the most well-known historic venues in Dallas! I’m also excited about the Viva Dallas Burlesque show Technicolor Fairytales (which I hear also features a certain dirty blonde gal) because I’m debuting an idea I’ve had for over a year.

When you’re casting, what are you looking for in performers?

I look for happiness above all. I refuse to hire performers who looked bored onstage. I also look for backstage professionalism and thier desire to create a show and act that the audience will love. They have to have values in line with mine (as far as audience pleasing!).

As a producer, what advice would you give to performers who are applying for their first shows or just starting out in burlesque?

Go to shows!!! Patron shows and find the shows that you like best, and talk to the producers via email afyerwards (never at the show! We wont remember!) But definitely introduce yourself amd tell us you will send a followup email. If you dont know the show, style, or venue, then that may be a shock to you performing for the first time! Also, the producer will know you are serious about thier show and more likely to book you. Have videos that are easily found and accessible amd either a public facebook fanpage or website where pictures can be found.

What advice would you give producers who are just starting out and trying to build brand new burlesque communities in other cities? What are some pitfalls they should try to avoid? What are some great things they can do to help their local burlesque community grow and thrive?

They should also patron shows, and make sure they arent copying ideas straight out. As with any artistic medium, some general ideas may be used over and over, but they shouldn’t be a blatant copy. They should also develop relationships with other producers in the area and keep tabs as to avoid overlap. And most important, they should understand that producing is a labor of love of the art and the deep rooted desire to bring entertainment to the people. If these aren’t your goals, the audience will know and the feel of the show may suffer. And also realizing that not everyone has to produce! Sometimes helping others produce and create collaborative shows is just as great and benefits everyone.

Have you found any great resources you would recommend to new producers? Any great books? Blogs? Websites? Any workshops or reading material you would recommend to help people get their start in producing kick-ass burlesque shows?

I love reading, and The Burlesque Handbook by Jo Weldon is amazing for performers and producers. I would also say ask local producers if you can help on thier teams, but be prepared for a crazy time!

Do you have a website? Where can people learn more about you?

I will soon be launching, with design by Lisa Loving and Koby Brown. And my makeup design site is live!  Also follow my group on Facebook

Thanks so much, Viv! Can’t wait to see what you think of next! 🙂

Posted on February 16, 2012, in Burlesque, Interviews & Profiles, The Dallas Scene and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: