We had the good fortune of connecting with Crista Reid and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crista, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
The arts have called to me since I was a child. I always new I wanted to be an artist, and followed my passion for jewelry to obtain a BFA in Metals and Jewelry from California College of the Arts. Shifting into the world of Boulder Burlesque, a performance art dance troupe based in Boulder, Colorado, feels like an extension of my fine arts background. And, I can certainly say, the child inside me who loves glitter, sequins, and bright colors is very pleased by the costumes and props I get to play with!
Having spent years in visual art critique spaces, I showed up prepared to offer meaningful insight and creative direction to the members of Boulder Burlesque when I joined the troupe in late 2015, under the direction of Madame Merci. For the first time in my life, I found myself feeling like I was contributing to an artistic process that wasn’t just about making something beautiful to put out into the world (as with my jewelry work), but was actually generating a lived experience of beauty for both the troupe members and the audience.
As an art form, burlesque offers a transformative power in the shedding of layers, shirking off oppression, subverting societal norms, and shining light on bodies and identities outside of the mainstream. Given this, Boulder Burlesque is in a distinct arena to bear greater truth in the evolution of queerness, gender diversity, racial equity, body positivity, and sexual empowerment for all bodies within the performing arts.
In 2017, a man who I dated for about six months began stalking and harassing my and the Boulder Burlesque community. I was scared for my safety, in disbelief, and felt my creative spirit shut down bit by bit as I was made to feel like I needed to hide myself and protect myself. That experience resulted in me taking out a permanent protection order against that man, and Boulder Burlesque was there for me through the whole process. I was left to reflect on the countless experiences of male-perpetuated violence that exist in our society, and how circumstances of domestic abuse, misuse of power, and consent violations contribute to undermining the ability for recipients of this behavior to show up in their whole, happy, confident expression.
This restraining order experience galvanized me in my objective to pursue continued creation of transformative space for people of all genders, sexual expressions, and identities, For me, choosing to direct Boulder Burlesque means choosing to show up for this spirit of collective healing, creative evolution, sexual empowerment, and contribute a layer of growthful exploration that goes beyond glittery costumes and pasties.
It is a true honor to create with the Boulder Burlesque community, and to see our work evolve with the contributions of our incredible Leadership Team, currently made up of Roxanne Whiskey, Eartha Pussy, and Mx. Tangerine (that’s me). In many ways, bringing together our troupe members in this process of group healing and creative expression reminds me of the process of making a beaded necklace. These pieces of building trust and a sense of safety to explore the trauma we all carry around sexuality and sexual expression must come slowly, like one bead at a time being added at a time to a string. I will continue to pursue this path of bringing empowered sexual expression to the world, and am so grateful to work with Boulder Burlesque as a platform to carry out this work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My name is Crista Reid (they/she) and I am a kinky, polyamorous, genderqueer, cis woman with a passion for embodied sexuality and creative expression. I create and facilitate sex-positive spaces and tools to help people access more pleasure. Through my work as the director of the performance art dance troupe, Boulder Burlesque, and as the founder of Permission Productions, I weave the art of consent, communication, archetype, and movement as pathways to sexual confidence. I offers event design, immersive events, performance art, workshops, and one-on-one coaching around consent, burlesque, sensuality, and sexual empowerment.
I am a life-long creator, artist, and cultivator of sexual empowerment. My mission is to encourage bold sexuality, embodiment, consent education, conscious kink, and creative expression. I believe that sexuality is a fundamental and necessary form of creative human expression, and that when we are whole, happy and healthy with our relationship with our sexual self, we are able to access so much more pleasure in all aspects of life. The journey to this work came as a slow and steady progression after I joined Boulder Burlesque in 2015. Through the Boulder Burlesque community, I began supporting with producing events, teaching classes, and evolving the scope of our offerings to include projects like our sell-out “Seven Undeadly Sins” immersive haunted house in 2019, which was featured in Westword and Yellowscene Magazine.
Boulder Burlesque holds central the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). We seek to create braver space for more performers to step onto the stage, in diversity of race, sexuality, sexual orientation, occupation, age, ability, and other sources of marginalization. In this ever evolving process, we are dedicated to ongoing learning and improvement in deepening our involvement in this work. As someone with a lived experience of being in a white, conventionally attractive body, who is educated, able bodied and minded, financially stable, and with limited lived-experience of sexual trauma, I show up in a constant and imperfect process of growth in recognizing how my privileges shape the way I teach and am able to show up with awareness in unraveling the stories of performers with marginalized identities. Through this work, we strive to claim sexual expression as a radical art, normalize consent culture, practice fully embodied expression, provide healing through movement, and amplify sexual liberty, queerness, diversity, and justice for all.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Morning – Catch the sunrise from the top of NCAR, bring our yoga matts for some stretching Brunch – Tangerine (I mean…my stage name is Tangerine, so how could we not)
Mid-day – Shopping at The Ritz for the most fun and unique costumes Boulder has to offer, then skinny dipping on the north shore of the Boulder Reservoir (shh…don’t tell)
Dinner – Tea and delights at the Dushanbe Tea House
Evening – DV8 Distillery for a queer dance party experience with craft cocktails, aerial dance performance, and fire artists.
After Party – License No. 1 for classy cocktails, moody atmosphere, and maybe even the tail end of some live & local music
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This shoutout goes to Madame Merci, the founder of Boulder Burlesque and Conscious Burlesque. She brought the original vision to create a container where people of all genders could shed layers of sexual shame, find empowered self-expression, and shake a tail feather through it all. MM, you have taught me so much and you continue to. I am humbled to continue the work that you started. Thank you.
Other: Coming Soon: patreon.com/boulderburlesque