We had the good fortune of connecting with Georgia May Wake and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Georgia May, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
At the time, I was working at a venue watching all these amazing performers and I just really wanted to do what they were doing. I wanted to dance. And I wanted to dance on stage. I had danced most of my life, but through adulting, it fell out of my day to day and my heartached to get back to it. So my first step was to get up the courage to apply to perform. I had an amazing support system who encouraged me to pursue my passion and once I applied, I actually got chosen! I was shocked. “Maybe I can make this a thing?” I thought. So I started thinking about not just performing myself, but about giving the same opportunity I was just given to others in the community. I like to think I’m pretty creative and I had been watching 100s of shows at the venue where I worked so I decided to pull the trigger and start producing shows as well! It happened so quickly. I performed for the first time and produced a sold out show for the first time in the same year. What a whirlwind! But my heart felt full again.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artform is that of burlesque. Burlesque is all about the art of the Tease, but people often don’t really know what to expect when they hear the word burlesque. And I don’t think that will ever change… It’s such a varied artform. I always tell my students there’s no wrong way to burlesque! But generally, burlesque is a striptease down to pasties and some sort of bottom (undies, merkin, etc) and can be silly, nerdy, sexy, political, gory, scary, classic, and all the other adjectives out there. And I just love that about this type of art.
I, honestly, feel like I have so much to be proud of. I’ve produced quite a few shows and only had 1 flop – I was (and am still) learning the best ways to promote. I’m still super proud of that show, I just wish more people had shown up to see it. Roughly 10 big productions with a 90% success rate… That’s a pretty good track record in my opinion! I think that my favorite avenue of the burlesque artform for me is producing. I love performing and I love teaching, but getting to come up with an idea, curate the show, and watch as the audience is captivated by your months and months of work? Nothing beats it! Then getting to pay your performers well? Even better! But I’m also super proud of all my students and watching all their growth. I am one of the instructors for Tease Me Burlesque at Tease Studio Denver and we hold Burlesque 101 courses that are designed to take a student from literally 0 experience to a professional ready to perform anywhere they want. A perfect example is Marie Morninstar. She took the course with me in April, graduated at the end of May, and has been slaying it all over town ever since. I couldn’t be prouder of her or my other students. She’s just an example. And I’m also proud of most of my acts. We all have some that we probably perform once and are ok with not repeating, but then we all have others that we are just so incredibly proud of! For me, I’m probably most proud of my Molly Weasley act. It is so ridiculous and fun and can perform it anywhere.
I’ve mentioned in another response that I worked for the Clocktower Cabaret and consider working there my version of taking a Burlesque 101. It’s really how I got my start in this business. I saw amazing acts and shows and got to really figure out what type of performer and producer that I wanted to be. I was very lucky in how it all came together for me to be able to dive into my business and the community really welcomed me. What I’ve learned most is that it is SO important not to let yourself get too big of an ego. No one wants to work with someone who acts like they are too good to be there or like roles are beneath them or what not. Be genuine and kind and this community will love and appreciate you! And always be open to kittening!!! No one is too good to kitten, in my book. (Kittens are burlesque stagehands, essentially.)
As far as my brand, I want everyone to know that I am in no way a gatekeeper and I never want to be. If you are interested in performing with me, all you have to do is apply. Not everyone will be accepted in to my casts, but I accept performers who fit my shows best. I want people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, and abilities on my stage (wherever that stage may be)! Every person has something to offer and I want to be known for highlighting those artists in the best possible light.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh goodness… there are so many! I would definitely want to take them to The Clocktower Cabaret, HQ Denver, Blush&Blu, and/or The Oriental Theater to see show(s). I’m loving that more and more smaller venues are opening up all over town so I would probably try to find one of those to support as well. I would also want to take them to any one (or all) of the amazing brunch places in town; Syrup, Jelly, Snooze, and more! Otra Vez is my personal favorite Mexican restaurant downtown and we would definitely go there. I was so happy to see that they survived the shutdown. I say that about all these places. It says a lot about the people running them, the staff they have, and how resourceful they were. It’s impressive. It’s been such a tough time. I would also love to take them to a class at Tease Studio, be it pole, lyra, hammock, chair, hip-hop, contemporary, or burlesque, there are so many great classes to choose from there! But I would definitely also leave the city to head up to the mountains. I just LOVE the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have three if that’s ok. First is my amazing partner, Brock (aka The ManBear as he’s known in the community). He was and is my support system and really helped encourage me to pursue my passion and to not care what other people thought about it. He’s wonderful! Next would be my burlesque mentor or burlesque mama as I call her, Parker Go Peep. She cast me in the first show I ever performed in and she helped make me feel prepared and ready for it. She didn’t just throw me to wolves. And when I told her I wanted to produce, she was quick to say that she would do whatever she could to support me and mentor me on the process. So much respect and appreciation has to go to her!
Lastly, I would shoutout the Clocktower Cabaret. That’s the venue where it all started for me! I started in the box office and at the time, staff wasn’t allowed to perform and I was fine with that. I felt so nervous at the idea of getting on that stage that I never thought I would. But then there were some management changes and policy changes and staff COULD perform as long as they received permission and made sure our shifts were covered (I’m not sure if that’s still the policy though). After I got booked to perform, I set up a meeting with one of the owners, Jefferson, and pitched a Game of Thrones themed burlesque show idea and he gave me my shot! I will forever be grateful for all the positive in my life that stems from my box office days at the Clocktower.
Photos by: Dave Wood Photography, Alana Myatt Photography for Unicorn Image, Manbear Photography for Boa Image Performers shown: Polka Dottie, Indy Fire, Margaux EnVie, Mard Fury, Bettie Belladonna, Nadya, Tormenta, Syn, Parker Go Peep, Naughty Pierre, Taka, Tight Lightning, Arielle May Dewitt, Laika Fox, Shirley Delta Blow, Brody Danger, Summer Storm, Magnolia Rouge, Bender Flames, Staza Stone, Tess Tickles, Mary Lust, Charlie Valentine, MariFuego, Memphis Moonshine, Pixie Parseltongue, Red Intuition, Miss Monroe, ChiChi, Penny Spectacular, Jameson LeCoeur, Evangeline Cain Students: Prima Domina, Marie Morningstar, Sammie Smiles, Dia Noire, Om Wrecker, Viva La Bruja, Winter de Morte, and Kissa Obscura