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| 5 August 2019 | Reply


According to her bio: “Miss Holly Hock not only launched her own monthly burlesque revue called Speakeasy Sundays, but has won numerous awards, including Performer of the Year and Master of Tassels. She has exhibited art in the Dirty Show Erotic Art Exhibition, the Damned Show among others. She was featured in the Pretties for Pitties pinup calendar and helps produce “Titties for Pitties,” a yearly Detroit burlesque charity benefit. Holly founded the Detroit School of Burlesque in 2016, the first of its kind. The DSB promotes body positively and empowerment through the art of the tease, featuring a full 8-week curriculum and special guest instructors.” We get Holly to discuss the school, performing, the Detroit burlesque scene, and much more…

Toddstar: Holly, thanks as always for taking the time out to talk to us.

Holly: Of course.

Toddstar: Well, let’s talk about everything going on in your world right now. I’m very excited. Less than, a little less than two weeks, the July 2019 edition of Speakeasy Sundays. How’s that program going for you? You have been selling out show after show after show.

Holly: Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. It is definitely a bigger response than I ever expected, but I worked really hard to try and create a really unique show and give more opportunity to people this summer that maybe they would never see otherwise.

Toddstar: What is it about that venue, and we’ll get into Detroit in a minute, but what’s hard about Cliff Bells that really kind of sets the right tone for not only for burlesque, but your specific show?

Holly: Well, I really liked that venue because I wanted to create something that was kind of a nod to the way that burlesque shows have been in the past where you get dressed up and it’s really and entire experience. You have dinner, you have cocktails. It’s usually a special occasion or a date night. So I really wanted an upscale venue, sort of like a special night out deal and that venue just lends itself perfectly to it.

Toddstar: I’d agree with that. I love the venue. I’ve seen the show more than once there and it’s a great thing. Building on that, back in 2016 you established the Detroit School of Burlesque. What’s it about the Detroit scene? What keeps you here? You see so many burlesque performers that will actually kind of jump ship once they get established in a town and try and conquer new territory. Yet you’ve really embraced Detroit.

Holly: When I got here there just really wasn’t a lot happening. So I wanted to kind of create opportunity and after just getting involved in the shows that were happening and then starting to produce my own, I just kept getting asked over and over like “Where can I learn to do this?” and I saw a need for this school. So I created the school and just kind of fell in love with the scene. There’s just so much diversity here. We have everything from really like off the wall, comedic, avant garde acts to super classic acts. So I just kind of fell in love with the city and it was kind of like a blank canvas to create this new opportunity for a lot of performers.

Toddstar: You do a cool blend of local talent and you also bring in talent from out of town. What is it about bringing out of town talent that’s important to you when promoting a Detroit show?

Holly: Well a few things. Like I said, I just really like to be able to give Detroit an opportunity to see performers from New York and Chicago and California and really all over the place and we’ve even had international performers before. So I like to create an opportunity for Detroit to experience new performers but also for the performers to come to Detroit and experience our scene here and the city and what our audiences are like.

Toddstar: You talk about bringing talent and who’s the one talent that you’ve been able to book in a show that you really didn’t think you’d ever get but figured you’d try?

Holly: I mean it’s kind of funny because when I first started, there were all these names that I thought of, was awestruck by, and it was like, “Oh, if I ever got a chance to work with these people it would be amazing,” but now it’s like they’re my close friends. So that’s kind of interesting how that happened, but I think the one that I was most nervous to reach out to was Electrocute because she’s just such a giant power house of a performer.

Toddstar: When it comes to these shows, you do theme shows. What draws you to certain themes for shows and then how do you go about picking your talent for those specific shows?

Holly: I don’t really do theme shows. We typically only do about two a year. We usually do the movie night and 20’s and 30’s night. So the movie night show, I just think it’s a really fun twist to see what people come up with and every year we feature Red Rum as our headliner for that show and she has to be one of the most talented makeup and special effects artists I’ve ever seen. So it kind of was created around her and wanting to showcase something drastically different than what we usually do. Speakeasy Sundays and our 20’s show, I just always loved that era and people will have a lot of fun dressing up and bring on the suits and the flapper costumes and things like that. So just kind of been a fun, reoccurring show for us, but I pick the acts basically just based on what I think that would just create a good show and be entertaining and I try to have a pretty diverse show. Where was that some things that are funny and some things that are classic and some things that are more lighthearted and more serious and sometimes we do applications, but most of the time it’s just based on performers that I’ve seen or worked with over the years.

Toddstar: Well we talked a little bit about the School of Burlesque and it was exciting when you were able to put in your own funding and then some crowd funding to be able to put a storefront out there. The coolest part about that is you now take these performers and you showcase them in your shows. I mean I know several of the performers in speakeasy kind of came up through the ranks. What’s it like for you as a teacher to see your students taking that step and getting out on that stage and then taking it maybe to the next level?

Holly: It’s always a really kind of emotional, proud moment. I’m usually kind of over in the corner getting emotional about it. It’s just, it’s really cool to watch their journey because like so many of the performers, started out really shy and like, “I don’t know if I should do this,” and “I don’t know if I have the confidence to do it,” and then they get up on that stage and they’re giving me a run for my money and they’re just killing it. So it’s really a cool thing to watch from day one and see them grow and be able to help mentor them and see how they develop as a performer.

Toddstar: You talked about being in the corner, but you sometimes have a little table set up and you can watch. You’re literally watching everything they’re doing. It’s like you’re taking it in – not only for the performance, but maybe see if there is something that they borrowed from you or you can borrow from them. Is it more of a critique situation or is it more of you just really enjoy it?

Holly: I just really enjoy the entire art of burlesque. I want to see them just as much as I want everyone else to see them. So I really get drawn into their performances and that’s what I love about burlesque. You get kind of lost in it. So a lot of times I have no idea what’s happening around me and because I’m just so drawn into performers, story and their facial expressions, and the drama of it. So I’m just enjoying it.

Toddstar: Stepping back for a second, again you’ve got Detroit School of Burlesque, you’ve got Speakeasy Sundays where you’re the producer. You wear every hat just about. How different is it for you to approach say a festival or when you do the Dirty Show where you’re more just putting on the performer hat and getting out there. So a different mindset for you when you’re performing as just a performer or performing knowing the whole show is riding on your shoulders?

Holly: It’s definitely a lot less stressful. One, I’m just performing. It kind of feels a little odd to me though because I’m so used to producing that I always feel like I’m forgetting to do something if I’m just performing, but I don’t really think it’s too much different. It’s just a little bit my attention is just a little bit… when I’m only performing and not to do the thing I get the opportunity to kind of go out and talk to the crowd and meet people and do a few more things that I don’t always get to do when I’m producing since I do have to do a lot of different jobs.

Toddstar: You always make yourself accessible, whether it’s before show if you have a minute and you recognize somebody. You’ll stop and say hi for a quick second then excuse yourself, but you always come out during their intermission and say hello. You always hang out afterwards for photos. How important is that to you to bond as a performer to the crowd that’s there to enjoy the show?

Holly: Oh, it’s super important to me. A lot of times, most of the time performers will do two acts at Speakeasy and I always only do one unless it’s a special occasion, but the reason that I do that is because I want to make sure that I still have intermission and that part of the show and after the show to be able to talk to people and to thank them for coming because if we don’t have an audience then none of us have any opportunities to do this. So I just always want to make sure that I’m accessible to people, to chat with them and say hi or answer questions about classes or just thank them for being there. Because it is super important to me and I want people to know that. That it’s a really personal thing to me and it actually does mean a lot when somebody buys a ticket to a show.

Toddstar: Well it’s always fun watching you because you come up with some cool routines. I’ve seen quite a few over the years. What’s the one routine that you did that will always stick with you no matter how long you do this?

Holly: Oh, that’s hard. I mean they’re all, because it is an art form, they’re all super personal to me. There’s always a story behind every act. So they’re all really, really important to me I think. Probably like two for very different reasons. My current lavender act that I do. It’s a really classic act, but it was just something I’d been thinking about for a really long time and something that I poured a lot of work and money and time into. So that one is definitely one of my favorites and then I created something completely opposite side of the spectrum that is an anti suicide act that was very, very difficult for me to put together. I actually contemplated not doing it multiple times and when I finally did it, I just kind of had this feeling that was the right thing to do. People needed to know that they’re not alone and that other people are sharing their struggles and after I debuted the act, which I think was, I think that was 2017, maybe 2018. I had people contacting me for over a month just saying like, “Thank you for doing that. You don’t know how bad I needed to hear that,” overwhelming response and I only did the act that one other time after that. The same thing happened. People were just, there were people that were crying after the show and I felt really bad for kind of dampening the mood, but I think it was something that was really important and I think it’s interesting how we can use the burlesque stage as a platform to say something really important.

Toddstar: Well it’s funny to me because it’s more than just burlesque. It is getting to know you guys personally because it comes out in your performance whether people realize it or not. Part of who you are is actually being portrayed to the audience. You guys are stripping in more than one way. It’s not just a physical thing when you guys are taking clothes off. You’re actually stripping yourselves and bearing your emotions as well. That said, has there ever been a routine where when you got done you were just, you almost regretted putting it together because it either didn’t come across or get received the way you thought it should?

Holly: No, I haven’t really ever regretted an act. I definitely think that acts evolve and every time you do an act you kind of think, “Oh, well there’s a part where I could do something a little bit different where I could upgrade this costume piece.” So I do think that I’m always trying to talk myself and always trying to improve and make things a little bit better than the last time. Whether that’s just that I had more energy or I was more polished or had to figure out a more interesting way to remove a piece of clothing, but I tend to spend a lot of time on an act before I debut it. So I can’t say that I’ve ever really regretted an act.

Toddstar: Okay. I know you’re busy. I know you’ve got class. So I got a couple more quick ones for you if you don’t mind. What’s the one or two songs out there that you’ve always wanted to put a piece together to and you haven’t yet.

Holly: Well, one kind of ridiculous song that I’m actually working on right now. I’ve been working on it for a little while, is a cover of the Phil Collins Song “In the Air Tonight.” Everyone knows that iconic drum breakdown, you know? Everyone gets really excited about that. So it’s been something I’ve kind of been thinking about for a while and then I just didn’t really know how to use it and what that act is going to be like and then it all kind of just like hit me and so I’m actually working on that one right now.

Toddstar: Oh very cool. I ask because I see things all the time. I’ve always thought that Ozzy Osbourne’s “Tattooed Dancer” would be a perfect fit and I have yet to see anybody perform it.

Holly: So put it out there and somebody else will come after that. There are like 20 of them now.

Toddstar: Just to close out Holly, you’ve performed nationally, you’ve been headliner, you’ve migrated to where you’re producing your own show, and now have your own school. What’s still left on your burly bucket list to do?

Holly: I want to travel more. I’m trying to get back to traveling more the end of this year and into next year, but I definitely want to become an international performer. I’ve been so focused on Detroit that traveling a lot has kind of taken a back seat, but I would really love to get overseas and perform in some other countries as well.

Toddstar: Very cool. Well again, thank you so much for taking the time. I can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks and say hello and I urge everybody to get out there and pick up tickets for the August show if it isn’t sold out already.

Holly: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well thanks a lot. We’ll talk to you soon, Holly.

Holly: All right. Thank you.








Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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