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2016 Best of Olympia: TUSH! Burlesque

Best Synergy, Best Dance Company, Best Thing to Happen in 2015

TUSH! Burlesque won in a number of categories this year including Best Synergy. Photo credit: Newspin photo/Red Williamson

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Oly readers, your choice for Best Synergy, Best Dance Company and Best Thing to Happen in 2015 is spot on this year, as the women of TUSH! Burlesque are all about synergy with you. From their first gig, the "Peekaboo Revue," held in September of 2009 at 4th Ave. Tavern, the members of TUSH! have been featured at events all over town.

"Obsidian was a huge thing for us in 2015," said founding member The Illustrious Ms. Hattie Hotpants. "We knew from the day it opened that we wanted to perform there."

As enchanting as Hotpants and fellow founding member Nani Poonani are on stage, they're equally fascinating in less glamourous surroundings. We caught up a few weeks ago over coffee, and topics ranged from juggling stage and private lives to burlesque as Artaudian theater to the possibility of adding waterskiing stunts to their repertoire.

"My take on TUSH!" Hotpants said, "is what we do is love - however you want to take that. We've gotten to a point where we're comfortable loving you, in oh so many ways, not only through our genuinely connected experience but through light entertainment, dark entertainment, delving into subjects that might be moving or uncomfortable. It gets very intimate."

These are two very sharp cookies, and they've spent six-and-a-half devoted years refining their craft. We asked how they've grown over time.

"We've learned we can work in a pinch," Poonani replied. "I've learned to keep working till the last minute, and it works out. We keep going and going and going. It's changed the pace of our business meetings and schedule. It's a matter of going with the flow while constantly being on the run."

"You're working constantly," Hotpants agreed. "We're attracting newbies and ‘oldbies' and repeat offenders. We rehearse up to five times a week. There's not always a guaranteed paycheck, yet I keep going back. So clearly, this is feeding me in other ways."

Both women talked extensively about the rush of empowerment that comes with being naked and mighty under the lights.

"At the end of the day," Hotpants concluded, "you're on stage with your creation. That's a huge joy, knowing I can create something and nobody's going to dilute it."

TUSH! BURLESQUE, "Reign of Love", 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 12, Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, $13.50-$42 with group and military discounts available, 360.753.8585,

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