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Olympia loves TUSH! Burlesque

Dedicated to the ones we love

From left: Ginger Smack, Edyn Beaver, Aurora Darling, Nani Poonani, Miss Hattie Hotpants, Wednesday du Monde, Bettie Beelzebub and Princess Lucky Buttons. Photo by Ashley McKenzie, courtesy TUSH! Burlesque

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Early in my Volcano career, and in the history of Olympia's TUSH! Burlesque, I wrote a promotional article about the troupe in lieu of a review. Simply put, I bungled the job. I've learned much over the last few years - perhaps TUSH! has as well - and I apologize and recommend the company's Valentine's Day spectacular unreservedly. It's a valentine to the sights, sounds, and sexiness of Olympia, featuring our readers' 2014 pick for Oly's best band, Full Moon Radio. Meet the group:

MISS HATTIE HOTPANTS: The theme for this show is TUSH! Loves Olympia, and we are celebrating all our different experiences and memories about why we love this place.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Do you think of yourself as having a burlesque "character?"

MISS HATTIE HOTPANTS: I am absolutely a character, and I ride a fine line between total narcissism and urgent inclusion - with a need to make everyone feel special and loved, but also to remind them to not be assholes. It's a very big job but I make it look easy.

GINGER SMACK: I am Ginger and Ginger is me. When I am in the real world people see me from the outside in. When I am performing they get to see me from the inside out.

BETTIE BEELZEBUB: My stage self and "muggle" life self are honestly very much the same. You know how there's things you'd like to do or say, but because we all must get along in normal adult society, we don't, except for maybe in our minds? Whereas my muggle self tries to keep it toned down, Bettie really says and does those things. She's lucky that way. People seem to like her despite her sharp edges.

NANI POONANI: While I respect the skill and the craft of character development, I always get my hackles up when I hear people talk about needing a separate persona to be able to do these kinds of things onstage. I feel like stripping is such a tricky issue for women, the need for an alter ego strikes me as a red flag. I really worry about people who say that their muggle selves would never do the things their character does onstage. I'm concerned they're pushing themselves for the wrong reasons, and I hope they don't have regrets later. Burlesque takes a lot of balls, and I don't think it's a wise thing to take on if it's that incompatible with your daily life.

VOLCANO: What have the last few years taught you about burlesque?

MISS HATTIE HOTPANTS: I've learned more about others' and my own fears and dreams ... and also more about what truly inspires me to create and what excites me. As a lover of lowbrow art, camp and fucking weird stuff, burlesque allows me a venue to expand on themes and tropes I couldn't elsewhere, and have people really be into it. I celebrate bodies and our fundamental need to dance - naked, wild and free.

VOLCANO: If you could invite any human being to your show, living or dead, whom would it be?

MISS HATTIE HOTPANTS: Everyone. Don't make me play favorites - or Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits, because I could never decide which side I was on and that sounds like a really good time.

NANI POONANI: The truth is, I love this town full of beautiful weirdo geniuses, and I'm eye-fucking most of you most of the time. It's just that when I'm onstage I don't have to hide it.

GINGER SMACK: I would invite anyone who has not been to a burlesque show before this. ... There are still folks out there who ask, "What are your shows like?" How do we explain the fun, the sparkle, the tease and thrill that burlesque, and our shows in particular, bring? Nobody will feel uncomfortable, Hattie Hotpants will hold your hand, and everyone has a good time. Just come and see it!

TUSH! LOVES OLYMPIA, 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, $15-$20,, 360.754.6670

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