Hail to the Queen: An Interview with New York Burlesque Star Clams Casino

Hail to the Queen: An Interview with New York Burlesque Star Clams Casino

Clams Casino and Anita Cookie along with producer Brett Rollins (better known as Neil O’Fortune) plan to unleash a new and exciting performance of Burlesque at the Beach at Coney Island, New York. On August 5th the home turf of THE WARRIORS comes alive with a skin baring, blood squirting Burlesque tribute to the career of the chinned wonder, Bruce Campbell! The show is sponsored by Grindhouse Releasing and attendance costs only $10!

Here to share some insights on the her career and what to expect when you hit the shore is one of the stars of the show, Clams Casino.

Everybody Digs Clams Casino

How did you become a burlesque dancer? Is it through a background in dance, performing arts, or are you one of those kids that did run away & join the circus? How did you come into producing your shows as well?

I have a BFA in Playwriting and years of dance as a kid, also a lifelong obsession with rock stars and drag queens lead me to the burlesque stage. I started producing to bring together my pop culture obsession together with my passion for burlesque. I like finding niches and reasons to have a show that no one else has done before…using striptease to celebrate the Midwest, the anniversary of the moon landing, the 90s, just to name a few.

How has your stage persona of Clams Casino developed? How much of a separation is there between who you are on stage and when you’re not?

I am naturally very shy, and when I started performing I was even more reserved. Clams used to be my excuse to be brash and bold. We’re becoming more and more the same, though. I’d say Clams is who I’d be if I practiced all my lines over and over again.

Producer Brett Rollins

How did you come to partner with Brett Rollins? Does your working relationship effect your personal relationship?

Brett and I were partners in life before Clams ever existed. We started producing shows together because of our obsession with the game show, What’s My Line? We decided to bring a live version to the stage in NYC and thus began our producing career.

Do you operate with an underlying feminist theory to your stage show or is it just about good times and nipple pasties?

Both! I am a very “personal is political” kind of feminist, so I think I operate with an underlying feminist theory in everything I do. I operate with an underlying feminist theory when I eat a bagel. Having said that, my number one goal as a performer is to entertain the audience and show them a good time, but I think that just by walking on the stage as a feminist is a feminist act.

What’s the allure of burlesque to you as a performer? Can you share some of your experience with the Burlesque Hall of Fame?

My very favorite aspect of burlesque is it’s a rare space where a woman can be sexy and funny at the same time. It’s really one of the only arenas I can think of where sex and comedy meld seamlessly period. Because, let’s face it, sex is hilarious. And hilarity is sexy. Even a good straight forward classic striptease is still built on a wink and a smile.

The Burlesque Hall of Fame is one of my favorite organizations in the world. They’re responsible every year for an amazing striptease reunion that gathers performers from all over the world, contemporary stars as well as stars from the golden age of burlesque. It’s like the glitteriest family reunion you ever saw. And you don’t know inspiring until you see some of those legends breaking out their classic acts. Seeing a lady well into her 70s or 80s peel off a stocking is a moment I look forward to all year.

What do you feel is the public perception of Burlesque dancing nowadays? How do you hope to shape it?

I would say the public perception is largely positive, especially from women. It’s inspiring to watch a woman define sexiness and fierceness. I mean, sure, you certainly encounter a douchebag from time to time who assumes burlesque is just “fat chicks taking off their clothes”. To which i say…size has nothing to do with being a sexy genius.

I consider myself really lucky to be here in NYC and among a larger burlesque community where we keep pushing each other to go farther. I hope to shape it by creating magic with every new act I do.

You were named a “Burlesque Queen” by the New York Times. How does that translate when you tour? What does that mean to you with your ties to Ohio?

It was a huge honor to have the paper of record say that about me. That issue came out on a Sunday when my family was having a big family dinner back home and one of my cousins saw the article and passed it around to everyone. It was definitely, “see y’all, I made it” kind of moment.

GIMME SOME SUGAR, BABY is a Bruce Campbell themed tribute show. What can you share about this upcoming performance?

I don’t want to give too much away… but I will say you can expect blood. Lots and lots of blood. And sexy geniuses of all kinds, from the sugary sweet Sizzle Dizzle to the racy provocateur Velocity Chyaldd and everything in between…classic burlesque moves from Jezebel Express and magic from Albert Cadabra and the sexiest fire artist in town, Reina Terror, not to mention hilarity from me and my partner in the Sticky Situation, Anita Cookie. We’re paying tribute to every aspect of Mr. Campbell’s storied career.

What process is involved in coming up with the theme of your shows? How does fellow performer Anita Cookie come into play?

Clams Casino & Anita Cookie with the King

Anita, Neil O’Fortune and I come up with ideas based on the things we love the most. We’re all obsessed with pop culture, but experts in different areas… so, if the subject is something we all agree on, we can be damn sure the world is ready for it as well.

Your stomping ground, The Slipper Room in NYC, is closed for renovations and Coney Island is in a constant state of redevelopment. What does this mean as one of the producers of this show?

I’m counting the minutes until my beloved Slipper Room is back and better than ever, but so thankful that Sideshows by the Seashore owns their building, so they’ll be kicking no matter what crazy things happen out at Coney Island…however, I’m even more thankful that Coney seems to be more popular than ever this year! Certainly, the hardest thing about producing burlesque in New York City is lack of ideal venues. Slipper and Coney and Joe’s Pub, another venue where the three of us have a regular show, are such gifts as they’re run by folks who love burlesque and do what they can to nurture it as much as possible. Not to mention they provide crazy luxuries to performers like dressing rooms and sizable stages.

What ideas do you have for future productions? Maybe some horror movie tributes??

Casino O’Fortune Cookie has a tendency to pay tribute to either musical legends or macho male movie stars…so you can expect lots more burlesque dedicated to the action stars of our youth. We have our tribute to Johnny Cash, Man in Black Burlesque at Joe’s Pub on September 11. And Anita and I are hitting the road again with our troupe, Dangerous Curves Ahead for a southern tour this October!

Be sure to check for more updates and tour dates from Clams Casino and the rest of her compadres.
Clams Casino’s Official Website
Casino O’Fortune Cookie Productions

Now head over to ZforZombies.com for an interview with producer Brett Rollins!

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Born in the steel scrap-yards of Lorain, Ohio, Zach Shildwachter is a VHS Vagabond wandering the Cleveland landscape in search of the perfect Horror movie and Banana flavored snacks in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse. Until the Dead walk, our Hero remains an Aspiring Filmmaker, Compulsive Writer, Self-taught Artist, and amateur Super-Hero.


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