In the Blog
Sauci Calla Horra: Changing the World “One Rhinestone At A Time”
Every Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!
For Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to profile another of the lovely ladies of Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque.
Let me introduce the sassy Sauci Calla Horra…
Photo credit: Taralea Cutler
Sauci Calla Horra is not only Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque’s “minxy mistress of disguises”, she is also their producer and the coordinator of the Toronto Burlesque Festival. A social worker by day with an Honours degree in Theatre and Psychology, she sees burlesque “as a feminist statement, where women can reclaim their sexuality and power in an entertaining (and titillating!) way.” Sauci reminds us that it’s confidence and being yourself that makes you sexy!
What drives you to do what you do?
I’m a social worker by day, working with homeless women with mental health issues. By night, I’m a burlesque vixen and producer. I like dichotomies and contradictions so I find it hard to imagine doing one without the other! I got into burlesque as a favour to my friend, Skin Tight Outta Sight’s Founder and Artistic Director, Tanya Cheex. I had a background in theatre and dance so at first, I think doing burlesque was just a bit of an exhibitionist thrill for me. Soon after though, I found out there was a neo-burlesque movement around me that was dominated and run by women. I liked being in control of my own creative expression and I was enormously inspired by the women I work with, both within my troupe, in my city and internationally. The burlesque scene is its own community and this is also a driving factor for me - to help build a community here in Toronto of local performers, and be a part of a larger movement to bring this traditionally marginalized form of entertainment back into the public consciousness.
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
I don’t often think of the way being a woman empowers me per se. However, many women in the audience say they find burlesque performances empowering and this is a wonderful thing to hear. I believe this is because burlesque performers have real bodies - some are thin, others are large, most definitely have curves, for example, and there are an increasing number of women of colour performing burlesque. We are all different and we don’t look as if we have stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine or music video. Women see their bodies reflected on stage and think, “I could do that.”
I also think that in this era where sexual images are everywhere, burlesque gives women a chance to express their sexuality in a creative way but in a way that we own ourselves - it’s not dictated by the status quo or the mainstream. On the burlesque stage, we can be ourselves, albeit a larger than life version!
Challenges are many. Audience members often say we’re “brave” to get onstage and while I don’t personally think of it that way anymore, it is true that burlesque performers have their days where they feel insecure about their bodies and their appearances, just like any other woman. Once in a while, we encounter some cattiness related to our appearance but I’ve learned to live with it - it’s just part of being in the public eye. My personal pet peeve is when people concentrate too much on the difference between burlesque and stripping, with this idea that burlesque is some form of high art and stripping is something to look down your nose at. Burlesque in its heyday WAS stripping and the performers of yesteryear were often just as marginalized as today’s pole dancers. While I certainly am aware of many differences between the two, it bothers me that women who are either taking off their clothes on burlesque stages or watching burlesque are criticizing their sisters who take off their clothes at the strip clubs. Ultimately, most burlesque dancers are still taking off their clothes!
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
Burlesque is a lot of hard work - it looks easy on stage but that is the job of any performer - to make it look effortless. Attention should be paid to the concept of the act, the costuming, the choreography and staging, and of course, stage presence and overall glamour. Most importantly, think about how to take off your clothing in a sensual manner. Tease your audience and make them beg for more! I always suggest for those starting out that they take workshops with professionals to learn the tricks of the trade and they should attend as many shows as possible to learn what’s out there and get inspired.
Burlesque is also all about confidence and being yourself - that is what makes some performers so darn sexy! There is a personal journey that goes along with the work of it. Don’t be afraid to go there, take some risks, and above all, have fun!
Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?
Every young woman who is interested in burlesque should know about the Burlesque Hall of Fame Pageant in Las Vegas. This annual event is a competition to crown the year’s “Miss Exotic World,” who becomes the Ambassador of Burlesque worldwide. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a reunion for both the burlesque stars of yesteryear, the neo-burlesque starlets of today, and all the fans. It raises funds for the only Burlesque Museum, to preserve the history of this form of entertainment and also to raise awareness of burlesque in mainstream society. The Burlesque Hall of Fame is run by Dixie Evans, the “Marilyn Monroe” of Burlesque, who performed extensively in the 50s and 60s.
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
To quote my grandmother and her mother before her, “Do good and be good.” I think if we keep this in mind in our actions, no matter how small, we can reduce harm in many areas, whether your main concern in the environment, social relationships or something else entirely! Change is often in the small things - as we say at Skin Tight Outta Sight, we’re changing the world “one rhinestone at a time!”
Looking for something sassy to do this Valentine’s Day? Join Sauci and the other fantastic beauties of Skin Tight Outta Site Rebel Burlesque at their 8th Annual Bump ‘n’ Grind Valentine at The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom - 1214 Queen St. W., Toronto. Doors at 9pm, showtime at 9:30pm. Advance tickets $18 at Nearly Naked, Rotate This, The Gladstone Hotel and online at www.totix.ca Tickets are also at the door for $25.
If you’re looking to go ALL OUT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY… Burlesque Lover’s Weekend Pass for Valentine’s is a special cross-promotion involving three troupes - Cinnamon Hearts, Skin Tight Outta Sight and The Harlettes. Shows on Feb. 13, 14 and 15 respectively. The Weekend Pass only costs $40 and every pass holder receives a gift bag with items from Cabaret Vintage, The Condom Shack, Aradia Fitness and all three troupes. Everyone who buys a pass is also entered into a draw to win a Weekend Pass to the 2009 Toronto Burlesque Festival: Tassels Without Borders, coming in July.