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  • Jennifer Affronti

How Ms.Redd came about...

Updated: Jul 28

Here is my very first blogging post!

 

So, I figure I should tell you a little about me getting into burlesque and why I chose my name.

 

I grew up in a little small town that sits on the Gulf Of Mexico in Northern Florida, about 30 miles south of the Alabama border called Fort Walton Beach.  I always had a thing for my biological father’s Playboy’s when I was a little girl.  I would stare at the pictures for hours.  There was a placed called Carmichael’s Surfside 7 that I knew as a little girl was a bar, but they always had the most beautiful women outside occasionally walking in.  I remember always commenting on the pretty ladies I saw.  Many years later, not only did I find out that little place was a Burlesque Bar, but Legend Dusty Summers use to work there back when I was growing up. (I’m sure she was one of the pretty ladies I would stare at from the car).  I was extremely shy and use to dance in my house when no one was watching. I was a gymnast and when I had to do competitions, I started to incorporate little dance moves I made up. And so,  when I was in the sixth grade, I was asked to perform at my school’s talent show.  I wore my father’s rain coat with a belt, and his hat on top of my leotard and leg warmers.  I was just supposed to do a gymnastics routine.  They did not realize I danced in it too.  So when “Get it On” by the Power Station came on, I threw my hat off and my long hair came down.  I whipped my hair around and then began to take my belt off.  I then, unbuttoned the jacket and threw it off.  I did my gymnastics routine and at the end even stripped off my leg warmers and then dropped into the splits.  When I got off stage, I was quickly whisked off into the Principal’s office.  I was being yelled at and was told I was bad. I had no idea why.  They told me I was too risqué and if I ever did anything like that again I would be kick out of school.  I was mortified, as I was a straight A student and had no idea what I did was “wrong”.  I just did what felt natural (and what I dance like in my living room) and had fun.  I definitely was scarred from that incident.

 

Many years passed.  I became involved in acting and improv.  I loved being on stage.  It was a high I had never felt before.  The energy was intense and I loved it.  I was in a scene study class with a woman named Kathy Scambiaterra.  She moved me into her advanced class with actors who were on Broadway, tv series, and movies.  It was very intimidating as here I was this newbie.  One of my first assignments from her was to play Lizzie from Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Respectful Prostitute in a short scene.  It’s a scene where Lizzie seduces a man that she is seeing. I started and in the middle of the scene, Kathy yelled stop.  She proceeded to yell at me (I had never seen her even raise her voice).  She yelled “do you need permission to be sexy?  What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know what it is like to be a woman? It’s okay to be a sexy woman…you don’t have to apologize for who you are naturally!!!  Have you looked in the mirror?  It’s okay to be sexy!!!  My goodness, you are pure sex!!!! USE IT!!!”  And much more.  I got very upset.  I had become a tomboy for years and covered myself up.  She was right, I hid for years behind myself…I had no idea what it was like to be sexy or even what that felt like or meant.  I got angry and proceeded to do the rest of the scene and practically stand there naked.  Afterwards, the whole class stood up and clapped.  I had finally (for a moment) stepped into my womanhood.   Kathy soon after moved to Chicago and I to Las Vegas.

 

When I arrived in Las Vegas, I decided that it was time to really embrace my womanhood. Whatever that looked like for me in my head, I was going to do it.  I have always loved the sexy sirens of the black and white films and my father’s old Playboy’s.  I was a big Bettie Page fan & came across Tempest Storm with her in Teaserama.  My body was naturally curvy, so styling myself similar to the Voluptuous Vixens I had running in my head was easy for me. I worked on casino floor as a cocktail waitress at the Bellagio.  One of my friends there use to call me Big Red.  Now, the reason she called me Big Red, as I had big red hair that was to my waist, always wore red lipstick, am 5’9″ without heels and stood over 6ft in heels, with big boobs.  Shortly there after, people just started calling me Red and dropped the Big part.  One day while I was working, I met a young Southern boy who called me Miss Red, but all I heard was mis-read.   I had just started doing a couple of shoots with Holly West, and one of my pictures was going to be published in Traditional Rod & Kulture magazine.  So I had to come up with a “name”.  So I used Miss Red, as people always “mis-read” me.  I changed the spelling from Miss to Ms.  as I am a woman, and not a little girl.  And added the extra D on the end, to play off the fact I have DD cup sized boobs. (They are really a DDD, but I don’t want you all stuttering).  So, Ms.Redd was born.

 

Then sometime in late 2008, a friend of mine asked me one day, what is it I wanted to do, if I could do anything…and I blurted out that I wanted to open a burlesque speakeasy.  He was a bit stunned as this was a project he had wanted to work on for years.  He told me, put a show together and show me what you mean exactly….and let’s do this!  So I contacted a company I modeled for (Pinup Girl Clothing) and asked them the next time they did a burlesque show could I be in it?  I liked their shows and I figured if I was going to produce a show, I might need to experience what it is like to be a performer on stage first.  They said yes!  And I would be the opening slot with La Cholita and Masuimi Max also performing.  It was to be for the book release party for Lily Burana’s book, I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM, May 15, 2009.  I contacted Lisa at Waisted Couture to make me my costume and help me with music. I ask my Pilates instructor Danielle Connor to help me choreograph some moves.  So I got my routine together and went to the show.  When I got there, I wasn’t aware that not only was Diablo Cody (writer of Juno) hosting but press was there too!  I remember not having time to get nervous, but to just get up there and perform. I had no idea that the burlesque bug was going to bite me, but it did and it did hard.

 

Right after that first night, my step father grew ill and was in and out of the hospital.  I didn’t give burlesque really a thought through all of it.  A year had passed and I was going to be doing a model signing out at the car show and host a pinup party during Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender.  I had to print up a bunch of 8×10’s to sign and then I went by the hospital to visit my step dad.  I brought my photos in to show him.  He was always very proud of my photos and would show them to all his friends.  He sat me down and told me that he was very proud of me and that he felt I really should get into burlesque.  He knew I loved it and really wanted to.  He said, " Everything you have ever done has been with class and you have a great head on your shoulders.  This is something you are passionate about….you really need to do it.  Next year, I think you should apply to the Viva Las Vegas Burlesque Competition."  I smiled and said thanks and promised I would.  That was my last conversation with my step dad.  He passed away in front of me the next morning (April 2, 2010) as I walked in right before I left for the convention. I was devastated. I obviously cancelled everything, and now was planning a funeral with my family. It was a very emotional time for me.  About 2 months after he had left, I called up a woman (Victoria Vengeance)  I knew that was a performer and producer in burlesque.  I asked if I could hire her & train under her, if she could teach me what she knew.  I spent every two days off driving to LA and back to Vegas to work 12 hour days learning. I also took privates with Satan’s Angel, Catherine D’Lish, and Lucy Furr. I was also blessed to know Kalani Kokonuts in Las Vegas, and she would give me advice and pointers.  I did that for about 8 months.  Lili VonSchtupp was so gracious to let me do Monday Night Tease, so I could record an act for the Viva Las Vegas Competition, in December of 2010. And guess what?  I did get accepted into the Viva Las Vegas Burlesque Competition 2011,  the next year like I promised my stepdad I would.  I had my costume made by Catherine D’Lish and my prop made by Huy Vu out of LA. My act was a “Damsel not in Distress”.  I had a train track and tunnel made. I got up on the stage and could feel my step dad with me.  I even said out loud, this is for you, Frank.   The train track stood upright 8 ft in the air at an angle.  The host of the show was supposed to do his bit for about 8 mins, so we could get everything set up.  After 6 mins, I went out there and hung from my tracks.  Well apparently, he thought we were still back there setting up and continued longer.  After about hanging for 5 more mins….I couldn’t feel my legs.  So I climbed down off my tracks to stomp blood back into them.  As soon as I got down, I heard him introducing me….so I quickly jumped back up and prayed that when I came down, my legs didn’t collapse.  When the music started, I came off the track and ripped off my “wedding dress” and did my strip tease.   My mom came to that show, she sat up in front.  When I took my top off and stripped down to my tassels, I walked right to the edge of the stage and did it in front of my mom.  She jumped up and down and started yelling “that’s my baby girl!”.  It was actually a great moment for us.  It had been a full year since my stepdad had passed and I had set out to do what I promised him I would do. I placed 2nd among all the ladies.  I was ecstatic just to be there, but to even place was such an honor.

 

So, that was the beginning of this crazy passion.  Now you know how I got here, what drives me and how I came about my name, Ms.Redd.  And just to clarify, Ms. is not short for Miss.  Ms. is defined as a title used before the surname or full name of any woman regardless of her marital status, a neutral alternative to Mrs. or Miss.

 

See you on a stage near you soon! Kisses

 

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