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Artist Interviews

Meet Burlesque Performer Wisteria LeWicked

Burlesque Performer Wisteria Featured

Meet Burlesque Performer Wisteria LeWicked

1.What’s your real name?

Shannon Harris

2. What is your stage name?

Sakura Shay

3. How did you come up with your stage name?

Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom. Shay is a shortened version of my real name. An alter ego so to say. I’ve always found cherry blossoms to be incredibly beautiful and they’re admired by the world when they bloom in the spring. Joining burlesque, for me, was allowing myself to finally bloom into the beautiful sakura flower I always knew existed. I’m also inspired by the grace, beauty, tradition, and provocative nature surrounding Geisha and Asian red light district culture, and felt I could use that inspiration in my burlesque character and performance art.

4. What style of burlesque do you perform? (comedy, singing, dancing, ect.)

Dancing currently, but maybe a singing act in the future.

5. How long have you been a burlesque performer?

Not very long, since January of 2022

6. Are you actively performing now?

I was part of a duo but also performed solo and in groups.

7. What makes you want to perform?

Honestly the performing part is the most nerve wracking part. I love dance though and have performed in group dance/singing performances in the past. I was drawn to perform burlesque specifically because it is a community about self love, body positivity, acceptance, and supporting each other’s passions. It is also a very LGBTQ+ inclusive community which is important to me as a pansexual woman. I want to perform to show the crowd that I love this body and what it can do. At 30 years old I feel sexy, confident, and like I know who I am and can live in my truth. That’s the energy I want the crowd to feel too. I also love performing with my fellow dolls. They’re all so talented, fun, smart, and creative.

8. Do you do a solo or group act?

Only group acts so far but am open to a future solo performance.

9. What is your favorite costume or thing to wear on stage?

I’m really into all my cute Asian inspired hair clips/accessories. I do have a very fun pink dress currently in costume development with the help of Ivory Woodpecker to be a Sakura signature look.

10. Do you make your own costumes?

I craft certain costume elements, but my seamstress skills are lacking so it’s currently a group effort right now.

11. Do you have a special self care or beauty product you can’t live without?

Well, if you’re in the west, moisturizer is a must. I usually use Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy Boosting Gel Moisturizer in the morning. My other go-to beauty product is a great contour stick. NYX Cosmetics Wonder Stick in Universal is my go to for an easy quick natural looking face contour. Airbrush Legs by Sally Hansen is my last suggestion for a quick leg lift if you need to add some color to your legs or just cover any bruising (I bruise like a peach, especially after doing any floor routines on my knees).

12. What fascinates you about the art of burlesque?

I love how empowering it is. This type of performance art started during a time in which women didn’t have the right to vote, had to act like a lady, be a housewife, do what you’re told, and be quiet. Burlesque was the antithesis of all that. It was a place where women didn’t cater to anyone or anything but themselves. They showed their bodies/talents and were proud of it. It was definitely the stepping stone for women to say “You don’t get to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body, how I need to behave, or what I can/cannot be.” I love that narrative and still think the art of burlesque tells that story regardless of gender or sexual identity in today’s society.

13. How did you find out about burlesque?

I’ve known about burlesque dance and performance since I was a kid. Burlesque style performances and characters were featured in TV and feature films. I found out about the Gem City Dolls specifically through attending one of their shows, in which they mentioned they were open to new members. I believe I messaged them the next day.

14. What are your top 3 go-to burlesque songs?

I don’t know if I have 3 go-to burlesque songs because I enjoy dancing to a lot of different genres of music. Three that I would like to do in the future are Million Dollar Man – Lana Del Rey, I’d Rather Be Burned As A Witch – Eartha Kitt, and Black Magic Woman – VCTRYS.

15. What do you do to mentally prepare to perform?

Breath, go through the performance in my head, and try to get into character. I am performing as Sakura Shay, not Shannon, so getting into that headspace is important.

16. What is the most challenging thing about performing?

Most of the time, you’re not getting to practice on the same stage you are performing on. Sometimes you don’t even get a dress rehearsal. When you’re in a group act, making sure the spacing and the look of the performance is going to translate well to the venue can be a difficult task when time for adjustments is scarce. Wardrobe is also a challenging aspect when time and space for costume changes are limited.

17. What is the weirdest experience you’ve had at a show?

I haven’t really had any weird experiences so far but I’m looking forward to all of the weird experiences to come.

18. Who is your favorite burlesque performer?

Dita Von Teese was probably the first burlesque performer I knew by name and I have loved her ever since. I love her use of props, her aesthetic, her talent, and her lingerie line which is size inclusive.

19. Do you have any regrets about being a burlesque performer?

None so far!

20. What do you wish people knew about burlesque?

I wish people knew that it is much more than stripping and that you do not have to strip to be a burlesque performer. Burlesque has grown to be a space that allows for many different types of talent. Some burlesque troupes are more strict when it comes to the type of performance art they allow, but if you cannot find a troupe that is open to different talents, start your own! It’s a wonderful way to meet people in your community and get involved in the arts. It gave me a space to pursue a passion, join a community, and dance with other people outside of a class setting which has been a really rewarding experience.

21. What is your favorite thing about being a burlesque performer?

Dancing and creating with the dolls. Whether it be in practice or in a performance. Brainstorming ideas, crafting, being silly, being sexy, and supporting each other is where the real magic happens. I love that I get to be a part of that.

22. What advice do you have for someone who wants to try it but is too nervous?

Only do what you’re comfortable with! There’s a place for everyone whether it be kittening (assisting the troupe on performance nights/ between acts), crafting, singing, stand-up, audio/video, photography, etc. Just reach out to your local troupe/troupes and see how you can get involved. If you end up wearing pasties, then great!

23. Where can we find you online?

I’m on social media. My Instagram @sakura_shay is where I post my burlesque content and my personal Instagram where you can see my day-to-day life is @stuffwithshannon. I am also on twitter but do not use it much @stuffwithshann1.

24. Do you have links to performances?

Any performance related content can be found on Instagram @gemcitydollsburlesque or @sakura_shay. Since much of my content is for upcoming performances, most of my videos are under lock and key currently. More to come very soon though!

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