Stephanie Blake is an inspiring, delightful, and congenial performer. Her numbers are sensual and incredibly flexible. Stephanie shares a little insight on her burlesque journey from Midwestern cutie to Hollywood legend.
RED SNAPPER: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN BURLESQUE?
STEPHANIE BLAKE: My mother did it. When she was 20 she was a cocktail waitress in a nightclub. The club owner told her she could make a lot more money by getting on stage. He also helped her with wardrobe and gave her the stage name of BeBe Love.
In Kansas City, Missouri, there was a club called King Arthur’s. The owner kept hiring professional exotic dancers for “amateur night” and audiences were very upset. My mom suggested he use me, a real amateur. That is how I ended up on stage. My girlfriend had to drive me to work because I was too young to get a driver’s license. I really don’t know how I would have gotten into burlesque if my mother hadn’t done it.
RED: AS A SECOND GENERATION STRIPPER, DID YOU LEARN TIPS AND TRICKS FROM YOUR MOTHER? WHAT WAS THE BEST BIT OF ADVICE SHE GAVE YOU FOR THIS LINE OF WORK?
STEPHANIE: My mother helped me with some costumes and she made great pasties. The only advice she ever gave me was “don’t give money to men” and “If you ignore a man he will chase you around and give you the world.” It was the best advice I ever got and it really works!
RED: YOU GREW UP IN THE MIDWEST. TELL US A LITTLE OF YOUR “HEADING TO HOLLYWOOD” STORY.
STEPHANIE: I was born in Texas and raised mostly in Kansas City. Due to a bad choice in husbands (at 19), I wanted change. After getting a divorce I moved to Vegas where I worked in a revue called Rare ‘n Bare at the Royal Casino. I enrolled at UNLV and went to college during the day. Then I got a job writing for a tabloid and got to interview fabulous people like George Carlin, Robert Goulet, etc. I had balls of steel at the time because I would just call the stars who were working in Vegas and ask them if I could interview them. No one ever said no!!!
I was also taking acting classes from a teacher named Joseph Bernard. He told me if I wanted to act I had to go to L.A. I believed him and moved.
As soon as I got to L.A. I started getting TV work (because of my stripping ability)! I did HBO shows with Phyllis Diller, Julie Newmar, Jack Carter, Sid Caeser, Imogene Cocoa, and lots of other great people. Then Rob Reiner hired me for the film The Sure Thing. Next was Ferris. Then more! Without my burlesque background I wouldn’t have gotten most of these jobs!
RED: YOU’VE BEEN A BURLESQUE FESTIVAL JUDGE BEFORE. WHAT TIP DO YOU THINK WOULD BEST HELP COMPETITORS?
STEPHANIE: Personally, I think performers should know what they will be judged on. Usually it will be costume, originality, audience response, and creativity. The judges never know who will actually win until it is announced. I think the ballot should include sensuality, too. Ginger Valentine is one example of someone who is definitely a winner. She has everything anyone could want. I would say study her technique and make sure all areas of your performance measure up. She also teaches classes on how to win!!!
RED: YOU ARE INCREDIBLY FLEXIBLE AND FIT. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THE BODY WE FIRST SAW IN FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF?
STEPHANIE: OH GEE…Thank you! Right now I try to stretch every day to get back the flexibility that I have lost by not stretching! And I get to the gym whenever I get a chance. This week for my prep for New Orleans, I will be doing yoga every day plus going over the routine I’m doing with Russell Bruner.
RED: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE CURVE BALLS YOU MAY GET THROWN IN LIVE PERFORMANCE?
STEPHANIE: I have never let anything throw me. There are no mistakes on stage, as long as you don’t tell the audience you can change anything and everything.
RED: ANY OTHER ADVICE FOR PERFORMERS?
STEPHANIE: Have fun when you perform! If you have fun the audience will too! Be glamorous and beautiful and give the crowd more than they ever imagined they would get. KNOCK ‘EM DEAD!!!
Stephanie Blake is performing at New Orleans Burlesque Festival again this fall, and she is one of our headliners for Hollywood Burlesque Festival. You can keep up with her at http://stephanieblake.bizz