Interview by Sasha Burchuk / Photos by Christine Taylor
What do Min Pins, True Crime, Solid Gold dancers, guns, Monte Carlos, and beautiful sunsets all have in common? They’re all things that Malice loves.
With its wood paneling and red ambient lighting Sassy’s could have easily been David Lynch’s inspiration for One Eyed Jacks in Twin Peaks. It’s nine p.m. on a Saturday night and I’m here to see Malice dance.
I want to talk to you about your show. You seem to have generated a lot of a buzz around town and made an impression on the Portland scene by staging a strip show that’s both sexy and theatrical. I’d like to know what goes in to how you create that theatrical experience. How do you approach performing and where do you find inspiration for inventing your act?
It’s all from music. When I listen to songs I make up my own music videos in my mind, but I’m a dancer so I have to try to put myself in these videos and imagine a way of evoking that song and presenting it to other people the way that I see it. I pick my own sets and my sets always have a theme whether its religion or death…some are just about girls, boys, or wild animals.
I think that there are a lot of really high expectations though. The audience wants it to be Cirque du Soleil but then a lot of them don’t even want to tip a dollar, and if you don’t do the trick when they say they take their dollar back. And you’re like its just a dollar, and really honestly in this day and age for a dollar, this is a lot that we’re doing!
So I try to put on the best show that I can but sometimes if you’re getting that much of a negative reaction from the crowd you just want to piss them off. That’s when I put on my gangster rap or that’s when I bring out my gun.
Is it a real gun or a toy gun?
No it’s a fake gun. I have brought out real guns before but that was when I did Dante’s. Real guns are really heavy…and my stripper bag is so heavy as it is, it probably weighs more than me.
What’s in your stripper bag anyway?
I have so many props and costumes and my outfits are just little tiny bikinis but the props are so heavy. I have this axe that’s made of a cow bone and feathers, and guns, a bunch of wigs, the nun costume, a bunch of dildos and strap-ons, a blow-up doll, a bunch of clothes for me and the blow-up doll, a Freddy Kruger costume, a lot of things.
That’s a pretty awesome cornucopia, can you tell me more about how you’ve developed that aesthetic?
Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. I love B-movies, I love the aesthetic and the music of the 70s and 80s. I also love naked chics dancing to music, period and I love being in the environment of naked chics dancing to music – or half-naked chics, lingerie, whatever – that alone I think is enough to make a perfect day sometimes: seeing a beautiful woman dancing to music, I love that.
It can be relaxing.
It is relaxing! I was on the streets for years and I feel like my view of the world was really negative and just from the moment I woke up in the day, smelling piss and shit, looking at other bums, shit was just fucked-up looking – I remember Duran Duran had some line in some song talking about how he loves a pretty view or something like that, and I was thinking that that’s beautiful, I just want to have a nice view. You know I could just die tomorrow and know that the last thing that I saw was some naked ladies dancing…or maybe a beautiful sunset. That just means the world to me.
People tend to look at the dancing industry as something that’s just wanton and perverse. How do you see it?
There is that element; I mean sometimes I’m a pervert too. I have a different moral background probably than most people, you know I was force-fed religion. But everyone has a right to their beliefs. As far as human sexuality, I think its really beautiful and natural and I really like to admire human bodies. I can see the art in it and the sexuality. At the clubs where I work the audience is pretty 50-50 men and women. Women come in there sometimes more than men, and most of those women are straight women, they have husbands and boyfriends, children – but they love to watch the art. They like to see a strong woman embrace her sexuality and perform. They want to be that strong too.
Would you say you’re revamping the burlesque?
A lot of people have been doing that for a while, trying to bring back Burlesque. I don’t think that I’m a big innovator of that particularly but a lot of premeditation goes in to the dancing I do. You know I did burlesque at Dante’s for a number of years and put on shows but I feel like the shows that I do really belong in a strip club. I like traditional burlesque and think that it should kind of be kept the way that it is, and there are girls here doing that.
So what has encouraged you to branch off in to doing more film?
I’m 34 now and I’d already kind of planned to stop dancing around 35. I don’t want to be some dated dancer, and I’m already at the point where I’m talking too much negative shit about the way that it is. I think what prevented me from being that way in the first place was that I never was a hustler, I’ve always been really in to the art of it and I love it and I don’t want to wait until I’ve stopped loving it – but its kind of starting to get repetitious and painful now and so I feel like I need to recreate myself a little bit. But I really love to entertain people – so I’ve been trying to find ways to do that.
How’s it feel to be on screen, is it like being on stage?
It is the same. It’s been so local, so Portland, that it’s not really different to me, you know most of the people who have seen these films know me.
You were in The Auteur and it won awards, didn’t it?
Yeah! It went to a film festival in New York and a bunch of other places. James Westby is a great director I think he’s going to be huge. I just did another video with him, for Storm Large, its called Eight Miles Wide and we saw the premier of that last night, it was great.
And then what’s the film that you’re working on with Jedediah?
That’s a little trailer called Trail of Fears about a Native American guy who comes and kills a bunch of kids in a cabin. People won’t recognize me in that probably – I’m all covered up and I’ve got a wig on and I’m all 70s-looking.
So even if you quit the dancing biz now, or rather next year, it seems that you’ve managed to create a legacy of performance art in the strip scene. How do you feel about that?
Well that’s good, if I leave some kind of mark that’s all I could hope for anyways. That’s why I do so many photo shoots, because it’s evidence. I didn’t ever want it to be something that made me evident now. As far as now, I don’t need to be noticed now. That’s cool or whatever. Sometimes people have come up to me and been like oh you’re famous, and I’m just like I live in Portland, come on. Its mostly Portland people that know me – and the world is a lot bigger than Portland. When I think of a famous person I think of someone like, Michael Jackson or something. THAT’S FAME…That’s not what I’m striving for.