Interview Part 3: Green Tea, Octo Sushi and Chit-Chat with Kitten La Rue of The Atomic Bombshells

Posted on November 12, 2013


"Lost in Space" Poster @ The Triple Door.

The Atomic Bombshells in “Lost in Space” at The Triple Door.

We have arrived at the final chapter of my interview with the inspirational Kitten La Rue. When we last left Kitten, she had just booked her first performance for The Atomic Bombshells prior to their own actual existence. Astounding when you consider that the gig was opening for the incredible Dita Von Teese, whom in this modern era is arguably the biggest name in burlesque since Gypsy Rose Lee. The fact that Kitten had worked with Dita back in New Orleans, did not hurt her in sealing the deal.

In 2003, after holding auditions The Atomic Bombshells were created and comprised five girls in total. I inquired about Kitten’s mindset at the time. What did she want to accomplish with this troupe?

“What I really wanted to do was create a troupe which captured a similar vibe as the Shim Sham Revue, which was the show that I was in, but where I got to explore my fantasy and my sensibility of turning up the volume on the camp. Which is a signature of my work and The Atomic Bombshells in general. I want us to be cartoon women. You know, the hair is huge and the lashes are huge and the theatricality is total camp and comedy. Everything is larger than life including the costumes”

At the time, did you expect that the troupe would still be around ten years later?

“No. Not at all. I had no idea. I just thought that it would be something fun to do for a minute. Within three months of forming the troupe, we got picked up by Camel cigarettes to do a 30 city US tour. Their theme that year was the Speak-easy Tour, so they were doing a vintage cabaret thing. They hired us to be part of the tour and gave us a giant tour bus.”

Kitten La Rue as Saturn in 'Lost in Space'  by Michael Doucette

Kitten La Rue as Saturn in ‘Lost in Space‘ by Michael Doucette

No doubt that two month experience bonded the newly formed troupe together and helped to prepare them for the next ten years.

Not everyone who is part of the troupe today was there ten years. How has the group changed?

“For the most part, it’s almost the same core group of girls. My first group of girls were Lily Vanderloo, Miss Indigo Blue, Honey D. Luxe, and since then we’ve added Ruby Mimosa, Inga Ingénue, Lou Henry Hoover,Fanny N. Flames and Ivy St. Spectre.” (along with host Jasper McCann)

Folks love to learn little facts about the performers they admire. At the risk of getting you in trouble with group, can you give us a little insight into the group? For example, which of the bombshells is the biggest practical joker? Who is the most fun performer to work with? Who is the most serious member of the troupe? Which of the group is the most positive and upbeat?

Fun Facts:

  1. Biggest Practical Joker: Honey D. Luxe
  2. The Most Fun to Perform with: Lou Henry Hoover
  3. The Most Fun to Perform with Who You are Not Married to: Ben De La Creme
  4. Little Ball of Sunshine: Ruby Mimosa
  5. Most Serious Bombshell: Tie between Kitten and Lily

From just fifteen minutes of watching your rehearsal earlier, I can tell that your upcoming show is going to extremely entertaining. What can you tell me about “Lost in Space” opening at the Triple Door this week. What can the audience expect to see?

The Atomic Bombshells kick away in "Lost in Space"

The Atomic Bombshells kick away in “Lost in Space

“’Lost in Space’ debuted back in 2010. This show more than any others is all me. I had been sitting on the theme for a while and I just loved the visuals aesthetic and the music from that era…retro futuristic. Like what the 60’s imagined the future to be. I had been sitting on a lot of music for some time. Jamie von Stratton who does the costuming, had been dying to make costumes for a space show for a while. We just joined forces and created the most over-the-top show I could think of. It’s little vignettes but there is a little narrative through line which is that Captain Jasper McCann our host and First Mate Lou Henry Hoover are taking the audience on a voyage…making lots of little stops at different planets.”

“I wasn’t really interested in doing the burlesque Star Trek or the burlesque Star Wars. What I am inspired by is more than one specific work. I wanted to bring in all different kinds of visuals and different references from all over the place. Jetsons, Barbarella, Lost in Space, Metropolis, I want to use all of it, shake up a bag, create our own world and bring you into that world.”

How do you take the concept, the music and transform it into a show?

“I conceptualize the show, then I sit down with our host, Jasper. He and I work on a script together for him and Lou. I curate all the music, then I choreograph all the group numbers and work with the girls on creating their solos.”

Then the magic happens. I have never seen “Lost in Space” before, but from all that I have heard, the still shots which I have seen and the fifteen minutes of rehearsal which I got to sit in on, leads me to believe it is going to be an incredible fun evening for the audience. The fact that Kitten calls it her favorite show to perform is just icing on the cake. When you consider all the work that goes into creating an over-the-top show as this, it seems criminal that audiences will only have a couple of days to enjoy it. If you have not secured your tickets for the show, head on over to the The Triple Door. I highly encourage you to do so.

After the last showing of “Lost in Space” on Saturday night, what is next for The Atomic Bombshells? Her eyes lit up and she excited exclaimed,

“We just got booked to go on an Australian Tour coming up in January. Our first time in Australia. In February, we will have “J’Adore” our big Valentine’s show. Then in March, Kitten N’ Lou are booked for a European tour as a duo. It’s still being mapped out but we have solidly, we’re booked to perform at the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, so we’ll be in Finland first. Then two big festivals in Switzerland.”

The Atomic Bombshells in "Lost in Space" picture by Michael Doucette

The Atomic Bombshells in “Lost in Space” picture by Michael Doucette

By now, our once hot green tea had long since turned to ice tea and I could tell that Kitten La Rue was anxious to get back to rehearsals. I thanked her again for graciously indulging me with my questions and making time for me in her busy schedule. One last question. She smiled. Clearly you are keeping yourself incredibly busy with your troupe, as well as with your Kitten N’ Lou shows, but what about you? What is the next mountain for Kitten La Rue to conquer? She looked thoughtful for a moment, considering what she could divulge to me.

“Well for myself as a soloist…you should keep your eyes open for me in New York.”

She shook my hand firmly with a wink and proceeded to head back to the dance studio, where Lily and the rest were anxiously tapping their feet wondering what had become of their Kitten La Rue. No doubt they would playfully give her grief for messing around while they were rehearsing. That is what a family does. Kitten had said that The Atomic Bombshells were more than just a burlesque troupe. Most of the troupe has been rehearsing and performing together for a decade. Kitten La Rue describes them as a real family. I like that. It is the way it should be.

Kitten La Rue - trail blazer, risk taker and crafter of fantasy worlds to inspire us to dream again.

Kitten La Rue – trail blazer, risk taker and crafter of fantasy worlds to inspire us to dream again.

As I put on my coat and headed out into the chilly dark streets of Seattle, I found myself reflecting upon my interview. I was struck by what an amazing human being I just spoke with. She was personable and outgoing. Confident, sharp and a critical thinker. Passionate about her life and her work; cogent and well-spoken. She had it together and seemed enviably at peace with who she was and what she does. I was impressed with her drive and determination, although she has achieved so much she does not appear to be resting on her laurels. She still excitedly embraces each new challenge that comes her way. A case in point is her guest performance off Broadway in the musical in New York, which received rave reviews from the New York press.

Kitten La Rue has defied convention and beat the odds, not only in reaching for her dreams, but in achieving them and finding her niche in life. In talking with her, it is readily apparent that she truly loves and is energized by what she does for a living. That alone should make 90% of the country green with envy, as it seems so few of us can say the same. Kitten rejected the mundane existence which most of us toil under, embraced the exotic ‘bigger than life’ fantasy and has succeeded. There is hope for each of us to catch on, as it is Kitten La Rue’s desire to bring that fantastical world to life for the audience at each and every one of her performances. Perhaps her passion will rub off on the rest of us.

Kitten, continue to lead the way and perhaps in doing so, others might find the courage to tackle life with the zest and passion which you have. We can only hope.