A veteran burlesquer, dancer and performance artist, Darlinda Just Darlinda continues to make her mark in nightlife and the arts world at large. On the eve of the premiere of her new project, DJD gives us the scoop on what this is, where’s she’s been and where she’s going!
Darlinda Just Darlinda: Hello! EXTRA Burlesque was awesome! LadyBox Theater did a takeover! My co-founders Peekaboo Pointe and Tansy did solos, and we were joined by one of our core dancers Vic Sin for a sneak peek of Untitled Rainbow Project that’s debuting at Wild Project on Thursday 9/6 for a limited four show run!
We’re gonna get into the deets of that intriguing project in a bit! So you are well known here for being a burlesquer, a dancer, a performance artist, a choreographer and show producer for a minute now. Were you always all of these things, or did some of these evolve over time after others?
Yes! I’ve been involved with dance, and theater since I was a child. My mom was a producer of a non-profit dance series in the 80’s, and they were both on the board of the local theater company. They put me in all the dance, comedy improvisation and theater classes that were available in my tiny Northern California town.
So naturally I got my BA in Theater Direction. In college I directed The Vagina Monologues twice and for my senior thesis I directed Hedwig and The Angry Inch. I was obsessed with drag, but didn’t know how to fit it in with my female body. When I graduated college, I discovered burlesque and realized that it was a combination of all the things I loved… and haven’t looked back in 15 years!
I was wondering how your stage name came about.
I actually found the name “Darlinda” in college one day, when I met this fantastic woman in a red, white and blue Swarovski crystal encrusted leather jacket. Her name was Darlinda–, I’d never heard the name before. Then a week later, I was shopping at the Monterey County dump’s thrift store called Last Chance Mercantile, and I found a burgundy satin jacket with the name “Darlinda” on the front and a RAINBOW on the back, I also found some rainbow booty shorts that same day(apart from being queer, I’ve always been obsessed with rainbows). I lost the jacket at a show, but the shorts are still alive and well.
Then when it was time to get a burlesque stage name, I thought about it… “Darlinda… just Darlinda, like Madonna!” then I changed my mind because I realized “Darlinda Just Darlinda is funny and catchy!” Sometimes it confuses people, so I have to reiterate, “ first name Darlinda, last name also Darlinda, middle name Just!”
That’s a crazy coincidence, that odd name popping up twice in such a short time.
Right, I couldn’t escape the name! Amazing!
I wanted to go to Wigstock, but since I had a show, I was only able to see an hour of it… so it didn’t seem cost effective. Anyway, Dita is great: she employs a lot of my friends, her shows are a Grand Spectacle, and I really appreciate seeing that kind of artistry on a big gorgeous stage!
How would you describe your own burlesque… like, what are your goals when you perform?
My burlesque style is what I call Performance Art Burlesque. I tell stories, make political statements, do actual rituals, and sometimes just make people laugh and sing… along like my “Wind Beneath My Wings” act. My goals are to inspire people to feel something, to improve their lives, to be present and love themselves!
These days, burlesque is often about body positivity and female empowerment… these are important traits in the Trump / #MeToo reality. But I guess there will always be naysayers, feminists and misogynists alike, who dismiss it as objectification. How would you respond to them?
I have a #MeToo reverse striptease and an Anti-Trump striptease. Body objectification is only bad when the person who’s body it is doesn’t give consent, or isn’t properly paid for what they do. I art model and strip! I’ve made my living consensually and consciously objectifying my body. It’s my artistic “paint brush.” One minute I’m doing a cute “patriotic” striptease… the next minute I’m physically nauseated, naked, pulling a photo of #45 out of my pussy so I can tear it up and tear up the patriarchy.
We will celebrate our 15-year Anniversary in Feburary 2019, and our 12th Annual “Menorah Horah” during Hanukah (December 2-10th 2018)!
And you two did some drag in that Coney Island show!
“Boy Vey” in August, was our first time being drag kings together!
Is there anything else in the works from you two?
Minnie Tonka is in Untitled Rainbow Project this week, and is focusing a lot of her energy on her nutritional therapy practice called Wellness HQ.
Tell us about Ladybox. What’s the history of this theater group?
Yes, LadyBox Theater! Tansy, Peekaboo Pointe and I got together in January when I wanted to start working on my new Dance Theater show Untitled Rainbow Project. They had been working on their performance art piece Feast for a few years, so it seemed fitting that we band together to start our own dance theater / performance art group, and LadyBox was formed. Tansy has a background in theater, choreographing and starring in Eager to Lose at Ars Nova. Peekaboo Pointe has both a degree in dance, and is currently getting her Masters in Theater Technology.
With our cumulative decades of nightlife / burlesque entertainment, it seemed like the perfect time to start this company. I have dabbled in off-Broadway and noticed a huge male-centric influence on theater / performance art, that is super oriented towards gay men… but not so much queer women. So it’s been really thrilling making this work with mostly queer women on the steering wheel! There are some men on stage, but it’s a mostly women-run company. It surprisingly feels revolutionary, because it shouldn’t in 2018. But in the #45 regime, women’s rights are threatened, so now is a huge time to stand up for our rights.
On a more logistical level…, once the company is up and running, we’ve got a few productions under our belt. We want to produce other female, queer, trans, POC, performance art/ dance/ theater makers. We hope the LadyBox can be a place for all folks to make their art! We are being produced by the amazing Mighty Lucky Productions for this launch, and from this we hope to start our non-profit and apply for grants!
Why is your piece called Untitled Rainbow Project, by the way?
I’ve been doing performance art with a rainbow theme for some time, 10 years ago I did A Year in Rainbow, a year-long “life as art” project where every other month I would wear a color of the rainbow. I did a daily blog about it, as well as a show each month honoring the color… and the in-between months I would wear rainbow every day. Anyway, for the past 10 years I wanted to do another rainbow project, and so I came up with the idea to do a loosely-autobiographical story using the rainbow color chakras as a storytelling device. For example, Red has inspired Birth and Sex! Orange is about Divinity! Yellow is Intuition. Green is the violence of love. Blue is speaking your truth and your voice. And Purple is a Royal Explosion! I couldn’t think of a name for the piece, so I just used Untitled Rainbow Project for a filler, and it just stuck!
I understand that on premiere night (Sept. 6th), there will be an epic opening party at Club Cumming, where the URP shall be performing with other greats.
YES, exactly! Club Cumming has been such a supportive breeding ground for nightlife in the past year, so it seemed like the PERFECT spot to hold our after party and fundraiser. I’m SUPER THRILLED to have Ana Matronic be our DJ! There will be performances, and a live auction of some amazing art!! I’m SO looking forward to it!
And this weekend, you’re gonna do Bushwig! What’s your slot, and what shall you be doing?
I’m at Bushwig Sunday Night (Sept. 8) 9:20pm. I’ll be doing “Wind Beneath my Wings,” my favorite lip synch striptease. Two words: “expect pussy!”
Okay last question: in your opinion or even experience, what is the absolute worst song to burlesque to?
Oh, that’s a tough question. First one that comes to mind is Cher’s “Welcome to Burlesque.” It’s TOO obvious. BUT I could see someone doing a parody to that song. That’s really the joy of burlesque: it literally means to make a joke/ make fun/ laugh at something! And that’s the joy of life… you get to laugh along the journey!
Thank you, Darlinda!