Erika Moon began her career as a runway model. She was also a cheerleader, show girl and dancer. At 16, she says, she began to put on costumes and develop characters. Born in the south west of France, in a small city called Pau, Moon's family moved to the city of Toulouse, and she soon started to travel through France and Europe.
She had performed French style cabaret, and, discovered when she moved to Miami in 2011, that she couldn't find to burlesque-type shows like the ones in France.
Now living and working in Miami Beach, she's brought burlesque to South Florida and beyond. She is readying one of her shows for this weekend, set for Thursday, July 11, and Friday, July 12, along with a burlesque workshop on Wednesday, July 10. “Burlesque Magnifique Exotic Beats” and the Burlesque workshop will be held in the Gleason Room-Backstage at the Fillmore, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
miamiartzine.com spoke with Moon about bringing burlesque to Miami, what inspires her, and why audiences won't want to miss "Exotic Beats."
miamiartzine.com: Why is Miami a great place for your burlesque-inspired shows?
Erika Moon: Miami Beach is my home and the place where I began my career since moving to the United States. I couldn’t have picked a better city because Miami serves as fantastic platform for all different cultures to mix, and this is reflected in my productions. In the show, you can find a cultural paint palette of all different ages, genres, and ethnicities. This month we are so excited to welcome Miami’s 2019 Ultimate Drag Queen, Karla Croqueta as our host for our upcoming production. This is also the perfect time to attract tourists that flock here for the summertime. We just finished celebrating Pride month, and now we have Miami Swim Week right around the corner. "Exotic Beats,’" summer edition of Burlesque Magnifique, will make its debut at the same time.
maz: This show is called Exotic Beats. Tell me more about the theme in which you say it will take you on a trip across the tropics and beyond; Where French Cabaret meets the Tropical Tease. Can you talk more about that?
EK: “Exotic Beats” is the summer edition of my classic show, “Burlesque Magnifique.” My original classic version of this show featured French cabaret and classic burlesque dancers with a live jazz band. The “Exotic Beats” edition heats things up with a more tropical energy. We bring the beat of Miami alive as we take our audiences on a trip to an exotic destination, while never getting sand in your shoes. The music, choreography, and costuming play a strong role in setting the stage as we heat things up.
As a former Parisian Cancan dancer and choreographer, the Cancan dance is a passion of mine. Also, every time we have presented the Cancan act in the Classic format of our shows, such as "Viva Paris" or our touring show "Cabaret Follies," our audiences are mesmerized by the art-form and wild energy that is the Cancan. When U.S. audiences see the Cancan, you can see in their eyes how they have been transported to an exotic European destination. Since it is always requested and audiences never tire of it, I decided to include it in every single show from now on, all while still curating it to fit each theme. As the first travelling Parisian theatrical cabaret experience in the United States since the heydays of burlesque and vaudeville, it’s a wonderful thing to bring this part of my culture to cities across America.
maz: Can you explain the difference between classic and neo burlesque?
EK: Those terms in burlesque can mean different things to different people. When I think of classic burlesque, I think of it more as an homage to the original stars of burlesque such as, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee and Blaze Starr, to name a few. These artists brought burlesque to stages all across America in the mid 1900s. Neo-Burlesque to me is more of an "avant-garde'' style. It is newer, out of the norm, and challenges you in a different way. The movement, costuming, and choreography can be more powerful.
maz: Burlesque has a bit of a "sexual" connotation. I think people are afraid of it. Can you explain your view of Burlesque and how it has gotten this rap of being "naughty."
EK: Coming from France we have this reputation to be more “open” when it comes to nudity or exhibition, which can be true. With the empowerment of women, especially these past years, we see a liberation in the audience. Women are getting out of their boundaries, and it is a perfect therapy for each performer that is on stage, or for our audience. It is true that there is a little naughtiness in burlesque. It is clear that through the ages, sexiness has had a taboo or as some say a “guilty pleasure.” In reality, the sensuality and sexuality of Burlesque is what entices and makes burlesque the amazing, unique art form it is. I, however, am determined to show my audiences how beautiful and artistic burlesque can be. How sexy and powerful the woman form is and of course advocate for the art that is Burlesque without losing the essence of its nature.
While I have been performing the French style cabaret since before 2000, I really began to perform the American style of burlesque when I moved here. In France today, we have both styles and only a few years ago started to use the word “burlesque” to describe this American art-form.
There has always been confusion between France and America regarding the words “cabaret,” “burlesque,” and “strip-tease.” Here in America, they call strip clubs, “cabarets,” which is wrong in my opinion. When you compare what Americans call “cabaret” to the world’s most famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge in Paris, there is a pretty huge gap in the scale and type of entertainment.
maz: Talk about your Burlesque workshop. That sounds fascinating. The teaching of the "seductive tricks of the trade." Tell us more.
EK: The workshop will be happening on Wednesday, July 10. It will be presented by one of my talented cast members, Aurora Natrix. She will be teaching a taste of tease and this will be an opportunity for audiences to pick up some movements of burlesque as well as meet a cast member that will be performing in the shows on Thursday, July 11 and Friday, July 12. The workshop is catered to teach its participants how to bring out their sexiness. We all have it in us, this workshop helps you find it, but more importantly helps you understand that it is okay to embrace it.
maz: You just returned from a tour?
EK: For the first time ever I took one of my productions on tour to Texas (this past winter). Expanding nationally was a wish of mine for a long time. It finally came true with a lot of hard work and the right team. I look forward to presenting my productions in other states this upcoming winter, but I need to go slow. Financially building a national tour is a struggle, and I am hoping for a sponsor or capital venture to take the brand to another level. Right now, all of the financial responsibilities are under my belt.
maz: What inspires your work?
EK: Most of my inspiration comes from my education as a trained dancer and fashion designer as I have degrees in France in those sectors. I also love studying fashion through time and different themes. In addition, movies such as "Moulin Rouge," "Catwoman" and "Fifty Shades of Grey" have been good sources of inspiration. I have also found inspiration from going to an infinite number of shows in France and Las Vegas. Lastly, emotions and personal experiences can be a powerful source of inspiration, from those ranging in happiness, sadness, or even craziness.
“Burlesque Magnifique Exotic Beats” and the Burlesque workshop will be held at the Gleason Room-Backstage at the Fillmore, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Burlesque Workshop is Wednesday, July 10, at 8 p.m . with limited space. Admission is $37.
"Exotic Beats" is Thursday, July 11 and Friday, July 12 at 9 p.m. both nights. Tickets range from $35 general admission, $55 premier and $75 for VIP. Tickets can be purchased online at www.eventbrite.com.