If Fannie Spankings ever found a way to bottle her vivacity and confidence and sell it to more reserved people such as myself, she’d be a rich woman. Warm, bawdy, and rowdy, with a laugh that fills a room, Fannie makes every performer who walks through the stage door and every drunk bachelorette who climbs the stage steps feel welcome and included. After ten years in the burlesque business, Fannie has an impressive resume: she’s a founding member of the Clocktower Clockettes, a board member of the Colorado Burlesque Festival, and  one of the head mistresses of Martini and Spankings’s Burlesque Beauty School, where hopeful future showgirls can learn the art of the tease as well as the art of pastie making and strategic snap tape and sequin placement. When Fannie moved away to Pennsylvania a few years ago, the cabaret was noticeably quieter, but she made a triumphant return in April of last year, much to the joy of our little carnie family.

Fannie is a near-indispensable fixture of the burlesque community, if you ask me. When you watch her perform, you get the feeling that no one in the history of ever has had so much fun taking off her clothes to the tune of a slinky jazz number. She’s a little Mae West, whose every move and word felt like a double entendre. She’s a little Jayne Mansfield, both seductive and nurturing. And she’s a little Tina Turner, channeling an irresistible strength and passion in her performances. You cannot help but be captivated by her glowing smile, sparkling costumes, and hourglass figure, which she wields like a campy, kitschy, voluptuous force of nature.

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How do you describe your burlesque style?

I just celebrated a decade of burlesque performing so reflecting on my ever evolving style is like recalling many lifetimes! I have tried to stay true to my major inspirations: kitsch, camp and comedy. I always admire the style and grace of the old fashion promenade and peel routines as well. Whatever I do, I hope to give something to the audience they didn’t have before, whether it’s a laugh, a tease, or a sense of their own feminine powers!

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What does your health and beauty regimen look like? What products work for you? More importantly, what habits work for you?

I am a licensed cosmetologist so naturally I am a product junkie! MAC for the stage always delivers bright colors and great coverage! Ben-Nye glitters can’t be beat and the innovative Beauty Butler is essential for keeping all kinds of items organized in any size bag! Ever since a young age makeup has been a way for me to express myself. Even in my teenage goth stage I could be found in bright blue eye shadow and glowing red lips. I encourage the students in my stage makeup classes to always experiment. Unlike hair or tattoos, makeup is impermanent. It’s art! You can’t mess it up, you can just recreate! But really the best medicine for any glamour girl is a good night’s sleep and lots of water. I may not party like I did a decade ago but I still love my vodka soda and late nights!   

How did you become involved in the burlesque scene?

It was 2001, I was a young lass of 19 and living in New Orleans the first time I saw a burlesque show at the legendary Shim Sham Club! Dita Von Teese was their special guest and I was absolutely blown away. Not only were the performers stirring up some serious underdeveloped sensuality in me but I was being liberated by the audience too! Never before had I found a place to let loose and howl at the moon, for the performers beauty and grace, but also for my own femininity and power! After that I was hooked! I moved to Chicago and began training with the world famous Michelle L’Amour. When I returned to Denver in 2005 I joined “Burlesque As It Was”, with author, historian and performer Vivienne Va Voom and had the privilege of working with such talents as Charlie Champale, Midnite Martini, Honey Touche, Oracle Dance and so many more! In 2006 I found my permanent home at the world-renowned Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret with the hilarious Naughty Pierre and the Clockettes, and the rest is history!

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Serious question: Is burlesque an act of feminism? How so or how not?

I was raised with a hippie feminist mom in Boulder Colorado so women’s rights are of huge importance to me. The first thing that drew me to burlesque was the confidence these women possessed. As most women can attest, growing up in a society that has a very specific ideal of beauty took a toll on my self confidence before i ever left the school yard! I wanted to accept my curves and unique type of beauty, I wanted to express my sensuality and grow comfortable in my own skin. Burlesque is a safe space to experiment with self expression and work on my self acceptance. I am tremendously proud of the self growth that has come with my burlesque career and feel it has helped me to become a better mother, wife and human being. My routine is first and foremost for me, it is a bonus when the audience feels it too!

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Photo Credit: C.J. Nicolai

If you perform and practice your craft full-time, tell me how you cope with the obstacles that you meet in that lifestyle. If you do something besides burlesque/performance to pay the bills, tell me how you balance the two types of work.

I am a stay-at-home mom and perform 2-3 times a week. It makes me proud to be able to contribute to my family’s expenses and still be able to spend the days with my 3 year old daughter.  As for any working mom there are challenges. Getting in time to rehearse and costume can be tricky, but my husband is incredibly supportive and without him the balance would be impossible. My hope for all my beautiful performing sisters is they find a partner who will support their art and help it flourish. Most people won’t even find their true passion in a lifetime let alone have the opportunity to follow it. If you are lucky enough to snag a burlesque queen be sure to carry props and luggage joyfully, sniff E6000 merrily and dust the glitter from your face proudly!  Showgirls can be a handful, but we are totally worth it!

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Photo credit: C.J. Nicolai

 What does your routine look like when you’re getting ready to perform?

After I put the baby to bed I’ll take some time to myself to do some makeup prep and comb out last night’s wig that the annoyed cat might have mistook for a wild animal. After I load my massive suitcase into Honey Touche’s Burlesque Carpool we’re on our way to the Clocktower! I love to get their a little early to finish preparations. Nothing beats the excitement and energy that comes from being around your gals before a show. Burlesque has changed my life forever and every performer I have had the opportunity to the share the stage with has helped me become the woman I am today. I will be eternally grateful to the universe for putting the underage me into that dark, smokey, New Orleans bar so many years ago.

Fannie 4Fannie has a busy summer ahead: you can catch her most Thursdays at 8:00 in Naughty Pierre’s Burlesque and Comedy Extravaganza, most Saturdays at 11:00 in Off the Clock Burlesque, and July 3rd, 17th, 24th, and 31st in Midnite Martini’s Ladies of the 80s, all at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. You can also see her host and perform in the Sixth Annual Colorado Burlesque Festival from July 9th through July 12th. After the madness of the burlesque festival has died down, Fannie will offer a new session of the Booty School, which you can register for here.

http://www.fanniespankings.com

 

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