Lili VonSchtupp is TIRED: The Buxom burlesque babe talks neo-burlesque, flipping off the FCC and the sexiness of cellulite

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Running LA’s longest running weekly burlesque show is no easy task, but the foulmouthed buxom burlesque babe Lili VonSchtupp is up for the challenge. We caught up with the betasseled vixen and asked her your diamond studded questions. Are your thunder thighs to shocking to be on stage? How does a girl from Iowa end up doing striptease in LA? Where does one find a lavender rhinestone ostrich feather boa? Lili has the answers, and come glitter shortage or sequins malfunction she’s gonna tell you.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Tell me who is the delicious Miss Lili VonSchtupp?

Lili VonSchtupp: I actually don’t talk about that.

LTAS: Really?

Lili: (Laughs) No. I was born in Iowa, grew up in Florida and I’m now in LA. I’ve worked all types of jobs, marketing, beauty industry, radio… I started in burlesque later in life, when I was 37.

LTAS: So how’d you get from radio to burlesque? Also a reader question, how does one go about getting into Burlesque?

Lili: I got into it pretty early in the neo-burlesque movement. “I actually found an ad for burlesque classes on Craig’s List. I was a part time performer and full time radio producer when the woman who ran the weekly Monday show left LA and was looking for someone to take over the show. Scarlett Letter and I stepped up and co-produced our first night together in July of 2007. We produced together up until March of this year; I now produce Monday Night Tease! solo. Scarlett has her own show now, co-produces Peepshow Menagerie and runs a chapter of Dr. Skechy's and Naked Girls reading in LA.” Really there’s no one way to get into it. I would suggest that if you are interested, immerse yourself and learn all you can. Watch some movies like Cabaret,Gypsy, any Busby Berkeley musical. Google people like Dita VonTesse, Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand. There’s a bit of an underground everywhere now, just google the word burlesqe. There are even schools in most major cities now.

LTAS: Is burlesque now your full time job?

“Yes, but in fact most girls do burlesque as a hobby. You are not going to come into burlesque and make tons of money. “The situations where the people are making huge amounts are the unrealistically fit and perfect Dita type. Most people will only make 100 in a night.” Much like the burlesque heyday in the 30s and 40’s burlesque is still the lower income art form.  If you are willing to devote your time and body to it, then go for it, but you’ll probably need a full time job. I have a friend that comes from a family of doctors and lawyers. She’s a lawyer as well but she’ll come out once or twice a month and perform because to the way it makes her feel, not for the money. If you are going to be successful, just like with anything else you need to be exceptional. Remember “Costumes are expensive, Swarovski crystals are not cheap! I’m certainly not getting rich but I am fortunate enough to be making a living.”

LTAS: I must ask how you got your name.

Lili: Well back when I was working in radio it was during the time when the FCC was coming down hard on obscenity.  You couldn’t even swear in another language. So when I was looking for an on-air name to use, I went with Lili VonSchtupp because Schtupp was a euphemism for screwing. It was a fuck you to the FCC, I even legally changed my name so they couldn’t say anything. (Innocently) What, it’s my name? (Laughs)

LTAS: Now can you tell me what burlesque is exactly? I understand that it used to be parody and comedy, but now you often see it and it’s nothing more than stripping.

Lili: Burlesque started out as parody, exaggerations, and commentary on government and society and were based in variety shows. Burlesque troops would put on shows for the lower classes. Often if there was a popular Broadway show, troops would do outrageous over the top parodies of them and make them blue. Now it’s mostly stripping. There was a period of time where theaters where shutting down and they had to do something to keep the bodies in the seat. Sex sells. Even then though, it was all about the performance, the seduction. To me, strip clubs are burlesque shows without the tease. You come out and 45 seconds into the first song you’re naked. The neo-burlesque movement is trying to put the tease back into strip-tease. If you watch someone like Dita or Catherine D'lish put on a show, it’s not all about getting naked, it’s taking the audience on a sexy ride with you.

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LTAS: You talk about show and I think about the elaborate costumes. Where does one find ruby sequins nipple tassels, a lavender feather boa and a lamp shaped like a leg in fishnets?

Lili: (laughs) I actually have a lamp like that. Back in the day you’d have to go to seedy places down back alleyways but now we have the Internet. “eBay is a wonderful tool for costume pieces.” There are whole companies specializing in burlesque, twirlygirl.net sells nothing but pasties. There are books on burlesque now. Jo Boobs just wrote the definitive book “The Burlesque Handbook.” It’s a must have for anyone who thinks they might want to do this.  There is a lot of DIY, we’ll buy the main pieces and put feathers and rhinestones on them. Especially for me, I have really huge boobs, a not so small stomach and narrow hips so it’s hard to find anything off the rack.  I make all my costumes.  

LTAS: This is a question from a reader; would you say that there is an age limit or specific body type required?

Lili: Absolutely not. There are preferences, but that’s why shows have more than one performer in them.  The person on stage right now might not be your cup of tea, but we’ve got all these other performers who may be. “Someone out there is going to love you… As long as you can entertain you’re golden.”

Confidence brings out your inner beauty. There is nothing sexier than a woman who is confident. Right now burlesque is all about supporting and encouraging women, it’s very empowering to take your clothes off. “You’ll see women, burlesque legends, at 60 and 70 still performing at the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Burlesque is all about drawing the audience in, making them want to see you as a performer. Your body becomes a prize, and anything can be presented and sold as sexy from someone a little heavier to a bottle of Pepsi. Presentation is everything.

LTAS: You keep saying women and that makes me wonder about men in burlesque. You rarely see it today but I also know that Charlie Chaplin was considered a burlesque performer.

Lili: “There have always been men in burlesque. Originally they where hosting , comedians, jugglers, tap dancers, the variety acts.  There were also cross dressers who performed as strippers. But with neo-burlesque it’s very ingrained with men. “Things like Chippendales and the women’s lib movement have increased acceptance of men stripping, so naturally neo burlesque would be accepting of that now.” I’d love to see a bigger cross over between the worlds of drag and burlesque in LA. It’s crossed over in other cities and queer burlesque is popular, but LA just hasn’t merged as much as I would like. I call burlesque dancers the step children of drag. We are over glamorous on stage with wigs and make up too.

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LTAS: How could someone use burlesque to infuse a little more sensuality into their daily life?

Lili: When I moved into burlesque I “took what I knew about sex and put it on stage.” Learning about burlesque will definitely increase your overall sensuality and confidence. A big part of burlesque is self acceptance. Burlesque teaches you seduction and it is true that you seduce an audience the same way you do a lover. “You learn to find sexiness in everything... Create excitement, make your body anticipated, it’s not the destination it’s the journey.”

LTAS: I can’t talk to a burlesque performer and not ask, what do you think is sexy?

Lili: (Pauses) “Everything is sexy. Madonna has this quote, I think from her SEX book, ‘I flirt with everybody, I even flirt with grandmothers.’ There is so much sexy in the world. When I see somebody on stage and they make me laugh, I want to fuck them. Comedy is so sexy to me. People with confidence and swagger are sexy.” I hate looking in magazines and seeing all these photoshopped images, sure they look clean a pretty but it takes away the real beauty. “A naked woman with all her flaws even cellulite bumps”, that is so sexy! The journey to sex is what’s sexy to me. Three hours of foreplay is sexy, the time it takes for a performer to take off her clothes is sexy, watching her slowly strip with a bump and grind is sexy. “I hope you have a boner right now. “ (Laughs)

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LTAS: Not gonna lie. (Laughs) That was it for my questions, did you have anything you wanted to say that I didn’t ask you.

Lili: Yes, support your local artists. When you go to see a live show, you are seeing people who really love what they’re doing. They are the ones with the passion that keep arts alive. Going to see a live show or performance really helps these people do what they do and we do appreciate it.

You can find out more about Lili VonSchtupp at www.mondaynighttease.com and www.bulesquevixen.com

Note: After our interview Lili & Co. at the Monday Night Tease performed their annual tribute to Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Burlesque. It was a major hit and they were even tasked with a special performance for the man himself. I just want to say congatulations to her and her team as their success is well deserved.

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