Delysia LaChatte, the “feline fatale of burlesque,” is throwing a Belle Époque-inspired event on Thursday. I was able to ask her a few questions about her inspirations, career, and the naughty association behind her name.
1) How did you come up with your name (pronounced De-li-see-yah La-Shot)?
I have my icons like Eartha Kitt and Josephine Baker (who was in love with all things French), and I wrote out a couple of different names that I liked from stories and books. One of the books, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, had this character named Delysia Lafosse, and I loved the way it rolled off the tongue. And I didn’t want to just be called “the cat.” There are a million cats in burlesque. So I decided I wanted the French word for cat… which is also… I didn’t realize how naughty “La Chatte” it is. (She laughs.)
So it also, conveniently enough, has a double association.
What got you interested in burlesque? And how did you get started with it?
The first time I ever heard of burlesque was when my mother told me about the movie Gypsy starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. We watched it together. I later taped it and often watched it as a pre-teen. I loved the idea of glamour and creating something out of nothing. I could relate to Rose Louise aka Gypsy in the movie, because she was the average one in the family. Not the beautiful one. Not the one with any huge talent. I was shy. I still am shy, and I dreamed of having a life where I could be that confident superstar on stage. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of burlesque back then because I had no idea that people still did it. But I used my drawings as my creative outlet. I would draw beautiful, colorful, confident sexy women all the time. And now I get to be any one of those drawings.
What is it like to produce your own work?
First, I started by producing with a group of my closest friends. We started a theater company called Stage of Fiends. I was the burlesque branch. Then the company split. They started to do more plays and cabarets, and I became a lone producer. I recently started co-producing again with other performers, but I also felt it was time for me to go out and do it alone. I didn’t want to compromise my ideas or have to depend on anyone, which is how it is to co-produce. It’s great because you have someone to talk to, bounce ideas off with and support, but at the same time if you have a complete vision it’s hard to make that happen. I will definitely co-produce again, but I needed one thing that is all me.