Geeks Gone Wild 

Talking Burlesque with Sophie Maltese

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OFFSTAGE, she's friendly and down-to-earth, a self-described tomboy who likes to garden. But once the fake eyelashes go on, she's Sophie Maltease, a glittery 'n' glamorous burlesque performer who's done shows in Seattle and New York, and co-produces the geek-themed burlesque showcase Geeklesque, among many other things. We sat down over coffee at Beulahland to talk about what goes into creating such a glamorous alter ego, and why she's drawn to geeky subject matter.

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FOR LAUGHS: "Anyone can come out and do a classic striptease with the glove tease and the boas—I like having a story. I have an act where I start as Grumpy Cat and transform into Nyan Cat. I have more fun being dorky onstage—I prefer to make people laugh."

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GEEK GATEWAY: "I like to think of geeky burlesque as a gateway to regular burlesque, because it deals with themes that are so accessible. We've had people come to Geeklesque shows and say, 'This is the best thing ever, when can we see more of this?' Then they'll start coming to Burlynomicon and other monthly shows."

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WORK: "You're very self-motivated as a burlesque performer. You need to work to create bookings, you make your costumes, you create your own choreography. It's do-it-yourself theater. Everyone's always like, 'Oh my god you're a stripper, it's a striptease,' but that's such a small part of it."

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"THERE'S NO CRYING IN BURLESQUE": "Portland burlesque ladies are really strong and really professional. I hear horror stories about how catty other communities are, but that wouldn't fly here."

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ALL THAT DRAG: "I'm a horrible girl. I always have grease under my fingernails, or [dirt from] working in the garden. We call burlesque 'drag,' actually—I really like having two personas. I like having the separation. I like having a break from my regular life, where I can delve into my glittery glamorous life."

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Sophie Maltease co-produces the monthly Burlynomicon burlesque showcase at the Lovecraft, 421 SE Grand, Tues June 11, 9:30 pm, $5, 21+.

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