“Fun, silly, burlesque aesthetic”: Clara Cupcakes talks Hot Patootie, a choose-your-own adventure

Who is Clara Cupcakes?

Clara Cupcakes is a 1920s vaudevillian, updated for the modern age so that it’s not racist. ‘Cause you know, it used to be like, “you know what’s funny? Black people and women!” So I wanted to do a character that was updated, but still had that sense of fun, silly, burlesque aesthetic of the old vaudeville types.

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You began in 2007 while working as a receptionist; how do you get into something like burlesque?

Well…I think I was a bit bored; I’ve always done performing arts stuff, but then when I moved to Perth from my little country town of Albany, I got really disheartened by my first audition, so I stopped doing it for a while, but then I started doing Lindy-Hop – 1940s swing dancing – and a couple of my friends within that started a burlesque troupe, and I was like, “oh my god, that looks fun!”, and then I got drunk and said to the girl running it, “[slurring] I’m gonna learn how to hula-hoop and I’m gonna join your troupe!”, and she said, “Yeah, sure, okay.” and then that’s what I did!

Usually when people think burlesque, they think the erotic striptease – which you do a bit of – but you also try to incorporate a circus element…?

Yeah! I’ve always had the hooping, that was always my thing…I struggle a little bit with the traditionally…the girls who are very good at the super sexual sexy burlesque are amazing…I am not…

But you do have the balloon dress!

I do, I’m just not quite as good at the whole [suggestive moaning] which is a talent, like, it is a talent to be that hyper sexual on stage and still keep it super cute. I always had the circus element because it makes it a bit funny as well. I think because I’m naturally clumsy I would make mistakes in my routine, and I started incorporating that because it was funny, and when the mistakes happened I just covered them by being funny, and so no one would notice when I royally fucked up because they’d think, “oh, it’s just a funny thing!” even though it was very rarely on purpose.

You also play the ukulele…?

I do! Very badly. I have a very expensive ukulele that I play: mostly I just bash out ‘Milkshake’ on it, although in the new show I have a one of my own songs that I’ve written, so that’s good; hopefully that will go over well!

Well, we look forward to seeing that! Now, in 2011 you appeared on Australia’s Got Talent

[laughs]

You were in the top 40…?

I think it was the top 40…I can’t really remember much because most of the stuff that happened happened on the show – which I didn’t really watch. I was definitely through to the top in the state, and they were like: “what else can you do?”, and I went, “uhhhhhhh….I can hula-hoop on roller skates…probably…”– which I couldn’t – “or I have a big cupcake prop I could jump out of?”, and I think they went: “Nope, not interesting enough, you’re out,” which is fine because I didn’t really want to go much further anyway. I just did it because someone yelled at me until I did, and I was kind of in a weird place, like, “yeah, I’ll do Australia’s Got Talent and it’ll all be fine.”

Your show is at the Butterfly Club, which is a great, intimate venue.

It’s my favourite venue in Melbourne! I’m really happy to be there ’cause they’re super supportive and kind, the downstairs venue is super cute; it’s the same colour scheme as my show! It’s just like a family really, I’ve known a lot of the guys there for years and years and years…it’s like coming home at the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to it.

What can audiences expect from Hot Patootie, and will there be cupcakes?

Let me think…well, there’s my cupcake ukulele!

Hot Patootie is a choose-your-own-adventure show: it’s two completely different shows that do not overlap at all except for the opening, because after the opening the audience get to chose which show they want to see. So they can either send me to the circus or send me to Hollywood and within that there are a lot of other choices they can make.

A lot of the choices repeat a little bit, but there are a few that don’t come back, so if they don’t pick it, they don’t get to see it. And they’ve both got a different arcs and different morals, and they’re about different things…I’ve made it sound very serious, but it’s fun! It’s very clown-y and burlesque-y, circus-y…a one woman variety show, really, with a whole bunch of silliness, audience participation, a little bit of a sing-a-long…it’s a bunch of fun, whole-y immersive audience stuff. Yeah.

Clara Cupcakes in ‘Hot Patootie’ will be at the Butterfly Club Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30pm from March 23 – April 3. Full $32, Conc. $28, discounts for Members and Groups of 6+. For a chance to win a double pass, visit Clara on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Nick Jones

Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe. Writer/Observer.

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