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A Stepping Stone to Fame

Catching up with some M Award-winners past
Bettina May

Catching up with some M Award-winners past

Now that we’ve arrived at the 9th-annual M Awards, we figured it’s high time to find out what a couple of our most notable winners have been doing since scoring the big M distinction. The results: a whole lot of triumphs.

When we caught up to local Canadian musician Leeroy Stagger (famed for his alt rock numbers — one of which was picked up by the TV show Grey’s Anatomy), Stagger was sitting at Club Roar Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, having just accidentally recorded a new record on two days off during a one-month U.S. tour — and, he says, it’s his best work yet.

Stagger, who is now based in Lethbridge, Alta, says winning the M Award for “Most Promising Local Band or Performer” of 2003 changed his life.

“My M Award basically bought me a key to the city … I couldn’t walk into the Starbucks at Tillicum mall without being mobbed by legions of rabid fans,” he says. “A blessing and a curse really.”

Stagger also scored “Most Surprising Concert” for 2004 with the Pixies, as well as “Fave Acoustic Performer” and “Fave Solo Performer” the same year. Since we last spoke with Stagger, he’s been finishing up his new record, along with just having released Little Victories this past February. Stagger has also started producing records for other people, including a new Indio Saravanja endeavour in May. Stagger says he’s looking forward to spending a little Island time soon enough.

“I’m actually looking forward to spending some time at my dad’s cabin in Lake Cowichan this summer and getting home to see my wife next week,” he says. “That damn ferry is darn expensive — even with hiding band members — I’m paying through the roof to ride that thing, although the onboard spas are a nice new touch. [This summer,] look for me wandering aimlessly down Government Street wondering where all my favourite old shops have gone and what the fuck an American Apparel is.”

Meanwhile, from Nashville to New York, Victoria’s favourite burlesque beauty Bettina May has shimmied a long way from the days of her first M Award win for 2003.

May paused long enough to chat from her hotel room in the Big Apple, about to start her next tour. She now calls Brooklyn home, after getting a work visa back in 2009 to live and work as a full-time burlesque performer in the States — a first of the kind — and spends her free time teaching her pin-up makeover class. Still, May hasn’t forgotten her M Award days, when she was pronounced “Most Energetic Dancer (Female)” for 2003, and “Favourite Dancer” for 2005.

“I’d have to say that winning my M Awards was very helpful, not only in gaining respect and recognition for my work in burlesque locally, but also abroad,” May says. “I needed to prove to immigration officials that burlesque was a recognized form of dance, and that I had received awards for my work, so copies of Monday Magazine have now been read by more than a few Homeland Security officials. It’s very possible that without winning my M Awards, I may not have been able to get to New York.”

May says she’s since been busy burlesque-ing in venues like Duane Park, Webster Hall and New York clubs. She’ll be making an appearance on the season finale of The Real Housewives of New York in May, and she just finished working on Bettie Page Reveals All, an upcoming documentary featuring live interviews with an elderly Page. As if that wasn’t busy enough, May will be competing in the Miss Viva Las Vegas burlesque competition this year.

For those craving a little Bettina time, you may have to hop a jet. May will be waiting out her next visa application before she can return to Canada. Still, she has some important shout-outs to make.

“I just want to say how proud I am of my local girls, the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue … my parents still send me press clippings about all the cool things they are doing to keep burlesque alive on the Island and around B.C.,” she says. “It’s a shame I had to move to another country to make a living doing what I love … I miss my pretty little island though, and will be back as soon as possible to visit.”

Both Stagger and May said the biggest thanks they had to give was to Victoria.

“Remember to support your local live entertainment scene, fellow Victorians,” May says. “And thank you Monday Magazine for recognizing and rewarding local talent, both with the M Awards and in your weekly pages.”