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.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jen Hodge conducts an online concert during the pandemic after returning to B.C. from New York City. Photo courtesy Claudia Nobauer
Canada Recovery Benefit won’t replace the magic of live performance, musicians say

Cash will help, but its the audience connection that most performers miss — and crave

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancouver Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann will play the same piano at the Port Theatre on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy Best Days Ever Photography)
Piano duo perform on one piano in Nanaimo return to live performance

Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann present first live, in-person concert since March

Leaking Time by Oak Bay resident Ilka Bauer is the winning entry of the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Ilka Bauer Image)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

Can you spot all 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens? Jen Blyth photo.
The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens

Some events cancelled due to COVID-10 but 12 Days of Christmas will brighten the season

Gatineau artist Michèle Provost visits the Malaspina Galleries during her artist residency on Gabriola Island. (Photo supplied)
Gatineau artist the first to take part in new Gabriola Island artist residency

Michèle Provost to create art book reflecting on the positives of aging

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Most Read