A Stepping Stone to Fame

Catching up with some M Award-winners past

Bettina May

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

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Sara Lopez Assu says she’s relatively happy with how the Campbell River Art Gallery team managed to weather the storm that was 2020. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River Art Gallery director reflects on ‘maybe our hardest year ever’

‘It would be easy to look back and be disappointed … but that’s not going to get us anywhere’

Most Read