They say art imitates life, but what happens when life imitates art? Ask burlesque star Rosie Bitts.
Her new play, The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts, which is premiering at the Victoria Events Centre on Monday, June 27, is about what happens when a burlesque show is shut down by the liquor board, something that happened to the sexy star’s Naked Girls Reading: Fairytales show in May — just 16 hours before she was supposed to take the stage at a food-primary establishment in a private back room.
“I decided to write the play over a year ago because I started getting really curious about burlesque and censorship around the world. I knew a lot of girls who were facing these issues,” says Bitts. “If I had more notice when the show was cancelled, I could have changed the venue. This is my bread and butter. That was income for me and my family. I’m a wife and mom, and this takes hours and hours of planning, and two other people were supposed to get paid to do that show.”
But a little censorship won’t let that hold her back, not one Bitts.
With help from J Mclaughlin and Wes Borg, the trio set out to write a play that would be an honest and entertaining representation of what burlesque artists face in their careers and in their lives.
“The laws we have now are the same the women were dealing with when burlesque started 150 years ago. There’s this ebb and flow depending on how conservative the government or society is. They are very arbitrary. It’s a grey area.”
Expect a blend of vaudevillian and neo burlesque, music, dancing, comedy and drama as Bitts explores the politics of female nudity, pornography and erotica.
“I’m slightly nervous that it will get shut down,” says Bitts. “Everyday people don’t know this is happening. It’s a ticketed event in a closed off venue — not live sex. The only way laws are going to change is if people realize what’s happening.”
A soundtrack for the show was recorded by Dave Lang and the Black Squirrels.
Even though this is a one-woman show, Bitts won’t be touring alone this summer. She has a crew of two technicians who will be travelling with her. “We’ll be gone for three weeks. People think, because it’s a solo show it won’t cost much, but with the two techs on tour, I’m responsible to pay them a living wage on the road. All in all, about 13 people worked on the project, and they all deserve to get paid,” says Bitts.
Bitts started an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to help offset the $12,000 cost of the summer tour. So far she’s raised only $405 of her $6,000 goal. Bitts is offering perks for donor contributions to her campaign, including signed photos, autographs, personalized video and hand-written thank you cards for various donation levels.
The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts will be at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival from July 13-24, the Nanaimo Fringetastic Festival from Sept. 8-11. Watch her website for other shows in Calgary and Victoria, which are sure to be added to the tour. The Fantastic Miss Rosie Bitts will also be playing at the Victoria Fringe Festival Aug. 25-Sept. 4.
For more information, or to donate to the fundraising campaign, visit indiegogo.com/the-Fabulous-Miss-Rosie-Bitts or missrosiebitts.com. M
The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts
Monday, June 27, 7:30 p.m.
Victoria Events Centre (1415 Broad)
Tickets at the door, minumum $10 donation