March 4, 2022 | NEWS | By Sabrina Brewer
Bunny Bee, owner of La Burla Bee, discusses her entry into burlesque, building confidence, and opening a cabaret restaurant and nightclub. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“To be very honest, I had no idea what burlesque was 15 years ago. Aging myself and my friends right now, but we were on MySpace and there was this advertisement of a girls’ night out. You know, go out, drink wine, and learn how to burlesque. And we were like, Oh, my God, that’s a great girls’ night. Whatever it is, we’re gonna dance and get drunk. So that drew me into it. And then I just fell in love with the history of it.
I joined a local troupe after that, and then went full fledge into the art of burlesque, or the art of the tease. I became both a national and international performer. I performed all over the world. And then I became a board member of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. And now I’m the chair.
When I went in, I went full in. I fell in love with the art. It’s just that empowering aspect of it. No matter who we are, what we look like, whatever it is, we all have insecurities. And this is about empowering all genders. Just to be who you are, period.
When I was in college, I started to have babies. My life kind of changed. And I missed all of that, the theater and the dance. So, when I was introduced to burlesque it was like every bit of that thespian that still lived within me just came out and flourished. Like, I can still do this on stage. I just get to strip while I’m doing it. But all the theatrics and the dancing that I missed was there.
There’s no feeling like it really until you do it. The audience through your complete performance is just cheering you on. The euphoria of that and just feeling empowered because you just feel like, no matter what you do, these people are screaming for you.
I’m a very goal oriented individual. I go into something and I’m just like, okay, how do I get to the top, where do I go? And the first thing to do is to become very educated about those before you. It’s so important to pay homage to those who have come before you. I couldn’t be doing this without all those beautiful strippers that came way before.
I was modeling when I first got into this. That’s a different level of confidence than actually taking your clothes off on stage. The confidence was just getting through that in the beginning. I could not speak or do interviews 14 or 15 years ago without shaking. I remember our first time on channel 21 here locally, they interviewed the burlesque troupe, and I was a deer in headlights. And now I’m just like, hi, hello. This is me. I have changed. It’s brought me so far in life to be who I am, to actually be Bunny.
I had many insecurities. You know all those horrible ones that we do as women where we think we’re not good enough, we’re not pretty enough, we’re not smart enough, the generation in which I grew up in as well. In all honesty, it was over time building confidence within. It took years for me to come out of that, and just to be who I was really before, but I didn’t know.
We always tell everyone: create your persona, whoever that is going to be. I can literally say today in the world, no matter what, everybody pretty much calls me Bunny. Not my legal given name. I am Bunny on stage, and I am Bunny off stage.
One thing that I always believe in as an artist is that you never say you know everything. You continuously grow. If you’re saying that, you probably shouldn’t be doing it anymore. Because that’s not true.
In the beginning, when burlesque started here, it was not accepting. You know, the newspapers did not want to do interviews with us. They did not want us to advertise in their newspapers. Now, they call me. Now, they want us to put ads in or they want to do articles on us.
As I was performing and going to these different places, I was like I’m going to do this one day. I’m going to open my own cabaret. I would tell people all the time, I’m going to open up my own cabaret. I’m just gonna do it. And then just the right timing, everything just fell into place.
I knew it would be a lot of work. But it’s triple of what I thought it would be. I did not do this alone. I had a lot of people that have helped me. And that part has made it much easier. But understanding the restaurant side of things, understanding the other entertainment, understanding how to keep everybody involved. It’s a learning process. But it’s the most rewarding, hardest thing I’ve ever done.
A group of us usually go every year for Valentine’s Day to Snooty Fox, the strip club here in town so we can show what burlesque is and pay respect to them as well. Because it’s one in the same. It’s just that we’re doing theatrics and putting the type of art into the form as it was in the past. But it’s the same thing.
I am going to do the first Thursday of every month an art of the tease burlesque intro, just for you to come out with your friends, or your partner, or whomever, or yourself individually, and just, you know, have a few drinks, learn a little bit about burlesque, a little bit of the moves of the bump and the grind. So you can start to love yourself once again. Because it’s true, it’s what it does to you.
I just want everybody to know that we are a restaurant, a cabaret, and we’re a nightclub. There’s three levels of entertainment going on pretty much continuously. It’s a fun and accepting environment just to be you. The greatest thing that I saw is there was a 79-year-old, young individual that was dancing in the beehive along with 21-year-olds. My heart exploded because that’s how life should be.