Kitten on the Keys

When did you first get into burlesque?

I have been involved in the burlesque scene since the late 1990s, starting in San Francisco with the Cantakerous Lollies and San Francisco’s Famous Burlesque Orchestra. I was the singer shaking my ruffles with the girls and played piano in the band that included some members of the Tubes, Dead Kennedys, and Flipper.

What made you decide to be a burlesque performer?

I love history, costumes, music, jewelry and the naughtier side of life.

What made you pick the alter ego Kitten on the Keys?

My specialty and true love on the piano is the Tin Pan Alley Era of the 1920s. “Kitten on the Keys,“ a novelty ragtime ditty by Zez Confrey, sounded like my ADD addled brain, tiny kitten feet making atonal noises on the keyboard. Seemed like the perfect name for my personality. Plus I collect Vintage Sheet Music and 78’s for my Victrola.

What can we expect from your show?

I am a one ma'am band. Expect a racy ragtime romp. I play instruments, write my own music, have lots of fun word play, and some kooky kinky over the top silly costumes and unexpected visual delights.

You appeared in Mathieu Amalric's recent film Tournée, praised both for its exuberant burlesque and its realistic portrayal of performers on the road. Have you seen the Cher/Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque?

I’m very proud to be in the film Tournée. It still feels like a Cinderella fairytale that I went to Cannes with the cabaret new burlesque troupe and it won Best Director for Mathieu Amalric. I did see the film with Cher and Christina--it has laughable dialogue, too many Fosseisms, and not a whole lot of burlesque! I like Cher but the title of the film is very misleading. There is nothing burlesque about this film except for the Famous Amos Cookie scene with the guyliner dude.

Finally, if we may ask a standard newspaper question, what is your age?

I lived through the punk rock era.

Kitten on the Keys performs live as part of the Helsinki Burlesque Festival.