An Interview With: Burlesque Producer Pillow Talk

Feb 10, 2021 | Burlesque, Interviews, Personal Branding Interviews

Recently, I’ve become a huge believer in manifesting opportunities. Don’t ask me how or why it works, but for 2020 one of my New Year Intentions was to feature as a guest speaker on a podcast. Sure enough, one sunny lockdown day in November, I opened my inbox to find a lovely email from Podcaster and Burlesque Producer Pillow Talk inviting me to guest on my fourth podcast of the year!

Pillow Talk, aka Kerry, is a PHENOMENAL interviewer. I’ve been interviewed a fair few times over the years, but let me tell you she went deep, with research so impressive it blew my mind a little! I feel like I even learned a little bit about myself that day from Pillow’s questions and I thoroughly recommend a listen via the link at the bottom of this post – as well as the full season of star-studded episodes featuring Dirty Martini, Demi Noire, Jeez Loueez, Jo Weldon and Egypt Blaque Knyle.

Before the podcast though, I thought it would be incredible to invite Pillow Talk onto the blog today to talk about her experiences in the world of podcasting and burlesque, specifically as producer of South Africa’s official Burlesque Festival Baby Grand Burlesque. Are you sitting comfortably?

Burlesque Producer Pillow Talk
Burlesque Producer Pillow Talk – image supplied by Pillow

Pillow Talk / Kerry

Occupation: Honestly, it’s probably ‘dream builder’. My work takes on several forms all towards a goal of owning my own venue where I can produce shows in their full power. Until then, you can catch me producing Burlesque showcases and LGBTQIA events, working front of house in hospitality, DJing and working in the sound department for film and television.

How would your best friend describe you? Some truly kind words have been offered my way, which keeps me humble. “Graceful, determined, patient…” – Baby Ray. 

Name three things that you always carry with you? In 2020/21 – wallet, mask, sanitizer. Also, a felt tip pen, notebook and keys on a carabiner.

What was the last book you read? Probably The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.

Tell us a little about your podcast ‘What’s The Tease’ – what inspired you to start the project? After experimenting with online platforms for shows through Instagram and Zoom, whilst an amazing resource to connect globally, I found them to be limiting for many reasons. I knew my audiophile roots would aid me within the podcasting realm. What’s the Tease was created as we wanted to continue to introduce international burlesque artists to our audience as well as connect our local South African artists with the burlesque scenes abroad.

Who would play Pillow Talk in a movie of your life? That’s tricky, as I don’t really see folks like myself being portrayed in mainstream media. If I was pushed for an answer I’d say Jenny Shimizu, but she would need to work on her tan. It would be great though if Lena Waithe did the casting, wrote and directed the film. I would have absolute faith in being represented in that production.

As well as the podcast, you are also heavily involved in the Cape Town burlesque scene, producing for both Oh Baby! Productions as well as South Africa’s official Burlesque Festival ‘Baby Grand Burlesque’. Can you tell us more about the burlesque scene in Cape Town? The Cape Town burlesque scene has been active since about 2007. I got involved around 2009. Cape Town is definitely the epicenter of burlesque in South Africa, although there are artists and studios in a few other major cities like Johannesburg. Cape Town has two long-standing burlesque schools, which are constantly feeding new artists onto the scene. At Oh, Baby! Productions, we work towards creating regular platforms to further explore the vast realms of burlesque. Under our guidance, we encourage artists to strive towards competing at The Baby Grand Burlesque Festival, the first competitive burlesque festival in Africa.

What song gets you on the dance floor? Being a DJ and music lover, there are many that span a variety of genres. I do love me some brassy tones and funk, as well as some M.I.A – and should Vogue come on, you will find me striking a pose and living my best Flashdance life on the dance floor. So many great songs come to mind and have moved me while I’m doing household chores during lockdown.

Pillow Talk and Baby Ray

What are you most proud of in your life so far? I am proud that I am able to trust in my abilities as a creative professional. Having this belief in myself continues to allow me to make my visions of shows a reality and build authentic relationships with those I work with.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that the Internet doesn’t know about you yet? The collage of things you do see is all me working towards making my dreams a reality. When you don’t see me, that’s also what I’m doing.

If you could interview any burlesque performer, past or present, which performer would it be and why? I look forward to the day when I get to sit down with Dita Von Teese. I admire her work ethic as an artist and producer as well as her fierce entrepreneurial prowess. I would love to hear her thoughts on how she successfully reached a commercial audience through burlesque. 

What will your autobiography be called? An Empire State of Mind. 

If money was no limitation, what would be your ultimate career goal? To see the fruition of my entrepreneurial pursuits. Mainly, having my own entertainment venue and – seeing as money ain’t a thang – I’d like sister venues in Cape Town and New York City.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about wanting to start their own podcast? Have a clear understanding of the format your podcast will take. Do your research. There are plenty of accessible resources to assist you in making the best choices suited to your podcast. Invest in good start up recording gear.

What exciting project are you working on right now? With all that has occurred in 2020, it’s difficult to project too much into the future. With that being said, we continue our work to create spaces for the art of burlesque and its’ artists. To keep up with all that we have in store, please do give us a follow on our various social pages (linked throughout this article).

Want to hear my What’s The Tease podcast episode with Pillow Talk?

Click to listen on either Apple Podcasts or Spotify – or give it a search on your podcasting platform of choice.


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