Lucky DeLuxe strips down her comedy
BY MIKE THOMAS Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org December 5, 2012 6:50PM
Going by the stage name Lucky DeLuxe, Susana Lee tours the country with her burlesque comedy show titled “Getting Lucky.”
Featuring Lucky DeLuxe
♦ 8:30 p.m. Dec. 10
♦ Zanies Comedy Club, 1548 N. Wells
♦ Tickets, $10 (plus two-item food/beverage minimum)
♦ (312) 337-4027; zanies.com
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:12AM
Kansas City, Kan., native and former Chicago-based stand-up comic Susanna Lee has found the secret to surviving and thriving in a cutthroat, male-dominated profession: flaunt a little flesh. Or, in her case, a lot of it.
Going by the stage name Lucky DeLuxe, Lee tours the country with her burlesque comedy show titled “Getting Lucky.” She’ll land at the intimate Zanies on Wells Monday for one night only.
In a happy coincidence that pleases Lee, before its laugh shack days began in 1978, Zanies reportedly was Chicago’s first all-nude strip joint.
“Even when I’m stripping, I’m still talking,” Lee, 37, says of her unique creation, whose verbal portion is based entirely on personal experiences and which she likens in tone to the performances of early 20th century burlesque artiste Gypsy Rose Lee. “You can’t get me to shut up.”
Shortly before her visit, Lee — who says her maternal grandfather was a “baggy-pants” clown and comedian decades ago — spoke from her home in Los Angeles about pasties and G-strings, her less-than-glamorous stripping experience in L.A. and why her foray into burlesque comedy (a hybrid she’s been perfecting since 2006) was the best career move she ever made.
Question: Does the blending of comedy and stripping make audiences less self-conscious?
Lucky DeLuxe: Yeah, I’ve definitely found that. Because my spoken-word stripteases are for the most part humorous, I think that makes everyone a lot more comfortable. There’s like, 15 minutes of standup before I even strip the first time, so I definitely get to establish a rapport with the audience and establish my likability and gain their trust and get everyone comfortable.
Q. How was your stripping experience in L.A. different from doing burlesque?
LD: I’ve done a million interviews where people have asked, “What’s the difference between burlesque and strip club stripping.” And usually I’d done those before I worked in a strip club, so I would say, “It’s a commercial endeavor. They’re both stripping.” And now I think burlesque is so much more theater and a strip club is not. Strip club patrons don’t want to see pomp and circumstance. They don’t want to see you take off a glove. They just want to see the bare seduction.
Q. Was that hard for you to do?
LD: Oh, very. I was a terrible stripper. I’m a theatrical person, so I’m used to getting feedback from the audience and I’m used to relying on humor to get a response. And in the strip club, that wasn’t what anyone wanted.
Q. Zanies on Wells is up-close and personal.
LD: Absolutely. That’s one of my favorite rooms. That was the place I used to work when I was living in Chicago.
Q. What can you do in that room? Are they only licensed for certain things?
LD: No. We went down to pasties and G-strings when we did the burlesque variety show there [in 2011]. I believe it’s OK because it’s a theatrical performance. There’s no tipping. … No one’s said anything to me about it, so I assumed if I didn’t hear anyone telling me not to, then we were OK.
Q. What do you like more about the combination of burlesque and comedy as opposed to straight standup?
LD: I like the freedom to make art the way I want to. And I like not having to fit into one particular box. My issue with stand-up was always that even though it’s an art form, there seemed to be so many hard-and-fast rules about what you should do onstage, what you should not do onstage, how a joke is supposed to be structured.
Q. Stand-up is an old boys’ club, too. Have you been able to overcome that by pairing it with burlesque?
LD: Absolutely. I’ve gotten a lot of support from the burlesque community. And with the success I’ve had in burlesque, it’s definitely helped me in stand-up. It’s helped me be taken more seriously and stand out, for sure. I’m doing something that no one else is doing.
Q. Does the stripping aspect somehow enhance the comedic, or does it run the risk of undercutting it?
LD: I’ve been doing this show since July of 2011, and since then it’s changed dramatically. I definitely had to work out smoothing the stripteases in and finding where they segued in naturally and figure out how to structure and order the jokes and my material so that everything fit together well and it wasn’t choppy. Because the cohesion of it was really, really important to me. I’ve always felt that a set should be like a story: there should be a beginning, a middle, an end — just a very natural progression.
Q. Some people must look at you and think, “She’s debasing herself.” What do you say to those types?
LD: I haven’t heard that. I think that what I’m doing is original and unique enough. And I’m not stripping just for effect. I think the spoken word allows me to keep it comedic and keep sight of the main goal, which is to entertain.
Q. Have your parents seen your act?
LD: Oh, yeah. They’re very, very supportive. My dad lives in Florida and my mom still lives in Kansas City. … It’s very rare now if I’m in Kansas City that she’ll miss one of my shows. And she usually brings her friends.
Q. Does your dad share her enthusiasm?
LD: Yeah. My dad’s really great, very supportive. He’s never seen me strip. He’s seen video, but he’s never come to the actual live shows.
Q. Has he told you why?
LD: No, we just don’t really talk about it.