From LilSteph.com: The Criminally Cute Lil’ Steph is one of Philadelphia’s leading burlesque producers and an internationally renown burlesque performer. She has been dazzling audiences and turning the world on with her smile since 2006. Lil’ Steph is the producer of Philadelphia’s poshest classic burlesque show Rasputin’s Room, every 3rd Friday of the month at Ruba.
C.J. Asher – How old are you, Lil’ Steph?
Lil’ Steph – I’m 36 years old.
C.J. Asher – Is burlesque performance a full-time career for you?
Lil’ Steph – I’m a full time freelancer and burlesque performance is one of my incomes.
C.J. Asher – Are you a native to the Philadelphia area?
Lil’ Steph – I grew up in Oxford Circle then spent my teen years in NJ. I’ve been back in Philly my entire adult life.
C.J. Asher – How did you first become introduced to burlesque performance?
Lil’ Steph – It was picked for me. I was a resident dancer at Fast Cheap and Out of Control and Psydde Delicious called me Lil’ Steph so it stuck.
C.J. Asher – How did Rasputin’s Room come to be?
Lil’ Steph – When I first began bartending at the Ruba I loved the venue and decided I wanted to do a show there. I had already been producing Bravissimo Burlesque for 3 years at that point so producing wasn’t new to me. I wanted to incorporate the history of the Ruba with the show somehow and my friend mentioned Rasputin. After reading about the history of Rasputin, I thought what a perfect name for a classic, posh, striptease show in a 100 year old private Russian Club.
C.J. Asher – What other shows/troupes are you involved in?
Lil’ Steph – In Philly I perform at Portside Parlor every First Friday for their art show and Rasputin’s Room every 3rd Friday. I’m a traveling showgirl. This past year I performed in NYC, Boston, Paris, London and Rome.
C.J. Asher – What awards have you won for your burlesque performances and shows?
Lil’ Steph – In 2013 I won “Most Classic” at the Carolina Burlesque Festival Sweet Tease pageant. I have also been accepted in prestigious festivals like The Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2010 and The New York Burlesque Festival in 2014.
C.J. Asher – Who in the burlesque arts has been your biggest inspiration/role model?
Lil’ Steph – I am always inspired by burlesque legends like Dixie Evans, Zorita, Gypsy Rose Lee and Lili St Cyr.
C.J. Asher – What do you say to critics who would compare being a burlesque performer to being a stripper/exotic dancer?
Lil’ Steph – I do not like when people criticize strippers. I’ve worked in the sex industry off and on since I was 18. With that said, the difference between strip club strippers and burlesque strippers is burlesque has an emphasis on the tease and accentuating the act of cleverly taking your clothes off. It’s more about the journey, whereas with strippers the emphasis is on the clothes being off. Strip club strippers also make a lot more money. Modern day strip clubs came to be because of burlesque and then pushed out the burlesque clubs as times changed and what was once very risqué is now considered somewhat tame.
C.J. Asher – What influences your style of performance as well as the themes of your shows?
Lil’ Steph – Books I read, music, history, current events and what is going on in my life.
C.J. Asher – What advice or guidance would you have for someone (male or female) who is interested in becoming a burlesque performer?
Lil’ Steph – Go out to shows. Get to know the community. You can’t say you want to be a part of something but have never gone to a show. Take some classes in dance or burlesque. Look up the history of the art form. See who the prominent performers are not only in your area but in the art form in general. See if any of these people need a kitten or volunteer to help out with a show you have been to and enjoyed. Network and be prepared to work.
C.J. Asher – Any crazy stories from your time as a performer?
Lil’ Steph – I’ve had pasties pop off, gotten stuck in my costume, been mistaken for a man in drag numerous times, put my pasties on in a Chinatown bus bathroom during a traffic jam on the way to a show but that’s showbiz!
C.J. Asher – What exciting burlesque projects do you have lined up for 2015?
Lil’ Steph – I plan on performing in U.S cities I haven’t performed in, applying to a couple of festivals and touring Europe again.