They’re fierce, full of soul and fully in control. They’re known as the Chocolate City Burlesque & Cabaret (CCBC) and they are participating in a roaring, rollicking hell-of-a-show Friday, February 19th at 9pm, at a cool joint known as the Black Cat DC, which is located at 1811 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC.
CBCC, which was founded by performers Ch`e Monique and Dainty Dandridge, has a number of events coming up, including one with Jeezy’s Juke Joint in Chicago, March 11th at 7pm; then a history lecture and performance “CCBC with Zami: Queer Burlesque History, Exploring Identity Through Performance” at Bus Boys and Poets in DC, 625 Monroe Street, NW, (buy tickets here), Thursday, March 17th from 7:30 to 9:30pm; and in the summer, DC’s Capitol Pride Parade, Saturday, June 11 from 4 to 6pm.
CBCC Co-ProducerPerformerMaster of Ceremonies Chris Jay has been producing CCBC shows for a year, after life as a photographer and publisher of the Baltimore-based, arts-themed Lace Magazine. Jay is co-producing the Friday night show with dancer GiGi Holliday. CCBC has a talented troupe of dancers, including up and coming DMV-area actress Kristen Briscoe.
You can peruse their photo gallery and watch their videos here. Jay took a few moments to talk about what CCBC has in store for D.C. stages this year.
William Powell: Tell me more about your upcoming events.
Chris Jay: It’s a review of the most popular fan-favorite musicals that have that strong, Black presence like “The Wiz” and “Ain’t Miss Behaving”. There will be nine of us, burlesque dancers, drag kings [male impersonators] and drag queens. I really wanted to take the opportunity to educate and entertain.
WP: How many tickets have you pre-sold?
CJ: I’m not sure, but I hope we come close to selling out.
WP: Do you find that there is a similarity between burlesque performers and drag performers?
CJ: Drag kings, drag queens, and queers, I wanted to include all of us in this same show. We should come together. We are all in the same boat. We are doing to same thing.
WP: How did you get into performing?
CJ: I fell into it. I’m a photographer. I [ran] Lace Magazine. We went around Baltimore doing stories on the arts—we had a physical magazine. For years I would have said ‘no thank you’, I would never get on stage. I learned [to perform] by doing. A drag queen convinced me to get on stage.
WP: So you’re a photographer too. Any plans for a book?
CJ: Yes, a book of photographs called Kingsxtaposition [a play on “drag king” and “juxtaposition”].
WP: Do you get recognized on the street?
CJ: I recently did my first stand-up act. I get recognized from that. I’m no celebrity. I studied stand-up to help me [with comedy skills] to MC the brunch.
WP: Talk about the challenges of being a producer.
CJ: I’ve been a producer for three years. [She produces for LACE Media as well.] It’s like a business. You have to make sure people are paid properly. I want my performers to come to work, do what they love and get paid, and feel good about it. I demand they get paid and that I get that professionalism in return. They are extremely talented, and I am grateful for them. Without them, I wouldn’t have a troupe.
WP: What’s next for Chocolate City Burlesque & Cabaret?
CJ: This is going to be a growing process. We’re looking for a wider reach, and we’re still growing.