Intro: Xena Zeit-Geist is the stage name of a popular New Orleans artist, dancer, Burlesque and Nerdlesque performer. Catch her as Princess Leia on 12/30/2016 and next weekend at Wizard World in New Orleans January 6-8, 2017.
John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for agreeing to an interview with me Xena! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Xena Zeit-Geist (XZG): Thanks for having me, John! Well, I’m a full-time New Orleans burlesque performer and producer, and I specialize in producing, writing, directing, and performing in satirical burlesque plays with pop culture themes. I’m the Founder and Artistic Director of The Society of Sin, New Orleans’ premiere nerdlesque troupe, and I basically spend my time creating and embodying live-action fan fiction.
(JNC): How did you get into the performing arts? Burlesque?
(XZG): I’ve been interested in performing since I was really young — one of my earliest memories, maybe from age 3 or 4, is going to see the Rockettes with my family and running up onto the stage to dance with them. I loved the show so much and thought that the dancers were so beautiful that I wanted to be apart of it more than anything. I took acting classes when I was young and wrote a lot of scripts that I’d force my sisters and neighborhood kids to be in. I got into burlesque when I was about 23. I was working a day job at an advertising agency, occasionally picking up shifts as a dancer at local strip clubs, and working on my creative writing in my off hours, but I was feeling pretty unfulfilled, creatively speaking. My partner at the time suggested that I look into burlesque and introduced me to one of the big New Orleans burlesque producers & performers, Trixie Minx, who started hiring me to help out with her shows, and I loved it immediately. Within a couple of months, Remy Dee (who I now refer to as my “burlesque fairy godmother”) hired me to play the part of “Lock the Demon Trick-or-Treater” in her Nightmare Before Christmas burlesque show, and the rest is history.
(JNC): What is Nerdlesque?
(XZG): Nerdlesque combines the classic art of the striptease with nerd culture. In a typical nerdlesque act, a performer will choose an iconic character from one of their favorite fandoms and use costuming, dance, props, and striptease to tell a little of the character’s story. You don’t have to necessarily portray a character, for instance, Sailor St. Claire does a beautiful fan dance as the ship Serenity from “Firefly” and Franki Markstone has an award-winning nerdlesque act where she dresses in Gryffindor colors with a Snitch in her hair (which she catches in her mouth at the end of the act). It’s a lot like fan fiction or cosplay in that it allows performers to play with their favorite fandoms while bringing their own artistic expression to the table.
(JNC): What inspires you and gets your creative juices flowing?
(XZG): Oh gosh, so many things! With any movie, TV show, stage show, book, or other piece of creative material that I consume, I try really hard to pick out what is done well and what isn’t and what I can take away from that and apply to my own work. I always carry a notebook and pen with me and have been known to jot down notes or little sketches whenever I see or hear something interesting. Some people don’t like it. I think they think I’m not paying attention to them when I do that, but I promise, I am. Maybe too much attention, even.
(JNC): Tell us about your current projects.
(XZG): Well, I’ve been putting a lot of time into creating all of The Society of Sin’s shows for Wizard World next week and have been putting a lot of time into my new Sailor Mars costume for The Crystal Cabaret show 1/6, but today, I’m focusing all of my attention on preparing to host The Society of Sin’s Star Wars Burlesque show this Friday. I’d been planning to host the show dressed as Princess Leia, since both the character Leia and the actress/writer Carrie Fisher are two of my lifelong heroes, but now that Carrie Fisher has passed away, it’s even more important to me that Friday’s show be spectacular. I really want to honor her memory and put together a big celebration of her life, and I know the rest of the troupe feels the same way.
(JNC): Do you have any future plans or dreams you would like to let us in on?
(XZG): I’d love to tour someday, perhaps with a comic convention like Wizard World, and bring my nerdlesque shows all over the country, or even the world. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for a little while now.
(JNC): Can you tell us something weird and wonderful about yourself that your fans might not know about?
(XZG): Last year, I wrote and performed in a sketch comedy Youtube series with my friend Alana Torres called City of No. Alana recently moved to L.A., but City of No is still online and we hope to figure out a way to keep making things together, even if it means some traveling.
(JNC): Do you have anything you would like to add? (Upcoming performances? Website? Facebook? Twitter? etc?)
(XZG): Upcoming performances: This week I have 12/30 at 8p & Midnight “The Mos Eisley Cantina Cabaret: A Star Wars Burlesque Revue” at Eiffel Society, and then every Saturday at 7p at The Dragon’s Den I have “Talk Nerdy To Me: A Weekly Nerdlesque Revue” with The Society of Sin (entry $10 cash at the door). Next week, Jan. 6-8, I’ll be back at Wizard World Comic Con manning The Society of Sin’s booth by day and providing nerdlesque entertainment by night. We’ve got “The Crystal Cabaret: A Sailor Moon Burlesque Revue” Friday 1/6 at 8p & Midnight at The Willow, Talk Nerdy To Me Saturday once again, and a very special show to close out the convention featuring the best of the best in New Orleans nerdlesque entertainment, which you should be on the lookout for more information about.
(JNC): Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I am looking forward to seeing you at Wizard World New Orleans!
(XZG): Thank you again for interviewing me! I can’t wait!