.Burlesque Troupe Debuts Solo Show at Kuumbwa

There’s an unmistakable ease with which the five powerful women of the Wily Minxes burlesque troupe take the stage on their bejewelled stilettos, eyes aglitter and tassels swinging. They own it. I saw it when some of the Minxes performed for the last Santa Cruz Fringe Festival at the Vets Hall in the “FLEXual Healing” show. I’d brought my mother and sat in the front row.

“That woman looks like she wants to eat you,” my mother whispered to me, looking up at Wily Minx founder Vyxen Monroe. I blushed a nice shade of scarlet and secretly hoped she was right.

Three years later, I’m sitting on the floor of the Minx’s rehearsal space after hours with Monroe and Dasha Cayenne, drinking gin and lemonade from mason jars, ice cubes clinking as we muse over their Wily Minx Extravaganza on May 6—that’s “extra-vag-anza,” with a soft “g” and a wink.

“Some of my favorite shows down in L.A. were dance shows where there wasn’t a single moment to think about what was going on, you were so deeply immersed in the experience. You walk in and disappear into the experience until it spits you back out at the end,” says Extravaganza co-producer Cayenne. “It’s like the best kind of sex. You’re just in the moment.”

That’s the Wily Minx experience,” says Monroe, also a co-producer.

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From full-length gown to pasties, it’s all about the tantalizing journey, says Cayenne, and with special Extravaganza guests Magnoliah Black, Jet Noir, Adrogymo, and Femcee Alexa Von Kickinface, their naughty night will be one to remember.

For one night only, the Santa Cruz-based troupe will bring its powerful wiles to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center with its very first self-produced, curated and performed burlesque show. The Extravaganza—so named because “there’s going to be tons of vagina on that stage,” laughs Cayenne—will showcase six years of the funniest, sauciest, and finest work from the group’s repertoire, with some surprises sprinkled in.

“It’s been a long-term goal for a while, at least two years, and now we are finally seeing it come true. It was really born from wanting to do the Stockings Holiday Cabaret at Motion Pacific, but just more,” says Monroe. “We’ll work more than six months on that show. We wanted to take that energy and excitement and creativity, and do it sooner rather than wait the whole year.”

The Kuumbwa had to be where they host their first full-length show, says Monroe.

“The Kuumbwa is really swanky and sexy, it has all the feel of a cabaret-like theater—”

“And the accessibility of the audience,” Cayenne cuts in. “Because playing with audience members is definitely a favorite part of getting to perform.”

They’re both tittering now, with a knowing look between them: “Get your VIP tickets,” Monroe says with a wink. “The splash zone … not really.” Cayenne giggles, dark curls bouncing. “Bring goggles … not really.”

The Wily Minxes are five friends: Honey D’Mure, Luna Luxe, Whisker Rose, Monroe and Cayenne—no, those aren’t their real names but everything else is 100 percent au natural. They’re all classically trained dancers, bringing extra tact to the tease.

“To have five dancers do 10 moves in a row, all the same, coupled with impeccable musical timing, changing up the tempo—fast, slow—and then adding technical skill to it, ranging from flexibility to turns to jumps,” says Monroe, “I think that is a very savory dish for an audience member, and for a performer.”

One of the hardest things as dancers doing burlesque has been to learn to slow down, says Monroe, a cue they learned from the business’s legends.

“I talk about it like punctuation: you can have a sentence, but then having the proper punctuation is what really wraps it up,” says Cayenne.

“No one wants to watch a run-on sentence,” adds Monroe, raising her eyebrows. “Where do we want to leave a question mark? Where’s the exclamation point?”

They’ve put a lot of thought into how to be the best in burlesque—Cayenne recently won “Best Tease” at the Texas Burlesque Festival, and last year Monroe was invited to perform at the Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame in the “Movers, Shakers, and Innovators” category.

To be on stage in front of strangers with nothing but a g-string and pasties can be empowering and vulnerable at the same time, says Monroe.

“I’m giving to them, they’re giving to me, and the more we give to each other, the better my performance becomes,” says Monroe.

“It can feel incredibly distant when people are just demonstrating skill on stage,” agrees Cayenne. “You can’t control someone’s entire experience in a show but I do feel like one of my responsibilities is to invite you in and for you to feel seen and loved, in a way, because it is about you being here.”

Info: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. thewilyminxes.com. $25-$50.


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