Olivia Bellafontaine is the producer of The House of Red Velvet and Blue Velvet. She is a creative director, and burlesque dancer. "Sie leben in dem Bild, das von der Welt haben."

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AutoEroticaAsphyxium Zine Interview

OLIVIA BELLAFONTAINE

How did you choose Olivia Bellafontaine as your on-stage name?

Olivia is my actual birth name and I love it so much, I had to keep it. Bellafontaine came from a street name in Pasadena. I was driving to a 40’s style photo shoot, and we pass this street that is actually “Bellefontaine,” but when I read it I said Bella-fontaine, and I just thought it was a cool name so I chose it for my stage name. I started as Audrey O, which I really liked, but wanted to keep my name Olivia, so I changed it.

You are interested in alternative avant-garde entertainment including burlesque, surrealism, classic fetish, film and photography. Explain your attraction to these modes of self-expression.

I have always been in love with music and always had creative visions along with it so burlesque became the outlet for that. I was going to a lot of alternative clubs and there was a lot of openness and freedom. I have always been attracted to those kinds of people who just don’t give a fuck, strong-minded and fearless. I like thought-provoking and strange and weird and things not widely accepted. I like controversy and metaphors. I danced in my room in front of the mirror as a kid, drew pictures – some obscene – and listened to a lot of music. I do not do like doing things that I don’t like, so I found ways to pursue things that I enjoyed. I have definitely come a long way from where I was, and I feel like I get better with each year.

Describe the internal visions you have created to complement the music you resonate with. How do you conceive these inner visions and express what you see through drawing and dance?

I think in terms of movement and the feeling and mood I get from the piece of music. I think it is my daydreamer nature. I sort of fall into a piece of music and let my head do the rest. I have always been in my own head. I think it has always been a part of me even when I was a young kid. I was always obsessed with music… still am.

At what point did expressing your internal visions through burlesque intrigue you? Are your ideas and visions just naturally controversial, or do you have a point to make through this medium?

I was asked to do a stage performance though a friend and since I sort of fell into burlesque and stated to experience it, and watched other performances I learned about expressing more emotion through it. It took some time to do deeper, more meaningful performance art pieces also. I think I think in terms of controversy because I am so drawn to it. I like questioning; I like to think away from the norm. I have non-particular beliefs and I have expressed those as well as have new ideas coming soon.

How important a role is metaphor in your burlesque performances? While acting or performing onstage, do you channel what you found strange and thought provoking when younger?

I think metaphors come naturally, if they come at all. I like referencing my inspirations, or simply just feeling the music and conveying that to the audience. My mind really travels in so many different directions. I really think I go with how I feel when I am listening to a piece of music, or if I have a theme or a character, I study that and see where it takes me. I keep a list of over 200 songs that I would like to use in performances.

At what point did you begin attending alternative clubs in Los Angeles, and what kept you coming back since then?

I was in my mid 20’s, living in L.A., working a 9 to 5 job, bored with the places I went to on the weekends, which were pretty much just dive bars, and without a core group of friends that really felt like family. I met new friends and felt a sense of connection. People talked to you and introduced themselves to you and looked at you, instead of staring at you without a smile in the corners of the club.

Were you always a Los Angeles resident, or did you relocate there? What attracted you to L.A. and has it fulfilled your expectations so far?

I have lived in southern California my whole life. I moved to L.A. because I wanted to work in music entertainment. L.A. is a love and hate relationship.

What do you appreciate and abhor about living in Los Angeles? How productive has your working experience been this far?

I appreciate the options in LA and the weather, but I get tired of it and dislike the madness and flakiness of LA. I have been performing for a year now and it has been more productive than I have thought, but I am always looking for more productiveness. It keeps me sane.

Describe your involvement in modeling, dancing and performing? Who have you worked with in these fields, and how did you establish contact with them?

I have become more involved in modeling and dancing over time. I just did a fashion show at the Bowery Electric, in New York for Natasha NYC. I sort of just fell into that too, because I came to New York to shoot with a photographer, and he recommended me for the show. I am involved professionally for live shows. I work with Devil’s Playground, which is Courtney Cruz’s group. I perform with Mia Vixen, Lucy Furr, Audrey Deluxe, Charlotte LaBelle, and Kitty Cadillac, among many others. I was booked on a different show and that’s where I met Courtney and she asked me to do a show for her and she’s awesome so I said yes.

Do your entertainment pursuits include filmmaking? Are there any movies that are particularly inspirational to you? Does Los Angeles still have an active independent film industry?

I love film. I have worked on a few things, but I enjoy the live performance, and work on getting those gigs. I just did a commercial for a film festival where I play a dominatrix. I got the part because I can actually swing a six foot bullwhip. There is always filming in L.A., and there will always be independent films being made. Some we will hear about, and some we will never hear about, but they will always get made.

For which film festival did you appear in this commercial? While viewing this commercial I noticed a variety of several different characters. Describe your part in the creation of this advertisement?

It was for the Newport Beach Film Festival. I was called in at the last minute and referred by a friend of mine. I drove almost three hours out to the Mojave Desert, but this was for a SAG rate so I knew it would be worth it for me to experience it and network with others. I had a great time. I met some nice people and we shot out in the middle of this dry lake bed before the sun went down. I loved it.

How comfortable did you feel portraying a dominatrix? Would you portray one in a film production?

I was very comfortable. I have always been independent and I feel more confident with age so being in front of a camera and acting has seemed to come to me naturally. I would love to do more films. I like shooting on a set. It is exciting to be a part of different artistic visions.

You have done photo shoots with such photographers as Fernando Guerrero, Harry Lew and Blackula Photography. How did you arrange these shoots and how satisfied are you with your mutual efforts?

Fernando has been a friend of mine for about seven years now. We used to work in a box office together selling concert tickets. I work with Fernando on a regular basis. We are also business partners on his project called Psyko Boys, which is in production. Harry, I met through Model Mayhem site. One of the photos he took was actually in an art gallery show called Erotic Art Signature, which was in four different cities. Blackula is a friend of mine as well. He has amazing work so I booked some time with him and he definitely brought out another side of me. All of these guys were fantastic to work and they are amazingly skilled at their craft.

On your YouTube profile is a video entitled Nurses And Whips with clips of you roaming around as a nurse interspersed with clips of you onstage as a dominatrix, in addition to several other shots. Describe this video, the song on the soundtrack and why this song was chosen?

I was going out every weekend to every fetish club event, or other kind of rock and roll party, and performing at random clubs. A friend of mine would bring his camera and shoot the parties and shoot me at these events, so he basically accumulated all this footage of me. I decided to do something with it, and while working on my video editing, I made a montage trailer that would play as a fun music video like intro for my site. We decided to shoot the nurse stuff and the whip stuff as filler for all the performance and club footage. The song I chose is called “Hammerdown” by Crank Country Daredevils. I got the song from a soundtrack of a friend’s film. I really like the sort of kick ass attitude of it. It also felt like a great montage song so I decided to use it.

At which clubs was footage filmed for Nurses And Whips? How did you go about choosing footage that would work best as part of the video montage? Do you plan to do more video editing in the future?

I think most of it was shot at Ivar which held a monthly fetish night in Hollywood called Club Hell. I think another was at Passive Arts. I was doing a “Hot for Teacher” performance, spanking two young boys – one in a cheerleader’s outfit. I had this pile of tapes to work with and with a little direction from a dear friend of mine, I sort of cut it on the drumbeat and chose interesting clips and spliced things together. Whatever looked best and made sense, pretty much. I find video editing a little therapeutic. It’s the same as music editing. I can get lost in it.

Another video at your YouTube profile is Olivia Bellafontaine’s Paint It Black Performance Art. It was filmed at Passive Arts in August, 2009. You performed to songs by Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones on a darkened stage, covered in black body paint. From where did the inspiration for this come, and how well did you pull the routine off?

I love the Stones and “Paint it Black” is a great performance song. I always wanted to do it and paint myself black, because what else are you gonna do to it? Passive had a 1960’s theme night and I was asked to perform. Of course, this was the time to do this number. I always like a lead-in for most of my performances because it sets the tone. My vision was this nude creature dancing with a sheer nude fabric. Pink Floyd is one of my absolute favorite bands and when I was searching my play lists, “More Blues” felt right. It has such sexiness to it, but it captured that dream-like beauty of the creature before the metaphorical body painting all in black. I really had no idea how this performance was going to go because I didn’t rehearse with the black paint in my living room before the show. I choreographed the idea of it and decided to let the painting part go where it was going to go. I got so into it that I ended up painting my entire body head to toe in black paint. My favorite part was covering my face. The audience really felt that. I think that was one of the most beautiful things about this number. People really felt something by it; they were disturbed and aroused at the same time. Great combination.

When your audience was simultaneously disturbed and aroused during the Paint It Black performance, what energy had you tapped into? Do you believe it was fascination of sex and death on the audience’s part, and would you explore this in future performances?

I didn’t so much realize it during the performance, but from the comments I received after the show. I am in my own little world when I am performing. I think they could feel the energy off of me. One woman said that is was such a beautiful and sexy show, yet it was completely disturbing. This particular audience was full of artist types, open minded individuals, sexual individuals, people who have seen a lot and who are generally in touch with energies. I know how I felt the piece and what it means to me, and people have their own individual thoughts and feeling and experiences towards it. I am drawn to sexuality and violence, and death myself. I do keep exploring these ideas more and more. I want people to feel something more than just a cool dance to watch. I want them to feel sexual afterwards. I want them to be unafraid of themselves and to open themselves and feel inspired. Inspiration is the best feeling in the world.

Other videos at your YouTube include I’m Big In Japan, combining burlesque with an Oriental theme, and Live In Boston where you dance to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ “Stagger Lee”. How favorably were these acts received by your audience?

Both of these numbers went well. I would love to do the Geisha girl again. The ending was the best part. Eating sushi off my body was pretty sexy and fun. I had a lot of fun doing it. It felt really dirty. The Boston show was great. I got in contact with the guy who runs a Goth night called Xmortis through FaceBook because they heard about the Star Warz Burlesque and I booked with them because I had to go through Boston anyways to visit my sister. The night was a dark western ghost town theme, and my first thought was “Stagger Lee.” I always wanted to do this number as a group performance so I can have all the characters to tell the story, but I made it a solo for this night. Leather chaps and all.

You performed in “Stagger Lee” as a sexy gunslinger, dressed in a black coat and boots which you removed during the number. Were there fictional characters from classic Westerns or any other movies that helped inspire this act?

I pretty much started with the story of Stagger Lee. He wears a Stetson cowboy hat. I used a Colt .45 and a deck of cards as a prop. The outfit as a whole was inspired by the character “Nancy” from the Sin City film. I just used chain and studs instead of jewels and fringe.

You have recently visited New York and Florida. What brought you to those locations and were there any videos filmed? Where else in the U.S. have you performed and where would you most like to perform?

Play and work. I did modeling in both of these cities. Next time, hopefully a live show. I have performed in San Francisco, Boston, all over LA and Orange County. Eventually San Diego. I would love to do something in New Orleans and New York.

When you met Courtney Cruz of Devil’s Playground, how did you discover you and she were on the same wavelength?

I saw her perform and loved her stage presence and style and knew right away we would be on the same wavelength. She was doing what I defined as “psycho burlesque.” Very non-classic, sexy, and sensual and rock and roll, and pushing limits with more attitude and modernized style.

For how long was Courtney hosting monthly burlesque shows at Bordello? Name some additional themes she based her burlesque show on before she got the idea for a Star Wars-themed performance?

She’s been doing it for a couple years now. She has done everything from Video Game Girls, to Carnival Side Show Girls, to Fetish Girls, to Tarantino films. It varies, but the style is always edgy with her shows. It’s very different from the other shows in L.A.

How long have you been involved with Devil’s Playground? How well do you interact onstage together?

I have been with the Devil’s Playground girls for about five months now. I love all the girls. We are all on the same page as far as our visions artistically. There is a great variety between us, but we all have a unique attitude that really makes the show as one when we work together. It a rare gem, I believe.

Describe the Devil’s Playground show entitled The Seven Deadly Sins. Which deadly sin did you depict and why did you choose that particular sin to represent onstage?

The Seven Deadly Sins show was for a video game promotion. It was at the Dragonfly in LA. I wasn’t originally in this show, but a day and a half before, Courtney calls me up and asked me if I could do the show. Mia Vixen got sick and she needed a replacement right away. You need to do all seven sins. Of course, it was the one that was probably the hardest to display. I had “Sloth.” I played it as a human who has been living in a complete lazy life so she wakes up with spider webs all over her body and in her hair as if she was laying there for hours. I danced to a Syd Barrett song, called “Maisie.” It has a very swampy bluesy tempo so I sort of slowly slipped out of my clothing, had an audience member take off my gloves for me, drank wine but missed my lips. I also read that it was considered a sin of sloth to cut yourself or commit suicide so as an added touch, I wrote “Sinner” across my chest in blood.

Another burlesque performance you were involved in was Kubrilesque, a tribute to the films of Stanley Kubrick. How much of a Kubrick fan are you? Which of his films were honored in this show and what was your act?

Kubrick was a genius, pure genius. The show changed a lot before I joined, to my last performance with it. When I first saw the show, I really liked Clockwork Orange. The Eyes Wide Shut has always been good because the music is so dramatic and it is really in tune with the movie. When I did the show, I did The Killing, Spartacus, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. We did this production in Europe in summer 2009 in three different cities to.

The Devil’s Playground Star Warz Burlesque and Cabaret show, for which you portray the Slave Leia character, has received a great deal of media coverage. Describe the show’s gestation; whose idea it was and how it was first put together?

This was my first show with Devil’s Playground. Courtney runs a monthly burlesque show at Bordello in Downtown LA. They always have a theme. She leans towards the video game and comic book type shows and this time she decided to do a Star Wars theme. We did the monthly show and sold out the Bordello and turned away about 400 people because the venue only holds about 200. After the show, Devil’s Playground put up a YouTube video showing clips from the show and it got thousands of hits in two days and Howard Stern even talked about it and watched it over and over again on his radio show. The exposure was pretty intense for a little monthly show. Then, Courtney booked the Henry Fonda in Hollywood, which fits about 1,000 people and we sold that out too. It was probably the best and most exciting night of my career.

Name some of the characters portrayed in Star Warz Burlesque. Did the performers involved in the production get to choose their own characters?

Courtney does a Storm Trooper, Daisy Meadows is Chewy, Lucy Furr does C3PO, Sin Fisted does R2-D2, Audrey Deluxe does Boba Fett, Charlotte La Belle does Darth Vader, and Scarlet O’Keljius does Jabba the Hutt. Everyone pretty much got to choose their character on the first round. When we did the Fonda show, the new girls that got added on, like Sin, didn’t get to choose. Courtney made sure we got the important characters that the audience would want to see.

For what reasons did you choose to portray Slave Leia? Many female Slave Leia fans relate to the concept as being representative of a strong woman with graceful sexuality. How do you personally relate to Slave Leia and how is this conveyed onstage?

Once again, I feel bad for saying it, but I never saw Star Wars until last year when I got booked for the show. My sister suggested I do Slave Leia because it was the sexiest thing in the whole trilogy. I watched the original Star Wars films and I felt like Slave Leia was a good choice for my style, and yes, it was the hottest thing. I related to the aspect of this strong woman, who is captured and chained, and ready to break free. I am pretty sure I have been chained up literally before, so relating to the sexual aspect of it to. Slave Leia was every teenage boy’s wet dream so I really wanted to portray her in the way of what all those boys were fantasizing about. What they really wanted to see her doing. Like crawling on her hands and knees with the chain around her neck and pulling her hair out of that tight bun and flipping it around. A lot of hip gyrating too.

Star Warz Burlesque was featured in a spot on g4tv.com with footage and interview clips. Are you pleased with the coverage from this Internet channel?

I had no idea this would happen, but it’s been fun and people love it. That is the best part of it. When the fans are loving it, then I’m inspired even more.

This past July saw a second version of Star Warz Burlesque, The Fempire Strikes Back, with a new set and different numbers. This too was covered by g4tv.com which featured an interview with Cruz. The dancers gave new names to their Star Wars-based characters and you got to strangle the female Jabba the Hutt as Slave Leia in a skimpier costume. How does all this compare to the first show? There has been some talk about the possibility of a Fempire tour of the U.S.?

We were all very excited to do the show again for the fans. The first time we did it at the Music Box was kind of one in a million because adrenaline was pumping and the crowd was roaring. We couldn’t use music or cuts from the Star Wars movies this time because of an informal cease and desist we got from George Lucas. But it was still really exciting and we made it closest as possible to the characters and people still loved it. As of right now, we are working on all possibilities for touring. Stay tuned on that one.

You participated in Red White And Boobs, a benefit for the oil spill crisis in the Gulf Of Mexico. Also included on the bill are Scarlet O’ Keljus, Audrey DeLuxe and Dizzy Von Damn. What made you want to join this benefit?

I have performed with Dizzy numerous times on the same shows in LA, mostly the Bordello. I did her show in Orange County also one time. Scarlet asked me if I was willing to do a free show to benefit the oil spill and I didn’t even have to think about it. It’s heartbreaking, and I wanted to be a part of the event and promote it, and contribute to the benefit that will help clean up the coast. I saw the Gulf once when I was on a jazz tour as a Production Assistant slash go-go dancer. We arrived in Sarasota, Florida and I stepped off the tour bus, and it was right in front of me. It smelled so good and I couldn’t help, but take a few moments in awe of how amazing it looked and felt. It saddens me and frustrates me.

Are there fictional characters you haven’t portrayed that you would like to delve into during future performances? How much experimenting, exploring, learning and growing do you expect to undertake as you build your career?

Anything from a Tarantino or John Waters film. I expect it to never stop. It hasn’t since I became aware of it. I get better with age.

Photos by Blackula

 

http://www.oliviabellafontaine.com

 

-Dave Wolff

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