Sunday, February 28, 2010



During the course of my recent research efforts into gorilla suits and burlesque, I had the great pleasure of speaking with the striptease artist known as The Indra. There is a long history of Gorillas and Girls cavorting on stage for the amusement of lecherous men but the revival of classic erotic dance has also seen the return of the amorous ape. Performers like the high profile Gorilla X prove that the fascination with sex and simians is deeply rooted and will never fade away completely. Indra puts a different spin on the traditional premise and fires up crowds around North America with a gorilla strip that has made her infamous.

Tell me about your great twist on the old burlesque Beauty and Beast act.

I started doing a gorilla strip about 4 years ago...It was inspired by a scene in "Blonde Venus" where Marlene Dietrich sings "Hot Voodoo"... it's a great song... AND she strips out of a gorilla costume... it was also copied by Poison Ivy/Uma Thurman in Batman...  My under costume is a banana skirt inspired by Josephine Baker... And an enormous afro, inspired by Marlene again... Her's has a lightning bolt arrow through it I remember...
I bought my original gorilla suit about 8 years ago from Oriental
Trading.. then replaced the hands and head... Its so big on me I never wear the feet...

You certainly distinguish yourself from the typical striptease artist and I hope I get the opportunity to see your act one day. Ever come to Victoria, BC?

I think I went to Victoria in 2005 as part of the Fluffgirls tour... Ghah it's all a blur... I traveled 5 months as a performer in 2005 and performed hundreds of times in the UK, Germany, USA and Canada...

Any particular piece of music you perform this act too?

I use a piece called "Jungle Girl" from a nostalgia CD... I looped part of it to make it longer... some versions start with an original song I wrote and perform as a joke... a Gorilla protest song, explaining that you shouldn't eat Gorillas because they're endangered...

What kind of response do you get from the audience?

Massive... I go completely insane during the number.. it's very fun and upbeat. I do some afro-Haitian moves... some goofy 60's moves... crawl on the floor "menacing" people as a jungle girl "clawing" them from the stage growling... at the end I usually scream, "I am thee Monkey!" and give a heavy metal horn sign on both hands and then beat my chest and go "Rawr!"... I started doing that in the UK one night just for the hell of it because I thought it was funny and absurd... I'm a total theater queer so I'm able to project loud enough for just about any theater setting...

Have you performed in a traditional Beauty and Beast act with a gorilla suited counterpart?

In a couple acts I've had guys wear gorilla suit... I sang "Falling in love Again" with Gorilla X once... I made Liederhosen for him... I've had Rocky Roulette wear my gorilla suit when I've sang "Avec" a Josephine Baker song...

How often do you perform this act?

I've performed it HUNDREDS of times... Along with my Marlene Dietrich impersonation the Gorilla Strip is considered my signature act... I've performed it in the UK, Germany, Canada, and the US... All over these countries...

 Has your act gone through any sort of evolution over the past 4 years?

My afro keeps getting Bigger and BIGGER AND BIGGER... I'm amazed at how much hair I can get under the mask... I was doing a gorilla strip in 2004 and got hired to be in the Va Va Voom Room... New York Art Director Kate Valentine added some fun stuff to it... She actually got me to try wearing my banana skirt under the gorilla suit.. something else that I thought wouldn't fit in there... she had me change my costume to be all coconut bra and grass skirt and had me use different music... after the Va Va Voom Room show was over she was cool about me adding the stuff she choreographed to it... and I changed the costume even more to include a Masai necklace and a yellow sequin samba bikini... In the UK in 2005 I bought a really cute pair of pasties from our stagehand Danny... The darling was out there picking up my sweaty gorilla suit every night and even so she made the coolest pasties that matched my micro bikini I wear under my sequin samba bikini... I freaked out and bought them immediately... I still use Danny's pasties for my Gorilla Strip Tease today in 2007!

If you purchased the gorilla suit 8 years ago but began the gorilla strip 4 years ago - what were you doing the suit during the interim?

I used it for Go Go dancing gigs.. parties... I had a Go Go dancing troupe from 1997-2000.. I think I got the suit in 98 for a jungle theme party at a huge club... (My Go Go troupe grossed approximately 100k in 1999..ah the boom!) I would wear the mask as a hat and strut around wearing a bikini under the suit and high heels.. It was GREAT at outdoor parties... ha! I would put guys in it and sing love songs to them... in 2003 I started using it for Strip Teases...

I noticed you have extensive Butoh experience; have you heard of Don Mcleod?  (Don is a modern Gorilla Man who was also active in Butoh until at least 2004).

I don't remember him... may have met him at some point... I had the butoh troupe for about a decade... I think I stopped in 1999ish... I have some strong and bitter opinions about that dance form now... I use techniques I gained in doing it for so long but I don't 'go there' anymore... ha...

My thanks to Indra for taking the time to stop shaking her behind and answer a few questions. Images are also used with her permission.
You can see more of Indra and her diverse and striking performances at her website and also at her MySpace page.


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