Q&A: Siren Santina, creative director and co-founder of Salomé Cabaret Burlesque Revue

Creative director and co-founder of Salomé Cabaret Burlesque Revue, Siren Santina represented the U.S. in this year's World Burlesque Games, held May 7-13 in London.

How'd you do?

I didn't place this year, but I received a great deal of positive feedback from the audience and my competitors. The competition was really tough! There were so many talented performers in attendance. It was very interesting to see the aesthetic variances—you could see how the performers' cultures influenced their performances.

Is it harder for you to concentrate than most since you're singing?

It is a little more difficult to combine an additional talent with my burlesque performance. In addition to concentrating on choreography and costume, I'm also thinking about lyrics, tone, and sound. It's a lot to juggle at one time, but it's so much fun!

Is Siren the name on your KUB bill and stuff, or just for performance?

No. I do sometimes get junk mail addressed to Siren, but everything else comes to my "daytime name."

Who taught you burlesque?

I was originally self-taught, as there weren't classes for this available when I first started. I have since taken workshops and classes from burlesque legends all over the country. There is even an annual convention in Seattle each year specifically for burlesque students.

Do you teach burlesque around here?

We do! Salomé Cabaret Burlesque Academy, and actually our new semester is starting soon.

You studied voice at the University of Tennessee. Do your music professors know you're doing this?

I'm not sure if my UT professors know what I'm doing now, but I don't think they'd be surprised. I was a bit famous for being the weirdo in the opera and choral groups and this is no doubt a "different" way to use my talents.

Where do you get your costumes? Or are they outfits?

They are costumes and all of them are handmade by myself or my mother. And before you ask, yes my mother knows what they are used for. She is my biggest cheerleader and loves being part of the creative process. Some of my best acts were her ideas. She may prefer to see me singing traditional music, but she loves watching me perform regardless of what I am doing. She has been known to disturb performances with screams of "That's my daughter!"

Did anyone in London say something funny to you about being from the South?

The oddest comment I got about Tennessee was this: A gentleman asked me where in Texas Tennessee was located.

What next?

I rock Knoxville and regional festivals, until the next international opportunity arises!

For more information on burlesque classes: salomecabaret.com