As Seattle’s mercurial March continues to blow, why not spend some time celebrating indoors with the city’s Moisture Festival, now in its 11th year? The festival serves up a healthy dose of wacky, whimsy and everything in between, from Thursday, March 20-Sunday, April 13.
The Moisture Festival embraces comedy and varieté of all kinds, including one of this city’s favorite art forms — burlesque. Among this year’s purveyors is J. Von Stratton, a local performer associated with The Atomic Bombshells. She’s performed with all kinds of big names: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Dita Von Teese and Margaret Cho are just the beginning of the list.
“When I met Kitten La Rue, she was starting the Atomic Bombshells, and I was delighted to be asked to join; I didn’t realize it would foray into the career it’s become,” said Stratton, whose work with the Bombshells has taken her all over the world, not to mention the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. “Traveling around the world for work you love; not a bad gig!”
Stratton, who is also a fashion designer, has been performing for a decade, but this is only her fourth year at the Moisture Festival. She fell in love with the production in her very first year, when she was part of the opening group act.
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“I love when a performance surprises me; when someone makes an unexpected choice,” said Stratton. “After 10 years in the [business], people can still make a glove removal interesting with a surprising and clever choice.”
Stratton’s found plenty to marvel at during the Moisture Festival, where performers specialize in cirque/varieté — everything from burlesque and striptease to acrobatic and aerial performances. Taking acrobatics to a flexible new level is Portland performer Brittany “Acrobritt” Walsh, the world record holder for acrobatic archery — shooting the longest distance — and the only person known to have performed the stunt blindfolded.
Although she’s been a gymnast since she was 5, Walsh says her career didn’t begin until a friend pointed her toward tryouts for a physical theater company.
“I thought it was a funny thing to suggest to me, who didn’t like to do any performing,” said Walsh. “I was super shy; I didn’t even like to talk to people in front of the classroom. But I decided to audition anyway, since I didn’t know if it was an opportunity I’d have again.”
But before long, it seemed like a perfect fit.
“Even when I was competing in gymnastics I didn’t want to be competitive. The circus allowed me to give myself critical challenges, be creative and surround myself with the community who all shared the interests I had for this,” said Walsh.
The Moisture Festival provides artists with a community hailing from not just the Pacific Northwest but all around the world. The fest has come a long way from the first event, which was held over the course of five days in a rented tent in Fremont. So what is it about Seattle that makes it such a good home to festivals like these?
“It’s dark and cold in the winter, so we hole up and make weird, cool, sexy, and exciting art,” said Stratton. “Something about the Northwest breeds artsy weirdos, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Zosha Millman: email@example.com