Tamale moved to Chicago to explore comedy, and discovered the wonderful world of performance. Soon, she was working with various performance circles outside of the world of comedy, creating and playing with new ways to entice audiences.
Burlesque Performance- Performing Femininity
She discovered burlesque and the titillation of performing femininity though burlesque with the Sissy Butch Brothers. It started one night with an email to one of the producers of the show, offering help with set up and tear down in return for entry to the show. The email provided her phone number and said that if they didn’t call her to say they didn’t want her help, she would just show up. Show up she did, and the surprised producers put her to work. She helped to stage manage that show, and performed in every one after, including the historic show at The Vic Theater, along with Margret Cho.
A staple in the Chicago queer community, Tamale was gaining in popularity and was invited to go on tour with a select group of Chicago gender performers. An experimental project, the The Windy City Blenders was created to team up with a fledgling drag troupe in Ireland to create a powerhouse show at The Sugar Club. The show combined seasoned Chicago performers with talented newbies, Irelands very first drag king troupe,-the Shamcocks. It was an incredible success, selling out and drawing people from other countries.
Drag Performance- Performing Masculinity
Traveling as part of the Windy City Blenders, she learned drag from members of the Chicago Kings while on their first tour in Ireland. One night, Tamale dressed in drag for the first time and went out on the streets with the rest of the troupe. It was a thrilling experience and she began to play with masculinity in her performances. Binding her breasts and wearing a “packie” (a more realistic replacement of the commonly used sock), she took on various characters, performing masculinity with tongue-in-cheek pieces. The deepening of her understanding around physicality led her to a fascination with the body. Movement, connectedness, and the embodiment of sound were soon folded into her exploration of performance through belly dance.
Belly Dance Performance
Before long, she was taking classes at Read My Hips and learning the dark, slithery movements of American Tribal Style belly dance. The dark, layered music, with its varied beats and shimmy inspiring breaks, served as a dance partner in her pieces. She began to add pieces of fire dancing she had learned along the way, developing tighter bonds with various communities throughout Chicago. Combining fire and belly dancing with her comedy and gender performance, Tamale created dramatic pieces that earned her invitations to be an integral part of some of the countries premiere gender performance conferences and showcases.
She also received invitations to perform with Chicago’s original fire troupes, including SPUNN and Pyrotechnique. She has experimented with various poi, fans, fire fingers, palm torches, hoops, and even fire pasties. Playing with these various fire tools in
wider communities has allowed her to create connections with fellow fire performance enthusiasts far and wide. She was invited to emcee the groundbreaking Civic Center Fire Show, hosted by The Temple of Poi as part of San Francisco’s Dance Week. She surprised the audience, knowing her only as a comedian, by declaring that fire dancing didn’t look THAT hard and asking “how hard can it be, really?” The audience was visibly uneasy as Tamale took a pair of lit poi and fumbled around with them, “struggling” to manage the unwieldy fire balls. Suddenly, the music swelled and it became immediately clear that all was well and she finished with a backward buzz-saw.
Flirting with danger in her performances has continued to captivate Tamale, prompting her to learn grinder performance. She enlisted the artistic support of Candy XXX, founder of Hard Wear Designs, and had a custom grinder belt created. Layers of steel make up the grinding surface and black leather ruffles frame this steampunk inspired piece. A Dewalt angle grinder, spray painted bronze, is used to direct streams of piping hot sparks into the air, creating a visual accompaniment to the beat.
Catch a show to see what all the fuss is about!