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Ginny Nightshade is shaking up Boston’s burlesque scene

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Ginny NightshadeRoger Gordy

Age: 29

Hometown: Jamaica Plain

Think of: As a burlesque dancer, she can do horror, humor, or something more traditional. As a comic performer, she can slip from one cheerfully gonzo character to another, like Mo Collins from "MADtv" or Vanessa Bayer from "Saturday Night Live."

What caught our eye: Cohosting a variety show with Will Smalley, her bright character work in the monthly "Old School Game Show."

Light bulb moment: Nightshade had always admired the legends of old-time burlesque, but found her first foray into the traditional scene limiting creatively. She got to apply her theater studies from youth and college when she found the neo-burlesque scene, which allowed her to tell stories with a wider range of emotion." They were doing horror burlesque, they had bodies that looked more like mine. They were doing darker, in-your-face, they were angry, they were sad, they were doing stuff that was different."

Biggest thrill: "Old School Game Show" is a big operation, with two teams of writers (one for trivia and one for sketches), a cast of dancers and actors, host Mike D'Angelo, announcer Will Smalley, a band, and guests. "Every single month when I get to see the 'Game Show' actually happen, that is my biggest thrill," she says. "Because so many people work together to make that show happen."


Biggest surprise: Her reaction to winning an award with fellow burlesquers Fem Bones and Belle Gunz one year at Alterna-TEASE, a burlesque festival. "I don't think I care about awards and competing and stuff, because I don't look at burlesque as a competitive thing," she says. "But they announced us as the winner of the Top Banana, and I lost my [expletive]."

Inspired by: Nightshade has a deep appreciation for anyone working to make a successful show in Boston, and the venues that take a chance on them. "The artists and the producers I get to work with every day here," she says. "The people who understand the hustle of selling out a show in Boston, selling any tickets to a show in Boston. The people who are making new and exciting art."


Aspires to: "I just want to keep doing what I love," she says. "I want to keep putting on shows. I want more people to see what we do. I want more people to see 'Old School Game Show.' I really believe there's nothing else like it."

For good luck: "It's Mike," she says of "Old School Game Show" host and good-luck charm D'Angelo, whom she calls the love of her life. "It has been even when we were just working together as friends. I think that we have a very similar passion for what we do."

What people should know: She produces and choreographs her own shows, and she's a member of three different burlesque troupes — the horror-themed Slaughterhouse Sweethearts, strip-hop group the Glitter Bombs, and Rogue Burlesque. She credits them with giving her a healthier body image. "My whole attitude of my body has changed," she says. "I feel like I used to apologize for the space I took up, no matter what I weighed or how I looked or what I was wearing. I do not feel that way anymore." And she'd like people to know the arts in Boston are thriving, including the burlesque scene. "We're producing shows weekly that are totally unique and mind-blowing and they change how you look at burlesque and theater and variety," she says. "And that's right here in our city."


Coming soon: "Old School Game Show" plays Oberon Aug. 19 and Laugh Boston Aug. 26, and will play a once-a-month residency at Oberon before "The Donkey Show" from September through November. The Slaughterhouse Sweethearts are featured on The Witching Hour 3: Hex Appeal at Oberon Sept. 11 and 16.

Links: www.ginnynightshade.com, www.oldschoolgameshow.com


Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at nick@nickzaino.com.