The World Famous Bob Interview

November 14, 2003

Today is the day to smile, though your heart is breaking.


If you're looking for the Paris Hilton parody and are unhappy to have stumbled across this page back in action in its regularly schedule programming, then click here, you degenerate. If you'd like to learn more about the guys who made the movie, and I think you should, click here.

If you're flying ATA airlines November or December, be sure to see my article in the Chicago Illustrated section of the airline magazine. It's ChicagoIllustratedtastic.

Today's interviewee is a really famous author. No wait, actually, she's a burlesque performer. I read about her in a recent New York Times magazine article on the resurgence of burlesque performance, and also saw some wonderful photos of her in Esquire magazine. A self titled "female female impersonator," I was intrigued by her performances and the concept of burlesque making a comeback. Also, hey, come on, nearly naked ladies! As a side note, I am always looking for interesting new people to interview who do have careers that involve things like performing music to slide shows, holding punk concerts in libraries or as today's interviewee does, making martinis with your breasts. So if you know of any good candidates, please let me know. Especially if they're inclined to sign off their interview with x's and o's, which is really hard to resist.

The World Famous Bob Interview: Slightly Less Than Twenty Voluptuous Questions

So is it true that burlesque performance is making a comeback? And if so, why?
Yes, Burlesque is extremely popular right now and I think part of it is because of the glamour involved. People are drawn to the powerful, clamorous, and sexy elements of Burlesque. A really large percentage of the crowd is women at a lot of the shows I do- it's very nice to look out and see women smiling and laughing. Remember when "swing" came back? I think everything eventually comes back and it's probably that simple. After all of the excitement fades about Burlesque being new again hopefully what will be left behind will be embers of one of America's true great forms of entertainment. When I'm 50 I hope to see them get fanned and watch the blaze all over again!

What are your favorite films that focus on burlesque or stripping?
My favorite films aren't around Burlesque- but the women in them inspire my dancing and art. Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield....My favorite directors are John Waters and Fellini, I often feel like my life is a combination of those two.

How exactly does one become a female female impersonator? Is it skinny eyebrows?
Physically when I was doing serious "drag" there was a lot to cover up. My hands, my throat (lack of an Adam's apple is a dead giveaway), my hips...if the difference were just having no eyebrows every new wave or goth girl would be a drag queen.

What are your favorite cosmetics for when you're onstage?
I love MAC- I don't leave home without my StudioFix Powder, Alcone carries some great stuff too!

How did you become known as the World Famous Bob?

I changed my name 16 years ago at the tender age of 15 to Fat Bob, nick name of Robert Smith (lead singer of The Cure). I read that Siouxsie [Sioux] called him that somewhere- anyway, that was it! I was such a Cure fan that I took his name. At 19 I had a vision of meeting him and being really embarrassed so I started going by *BOB* instead. About 7 years ago my Drag Mother Jackie Beat made business cards for me as a gift and when she handed them to me- it said "The World Famous *BOB*" . It sounds great being announced on stage so I stuck to it. It also seemed funny because at the time I had only traveled to Canada to perform. People would read it out loud and say "World Famous huh-?" and I'd say, "Yeah- I played in Canada!"

What is your favorite music to perform to?
I love performing to nice slow and grindy tunes, one of my favorites is a honky tonk song called "Midnight" by Red Foley. I also like using soundtracks, people are familiar with it and that helps. "Flashdance" is my favorite!

What do you make of pole dancing as an exercise trend? Is it just a fad or is an actual workout?
I never even knew that pole dancing was an exercise trend?

Is there such a thing as breasts that are too large, in burlesque?
I don't think there is "too big" visually. I guess if they are creating health problems for someone then that's too big. I think all size breasts are beautiful- bigger isn't always better, but it's just what I happen to have!

I've seen images of you as both a blonde and a brunette: which do you feel more comfortable as?
I am by all means a BLONDE. I have toyed with being brunette just for fun. Blonde hair is like a flame and men are moths- women too. I don't quite understand the visual and mental draw that blonde hair has but I know it's there- I always notice blonde women in a room first. I feel that blonde is a way of being not just your hair color.

I read that one of your skills is breakdancing in stiletto heels. How do you perform such a feat?

Yes, I have breakdanced in 6 inch stilettos- the secret? Being absolutely NUTS! I prefer a nice 4 inch mule high heel- that's my dream shoe. If I do a 5 inch heel I don't like the platform ones, I'm a bit top heavy and lose my balance. Lately I've been saving the 6 inch stilettos for the bedroom. I can't even see my feet when I look down, I haven't seen my feet since I was 8!

It seems that fuller figured ladies are more prominent in burlesque than in stripping. How come?

All figure types are accepted in burlesque because there is a broader idea of what is sexy.

You perform breast aerobics as part of your act. Are you ever afraid youíre going to lose elasticity or break tendons? Thatís why I donít jog. That and other reasons.

I retired my "Topless Aerobics While Eating Cheeseburgers in 6 Inch Heels To AC/DC" routine because I did start to have some concern. I retired it about 3 years ago and performed it for the last time at an LA rock club called Cherry. I loved that number but thought after 5 years of doing it that it needed to be something people talked about, not seen.

Do you cook?
I love to cook, yes, cook! I cook at least one home made meal a day,(usually breakfast). I love making Mexican food, baking fruit pies, and my specialty is 12 different types of devilled eggs.

I also love to read...I'm really into Colette right now and recently finished How To Talk Dirty & Influence People by Lenny Bruce- genius! I also love to go to movies, work out at the YMCA, go camping, and listen to NPR.

Are strip club audiences different from burlesque audiences?
I don't know, I've never worked as a stripper.

What's the deal with pasties? Why use those instead of going totally topless?
I use pasties when I'm doing Burlesque. I go nude when I'm doing performance art.

An art history professor once said the difference between 'naked' and 'nude' is that 'nude' is when you have an excuse for being unclothed and 'naked' is when you are that way for no particular reason. What do you make of that?
Naked? Nude? I'm more interested in the events that lead there than what it's called.

What are some newer acts that current burlesque performers do that are different from the classic, or original form?
There's a lot of modern music used today naturally so that sets a very different tone - if you strip to Billy Idol you're going to produce a very different effect than if you strip to Bill Doggett's Orchestra...I like the classic renditions, Dirty Martini being the best at that and the edgier stuff which I consider Julie Atlas Muz the master of. It's great to have such amazing peers to be constantly inspired by. I am a combination of classic and modern with a sexy but funny twist. That's my thing I like to excite people and make them laugh. When one of my stripteases delivers its punch line(ie: at the end of Martini Time where I make a drink in my boobs I pull the olives out of my panties), and they laugh- that's when I know the crowd is with me- that they're having a good time. I usually try to do all of that in 3 minutes- I like short numbers.

How does it feel to be the 81st person interviewed for
It feels eighty-one-derful! Thank you! Love, *BOB* xoxo