INTERVIEW: Pastel Supernova, Award-Winning Burlesque Dancer, Founder of Love Letters Cabaret
As women, we all want to feel empowered through our own bodies and gender– and Pastel Supernova is using her love of dance as a way to deliver a powerful message of positivity. In 2012, Pastel founded Love Letters Cabaret after she had spent many years touring the world and performing. Check out our interview with her below and she talks about her creative projects and message to the world.
Hello, Pastel, thank you for talking with Defective Geeks! Tell us how you made your way back to Toronto in 2012 and what inspired you to start Love Letters Cabaret
Hello Defective Geeks! I had been touring for several years around the globe and throughout that time Toronto was my home base… so when I was done, I just went home and started reconnecting and collaborating with dope artists in my city. At the time I was deeply in love with a dude and my favorite thing to do for him was gift him with various creative works. My first show, which was supposed to be a one-off, was a series of physical love letters of sorts. I kept him in mind choreographing different pieces and the more I created the more dancers wanted to be a part of it. The show went well and the audience, the cast and I wanted to continue the experience so Love Letters Cabaret was born.
Did you always know you wanted to become a dancer? What was your journey like into this career and who inspired you?
I was lucky enough to always know what I wanted to do and I had parents who supported me. Dance is a part of my Hispanic culture and my mom thought that a strict ballet discipline would keep my high energy me out of trouble. The journey was full of challenges and injuries and sacrificing idle childhood time for studio rehearsals but I feel like that’s normal for anyone training seriously in anything. It was strict but I loved it and along the way I met beautiful artists with big juicy brains I picked and questioned and went to the theatre and galleries with. I read everything and studied choreography, composition and dreamed I would have a company one day.
I really never expected to come around to burlesque but I’m not surprised. I grew up on Madonna, old Hollywood movies and my mother’s strong character. These women showed me how they used feminine power, wit and stubborn resolution to see a dream through which made it easier for me to not doubt my creative choices. I love matriarchy, nudity and dance so it was bound to happen.
As a cabaret dancer, your sexiness must be incredibly empowering. What kind of message do you hope to impart with other people, especially women?
There is something disarming about burlesque, perhaps it’s the grand scale of costume or the use of humor which enables the audience to really take in a strip tease differently than anything else of its kind. By being unapologetically proud, burlesquers create a wonderful exchange of raw power between themselves and the audience. It can happen quickly with the smallest gesture but however it happens the moment the audience sees power in someone else the more they can see it in themselves and inevitably the more others will see it within them. Feeling good is contagious and women enjoying the sight of other women regardless of “imperfections” creates strength for everyone.
I believe this of all genders but women in particular don’t often give themselves permission to enjoy and flaunt their beauty as much as they could.
Were you always comfortable with your own body and sexuality? What advice do you give other people about creating a positive relationship with their own body?
I was always comfortable with my sexuality and body until I suddenly wasn’t. I battled eating disorders for a decade, gaining more weight than I lost but eventually I found a way to accept my weaknesses by nurturing my strengths– enough to pick me up when I was losing stability. Like all addictions, it never fully goes away but that doesn’t mean one can’t move forward positively.
I learned that words and repetition can change viewpoints. A person may not notice how many times they judge themselves negatively throughout a day but eventually one believes all that garbage and starts hating on themselves. Everyone is different but what worked for me was meditation and becoming mindful of how I spoke to and about myself and other people. I cater what I watch on TV and filter my social media to follow people with a similar positive outlook on life. I don’t try to judge or measure or compare; instead I adopted my drag queen friends’ sense of pride and say YES as often as I can.
Tell us about your upcoming feature film, Becoming Burlesque.
Becoming Burlesque is a film about a young Muslim Torontonian, played by Shiva Negar, who becomes enamoured with the art of burlesque. It’s a great story written and directed by Jackie English who alongside the showgirls in the movie are all part of Love Letters Cabaret in real life. I got to play the choreographer and director of the troupe both on and off camera, which was a blast. The film has started doing the film festival run, so keep an eye out for it. There’s nothing like it.
What is the best part about what you do and what do you hope to achieve in the future?
The best part of all of this is the freedom to do what I love with complete creative control of how it goes down. I am constantly being challenged to learn, excel and communicate and that keeps me curious and excited. I’m in the studio daily with people I respect and admire and am happy to call my closest friends. Toronto is begging for a theatre offering indulgence and extravagant sensuality and I want Love Letters Cabaret to be that place. Real talk.
I want to be the pop star of burlesque.
Last question: if you were to wake up one morning with one superpower, what would it be and what would you use it for?
I wish to be able to blast people with a surge of light so pure that they’d shed their issues and see the BIG picture. I constantly dream of the Poom Poom Power and I would blast negativity away like a Care Bear Stare straight from my naughty bits.