We've known for a while that we have some amazingly talented burlesque performers in this city. But now, the rest of the planet has been put on notice: Earlier this month, Denver burlesque cutie Midnite Martini (aka Kim Townsend) was crowned Miss Exotic World in Las Vegas at the annual showcase event for the Burlesque Hall of Fame -- an honor no other Coloradan has received to date. (Vivienne VaVoom, aka Michelle Baldwin, won a Sassy Lassy award at the same competition this year.)
"This was my seventh time attending the showcase and my fourth time competing in the competition," Martini says. "And this is my one and only award."
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Michelle Baldwin
The competition process involves filling out an application and submitting a video for one solo act, four minutes or shorter. "I submitted a new act that I do for my Sexy Circus Sideshow," she explains. "It combines a ladder with aerial fabric with burlesque -- it has a lot of different elements to it.
"I think that's why I was so surprised when I won," she continues, "because all of the acts that I've done at the competition up to this point -- and this is just my style, I feel like -- is classic with a twist. A classic feel, but with modern elements to it. All of my acts previously had aerial or circus elements to it. And usually the competition is won by someone who's very classic. So I was very shocked -- pleased and shocked."
So what are the perks that come with the job? Martini mentions the tiara, sash and trophy first (she is a burlesque artist, after all), then says the title opens up opportunities for bookings and travel, but "it's more what you make of it for yourself," she notes. "But you're in a collective that remains burlesque royalty forever."
After winning the title the weekend of June 8, she spent the week in Vegas...and what does the reigning Miss Exotic World do for a week in Vegas after winning that title?
"There was a lot of drinking and celebrating," she laughs. "We visited the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum -- there's an actual museum in Las Vegas -- and renewed our membership. Otherwise, I just tried to enjoy myself with my boyfriend, tried to relax for a couple of days before getting back to work.
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"It's such a big, crazy reunion of the biggest, sparkliest people in Vegas -- which, in Vegas, is saying a lot. It's just like a big party. I was so happy to be around my burlesque family."