Dandy Dillinger is a burlesque performer and pastry chef living in New York. She creates gorgeous confections at renowned burlesque venue Duane Park by day, and kittens on its stage by night.
What came first, pastry or burlesque?
Pastry definitely came first. I went to pastry school in 2007, and graduated in 2008. I had always gone to burlesque shows, and I always called myself a burlesque groupie. My old restaurant was one block up from the original Duane Park. So every Friday I’d go to Duane Park for years. And then I used to tell (Duane Park owners) Billy and Marisa, “I’m going to do this; I’m going to dance.” And then years and years went by and I never did it. And then finally one day after a breakup, and work was shitty, I was like, “I’m just going to take classes, because if I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it.”
Are there commonalities between cuisine and burlesque?
Both can be equally sensual. With both, you’re teasing and tempting, whether with smells, flavors, or memories. Describing food, people can get just as aroused or into what you’re talking about as with burlesque, because it’s just like a tease.
What food gets you in the mood?
Definitely my chocolate cake is probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It’s almost like a fudge flourless cake, but it’s not overly rich. It’s creamy and light and the buttercream is really good. It’s sour cream-based chocolate cake and I do a cross between a traditional Swiss meringue and a sugar buttercream frosting. If food is good enough, it could get anyone in the mood.
Any other favorite desserts?
I love ice cream, all kinds. The other day I had this mint chip affogato with espresso and a shot of fernet. I was drinking out of the bowl. Fernet Branca is a digestif that tastes almost like a Ricola, it has a mint licorice-y flavor to it and pairs well with chocolate and mint. With the espresso it really heightened the flavor. With the affogato, the alcohol was poured right into it.
Creativity, experimentation and openness are things you have to have in burlesque, cooking, and sex alike to keep things fresh.
Me doing things I’m not supposed to do is what turns me on and gets me going. We say “Let’s do it anyway.” Now that my partner and I are in this safe committed relationship, we have to find a balance of how to keep it forbidden.
Can culinary experiences open up sensuality in other realms?
Especially with desserts, a lot of people offer dessert tastings. Have a cocktail or a nice glass of wine and have the chef choose so that you can experiment with your palate. I always like to live by “You never know unless you try.”
There’s a lot of romance and seduction in food. Does food belong in the bedroom?
I don’t think I would only because I appreciate both so much. We can have our dessert, then our sex.
What do you think of the women’s sex positive community?
It was always forbidden and taboo for women to even talk about sex. Now that it’s more liberated and open, it’s only good. Masters of Sex shows a time when it was hard for women to be open. With burlesque, we’re taking control of sex and have control over exactly what the audience sees and feels. We reveal little by little, so we choose. In this community, it’s all shapes, sizes, colors – anyone can be sexy. Again, we’re the ones who are telling you, and showing you, what is sexy and can be sexy.
It’s that confidence too. You could have that girl up there with the perfect body who goes up there and has nothing to show. Your body is the instrument, so when you’re moving to music, you have to show that emotion and feeling and rhythm through your body.
Should everyone, including people who don’t want to perform, take burlesque classes?
The average woman should definitely take classes because it’s great to feel great about your own body. Just do it. A lot of friends of friends come up to me and say, “I want to do burlesque.” Just do it – what’s holding you back?
Dakota Kim is a freelance writer and burlesque lover living in New York.
Photo credit: dollen, via Creative Commons