It’s an enigma why Burlesque has an intrinsic association with the letter, V. And now here, straddling both Vaudeville and Variety, we have Ventriloquism. April Brucker (rhymes with
hlooker) isn’t the first to have been around a bit, before finding a spiritual home in Vegas (via Vermont). But, it’s Burlesque where this veritable virtuoso found a favourable, fine-fitting family for vis-a-vis, fibrous friend, May Wilson.
In our burlesque profile, this vivacious, veteran talks tossing towels and how to jiggle while juggling them sans revealing one’s uncovered… naughty bits.
We shall vaticinate no more [you’re just looking at a thesaurus now, aren’t you? – Ed] Over to you, April Brucker…
What is your burlesque name? My burlesque name is my real name, April Brucker. I know you don’t often hear that; but I figure, if it isn’t broke, why fix it!? I chose to use my real name because April is kind of a crazy name in itself; my dad wanted me to be all sweetness and light. Look at how well that turned out! Aside from all that, Brucker is a super unique last name and I tell emcees that Brucker rhymes with hooker. So, with a real name like mine, who needs a stage name!?
What first got you interested in burlesque? I got interested in burlesque because I love classic, vintage old movie beauties and felt that I looked more like them growing up than I did my peers or the modern actresses in film and television. Plus, burlesque was a way to rock that retro look.
Additionally, I do ventriloquism. Unlike traditional stand-up venues that ran hot and cold with my act, burlesque shows and the people who produced them not only welcomed me, but encouraged me too. So, I began to tailor some of my ventriloquist sets to burlesque shows. As someone who was insecure, burlesque made me feel incredibly confident.
What type of burlesque do you perform and why? My style of burlesque is comedy/variety burlesque. As a ventriloquist, I incorporate burlesque into my sets. I had great success doing this as a special guest star for nine months in an all-female revue in Las Vegas with my puppet partner (she prefers textile-American) May Wilson.
I also do a towel juggling routine, a spoof on the female towel drop, which I call “TJGL” (Tee-Juggle). I performed this on network television on ABC’s “Videos After Dark” hosted by the late-comedian Bob Saget. At my live shows and on my website, www.AprilBrucker.TV (Shameless Plug!), I sell how-to-kits with an instructional pamphlet, plus a souvenir pink towel so anyone can learn how to TJGL.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, USA: a little town just outside of Pittsburgh (Go Steelers!). I moved to NYC to attend New York University Tisch School of the Arts. I studied acting at Lee Strasberg Studio by day and performed at night in Manhattan clubs, along with such greats as The World Famous BOB, Dirty Martini, Murray Hill, Lil Brooklyn, Creamy Stevens, Jo Boobs, Murray Hill and so many others.
After more than a decade of cutting my teeth in the Big Apple, I had the opportunity to relocate to Las Vegas for a residency with my one-woman show “April Unwrapped.” I did two preview weekends in February 2020, and we all know what happened next. LOL! However, when the world re-opened, I was booked for nine months as the special guest star in a classic Las Vegas all-female revue. May Wilson and I had a great time performing four nights a week.
We even appeared on NBCUniversal’s “Judge Jerry” television show hosted by the legendary Jerry Springer. While NYC was a great love, Las Vegas has been the boy I will marry. I love my flowers, my dogs, and no, I don’t miss winter.
Who are your inspirations and influences? My greatest inspirations and influences are Mae West, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors, Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Mansfield, Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, Wayland Flowers and Madame and of course renowned ventriloquists Edgar Bergen, Shari Lewis and Otto Petersen.
Describe your look. My look is classic Old Hollywood Blonde Bombshell. I hope to bring back the beehive!
Describe the biggest performance you’ve done. As the special guest star in a Las Vegas revue, I performed before an audience of 20,000-plus during my nine-month run. But that is a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousand television viewers who have seen me on such shows as “Entertainment Tonight” (CBS Paramount), “Inside Edition” (King World), “Judge Jerry” (NBCUniversal), “The Layover” (Travel Channel), “My Strange Addiction” (TLC), “Secret Restoration” (HISTORY Channel), “Today” (NBC), “Videos After Dark” (ABC), “The Wendy Williams Show” (FOX), “What’s My Secret?” (MTV), “What Would You Do?” (ABC) and many others.
My latest television venture is “April Backstage,” an international television special which will stream this spring on www.UnCagedTV.UK.
What’s the strangest thing that has happened to you when performing? I’m reminded of these three incidents:
The first was back in the day when I was doing a show in NYC and May Wilson did a bit where she commanded an audience member to help me strip. After the strip, I had the worst bra and pair of granny panties ever. A crazy drunken dude, who said his name was Flannigan, volunteered. My dress was one that just zips off. So, Flannigan did as May instructed and then ran off with my dress!
The bouncer ran after him and tried to get my dress back, but Flannigan wouldn’t give it back. So, the bouncer and Flannigan wrestled, and the entire show stopped because this was a WWE Smackdown. Then Flannigan got away from the bouncer and ran to the sidewalk where two bouncers caught him and got my dress back. Of course, now everyone was on the sidewalk watching and had forgotten that I was still on stage.
Once my dress was back, the bouncers and host got everyone back inside and the show continued. Flannigan found me on social media later and told me he stole my dress because May made a joke about men being mean to me and he wanted to show me I was beautiful. Thanks (I guess).
The second story happened in Las Vegas during my tenure as special guest star. We had a guy who was really drunk. Like, super drunk. He was just a mess and was giving the emcee a rough time. But somehow he liked May Wilson. During our set we sang “Mr. Sandman.” As May was singing he stands up and screams, “Look everyone! The puppet sings too!” Now, my secret was out!
The third incident was kind of scary and also happened during my tenure as the special guest star. May Wilson and I did a bit about being roommates and meeting on Craigslist. We are doing the bit and a woman in the audience starts screaming, “This isn’t funny! My family was killed by the Craigslist killer!” Then she starts arguing with May Wilson. The usher tries to calm her down and she is screaming at the usher who points out that she’s arguing with a puppet. So, she was escorted from the showroom and demanded a refund. Of course, she didn’t get it. She walked out in a huff. Gotta love Vegas, baby!
Who do you like working with most and why? I like working most with anyone who is brave enough to take the stage and bear it all. However, I have a fondness for variety acts and one of my favorites is Alain Nu, The Man Who Knows, whose regularly performs in Las Vegas at The Notoriety Theater.
How often do you perform? I perform a lot. Check my social media for upcoming shows. I might be coming to your town.
Where can people usually see you perform? People can see me perform often in Las Vegas and at theaters and clubs nationwide.
Any upcoming burlesque tour plans? Yes, I have upcoming tour plans. Aside from appearing in Vegas and NYC, my bucket list is London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Sydney Opera House and Tokyo.
Do you compete and have you won any titles? I’ll let the real burlesque pros compete for the titles. However, I enjoy performing at burlesque festivals and recently had the opportunity to appear at The Vermont Burlesque Festival in the midst of a New England snowstorm!
What other things do you do in the burlesque industry besides performing? In addition to performing onstage, I also host the streaming TV chat show “April in Vegas” that is produced on location at The English Hotel in the Las Vegas Arts District with my co-host, Steve Dennis. I’ve had the opportunity to not only interview on camera Las Vegas burlesque performers, but also Dustin Wax, the curator of the Vegas-based Burlesque Hall of Fame and Grant Philipo, the curator of the Las Vegas Showgirl Museum.
Which social media accounts can people follow to keep up with you? My social media accounts are as follows:
What are you available for and how should people contact you? I am available for live performances, plus television film appearances. Please visit my website www.AprilBrucker.TV or contact my personal manager Clinton Ford Billups Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is burlesque your full-time gig or do you have a day job? As “Broadway World” called me, being “America’s foremost female ventriloquist” is my full time gig (to my mother’s chagrin!)
How can the burlesque community support you, your brand and your business? The community can support me by following me on social media and saying, Hi. So, that way we can make friends and I can support right back. With an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, I’ve written several books which can be purchased from Amazon and other online booksellers worldwide. Plus, check out “Dummies on The Street,” my series of ventriloquial shorts on YouTube.
What do you love about burlesque? I love that all bodies are burlesque bodies and how people in the art form strive to educate and make safe spaces for everyone who wants to perform. It’s a wonderful community where there is room for all voices and where people can create their own standards.
What do you hate about burlesque? Sometimes the politics of producing can be exhausting. But, then I remember how much I love burlesque and the people in the community. Plus, I get to go onstage and entertain people!
What else would you like to add? Let me end by saying how much I love my glitter and sparkle family!
Don’t miss April Brucker…
Launching in April, April’s ‘April Backstage’ premiere’s on www.UnCagedTV.UK on April 28th!