The Randy Dandies find the Pearl: an interview with Mimi Le Yu

The Randy Dandies

When I found out that Mimi Le Yu, one of my favorite burlesque performers, was fronting a new troupe called the Randy Dandies, I couldn’t keep away from their show Melons and Meat Sticks: a Dandy Backyard Burly-Q.  It was one of the best shows I’ve every seen. The storyline was entertaining and better developed than in most shows I had seen previously. There was lots of sexy stripping, but it was all nicely embedded into the narrative. The characters were hilarious, yet recognizable at the same time — I swear there must be some overlap between the characters at their family picnic and the ones attending mine. Best of all, it was interspersed with fun and creative numbers, including one employing a track from a scene in The Graduate. My date and I laughed until we cried, clapped and hooted until we were hoarse. So much fun!

Unfortunately, I left St. Louis soon after this, so I missed out on The Uncanny Dandies: A Comic Strip, Where in the World is Randy Dandy? and The Randy Dandy Pink Slip Show. I’m looking forward to making up for all this on September 3rd at the Dandies’ new show The Search for the Siren’s Pearl, which promises to tap into everybody’s love for a good choose-your-own adventure game. So excited!

Lucky for me, even in the whirlwind of prepping for this weekend’s show, Mimi took time out for an SEX+STL exclusive interview. Enjoy!


Mimi Le Yu and Swifty Deeds

Who are the Randy Dandies?

The Randy Dandies, St. Louis’ Premiere Sketch Comedy Burlesque Group are a motley crew of actors, singers, dancers, comedians, and circus folk working together to create interactive, entertaining and dynamic shows for the St. Louis Community. The Dandies want to create a stir and love collaborating on ideas to make audiences want more. Whether its a big concept show or their bi-monthly Burlesque Bingo show, The Dandies have performed to sold out venues all over the St. Louis area including the Fountain on Locust, The Gaslight Theatre, The Fox Hole, Off Broadway, and the Firebird. Our performers have performed all over the Midwest and around the country. Lovingly described as “Saturday Night Live meets Burlesque”, our shows are as wildly diverse as our cast with our high-energy antics and sexy numbers.  Are You Feeling Randy?

When did you get together? How did you meet?

Roxy Red Rockets and I were part of the original Alley Cat Revue in St. Louis. She and I were always the funny weird girls doing fun concept numbers. After a few years, she got married to Jack Deuce (Our Host) and I found Swifty Deeds, the love of my life. We also had a few friends within the burlesque and acting community who had expressed interest in participating in a burlesque show. An opportunity arose for me to produce my own show at the Fox Hole so we can together as a group and developed what kind of burlesque show we always wanted to produce and a name. And the rest is history as they say. Our group has had many different people work within the group, but our goal is still the same: An interactive comedy burlesque show with a story.
Tell us about the new show. It sounds extra sexy this time. What can we expect?
Our next show is called The Search for the Siren’s Pearl: A Choose Your Own Burlesque Adventure. Its based on the old choose your own adventure books. In this sea-themed show our guide, Sir Percival Dingleberry Merriweather is searching for the wreckage of the S.S. Sexiness with treasures abound including the world’s largest Pink Pearl, but what Percival doesn’t know is the pearl belongs to a beautiful but evil sea Siren who will stop at nothing to keep it within her grasp. Along the journey, we meet various sea characters such as pirates, sailors, and mermaids! Even Gilligan and the Skipper make an appearance! The audience will be guiding the story as they choose which characters they’d like to meet! Its extremely interactive and features performances by Michelle Minx, Katrina Dohl, The Firey Leef, Madame Shield, and Greta Garter along with your favorite Randy Dandies and friends. We have burlesque, boylesque, pole-esque, hula dancing, fire, aerial, and more. Plus the audience can buy tickets to win our Grand Raffle Prize with prizes from Cheap Trx, Mochi, PBR, Michelle Minx Pole Academy and more!
You have a monthly event called Burlesque Bingo – what is that like?
Actually now Burlesque Bingo is a bi-monthly event (first and third Thursdays) at the Fountain on Locust. This is an extremely rowdy show with tons of audience call backs, silly prizes, and of course delicious burlesque, boylesque and specialty entertainment. For $5 audience members will play 6 rounds of Bingo with acts of burlesque in between bingo rounds. We sell this show out almost every show! Its campy, bawdy and a great night of fun for only $5! If you are interested in coming, call the Fountain on Locust for reservations. This next month we feature Whiskey Kiss, Ami Amore, and Mimi Le Yu on Sept 1st and Roxy Red Rockets, Scarlet Sinferno on Sept. 15th.
What’s different about the Randy Dandies?
St. Louis has a great performance art scene with diverse group of talented performers that it is often hard to choose which show to go to…or perform at since many of us in the community perform with the Dandies, Beggar’s Carnivale, and the Jumpin’ Jupiter Shows. What makes the Randy Dandies different is our big shows are story-driven and theme oriented. Performers cast in our shows develop a new routine or act based on our given theme. We feature a diverse collection of performers and we have always been delightfully surprised at what our guest performers bring to the table. I love our shows. Our shows tend to be more theatrical in the musical theatre or sketch comedy vein than other shows. We really strive to bring the audience a different voice in burlesque entertainment. One of our fans lovingly said it best “A Dandies Show is like Saturday Night Live (in the good years) meets Burlesque.
I love that you have more guys in the Randy Dandies than there have been in other Burlesque troupes I’ve seen perform in the city. How does this change the kinds of shows you put on? Do you find that this changes your audience?
I think having men in our shows either doing comedy, circus or boylesque is a wonderful thing for our audiences. We want our shows to be richly diverse. Giving the audience various body shapes, sexes, routines and personalities creates a opportunity for everyone to find something to enjoy. I don’t know if it has changed our audiences because our audience base is so diverse, but it definitely creates a wonderful mix of personalities within the audience giving us a rowdy crowd that is ready for our bawdy entertainment. We have something for everyone. Our men are wonderful and give the show balance.
Your website mentions that your shows are story-driven and when I went to the Melons and Meat-sticks show and I felt it was almost like a mini-musical. How do you come up with ideas and scripts? Do one or two people do most of the writing, or do you do it all together?
We have planning sessions. While I may be the producer, it is through teamwork and collaboration that creates a Dandy Show. Each one of us has certain strengths that we draw upon when developing an idea. We flush out a possible story through discussion (and much drinking) and then Jack Deuce, our host, writes the sketches with assistance from the group. Once the sketches are written, we focus our energies like any other theatre company: marketing begins, guest performers are booked, props are found or built, rehearsals are scheduled with re-writes, choreography and blocking, and costumes are created. I am proud to be working with such a great team of creative artists. Its fun taking an idea and running with it. Our shows are a wild mix of storyline, pop culture references and off-color jokes. Its always great to see our hard work and our ideas come to fruition.
When you watch burlesque, what do you like to see? Are there any acts that you find particularly inspiring?
When I watch burlesque, I want to see personality, a character, or a gimmick. When I am working with new performers, I encourage then to develop a character or a story with their burlesque because the neo-burlesque movement is stripping with a twist. If you are just taking your clothes off on stage without a purpose other than to take your clothes, then your number may fall flat not because you aren’t pretty or interesting but because stripping isn’t enough. I want to see confidence, comedy, grace, and gimmicks on-stage when I watch a performance. I want to see performers make specific choices on-stage. You can always tell which performers really put time and effort into their performances. There are so many great performers to be inspired by in this community who have all found their niche. Roxy always impressed me with her strange concepts, Gogo McGregor is beautiful with her classic appeal and fan work, Lola Van Ella has an amazing voice and strong presence on stage, and I always know when Greta Garter takes the stage she is having the time of her life and loves her song choices. I could go on in this vein about many of the old school performers and even some of the new class of performers here in St. Louis. We are extremely lucky in St. Louis with our diverse collection of women and men who have chosen a life of performance and have the talent to back up that choice. I am proud to be a part of the St. Louis Burlesque Community and hope it continues to grow and inspire new performers with a drive to succeed.
What makes a good audience at a burlesque show?
The Key to a great burlesque show is all about the audience. The more they cheer, cat call, wolf whistle, hoot, holler, and laugh, the quicker our clothes will come off and the more fun the show will be. I tell this to every audience. We want outgoing rowdy audiences who want to play! This is bawdy, intriguing and devilishly cheeky high energy entertainment. We want our audiences to be full of energy (and booze) as well. Be prepared to laugh, cheer, and be amazed when you come to a burlesque show because we are bringing our A-game!
Check out The Search for the Siren’s Pearl: A Choose Your Own Burlesque Adventure on Saturday, September 3rd at 2720 Cherokee.
Burlesque / Comedy / Costume Party (Costumes Encouraged but not required, Under The Sea theme)

Doors 8pm / Show 9pm

21+ / General Admission $15 / VIP $20

Get your tickets ahead of time!