Featured Artist Interview: Miss Tosh
Miss Tosh is a renowned performance artist, local celebrity, and clothing designer who since her arrival to the Midwest from Hollywood has taken the Chicago nightlife scene by storm. Kicking off Women's History Month with a woman who knows how to channel HERtory and take it to the next level of intrigue, Miss Tosh tells us about her fashion label and her ongoing burlesque performances throughout Chicago.
CC: You're definitely somewhat of a nightlife Icon in Chicago. How did you get into performance? How does your presence in the nightlife community inform your everyday lifestyle?
T: My whole life I have sought out tantalizing spaces and individuals who dare to exist in worlds they have created for themselves and live by their personal ideals. When I moved from Hollywood to Chicago I had grand fantasies of secret parties, code word speakeasies and Sally Rand. I wanted to be a part of the world I had seen in photos and heard of in stories. It was when I met my dear friends Sissy Spastik and JoJo Baby, icons themselves, that I entered Chicago’s performance community. I found my family of misfits and was able to create the world I wanted to live in. Chicago’s performance and creative community is unlike anywhere else in America. We are inspired by one another and we push each other to become grander. The sense of support and community is authentic. Due to the opportunities I have been offered and work towards, I am fortunate to say that my art is my work and that work is my life.
CC: You created quite a buzz during festival season in Chicago last year with your unique aesthetic. Do you design a lot of your own clothing?
T: During festival season I wore pieces from my fashion label, as well as pieces from my vintage archive. Being a full time independent designer and performer, most of my time is spent designing and creating pieces for clients or wardrobe for my shows.
CC: Is there a garment that you've created that holds significant personal importance to you? If so, will you share with us which garment and why?
T: There are so many pieces in my collection and vintage archive that are sentimental because they mark significant moments in my life and career. There is a tuxedo jacket, 17th Century Paris, that means a lot to me and I've performed wearing it. Another personal item is a champagne pink corset gifted to me by Catherine D’Lish after apprenticing with her. I carry my great grandmother’s enamel and rose powder compact with me everywhere as a good luck charm. Clothing is my way of collecting memories like a photo album.
Garments that hold significance in my career must be my first runway piece. One is a sound and motion-sensitive LED Swarovski gown. It's outrageous but a constant reminder of what I am capable of as a designer. One piece that I have created that stands out for me is my Swarovski monkey hat. It was the first piece that I feel truly came from the crux of my imagination and manifested into form. It was a wild experience seeing it in my mind's eye, then to have it in front of me after hours of labor. The piece was worn on the SAIC Runway by my grandmother, Gmama, who inspired the collection. She was the first model over the age of 25 to ever walk the SAIC runway in the history of the University. The hat is a very special object in more than one way. The most recent stand out garment is a couture draped wrap dress made from vintage Halston Lame’ for my client and friend, Laura Duncan. It is a one of a kind garment that looks ravishing on her.
CC: Do you feel that being a burlesque dancer within the queer community somewhat sets you apart from burlesque in its traditional setting? If so, how so?
T: My fans and audience are the ones who have shown me the significance of my role as a queer entertainer. The contemporary burlesque audience has shifted from the historically heterosexual male demographic to a truly diverse group. The most exciting thing for me is that when I look into my audience I see everyone. I cannot pinpoint my audience to a specific demographic or social group. Whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, white, black, green or pink, everyone is there celebrating and dancing together. I stand for quality, tolerance, self-expression, and accepting that which is different from ourselves. I believe my diverse audience shares the same beliefs.
C: Is there anything upcoming you’d like to share with us?
T: On March5th There's LQQKS SPACE COWGIRL (my birthday party) at Berlin Night Club, Chicago. On March 14th I'm Showcasing my fall/winter 2015 capsule collection for the Live Out Loud Charity Fashion Show. Also, I’ll be making ongoing guest appearances at Bordel Yes Mistress (Thursdays) and Speakeasy (Wednesday/Sunday).
Follow the stunning Miss Tosh on social media via Instagram at @MissTosh and like her Facebook Page here.