Striking patrician features and robust in spirit, Veronica imbues more than elegance and charm. She also holsters a restless Femme Fatale side that can be unleashed when she sees fit; usually on the unsuspected. With a moniker like Danger Dame, what did you expect?
A vintage girl at heart, but views the world with novel eyes. She shares with us the defining moments and guilty pleasures that add to her passion filled lifestyle. She was kind enough to find time in her busy schedule to chat with me. Miss Veronica Varlow is worth getting to know!
I first became aware of you while you were gracing the screen on MTV's Made documentary as a life coach. What was that experience like?
The MADE experience was unforgettable and life-altering experience for me. I love working with women to bring out their inner bombshell - I loved working on MTV's MADE with Andrea. It was so good to be able to help her discover what was so amazing and unique about her and help bring that out. Seeing her stand straighter, walk taller and radiate confidence after six weeks of us working together was one of the most fascinating and beautiful things I've ever seen. She absolutely transformed. I was once afraid to live my dreams and felt like such an outsider.....I know what it's like. I told Andrea that I felt like I could teach her in five weeks what it took me five years of trial and error to learn. It was an amazing experience and I love continuing that work with other women looking to be more self- confident and discover who they really are. It took me getting attacked in the face by a rottweiler to really re-evaluate my life and my dreams and my situation - that's how scared I was to truly be me and stop being afraid of what other people would think of me. So when I can help another person step out of their shell and shine - it means the world to me.
I remember being impressed by your poise, compassion and seductive style. There also is a Femme Fatale side of you! Have you always pursued a life of glamour and mischief?
I was born with a desperate heart mixed with glamour and mischief.... I remember one of my earliest memories being in a bank with my Mom and thinking about how I when I was older - I would like to rob banks for a living. To this day, it's one of my main fantasies..... I'm not really sure where it started to be honest, but I know the thought has been there as far back as I can recall. In the trailer of Revolver - at the 1:39 minute mark - http://bit.ly/3x8dqm - the look on my face is priceless - I am finally living my bank robbing dreams - even if it was just a scene in our script....it was real to me. I think my entire body was covered in goosebumps at that moment. When I was a teenager - I was a film projectionist for American Movie Classic festivals in one of the original silent movie theaters in the US. I would sit in the projection booth watching films from the 30s and 40s over and over and over. Watching Katherine Hepburn in "To Have and Have Not" and Marlene Dietrich in "A Foreign Affair" absolutely changed my life. Now those are some femme fatales!
There was a incident many years ago that turned your life around. Will you elaborate?
Yes. This story is the hardest for me to share, but it was the catalyst for a major transformation for me - so I think it's important to tell. The truth of the matter is that I really wanted to do burlesque and to get my film, Revolver, out there for a very long time before I actually tried. My dreams were just that - dreams - and I was working at an office with no light in a cubicle under florescent lights sixty hours a week. Every day I was there, I felt drained. In December of 2000, I saw my first burlesque show and I was enraptured. I dreamed of getting on the stage and doing classic burlesque - being graceful and glamorous. But, I felt like I had no time for my dreams and my job took up every moment of my life. Three years passed and nothing had changed.
On December 28, 2003, while volunteering at an animal shelter, I was attacked in the face by a rottweiler who ripped off my nose. His teeth came millimeters away from my eyeball. The skin underneath my eye was also ripped. In the eight hours of surgery, reconstructing my face, the most prominent question running through my mind over and over was - why had I not done the things in my life that I had wanted to do?
Being faced with a traumatic situation like that definitely made me reevaluate what I was doing with my life. It hit me how short life really is and how important my dreams are. As embarrassing as it is - the only reason I wasn't doing my dreams is simply that I was afraid of what other people would think of me. I am grateful every day that it wasn't the last five minutes of my life on that operating table and that I had a second chance to live my life fearlessly and walk forward into my dreams. Since then, my life has been unbelievably amazing and I've never looked back. I am a different person than I was.
Is there a formula for putting together a burlesque show? What aspects do you consider?
The most important thing for me is to do acts that reflect who I am and things I gravitate to. I find those always turn out the best! I take my performances very seriously - it's the time I can appear before an audience and just open my heart completely - unabashedly - to share a bit of myself with them. Every person is made up of many influences - and my influences of archetypes throughout the ages appear in my performances.
I have long been fascinated with bellydance and the mystery of Egypt - so doing an act completely covered in gold and blue Lapis stones as the goddess Isis appealed to me. In all the times I have done my Isis act, I still get goosebumps every single time I perform it. Then I have my Pulp Fiction Vixen acts that reflect my love of those silver screen femme fatales (complete with a .38 pistol) ....and my new military act shows my fighting and tough side. I grew up with boys, so I can fist fight with the best of them - and that is still a part of me. So when I get on stage and perform my acts - I connect with my audience because they believe me - I am showing them pieces of the real me.
So Rule Number One in putting a burlesque show together - find your idea - find what moves you - find what's special about you and begin with that idea - everything will come together easily after that!
Tell us about your recent performance for Diane Von Furstenberg!
It was special for me because I'm a big fan of her designs and I opened with my white feather fan dance before her fashion show on the rooftop of the Soho House on a beautiful Summer night. It was the very first time that I've ever performed burlesque outside - and it's an experience that I'll never forget. The moment I stepped onto the runway platform - the scene was something out of a movie.... the lights of New York City spanned below me from this rooftop and the full moon hung low in the sky. As I danced my white feather fan dance along the runway, the breeze was ruffling the fans and I kept catching my mirrored reflection in the pool, dancing beside me.
Besides teasing, what are your other passions?
The biggest passion of my life is the mission of making the film that Burke Heffner and I wrote together called Revolver, and getting it out there to the world. I think that everyone has a story to share that is unique to their life experience and reveals their soul - and Revolver is our story. Whenever I talk about the screenplay, I get goosebumps and tears in my eyes. I'm that passionate about it. Revolver is what I have to offer the world. I also love singing - slow and sultry - old torch songs like Marlene Dietrich would sing. I love to weave a spell on an audience with my voice.
Revolver came to be when Burke and I had no money and I would write about a fantasy life of ours in a journal. I made the journal entries as if they were really happening. I had originally planned to just leave it behind in a bar or a coffee shop so that someone else would read it driven by curiosity. Then - in some way - maybe it really would be true in someone's mind out there. But then I shared it with Burke and he thought it would make a great screenplay. We spent many a night fantasizing about this other life of ours - expanding this story of adventure - weaving tales on our rooftop during the Summertime looking at the stars. That was how the story of Revolver came about - the story of Pocket and Blue - the two main characters who mirrored our lives. They were born from our minds when we were hungry for adventure and had no money to adventure on.
Your husband is a professional photographer with whom you have worked with many times. What is the process on set? What kind of input goes on?
Burke is a storyteller at heart. He sees pictures as ways to tell scenes and stories. That's why he has such a good eye for capturing the perfect shot and why he's an award-winning director. He's my true partner-in-crime and we collaborate together in almost everything. He will generally come up with an idea and scene he wants to shoot and he will put the set together or find the perfect location for it. He directs me as I'm posing to get the perfect look for the photo. What I love about him and his work is that he goes in with a strong vision of what he wants - and yet at the same time, he also always leaves time to have unexpected inspiration come up in the moment. That's what makes him a true artist.
Do you have any style icons?
In my eyes, Marlene Dietrich could do no wrong. When I go on tour, my vintage train case has a mirror on the inside lid, to which I have pasted pictures of Marlene Dietrich and Bettie Page for inspiration. I love Marlene's hypnotizing sex appeal and strong kick ass character and I love the playfulness of Bettie. I try to balance the two out in my own style.
You have fans all around the world! What is it like for you to connect with them? Any crazy stories?
I love connecting with the fans and hearing their stories. I recently just toured in Mexico with Emilie Autumn and when we got out of the car, the fans were going crazy - screaming, crying, holding up signs....it made me suddenly get tears in my eyes just being hit with all that outpouring of love at once. I thought...."How did I get here? How is this happening?" I'm so grateful for it all.
A bunch of my fans started Veronica's Kissing Army. There is also a very active forum. They are very dedicated! One of the best presents I have ever received is a book that they made and sent all over the world - each one of them made a page for me and then sent it along to the next place. They were so creative - there were poems, pictures, letters hidden behind tiny laced up paper corsets, exquisite art work - and the book had traveled from Spain to France, from England to Norway, from Lithuania to the US, from Germany to the Netherlands. That book hit places all over the world.... to think that everyone put so much time into it and kept it going is amazing. It is one of my treasures.
And another crazy random story - as I type this - I'm on the back on the tour bus - we just pulled into Canada. Because we go through the border on a huge tour bus, we always get stopped and searched as it's kind of a rock and roll stereotype that there's got to be all sorts of illegal things going on in the tour bus. So - when I perform - sometimes I get female fans who throw their bras at me and I've amassed quite the collection on this tour. I put a bunch of them on the rear view mirror of our tour bus and as our bus was pulling through the border patrol this morning, the inspector laughed about it and waved us through! It's the first time in over a year our driver hasn't been pulled over at the border. So I have the girl fans to thank for throwing their bras at me!
What advice can you give those who are interested in performing burlesque and pinup work?
The quote that I live by is: "It is not who you were born....but who you were born to be." You do not need to be defined by who you were yesterday or who you have been in the past. You can use every day to grow and to be more yourself than ever. Let your imagination run wild....unleash your inner bombshell. Do what makes you happy and comfortable and don't let other people's opinions of you or criticisms get you down. Fight for what you believe in. Let the real you come out in your performances and pictures - if you are having fun and being creative - people are going to take notice.
What does Miss Varlow want out of life?
Besides world domination? xoxoxo
Thank you Veronica! xo
1. Burke Heffner 2. David Perry 3. Burke Heffner 4. Burke Heffner 5. John Bentham 6. Jan Blok 7. Amy Sussman 8. Burke Heffner 9. Burke Heffner 10. Vlad Volovhin 11. Burke Heffner 12. Danielle Bedics 13. Burke Heffner