The closet of an empowered female stretches further than a gray pantsuit. For Hamilton resident Ruby Rockafella, female empowerment includes fake eyelashes, wigs, drag makeup and even waist cinchers.
Rockafella, 31, is a burlesque performer and one of the founding members of Baltimore's newest burlesque troupe, Bawdy Shop Burlesque.
Contrary to social construction, burlesque is a raw art form that allows women to explore and celebrate themselves, explained Rockafella.
"As girls, we grow up being told what length of skirt is appropriate, when it's OK to speak up, that we have to be 'proper,'" she said. "In burlesque, I finally get to own who I am and who I have always been."
Rockafella (who did not wish to use her real name) will be performing with the rest of her troupe at the Ottobar, 9 p.m. Saturday, in Bawdy Shop's debut show, "Goin' Downee Oshun."
She recently talked to us about her love for Baltimore, her most interesting costume and more.
Worst pet peeve? Mouth-breathing.
What songs are you loving/hating right now? I am obsessed with Hozier's "Take Me to Church" — really powerful song — and I hate Magic!'s "Rude." That song is completely nonsensical and idiotic, so of course I can't get it out of my head.
Last concert you went to? I saw the Flying Eyes perform at Hamilton Street Festival, and they totally rocked!
Your worst habit? I'm a picker. I pick scabs, moles, mosquito bites. I'm gross.
Trend that has exceeded its natural life span? I'm such an alien. ... What is even trendy these days? I'll go with tanning — love the skin you're in!
Last movie you liked and last you disliked? Liked: "Exposed," which you can catch at Creative Alliance on Sept. 4, presented by Bawdy Shop Burlesque! Disliked: "Gravity" ... so much mouth-breathing, Sandra! Cut it out!
TV show you can't get enough of? "The Walking Dead." I am so cliche.
Favorite and least favorite fashion statement? Favorite: 1940s/1950s vintage/vintage-inspired dresses are the best! Least favorite: Sports jerseys are so unflattering.
Last great meal you had? I'm really obsessed with my neighborhood. The last great meal I had was brunch at Clementine. I die for the Korean hot pot.
Favorite place to get a drink in Baltimore? Still obsessed with my neighborhood — Hamilton Tavern.
Best advice you ever got? "You should do burlesque."
What was your most interesting costume? I do a beautiful, classic striptease while wearing the freaky bunny costume from the movie "Donnie Darko," which I altered to be fit for removing in sexy ways. It's confusing and really messes with people's idea of sexy.
If you could perform anywhere, where would it be? Amsterdam would totally kick-ass! Your favorite thing about Baltimore? Bawdy Shop Burlesque!
AS TOLD TO LILY HUA