Behind the scenes of New Orleans burlesque with The Society of Sin: Remy Dee, the Chalmation Sensation, writes about what it took to for her to create a Harley Quinn number that she could be proud of.
“Face it, Harl, this stinks! You're a certified nutso wanted in 12 states and hopelessly in love with a psychopathic clown. At what point did my life go Looney Toons?”
My routine for The Society of Sin's Arkham ASS-ylum: A Batman Burlesque Play was not my first Harley Quinn number. I did one two years earlier when Wizard World Comic Con came to New Orleans. But if I’m honest with myself, that wasn’t my best work. I did practice a lot and the costume was great, but it had no narrative. Harley Quinn burlesque routines are a dime a dozen these days, so making one that stands out is a daunting task.
But I wanted to make a good one. Harley Quinn has been one of my comic book idols for quite some time now. She’s strong, she’s sexy, she’s brilliant – but also very flawed. The famous Batman episode “Mad Love” has one line that has always stood out to me. At the end of the episode (after the Joker smacked her around and threw her out the window), she vows that she’s done with him. “Never again,” she says. “No more obsession, no more craziness, no more Joker. I finally see that slime for what he is: a murderous, manipulative, irredeemable...”
But then she sees a rose on her nightstand. With it is a note from the Joker: “Feel better soon. – J.” And she declares him an ANGEL! His one act of kindness makes her instantly forgive him.
Some argue that she’s just a crazy as the Joker. She’s crazy for going back to him despite everything he’s done to her. She’s psychotic for being so devoted to him when he only sees her as a tool. She’s willing to ignore the red flags and bend over backwards for the Clown Prince of Crime, regardless of the way he treats her.
But how many of us have done that? How many of us have been so obsessed with something or someone, that we’d go to crazy extremes? I can admit that I have. I’ve bent over backwards for other people many times: friends, boyfriends, family, colleagues… And sometimes, it doesn’t work out like I hope. Sometimes I give everything I have, but all I get in return is a broken heart.
This is why I find Harley fascinating. She’s an exaggeration of any person with a huge heart, of someone who throws caution to the wind and lets her obsession and her passion take over. All people have an addiction – their own Joker, if you will.
Saying that burlesque is my Joker would be a safe assumption. I’m obsessed with it. I’m passionate about it. It makes me happy. It’s my drug. But because not everyone accepts this art form, I get hurt because of it. But I love burlesque with everything I’ve got, so I’m willing to get hurt over and over again.
This is one of many reasons why I wanted to do Harley justice through a worthy burlesque routine. As it turns out, this was something I couldn’t do alone.
I needed a Joker.
Remy Dee is a New Orleans burlesque dancer and member of The Society of Sin. To learn more about her, visit our Seven Deadly Sinners page.