Calamity Chang is a legendary burlesque performer in New York, known for her sensual performances with luxurious feathered fans and sparkling lingerie. I sat down with “The Asian Sexsation” to find out what turns her on offstage.
Hey Sexsation! You’re nicknamed “The Asian Sexsation” for a reason. You seem very comfortable with your sexuality. What does it mean to you?
Sexuality is a feeling that identifies who you are when you’re around other people. It’s one of the primary ways we relate to the external world. To me, it’s much more significant than personality.
What are your first memories of sexuality?
Speaking as an Asian-American woman from a pretty traditional Chinese background, whose parents are liberal and progressive, but not when it comes to sex, I did not grow up feeling like dressing sexy is a great thing. I always had a sense of shame about developing big boobs early on, and having to cover up. Being sexy was very taboo and I only felt comfortable doing it outside the house. I hid it from my parents.
Women’s sexuality is hidden in so much of the world. Do you think burlesque has helped you understand your sexuality?
Burlesque has helped me really embrace what I have. I’m not going to say burlesque has solved all my problems, but it helped me realize what was happening earlier in my life with sexuality. I was too busy studying, and I was not having sex. Burlesque helped me, in a way that was like therapy, figure out my sexuality.
You’re so sensual when you do burlesque. You look completely captivated by the moment. How do you connect with that side of yourself?
A piece of music … really helps – you can get locked in it, in a way. The costume you’re wearing, the character you’re playing, the way you feel when you make eye contact.
You were in the film Shame with Michael Fassbender, in a very sexy scene with Fassbender and Dee Dee Luxe. What was it like filming the scene?
The reason why that scene has gotten so much press from day one, more than any other scene in the movie, is that we all had a good time. We talked, we joked, we ate lunch together with Steve McQueen (the director). There was nothing inappropriate; Michael was a true gentleman. There were just a few people in the bedroom. Steve was so sweet. He gave us the loose structure of what was happening. Dee Dee and I were asking him, “Do you want us to do this, or this?” Steve said “You guys figure it out and do whatever you want that feels natural.” Dee Dee and I decided we would take the reins, choreographing it like a burlesque act.
What is your favorite lingerie for seduction, onstage and off?
Right now, I have this beautiful electric blue custom-made bustier that Varla Va Voom made for me. I also love long, lined vintage-style bras that go to the middle of your ribcage, and I love vintage-style stockings with garters. Sometimes I wear those on a normal day underneath my clothes because they make me feel so sexy.
Dakota Kim is a freelance writer and burlesque lover living in New York.
Photo by Mark Hopkins.