A busy producer and performer, Paula the Swedish Housewife can't keep her hands to herself. Though commanding onstage in high stilettos and skintight dresses, Paula the producer is more delicate—petite and amiable, but syncretic and shrewd.
She began her career as a go-go dancer at the Pyramid Club, the hub of New York cabaret in the 1980s, where she fell in with the performance-art crowd alongside Karen Finley and Ann Magnuson. After returning to Seattle, she imported East Coast friends for cross-pollinated events, coupling the prototypical boylesque of John Sex with bands like Mother Love Bone. Once, at a benefit for a local animal shelter, Paula staged a lewd tribute to Russ Meyer, adult-film star Kitten Natividad, and bestiality (in which grizzly attacked girl, grizzly humped girl, and grizzly left girl for a can of garbage). She also started a drag night at the now-defunct Catwalk called "Madame Peabody's Dance Academy for Wayward Girls and Boys," for which Miss Indigo Blue once worked as a doorperson.
Paula is a cornerstone of Seattle burlesque history, but she's still a classic walker and peeler. Libertease Burlesque, part of this year's Moisture Festival at ACT, features her with drummer Michael Musburger (the Posies, the Fastbacks, many more) in a percussion-tease. After a seven-minute tour through iconic drumbeats—Tone-Loc to Gary Glitter—a lengthy drumroll climaxes in an amazingly long tassel-twirl. It's just like Paula. She won't give you the typical 10-second peek. She'll lead you right to the edge and keep you there as long as she can.
Libertease Burlesque, ACT Theatre, March 12–April 3.