Today we’d like to introduce you to KiKi Maroon.
KiKi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was originally a Theatrical Costume designer. I freelanced at The Alley, Frenetic, and even Cirque du Solie! As a milliner, my specialty was hats and headpieces, which got me work with a couple of burlesque performers in Austin. At the time, there wasn’t a ‘burlesque scene’ in Houston, so I began inviting performers to town for one night events. The shows were always packed so I knew this was something Houston was hungry for and just kept doing it!
The first several shows, I was strictly behind the scenes. I always said, “I don’t want to be on stage, I just want to make the stage available.” I made costumes, picked up marketing, and learned how to be a producer (by making a lot of mistakes). Once faithful day, my emcee was a no call/no show.
I had no other choice but to host it myself, and it changed my life! That was 7 years ago. Since then, I’ve developed into a standup comic, radio show host, podcaster, and host multiple burlesque shows in Houston and around the country.
Has it been a smooth road?
Professionally, it’s been a bumpy road. The word ‘burlesque’ scares people. If they’ve never seen a show, it conjures up images of a seedy club or groups of men in trench coats throwing money at women (no one throws money at me, no matter how much I ask). Once they actually come to one of my events, they learn it’s basically a comedy show!
Classic burlesque shows were originally variety shows, hosted by comedians like Abbott and Costello. That’s what I’m bringing to Houston with The Burly Q Lounge. I now have the best team and we’re in a great place now, but it took several years to learn how to properly market the shows.
Personally, it’s been more than a bumpy road. It’s been a world-class roller coaster. I drank a lot before I was a performer so once I began performing in bars, it was easy to rationalize drinking every day. It took me years of hangovers, destroyed relationships, and flipping a truck in a ditch before I realized that I was an alcoholic.
I had always told myself, “I’m better on stage when I’m drunk.” It wasn’t until I quit that I realized how much it was holding me back. The shows have grown ten-fold, I’ve performed around the world, and I’m collaborating with new artists every day. The struggles make the ride, but boy do I feel better on this side of them.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I used to hate when people would ask, “what do you do?” Standup comic, burlesque dancer, a circus producer, radio personality, and special events marketer doesn’t roll off the tongue! Now I love it because I realized the true answer is, “I make people forget their problems”. Whether I’m on stage myself or hiring people to put on stage, the goal is always to give the audience the best time possible. I sell happiness.
While I perform in shows all over, The Burly Q Lounge is my monthly show in Houston. Every month, I curate an all-new world-class burlesque and variety show, with a classic speakeasy atmosphere. I feature lots of Houston based artists, but also fly in performers from around the world to make sure that every show is a completely new experience.
The goal of “making people forget their problems” has permeated our company’s culture and it’s what makes it so special. My team is constantly coming up with new ways to make the audience happy, whether it’s passing out candy or bringing birthday people on stage or even offering to take less pay to bring in a comedian they love. That kind of commitment isn’t something you can duplicate. It makes me so proud.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I love Houston. It’s so diverse and constantly growing. I think that can create some hurdles but also forces you to constantly grow as well. You can’t stick to one marketing plan in a city that changes every day. I love the hustle. It’s given me the skills to go anywhere and know I can make it work.
That being said, events are hard work and starting out here can be overwhelming. An issue that can make or break an event is parking. If I have a show at Warehouse Live the same night as an Astros game or event at the GRB, I just have to accept that I’m going to be in the red. Uber has helped make it less so, but only slightly. Until Houston develops efficient, popular public transportation it will always be a problem I have to factor in.
It’s something that producers in New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, etc. never have to worry about. But going back to the positive, dealing with those issues has forced me to get creative. The Burly Q Lounge keeps growing, EADO keeps growing, Houston keeps growing, and I keep growing. I truly believe I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly when I’m supposed to be here.
- Website: www.KiKiMaroon.com
- Email: KiKi@KiKiMaroon.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/burlyqlounge/
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/thekikimaroon/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/kikimaroon
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/kiki-maroons-burly-q-lounge-houston
- Other: www.BurlyQLounge.com
Law Stewart, Jefferson Carroll, VONZfoto, Robert Espinosa, The Boudoir Studios