Every once in a while you meet amazing people that inspired you to do something more with your life.... Drea Lorraine is one of those people. 

Drea, or Miss Cherry Delight is a burlesque performer with quirk, charm and balls. She was most recently crowned the 2013 Miss Coney Island, a title this woman absolutely deserves.

She was first brought to my attention when she performed at Space Porn, an art exhibit that I was covering, and then again when I found out she had actually won Miss Coney Island. This time I felt compelled to learn more about her, and also the art of Burlesque:

hey hey chanté: What motto or saying would best describe the way you live your life?

Miss Cherry Delight:
"Go big or go home", "Life is just a bowl of cherries". And "I'm not paying for air in my potato chips" essentially meaning "make every second count". 

How long have you been doing Burlesque?
In May of 2013, it will be 7 years.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Nasty Canasta. She was the first performer I ever saw live at CBGB's back in 2005. She did her striptease to a car alarm. She is a burlesque GENIUS. Her brain sparkles and I love her. 

Also, Little Brooklyn is also hilarious and a gigantic inspiration! Nasty's and Brooklyn's concepts are brilliance defined in comedy, striptease, and storytelling with the PERFECT punch lines! I am honored to call them friends.

So how did you hear about Miss Coney Island?I attended the Miss Coney Island competition 7 years ago. Coney Island USA (the organization) puts on this pageant every year where 10 burlesque stars are hand picked by Bambi The Mermaid, (the 1st Miss Coney Island). 

Everyone gets a ballot in the audience so it's up to the crowd who wins. You can only compete ONCE IN YOUR LIFETIME and that's it. I made a vow that one day I would be Miss Coney Island. I got into Burlesque from this vow. 

Luckily, I'm a woman of my word. I am now the 10th Miss Coney Island, officially "Miss Coney Island 2013"!

Do you have any other performers you channel style wise?
Some of my classic costumes are nods to Marlene Dietrich and some are nods at follies girls. But the majority of my costumes are cooked up for specific characters like Disney Snow White's Evil Queen, Alex of A Clockwork Orange, The Black Dahlia, a pastry chef, a cowgirl, a ringmaster, a mime, the list goes on...

Do you have to look a certain way to be a burlesque performer?
Burlesque is about embracing yourself whether you're a size 0 or a size 14. Whether you're a F cup or not even an A. I have seen so many beautiful people do tremendous things on stage ranging in so many different body types, skin colors and ethnicities. It really is a house big enough for everyone.

How do you come up with outfits? 
All outfits need to be constructed to deconstruct. So it starts from that. It depends on the hits and climaxes of the song. 
If there's a really long guitar solo, if there is an abrupt sound, you have to go along with whatever it is. 

The parts of the song you're bumping and grinding to are the places to disrobe artfully. It's also a lot of fun to keep the audience guessing. Rip-away pants and unexpected removals get great reactions.

What gives you inspiration for choreography?
Music. Always music. I find inspiration from all kinds of music. From Metal to showtunes. Rob Zombie to Tiny Tim. Serge Gainsbourg to The Decemberists. Give me something where I can find an innuendo, plot or conflict that is clever and unique and MAN, I'll run with it.

What's the hardest thing about burlesque?
Money. This business does not reward well for the blood sweat and tears we sacrifice for a good show. Eventually it starts to pay ok down the road. Very few burlesque stars ONLY make a living with burlesque alone. 

Why Burlesque?
That question always cracks me up. It's as if I'm being asked "Why do you have lungs?" or "Why do you take a shower?" Well, because I have to. Because I'll die if I don't.

I've been a performer all my life... danced through my childhood doing Ballet, Tap and Jazz. Dressing up for dance recitals I believe was a big part of it. The pageantry of it all. Rollers, makeup, and especially lipstick, tutus, stockings, bright colors and SEQUINS, dancing on stage, having an audience from a very young age was a big part of my entertainment "bug", so to speak. 

Normal kids on my block went outside to play. I stayed in to memorize Disney Movies. No one told me to or encouraged me to. That was my decision.

I went on to study Musical Theater at Western Connecticut State University, and Circle In The Square Theater Conservatory... In these art forms I have always longed to be in charge of the stories I wanted to tell. I wanted to direct myself and decide where I wanted to take MY story. 

My mind drifted away from Shakespeare and floated to the Circus and the frisky fanciful showgirls that accompanied the acrobats, sword swallowers and clowns. Everyone thought I was crazy that I didn't want to be the next Meryl Streep...Meryl Streep is taken. I just wanted to be ME! 

My first act was a hula hooping clown to "Bedlam Ballroom" by Squirrel Nut Zippers. I hula hooped and stripped at the same time with candy-cane striped hoops I made with PVC piping.

In terms of being unclothed on a stage, I have always been comfortable with showing my body... I always remember feeling strangely sexy as a child before I could be able to express it in an appropriate manner.

Which is funny because I was always made fun of in school for being artsy and un-relatable, but when I would come home I would pretend to be Jessica Rabbit or Wednesday Addams or a vampire or some hero or villain with sexual undertones. 

My favorite character of anything ever is Molly Shannon's "Mary Cathrine Gallager" character from SNL. That's me. The underdog. Quoting movies and acting them out at inappropriate times. Having hormones and not being able to channel them correctly. Being strange and unpopular with a head too full of book and pop culture references. 

Burlesque is the place to dump those out, brush off the cobwebs and USE that knowledge to begin a great narrative! 

I also started stripping for myself in the mirror since I was 6 years old. I was convinced before I became a burlesque performer that I had invented the "flip-your-underwear-off-your-foot-and-catch-it-with-your-hand-above-your-head-trick". Bitter to find out I did not, but how SWEET to find brethren.

Burlesque made me happy to be me and to be an actor with an outlet and a constant show. It exercised my brain, it's supportive audience and community welcomed me with open arms and helped me find what I'm supposed to be as a performer and what makes me special. 

When I strip, I am sharing myself. Unwrapping myself as a gift. This gift may be funny, adorable, death defying, or even scary! But it's for you. So you'd better say "THANK YOU". You're getting it whether you like it or not.

Do you feel like a role model at all?
Hell yes! I'm not a size zero, and I'm not an ingénue! I'm a character and proud of it. I never want to be perfect. I want the audience to be able to relate to me. That's what creates a star. Being able to see a piece of yourself in the woman on the stage or screen. 

To be able to say "There's a piece of me in the crystal of her tear. There's a piece of me in the cackle of her laugh. I'm her evil eye. I'm her triumphant tassel twirl!" Capture an audience's heart and they will follow you to the end of the earth. 

Do you have any regular gigs?
I host a circus-arts themed show at Duane Park Restaurant in Tribecca called "Cherry's Jubilee" and a magic show called "Cabaret Des Illusions". In both (aside from hosting and speaking) I sing, eat fire, and finally burlesque at the end. Cherry's Jubilee is the first Wednesday of every month and the Cabaret Des Illusions shows I host are twice a month. The food and drinks there are TO DIE FOR.

What's next for Drea and Miss Cherry Delight?
Follow my Facebook fan page, Miss Cherry Delight/Drea Lorraine to catch all the happenings. There are many! And they're all important. So go to them. XO

Drea is an example of someone who is fulfilling her dreams and kicking ass while doing it. Always do what makes you happy, and everything else will come together. 

Stay true to yourself, and screw the rest!

Please be sure to like Miss Cherry Delight's facebook page (here) to find out more about her and her upcoming events.

Good luck kiddos!