Persephone Pioneers

Persephone Pioneers: Selene Luna

Consider Selene Luna one of the more badass ladies you are bound to meet in this lifetime. The siren of both the stage and screen has cut her teeth as an actress, writer, comedian, fashion model, and activist, making waves all the way out in Los Angeles.

Selene Luna. Image copyright Mark Berry

However, you may be most familiar with Selene Luna from her work in burlesque, where she tantalizes audiences with some of the sexiest and funniest acts around. From charming folks in her representation of Margaret Cho’s assistant on VH1″²s The Cho Show to her too-soon-to-go role in My Bloody Valentine 3D, Selene is the hardest working woman around, bound to shatter any assumptions that may have been. It’s an honor to have such a well-recognized and talented performer land in our laps and grace us with her words. Persephone Magazine, please welcome Selene Luna.

Persephone Magazine: How did you become involved in burlesque? Was it something that you were always interested in?

Selene Luna: The idea of performing burlesque wasn’t exactly on my To Do List, until it fell in my lap, then I became an addict. In the ’90s the only people on my radar that were doing burlesque were Catherine D’lish, Dita Von Teese and The Velvet Hammer Burlesque, who have been accredited with helping launch the neo-burlesque revival. In my early performing days I was part of a magic act in a cabaret show, where I became acquainted with “The International Women of the World,” who later became The Velvet Hammer Burlesque. One day I received a phone call from the Velvet Hammer’s creator inviting me to perform with them. Initially I did not strip but did a Betty Boop impersonation, which is still painful to think about! Nevertheless, I was stripping by my second show with The Velvet Hammer Burlesque, and as they say, the rest is history!

PM: As someone who was involved in other forms of art for many years, mainly comedy, what about burlesque clicked for you? Are the two separate or do you use both in ways that compliment each other?

SL: By definition, burlesque means comedy, so for me, the two have always functioned as one entity. The comedy aspect of burlesque is what I continue to find most appealing. The erotic element of burlesque is where I experience a sense of freedom that allows me to be uninhibited. Together, burlesque and comedy are more healing than any form of therapy.

Luna at the Maine Comedy Festival. Image courtesy of

PM: What does burlesque mean to you? What is the thing that consistently draws you into it?

SL: To me, burlesque is the epitome of femininity and seduction; three minutes to engage an audience and show you are woman. Burlesque has fulfilled my childhood fantasy of wanting to be a vaudeville star. My childhood was tough and often dark. At a very young age, I found escapism in classic Hollywood and TV reruns. I became enchanted by the glamour of old-timey Broadway revues like the Ziegfeld Follies and vaudeville. I knew it made me feel good and knew I wanted to be a part of that world. The burlesque revival has given me the opportunity to live out a childhood dream.

PM: What are the best parts about performing? The worst?

SL: Performing is a privilege. The fact that someone is willing to spend their hard earned cash on a ticket to come see me do my thing is the best part. Also, the thrilling adrenaline rush after a good show cannot be compared to any drug or experience. Performing is my bungee jumping. Showbiz is riddled with heartbreak and challenges but performers are not curing cancer, so it’s difficult to come up with “worst” examples. Specifically referring to my experience as a stand-up comic, I’d have to say that the worst part about performing is when you realize there’s a group of young drunk white girls in the audience. They’re a handful!

PM: I know you have mentioned that you are semi-retired in a previous interview, but what would you like to see happen with the burlesque scene in the next couple of years? Where do you think it can go from here?

SL: After the Velvet Hammer Burlesque retired as a group, I decided I needed a break from burlesque to pursue other creative passions and professional ventures. My “semi-retired” blabbing didn’t last long because shortly after hanging up my pasties, I became involved with Margaret Cho’s The Sensuous Woman show, a variety and burlesque show. I had an unbelievably good time touring with The Sensuous Woman that my love for performing burlesque was renewed in full force! What I would like to see happen is less exploitation of burlesque performers by show producers. I’m glad I can say that I have never been taken advantage of by anyone in the burlesque community; however, I see it happening all around the burlesque scene. The line has been blurred between professionals and hobbyist, which allows for various interpretations of professionalism on the part of show producers.

Burlesque seems to be all the rage so it’s hard to image where to go from here. Outer space? If so, I’d like to headline Jupiter!

PM: What amazing work can we look forward from you in the future? Where can we catch you doing your thing?

SL: A show pony never stops tap dancing for her life so I’ve always got a number of things going on. I’m most excited to announce that I’m returning to NYC to perform my solo show “Special Needs” at the Laurie Beechman Theater on March 31st. Also, I’ll be opening for Margaret Cho quite a bit in 2012. Please check my calendar for a complete show schedule.

To find out more on Selene and where you can catch her act, visit

2 replies on “Persephone Pioneers: Selene Luna”

I loved Selene on The Cho Show and was very sad the show was on for only one season (as are many wonderful, edgy, feminist shows). The way she and Margaret Cho interacted with each other was hilarious (as were Selene’s one-liners and non-sequiturs). I think Selene was also interviewed on Chelsea Lately, which is not something I watch much anymore, but I happened to catch that one night. Selene is just fantastic.

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