An Interview with the Blessed Contessa
Contessa Montebello: The clown, the cannibal, the acrobat, and so much more…
First, it has to be asked: is this a short-term or long-term leave from Emilie Autumn, the Bloody Crumpets, and her tour? Will our favorite cannibal ever grace the stage again? Why did you depart?
This is a long-term parting from the Emilie Autumn Tour. Of course I’ll be gracing stages again, but different ones. I can’t stay away from the stage to long, it is home, it is my natural state of being. If I could build a mini stage in my house I’d probably sleep there instead of a bed. As a performing artist you dedicate every cell structure to making the show your working on the most important. You have to dedicate all time, resources, lifestyle to that experience in order to make it the best possible show. Touring especially takes a unique combo of commitment and dedication to the ever changing happenings that arise in tours. I’ve arrived at a place where I’m ready to put all that dedication in a different direction. While touring its very difficult to commit to anything else. Its an all consuming job and I’m really excited to work on things that have been brewing for years, and now it’s finally time.
We’ve heard stories from Veronica Varlow about late-night graveyard adventures. Do you have any tour or behind-the-scenes stories you’d like to share?
The behind the scene adventures are many and great. It was definitely a challenge to realize that we had time to adventure. Only being in a location for a few hours limits your time to food and sleep as priorities. Since I love to adventure, I love to purposefully get lost and roam for hours, but not on a show day.
I was in Latvia for the second time doing a show at the same venue as two years prior. I have a deep connection with Latvia. I know I’ll be back again and again, but I’m not sure why. The first time I was there I only saw the inside of the then-being-built venue. Men were still pouring the cement steps to enter the building the first time. Now that I was returning I couldn’t fathom not getting to see something of Latvia except for the industrial type park the venue happen to be in. Myself, Veronica, and a crew member took off as soon as we arrived to go see if we could find some civilization.
From the looks of things there was nothing for many miles, and we were only on foot. Low and behold, two dirt paths and three turns away the city of Riga opens up before us. I know that no matter how much time I have, I have to get into the city. We were still on an outer circle passing antique pastel cement houses that looked as if they would turn to powder is touched. Veronica and Scott decide to turn back, and I tell them I’m going to just stay out for a few more minutes. This was approximately four hours to showtime. They leave and I turn into 5 year old Contessa playing in the woods. I’m singing to myself, fantasizing about living in each of the establishment I pass. Staring off into the distance and contemplating what turns to take so I could easily enter city streets that seem just a few turns away.
I don’t know how much time passes, but I make it into the city streets. An insane medieval wonder has become my playground and I’m entranced. Oddly enough I haven’t passes on human being on this journey yet. I’m wondering about time, but fairly sure I know exactly how I got there, so I put my attention on finding a cafe or something to drink, where I might find other humans. This does not prevail. I apparently wasn’t in a section where cafes and establishments thrive. None the less I was memorized by the unfamiliarity of everything around me.
Eventually, I’m brought back to reality by an intense urge to pee.
Things come piercingly into focus when you have to go, and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere. I become awared of time and I’ve easily been gone for almost two hours. Still no cafes, not even a tiny store, just tall looming building that are dark and locked up. Somehow having to go the bathroom in combo with realizing i’m completely lost and there is a show I’m apart of lifting curtain in exactly two hours (two hours before show is when I start get ready) I start an internal panic. Now I fancy myself a grand explorer so my outside shell remains stoic and in control where on the inside, I’m melting, FAST. As I’m trying to decipher what bridges I crossed in the distance and how many lefts and rights I took, I finally come to a windowed shop where I see one elderly women and one elderly man standing at the counter. I’m fairly certain it’s some sort of place to buy a drink but there is no sign of a coffee maker or refrigerators.
At this point internally I’m in a complete panic, for I realize I have no idea where I am, I don’t know the name of venue I’m performing at, so I can’t ask for directions back to it, and I’m overwhelmed with the feeling that me and these elderly cuties will not be able to communicate. I know I have to ask to use their bathroom, because I’m at the point where I can’t process any thoughts until I go. Five minutes of pantomiming and begging, and repetition they finally realize what I’m requesting and point me to a closet.
Inside the closet, I feel like I’ve won the lottery. I also realize I have less than an hour and half to find my way back to the nameless venue. Not having any latvian money on me I can’t even buy whatever the couple might be selling and being sooo relieved I shower them with thank you’s and love until I can tell its getting awkward. I realize I’m in a very old section of this incredible city and no one even if I do run into other people will be able to communicate with me. I have no phone, no way to communicate with the others back at the venue, no money, no language, and no idea how I had arrived to where I was. I was sooooooo lost!! I had the building to guide me in, but now that I’m in the city I can’t see the open space that was my only guide out. I proceeded to walk deeper into a different part of the city thinking I was going back the way I came. Push comes to shove I miraculously recognize an instinct to turn down a certain road, completely give up on arriving on time for show, resign that I’m a horrible person and deserve to be fired, and have resigned that I just won’t make it.
Two minutes later the buildings clear away and I hear a thumping starting and stopping.
I have somehow wondered back into the abandon industrial park, up the newly finished cement back staircase and bop onto stage as if I meant to arrive at exactly that time and as if nothing has happened. No one knows for days later when I feel it safe to tell that I could have been that American on the missing persons report.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had on tour?
Every time the show was given a proper theatre stage where we could really pull off everything we intend. On the road it is a constant struggle to have the proper conditions to pull off the show I know we’re all really capable of. I look back and remember all the shows that had a proper stage and lighting, and rigging and space for the audience to enjoy. Stages so big they make us run with breathlessness. That is GLORY!
How did you create the cannibal character for the stage show? Where did your inspiration come from?
I generally create characters by writing out their life history. I’ve named other characters that I have Contessa and when I first started with Emilie, I had so little time to come up with a character, it was very instantaneous and sprouted from an improvisational place. It all started from “My name is Contessa and I’ve been in an Asylum for year…”why?” Answering the question, came the story, which I blogged about a long time ago.
Consume what you love and you will know it better!!
Will you and Veronica every hold another Luminous Wild adventure? How did the first event go?
I’m so sure we will hold another form of this. It was such an especially special weekend. The only thing holding us off presenting another one is finding the time. It was such a wild raw weekend, and I can’t wait to see how it transpires from here.
What does 2013 hold in store for you?
There are a few projects on the table and I’m so excited about them all. One being a touring productions combining the fantasy of the circus world with classical Shakespeare. I can’t say too much but it is something bigger than I’ve ever imagined and I’m so excited to be reuniting the theatre world with the zaniness of the cirque world. I adore working with a huge crews to pull off things we could never do alone and this will be one of those. The etsy store is an ever evolving course in my love of plant medicine. As I learn and experiment with more, I create products from those lessons. It’s a store mixing the art of beauty with the art of medicine. Beauty and medicine both tend to have stressful connotations in our world and I always want to bring back the ritual of both of these things in order to unearth the true wonders of these two topics.
These are the questions you submitted to be answered!
When you get down, what do you do?
When I get down in the dumps, how do I turn it around? Forcing myself to create art, writing, drawing, getting onstage and giving everything I have left to an audience. I also tend to stare at walls like penguins when I get really freaked out. I think it’s my way of meditating.
Tea? I love tea! My favorites are MAte, cacao puerh, and a simple plain no frills white tea by the gallon. The smaller the cup the better.
Can you ballroom dance?
I can ballroom dance. I adore partner dancing!!!! All types from all countries. I try to learn it all. Tango is my present challenge. Dancing is my drug!! There is nothing better than a good leader asking you to dance.
My favorite Bloody Crumpet, Contessa will no longer perform with Emilie Autumn
After a weekend dedicated to the grateful game, I wanted to take time to share with everyone that I will be giving my full performing attention to other avenues. I will be missing from the upcoming EA tours and wanted to inform you before hand. Thank you Thank You THANK YOU Thank you Thank you thankyou thxu for your amazing energy and delight over these years. Performing for you all, has beenan excelerated life altering experience, and I’m excited to share that again with you through different experiences. There are many tricks up these cannibal’s sleeves and the possibilities ahead are tickling and flirting closely with the future. I will miss this particular experience with you deeply and want you to know my spirit never leaves any stage floor my feet have touched, no arms of any embrace, no genuine connection made. Thank you for being an incredible reflection of inspiration and support. It is time to transform, and ignite into the new, and I look forward to you all being there to laugh, blush, and giggle to a new Contessa adventure.
“There was once just one Contessa, but that didn’t seem like enough”
Forever nibbling your fingers and toes, especially when your not looking~ ConTesSA!!!!!
curtsy, kisses and nibbles…I really can’t believe that. I wouldn’t be so sad if it was Maggots or Veronica. But Contessa…she was so wonderful and she seemed to understand Emilie’s conception so well during last tour...Why does it have to be now, two days before the start of new tour? What happenned?
I’m really, really sad about this.First photo of a poster from photos_from_tafwvg
This is more or less why the blog has been so quiet as of late. I’ve been going through a slight mourning period (dramatic, yes). I will be getting back to it once I gather new material for it- and don’t worry, I’ve got some decent tidbits in mind. :)
Inspired from Yoga, The Five Tibetan Rites, dancer warm-ups, and movement of the amusement:
THE RITES OF AUTUMN
Contessa is a … cannibal.
Let the Record Show Finale Hamburg 2009 feat. an improvised Contessa Act
Same goes for this one.
Contessa looks like she’s going to eat her in this, haha.