By Amber Dawn

Burlesque, for the uninitiated, is the classic art of striptease. Think of Bettie Page (Picture: ) and Tempest Storm (Picture: ) , not pole dances and the Pussycat Dolls. Also, think of Satan's Angel, The Devil's Own Mistress. This veteran bump-n-grinder began her days of disrobing in the early 1960s, and she is still thrilling audiences today!

During her long and storied career, Angel has performed for Minsky's, the Follies Bergere, a U.S.O tour of Vietnam with Bob Hope, as well as myriad burlesque houses all over the world. Her signature act, in which she sets her pasty tassels aflame and twirls them like a helicopter's propeller, helped to make her a headliner and attracted the attentions of some very famous admirers (among them, a young man named Clint Eastwood). She's fronted an all-girl topless band called the Hummingbirds and appeared in Bizarre magazine three times. She's even been immortalized on film, most notably as Mara in Jerry Schafer's cult classic Short Cut to Terror.

Angel retired in 1985, leaving her lush lifestyle for a quieter, more domestic one, eventually settling in Arizona. In 2001, after being approached by local playwright Terri Earp to transform her amazing story into a play, Satan's Angel was reborn! The play, Have Tassels, Will Travel, chronicles her wild and wonderful life as one of the business's hardest-working ecdysiasts and is today performed as a one-woman show. Along with the play, Satan's Angel can still be seen shimmying and shaking with neo-burlesque starlets, such as Chicago's own Michelle L'Amour, Sissy Butch Brothers, and Flesh Tones Burlesque, as well as Phoenix's Scandalesque. She also schools the nation's finest peelers at the annual Miss Exotic World pageant in Las Vegas, where she is a member of the Hall of Fame.

Most recently Satan's Angel has appeared in the Gurlesque Burlesque documentary and the video for Avenged Sevenfold's "Bat Country" as the oldest Showgirl in Vegas!

At present Angel is working on her memoirs, and she gave us a charming sneak preview.

Satan's Angel:

You grew up in San Francisco in the late '50s, early '60s. Were you influenced by the Haight-Ashbury "scene" and the underground culture of that place and time?

I was a hippy. I just didn't dress like one, because I was in showbiz. I loved the Haight; it was great fun and I loved smoking weed. My Mom hated that culture, and peer pressure was great in those days. So I was a closet hippy.

You had a rather conservative upbringing, besides. How did you go from charm school to stripping?

Money! Money was the only reason I started in "the biz". I didn't want babies, didn't want marriage. I wanted to live life to the fullest, and I could make good money and be with who I wanted and have all the material things too.

Were you nervous the first time you took off your clothes in public?

Nope, never been nervous, except when I do my play, because of the slides we use in the show. If I get to wondering on a story, and forget where I'm at, it screws up the slides and the play. So I get nervous, because I don't do it often enough to make it "Angel Perfect".

Ha! Stripper by nature, actress by accident, then?

True. The play is a good one, just very hard to book. So we filmed it, and I sell copies instead! [Laughs] When you only do something one to three times a year, how in the hell can this old broad remember all that shit? I'm getting too old.

Who were some of your skin-spirations?

Mostly Liz Taylor (Picture: ) , Mae West, Marilyn Monroe (Picture: ) , Gypsy Rose Lee, Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow (Picture: ) , Greta Garbo, women like that. You see, we didn't have female she-roes like we do now. Hell, women were sales people, waitresses, housewives, and that's about the extent of their lives.

When that woman Gloria Steinem burnt the bra, so to speak, I was pissed. What the hell was going to hold up these 44DDs? We went from very womanly looking women to grubby-jeans-and-a-shirt women. I miss the chiffon cocktail dresses. I miss seeing some young chick in the grocery store, in house slippers, and letting her kids run wild.

You sort of torched the stereotype by just living your life, and she took all the glamour out of it?

Oh, don't get me started! [Laughs]

How did Cecelia Walker become Satan's Angel?

My name is Angel Cecelia Walker Bass.

And where did the "Satan's" portion come from?

I couldn't use Hell's Angel, so we picked Satan's. I was feisty, wild, and crazy on stage. I used fire whips, motorcycles, and things like that. My first professional strip was around '64, but I had been dabbling since I was sixteen.

Where did the fire-tassels idea emerge from?

You had to have a gimmick! So one night, in a moment of inspiration, I set my ta-tas on fire, and tits flamb?t was!

Tell us about the Hummingbirds?

[Laughs] The Hummingbirds was a knock-off of the Ladybirds, our sister topless band. They traveled, while we stayed in Frisco, eight shows a night, forty-five-minute sets, $350 a week. It was time to get out.

Even back then, that's a rough gig.

I could strip, and do one show, and make $350 a week! I always tried many things, sort of an Angel-of-all-trades. I just couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to be when I grew up. Ha!

So as a stripper and a musician, what's your favorite music to peel to, then and now?

That's a hard question. Blues, jazz, "down, white, and dirty", or hard, dope-doing bands from the '60s and '70s, like Queen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, etc. I like my audience up, up, and UP!

I danced to the Doors, Bad Company; you can get real down and nasty with them. [Laughs wickedly] I hate the crap I started with when I first came out in the biz-so slow it could put a snail to sleep!

Along with your stage career, you've done a few films; do you ever wish you'd pursued the screen more?

I would have, I was in an accident; my body was disfigured, and in those days, you had to be perfect. I had several screen tests all lined up, but they were while I lay bleeding in a ditch, ready to die, my contracts bled away with me. [Sighs] So much for that.

It's so amazing that you still came back and danced, though.

True. I'm amazed I dance now, and on a rating of one to ten, I give myself a two, compared to what I used to do.

You've done some stuff recently, though: a film and music video. Do you think you'll continue to seek it out this time around?

Yes, yes, and, Oh hell yeah! I'm in the process of waiting for a TV series to come to light. HBO is interested. I have the part already, just waiting on the producers.

The neo-burlesque community has really embraced you. Did you ever, in a million years, foresee burlesque coming back this way?

Nope. I just wish more ladies would do the old-style tease, though. Hey, some is better than none, I guess. Though I like the part where you don't have to have a perfect body anymore. That's very cool, especially for me. I like 'em BIG!!!!

You mentor and perform with Scandalesque, a burlesque troupe in Phoenix, Arizona. How did you find one another? How do you feel about passing the lighted tassels?

I met them at my play. Pyra Sutra is the actual founder; she came to me after one of the shows and told me she wanted to put a show together. Of course I chuckled. They all say that. But can they be good? They were, and she is! She is one helluva fire dancer. Between the five of them, they probably have 100 years of professional dancing experience! I tell them, and they listen? Cool! If not, cool! I did the same when I was their age.

Do you still do your fire tassels today?

Yuppers! Though, it's not all that easy to do fire. Hell, everyone always gets burned. I don't do them as long as I used to; that keeps the club owners happy. They still get nervous.

Oh, these kids and their fire codes! Other than the passing of years, what's different about being an exotic now?

There's no tease, no sex, no torture or tantalizing moves, no money, no booking agents, no anything! There are really no great photographers, no great costumers. It's all different now. [Sighs]

How about Michelle L'Amour and her peers? She lists you as her role model.

She's fabulous! What a true QUEEN of burlesque! She is smart and thinks of everything possible to keep burlesque alive-videos, books, radio, TV, dance classes, workshops. Christ, got an hour? [Laughs] She is my role model.

What do you think about being considered a "role model" at all?

I like it! That's one of the reasons I go to all the pageants, to show them the old ways. I get emails all the time about how the new girls have taken my moves, etc. It's a good thing. Role model, though, I don't know. Hell, I still have a good time. I love great food, good wines, and a cigar. Hell, I'm one bad girl, who is not going to make it to seventy years old.

How do you see the current revival and saturation of the neo-burlesque scene affecting the exotic entertainment industry and even the attitudes of sex in our country?

Sex in our country? You're asking a good, turned bad, Catholic girl. I think it's awful.

Your ten-year-old daughter is going on fifteen, and your fifteen-year-old is going on twenty. They are babies having babies, and they want to grow up to be whores. They think the back room of a gentlemen's club is great-giving blowjobs. They want to be porn stars.

I think we fucked up somewhere, but, oh well! That's just one person's opinion, and I'm going to be dead when this world bites the dust. I received an email today about classes on how to be a hooker, and it was no joke!

That's quite a departure from the world of pasties.

Hey, whatever makes them happy. Who am I to say? That's what it's all about now; times have changed, and "whatever turns your crank" makes me happy. I just hate it when it goes to the children.

You spent twenty-five years in the business the first time around and six years in this incarnation. How much longer will Satan's Angel be twirling her tassels?

I love this business. I gave up everything for it, and never batted an eyelash. But what do you think burlesque is going to be like on stage in another twenty to forty years? Live sex in every club, blowjobs, having babies on stage, what? Where can this go?

I wanted to retire last year. I'm as done as a piece of toast. I stayed because my book is coming out, but now they tell me not until next year. Maybe I love it too much to leave. Maybe I love this world of burlesque and everyone that's in it. I don't know, but I'm still here. [Laughs]

Are there any little teasers you could possibly share about a certain Mister Clint Eastwood?

[Cackles] He was all business; he wanted to be somebody after the spaghetti westerns. That's just what he did. Nice guy, though his people deny me. He hasn't, but his agent has. Like the agent was there or something! Besides, I don't give a shit who believes me or not. My family was there; that's all the proof I need. Really, though, it was only for the sex. When that died, I moved on.

With all your worldly adventures, were you ever star-struck?

Well, when I met Errol Flynn, I was dumbfounded. I think I babbled something of a hello. God, he was gorgeous, even old! I met Elvis Presley and didn't even do that. [Laughs]

Really? Did you bed him?

Yes and no. It was weird, the things you do when you're stoned and drunk. [Chuckles] It's in my book!

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