Très Zukko – Interviewed by Caroe Sandoval.
CS: For those people who don’t know you yet, how would you describe you act? Your persona?
TZ: My acts are very… exciting. I like to think that they’re different. The group numbers that I like to do are very fast choreography, hard hitting – and I work my dancers hard, and they like it hard. They like making it perfect, which is really cool for a choreographer – to have dancers who want to commit, and do your work justice.
CS: It IS exciting. I have watched it, and I’m attracted to choreo that is aggressive, too. That’s why I signed up for your number… which is no longer… in the can (laughs).
We have touched on this a bit, that you seem very comfortable embracing your masculine and your feminine side as a person, and as a performer. Do you feel like you are making some kind of statement doing this? Is this what you intend to do?
TZ: Well, when I first came out, I didn’t mean to do it as a “statement”… it was more just fun to do. But when people are paying attention to you, you realize you have a stage to say what you want to say, and people will listen no matter what… [One can say] Ok, I can make my act more than comedic, I can make it coolly choreographed, but I can also make a statement… or mind-fuck people a little bit. That’s sort of where the whole male/female thing comes in. I don’t see myself as a “male performer”… I just perform.
CS: I like that as an artist myself, sort of blurring the lines, rather than classifying “Oh that’s a male performer, or that’s a female performer”. We all have parts of both; there should be more of a fluidity. If somebody wants me to get into “drag”, I feel like that’s a part of myself, and something I would like to explore, tapping into that. And I agree that we have a platform from which to make a statement, or even provoke people to think if we choose to [do this].
TZ: Oh yeah, you have to get people to talk. Also when you’re starting out, you have to sell yourself a bit, and dressing in a certain manner definitely sells yourself. However, that being said, I’m not doing it as a gimmick. To me, a gimmick is something you do to get attention, but you don’t really feel that strongly behind. I do what I do not only to get attention, but also because that’s who I am.
CS: Along those lines, is there are artist or a genre that inspire you to create a number?
TZ: I get inspired by so many things, from watching performers like Madonna, [Lady] GaGa, but I also get inspired by watching AC/DC, Queen, [David] Bowie, and Frank Sinatra. If you’re doing burlesque, you have to love music, and know music. I also get inspired by going out on the town, and getting smashed and going “Oh! This would be a great number!” I get inspired by everything.
CS: (laughs) Like a sponge!
TZ: Yeah, I soak up everything.
CS: Is there anything you find cringe-worthy? Where you go, “Ooh… ugh”?
TZ: There are times when I am watching someone and think “Oh, they shouldn’t have done that in their number.” But again, that’s just my opinion. I don’t like saying it out loud [because then people might say] “Oh, what, you think you’re better than me?” I’m sure there are parts of my numbers where someone has gone “Ugh!”, and I think that’s great!
CS: It’s not necessarily bad, if it’s provocative, right?
TZ: No, it can be really cool.
CS: Is there anything that you want to move toward, or, steer clear of?
TZ: Something I don’t want to do right now, is drag. Certain numbers that I do, people might be saying, “That’s very draggy.”, but they are not draggy in performance. It’s different because I don’t pretend to be someone else. Trèz Zukko and Zach are the same person. What’s weird is that when I go onstage, and when I change the name, people accept my ideas a lot more. We’re the same person, just a different label. I don’t believe in “character” and I don’t believe in character personas. The reason I don’t believe in it, is that the “character” aspects of Trèz Zukko are the same as Zach in person.
CS: Lots of performers create a public persona, then there is the private life…
TZ: That’s cool. If that’s how you want to separate your life, but for me I just find it really funny. It’s not a persona, that’s ME onstage.
CS: All the colours that we all have. Persona is just a different colour.
We talked about the [Lady] GaGa shoes. (That Trez decorated and helped build). Each time I go, “Oh my God, BE careful!, but at the same time, I’m like, ‘My God, they are AMAZING’! How important is fashion to you?
TZ: It’s super important.
CS: Is it an extension of art or…?
TZ: Oh, yeah. Art and fashion are the same things. I can’t afford to buy things or get things made right now, so I have to make them. And I like to make things that people don’t make. I have three “Newspaper” outfits right now, and people have seen only one! The platform shoes that my Dad has made.
CS: Oh, that’s awesome.
TZ: I do it because it grabs attention, and also because it’s just fun to wear!
CS: For me, the [burlesque] number of the art is complete.
TZ: People go, “Is this something you would wear in everyday life or is it just costume?” And I hate the word “costume”. I would wear it if it was more accepted in society. But it’s not, so I don’t. If I was wearing it in everyday life, I would probably be single still for the rest of my life.
CS: I’m a big believer in wearing something that makes your spirit dance. So any excuse to throw on a wig, and glitter….I’m all over it. (laughs). Like every time I go to Jimmy Cummins’ art show, I ask if there is a theme and I dress up like a golden goddess, or a dark punk girl. I’m just dying to have that performative aspect, it depends on where. Anybody give me a reason, and I will use it there.
Speaking of theatricality, what’s been the most innovative or, let’s say interesting act for you that you’ve seen and that you have done?
TZ: That I’ve seen…I love to watch Captain Kidd perform. I’ve seen him live a few times. He’s performed at Taboo [Revue], but I saw him in Vegas, and that blew me away! To see a male do that [being flamboyant] and to embrace a femininity of it, is really cool.
CS: I saw him. He was a really good dancer… it blew my f*cking socks off!
TZ: There are some amazing male burlesque performers out there. And I love seeing Tigger do burlesque. It’s all so very different, new, and fresh.
CS: Do you want to follow suit?
TZ: I do and I don’t. I do, in the sense that creating stuff that is new to the scene. But I don’t, in the sense of both of them have their own thing, and they are perfect at it. I want to do my own thing that no one else has seen before, and be perfect at it. I’m getting there.
CS: You’ve got a certain flavour.
TZ: It’s growing stronger every performance.
CS: “Testify! Testify!” (talking like a gospel lady).
What is the favourite performance that you’ve done?
TZ: Three quick ones that I like to think of so far, are the number that we performed at the Vancouver Burlesque Festival (2013) – a remix of a song called “I Found You”. It was kind of annoying, but it was really good beats. It was like an ode to amazon cave women, so that was pretty fun.
This new one I’m working on is definitely a favourite solo. And then… so many of mine. “Countdown” was great. The girls in plaid just kicked ass. A solo that I’ve done too, with blood and handcuffs.
CS: I think there are [burly] peeps lining up, “I want to be in a Très number!”
TZ: They are definitely different, and I do work my girls really hard, and they like that.
CS: I think so. I know I do. (Having been in one of his numbers.)
TZ: I like, after ten times of performing the same 10 seconds of a song, saying, “Let’s do it again!” On stage, it turns out amazing.
CS: Look at that, [when you were only] a year and a half [in], some people would be like, “What?” (incredulous that Très was relatively new, but the numbers were so polished). They’re exciting, to be sure.
And what do you make of “Boylesque” itself? Where do you fit into all that?
TZ: I don’t pay attention to it, in the sense of trying to fit into a specific category. I do not like the word “Boylesque”. I think it’s too… tacky. And it’s not called “Girl–lesque” and “Boylesque”; it’s called Burlesque. It’s for everyone. Of course, men need to respect the surrounding environment, but its still for everyone. I don’t see myself fitting in under “Boylesque”…
CS: In five years’ time, do you see yourself as a leader? Or more working outside that paradigm?
TZ: In five years’ time, I don’t know if I’ll be doing burlesque, or maybe some other exciting form of entertainment.
CS: Thinking of expanding into producing or acting?
TZ: Producing or performing musical stuff, but still keeping in some form of burlesque. But also, you could stick with [doing] burlesque for five years, and become something completely different and new.
CS: Or maybe just adding to your repertoire…
TZ: I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen five years from now. I’m more thinking about the next performance, and what I can do to be fresh and different.
CS: You may have a bit of an edge because there seems to be a bit of a shortage out there of male burlesque performers. Is that just? Or do you feel, “Oh good! My time has come”, and use it to good advantage?
TZ: I’ve actually never thought about it as “my time has come.” It’s a little bit of an advantage when it comes to performing and trying to get a gig. Very little bit of it though, because producers are going to go, “What is a good act?”. That’s what it comes down to.
CS: So bottom line, if you don’t have the talent, man or woman, it doesn’t matter? It’s about what you’re putting out there.
TZ: I don’t look at it and say, “Oh good, there are no other guys out there. I can be better than everyone.” I don’t look at it that way.
CS: So you still have to “earn your stripes”.
TZ: Yeah. It’s just as hard for a guy as a girl, because, as a guy, when you go out and do a number, most people are going to laugh and find it funny anyway.
TZ: I don’t know if ‘disadvantage’ is the word… but people are going to laugh, unless they know who you are, or unless you are very strong performer.
CS: Do you think you might be judged harder because there are less of you [male dancers], that so much relies on you?
TZ: I don’t you know if you are judged harder, but I think people look at you differently when you come out onto the stage. People are going to be like, “Oh, this going to be really funny.”, Or “It’s going to be REALLY sexy”, but there is no in-between.
CS: That’s really interesting.
TZ: I like to think I’m the “In-Between”.
CS: There are so many off-shoots, groups forming [within Screaming Chicken members] like, “Sparkle Pussies”, “Lost Girls”… Are you thinking of going in that direction with your own outfit, “Très Zukko’s Dirty Vanities”.
TZ: As much as I like to do shows in groups and that, I also look at my solo stuff, and go, “Where can I go with this?” Right now, it’s a good opportunity to do more numbers, and work harder.
CS: I think for Davie Street, you’d fit a niche for sure. Girls are nice, but they wanna see MEN!
TZ: (Then Très talks about then-boyfriend…) It’s nice to find someone who you can be yourself around, and them not care that you’re wearing heels.
CS: I think that’s invaluable! It’s been a while since I have had that kind of companion, where… you could look as ugly as hell, and they still think you’re wonderful.
TZ: Well, that being said, I do like to wake up earlier sometimes and brush my teeth…
CS: And glam up?
TZ: And get back into bed. (laughs)
CS: Well, that’s just being considerate. And, you know, a good lover!
Now, some critical questions without which, this interview would be rendered obsolete! (Which is not true.) Do you ever watch [interview show] “Actor’s Studio”?
TZ: I do.
CS: Where the host asks, “What’s your favourite curse word?” I love ending like that.
Ok! So… What is sexy?
TZ: Sexy? Confidence. Naked confidence. And… laughter is really sexy. That, and a naked man in my bed.
CS: A naked confident man who makes you laugh!
TZ: And females too. I mean, anyone who can be confident and naked.
CS: What is your favourite colour?
CS: Favourite dessert?
TZ: Chicken wings and beer! I’ll have that for Main Course, and I’ll have that for dessert!
CS: Lights on or off?
CS: Back hair: deal breaker or no? (laughs)
TZ: I would like to say it’s a deal breaker, but I have a little bit near the top that I shave every other day.
CS: Favourite swear word?
CS: Fave body part?
TZ: Like my OWN favourite body part? I really like my eyes.
CS: That’s not what I expected to hear! (laughs)
TZ: And I like my lips. I like my eyes a lot, though.
CS: Ok, Guilty Pleasure?
TZ: I like April’s answer: Pot. So, I’ll second pot.
CS: So you don’t watch “Toddlers and Tiaras”, or something horrible?
TZ: No. But I like to listen to [boy band] “One Direction” a lot. So I’ll say pot and “One Direction” – like, together.
CS: Ok, last one: On your tombstone…
TZ: Zacchary Andre Wood (Trèz Zukko) – dates – “Entertainer/Lover/” uh….it needs to say one more thing, but I don’t know what it is yet!
TZ: So give me, like five more years to figure it out.
CS: Ok. Haha… Great answer.
Très Zukko can be seen in Chickens Take Europe – A Burlesque Spectacular, on March 4th at The Wise Hall. [Buy tickets here.] He will also be headlining with the Screaming Chickens at the Munich Burlesque Festival, in Germany, this April.