The sword swallowing, split tongue temptress herself, Emma Vauxdevil is a well-known performance artist who plays with fire and steals hearts. Well known on the tattoo event circuit, and far beyond, Emma sat down to talk with us about her stunning tattoo collection, how she got started in the burlesque biz, and what keeps her flame a burnin'.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do?
I’m Emma Vauxdevil (Vawd•ville) from Houston, Texas. I work weekly at the beautiful Prohibition Supperclub and Bar with The Moonlight Dolls. I have been performing over all for 7 years? Time flies by me haha. I have been doing burlesque for 5 years, and my 4 year sword swallowing anniversary is in August. I also have started twitch streaming, and it allows me to make time for video games which have been a huge love of mine my entire life.
What inspires you, what keeps you motivated and who are your personal heroes?
Music inspires me, I have an extremely visual mind that when I hear a song I can see exactly what I want to do with it in my head. I’m also inspired by other creative people like my friend Tamara Lichtenstein and Stev3n Horowitz who is absolutely filled with creativity. What keeps me motivated is my personal drive of stubborn self improvement no matter the cost and caffeine...lots and lots of caffeine.
I believe tattoos are very transformative even down to the session.
Who are your favorite tattoo artists or studios? Do you have a favorite tattooing experience, and if so, what made it so special?
Ian Lütz at World Tattoo, he did my arm filler and is working on my back. I also dig Shawn’s work at Thunderbird LA. He’s done a few of my pieces and I have two more I plan on getting from him. Jon West at Imperial Tattoo is fixing and blacking out my arm background currently and I absolutely love his work. Also, I’ve been a huge fan of Thomas Hooper’s art but haven’t had the chance to book a session yet. Matt Buck at No Idols did my two portraits on my thigh (Tesla and Houdini) which are some of my favorite pieces.
Why did you decide to get tattooed? What did you get and what do they mean to you? Do you think tattoos are transformative?
I meaaaan....I always thought tattoos were awesome. The ability to change your body how you want? I’m all for it. I honestly thought they would keep people away from me (as a kid tattooed people were considered “scary bad guys”) but I can’t run errands without getting stopped for “tat chat” haha. My tattoos don’t really mean anything other than “it’s something I like”. I believe tattoos are very transformative even down to the session.
...it goes along with always wanting to grow and get better. Plateauing is the most uncomfortable place for me to be at.
How did you get started doing fire, burlesque, and sword swallowing? Why was it what you wanted to do?
To be honest, I had 0 interest in traditional education (besides maybe history). I loved movement and costuming, and I’ve always been artistic and creative. I discovered gogo dancing at a rave I snuck out out my parents house to go to. I told my friend I wanted to be on that stage. My friend, Nathan, got me an audition and then it all kind of snowballed from there. I love burlesque because it’s so glamorous and as a kid I was fascinated by Vegas showgirls and magicians assistants. Sword swallowing I wanted to learn because of how impressive a feat it is to do, it goes along with always wanting to grow and get better. Plateauing is the most uncomfortable place for me to be at.
Can you talk about what it’s like being a tattoo model and performer? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of your job?
I don’t really consider myself a tattoo model. I’m a model and performer, but I have tattoos. I don’t really consider myself traditionally alternative, but that’s just me. I understand to the public I am alternative. My favorite parts of my job are when I get a strong reaction out of people; whether it be shock from sword swallowing, or a laugh when I do my more comedy based numbers. It makes me so happy to make people laugh.
Beyond your various performance arts, what are you most passionate about? What do you wish you had more time for?
I’m most passionate about costume design, traveling, and video games. I wish I had more time to read, also I want more time because I want more time to be able to relax and decompress.
Do you have any plans, events, or collabs coming up that you’d like to share?
Soon at Prohibition we will be opening up two shows that I’m excited for. I’m very passionate for my numbers in them. Fetish opens on May 24th and Tiki opens in June. Both shows are on Fridays. I have a super secret project in the works with one of my best friends Daniel that I can’t speak too much about, but let’s just say it’s “fantastic”. I’m also doing another photo trip with Tamara Lichtenstein in June and we have some very colorful looks planned.