Lisa Frye, head of Louisville’s most well-known burlesque group Va Va Vixens, is a Prince mega fan, and beginning this weekend, you can see her tribute to The Purple One live as she and the Vixens bring “Va Va ReVolutionary” to the Headliners stage.
“I’ve wanted to do this since we first started the Vixens over eight years ago, Frye tells Insider during a recent dress rehearsal. “That was my goal — we’d one day do a Prince tribute. And when he passed away, it was, like, we have to do it now.”
“It took over a year to get it all together — because it’s important,” says Frye.
Part of that year was dedicated to epic listening parties, when Frye and the Vixens combed through Prince’s catalogue to pick the right songs.
“The listening parties were really cool,” interjects Vixen Rachel Petty. “Lisa is a huge Prince fan, and she was just bubbled over with excitement, sharing as many songs as she could fit in a couple hours span. (Frye was) trying to give us all a sample and a taste of what we had to choose from, and listening to our visions and what we felt when we were hearing those songs.”
Many of the Vixens already had a close relationships with Prince’s music, with particular favorites.
Ethel Loveless is a fiery-haired high-energy performer who will present a number choreographed to “Little Red Corvette.”
“My very first Prince song was ‘Raspberry Beret,’ and I was listening to it in the car with my mother — I think I was like 10 — and I was, like, yes!” says Loveless.
Vixen Andre Shorter hesitated to mention his favorite song.
“This is so cliché,” says Shorter, and admits his favorite is “Purple Rain.” Some of his earliest memories are centered around the film with the same name.
“I was into Prince and The Time at the time, I was into both of them when they were rivals. So, it was like watching what I was picturing in my head. I was, like, ‘This is exactly what I imagined!’” he says.
Vixen Braden McCampbell also hesitated to mention his favorite song, but not because it was a clichéd answer.
“’Trust’ off of ‘Batman,'” he says. “It’s just one of those things, you know, I was 5 the first time I heard my Prince song, and it was off the ‘Batman’ movie.”
He’s got another Prince song that’s close to his heart, though.
“The No. 1 hit single on the Billboard charts the week my mother believes I was conceived, ’cause she liked to listen to music while she … not important,” says McCampbell, cutting himself off before adding, “Anyway, the single was ‘Let’s Go Crazy.’”
Other Vixens, like Christen Malone, had only heard a little Prince.
“I did not grow up with Prince in my house,” she admits. “So when we were presented with a Prince show, I was like … OK?”
But once rehearsals started, she quickly fell in love with songs like “Under the Cherry Moon” and “Black Sweat.”
Ask Frye what here favorite Prince song is, and you’ll just get an anxious look. She couldn’t even narrow it down to a top five. Heck, she couldn’t even fit all her favorites into the show.
“I’m upset that there are 40 songs I couldn’t fit in this show,” she says. “This has been such a struggle. Even putting the house music together, I was, like, ‘Why is this only an hour and 20 minutes? I cannot fit all the songs on here.’”
While previous Vixen shows have included storylines or quirky MCs, “Va Va ReVolutionary” is all Prince, his music and a few testimonials from Frye’s friends or famous folk.
“The transitions are either songs of his or clips I found online, like, Alicia Keys introduced him at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and her introduction is amazing, so I used that,” says Frye. “I also had a few friends who were huge fans, and I had people write down stuff about him — like how he affected them. It’s pretty powerful.”
The show should be sexy, melodic, funk and powerful, just like Prince.
Head to Headliners, 1386 Lexington Road, to check out “Va Va ReVolutionary.” Shows run Friday, June 30; Saturday, July 1; Friday, July 7; and Saturday, July 8. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Tickets run from $15-$35 and can be purchased online or at the door.