A long time ago… about 3 years or so, a few friends that I knew from Blue Moon opened an old-school gone new burlesque joint called MJ’s Burlesque. These ladies are on Euro-time, so it was ages before I finally made it to a show. (I generally have to skip work to pull it off, or duck out early). It was a happy accident that I had a sick day on the same day that they had a show. MJ and Zed have a unique style, quirky, sassy, British… and uber sexy. When I settled into the beautiful little theater, I was quickly blown right off my stool by Nancy Toocool.
Nancy is from Finland… perhaps that’s where the motivation came from for her name… ice in her veins? Cool as a cucumber? Too cool for school? I’m not sure, but I can tell you this… she is one HOT dancer, and an opportunity to see her perform should not be missed!
When we sat down together, I asked Nancy some of my boring questions, not the least of which is how did you end up in SL. Nothing on this earth or in-world earth prepared me for her answer:
Nancy Toocool: “Hmm, I believe it was this RL news article about a Japanese woman who had hacked her SL husband’s account when he left her. So she destroyed everything from the poor man’s inventory and stole his lindens. The point was that she was convicted in RL over something she did in SL. So I figured this must be one cool virtual world and had to check it out. I’m from Finland, so unlike in the big central European markets, SL has never been advertised in my country, so it was something very new and fascinating to me. I decided to check it out and like so many of us, got sucked in.”
This led to a great deal of laughter… I mean, I heard of it on “Science Friday” with Ira Flato on NPR for heaven’s sake. They still have a sim in SL… hit me up if your inner nerd needs an outlet.
Once we regained our composure, I was compelled to ask Nancy about her background. Her sets are some of the most visually stunning sets I have seen in SL. We all know wonderful builders. We know whose sets “wow” us on a weekly basis. We know who knows faders like the back of their hand and who can do movers for 17 avis and make it look easy. Nancy is totally different. I’m not sure I can do her justice, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
Nancy is a musician, she plays the piano and swears if she didn’t sound like a crow that she would be a Finnish pop sensation. She is also an artist with an education in graphic arts and she has worked as a photographer and studied photography as well. Her aesthetic as an artist is evident in her attention to detail on her sets. She professes that she never danced in RL, so she comes at her sets from a musical viewpoint and the “visual imprint” that she wants to leave in the mind of her audience.
It’s interesting that she chose visual imprint to describe her design style. I can still remember the first set of hers that I saw. I can’t remember the song… but it was a subway car with a moving wall behind it, giving the illusion that it was cruising along. There were some fairly dicey unconscious passengers and one extremely sexy Nancy. I was oddly mesmerized by that moving wall… zipping along… I just kept thinking… wow! That is soooooo cool! (Insert name puns here).
I wondered if she had any special places that she likes to shop, as her sets are so visually stunning. She admits that she also is a fan of marketplace, because, like most of us, she has something very specific in mind and it’s easiest to find it there and then go get a good look at it in-world. We chatted about how we would kill for more copy/modify items and she had this to say about gacha extravaganzas:
“I cry watching all these cool items I know I won’t be able to use in a set.” I too have noticed this trend and agree completely. Nancy, who is multilingual was kind enough to share a lovely curse word in her native Finnish to put an exclamation point on her no-copy frustrations… “Paskiaiset!” which may or may not be a comment on the people who decided that gacha fairs are the way to go.
I also asked her where she gets her inspiration from and she says most of the time she finds a song first.
Nancy Toocool: “I have a list of five thousand songs that have inspired me and that I’d like to do in a show some day. A song that in one way or other speaks to me. I then listen to it a hundred times and see what my mind produces. That said, there have been times when I just see an outfit or something that I want to use in the set, and then I just find the music for that. This happened a few months ago when I visited the DarkStyle (or something) fair and found all these cool things I could combine into an outfit. I already have a song picked out for that number but since summers are so busy for me, I haven’t been able to create that number yet. But it’s coming.”
I was interested to know how a non-dancer went about finding a voice and venue to support a new dance habit.
Nancy Toocool: “It was in the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012 when I moved from Canada back to Finland and found my RL getting so boring that I had to fill the void with something in SL… I had just recently became interested in the ’20s speakeasy culture and the ’30s burlesque, so I knew that in a world as versatile as SL, there had to be something related to that. So I searched for different burlesque joints and tossed in applications. MJ’s was the only one to respond (in addition to the now gone Wiggle Room, where we didn’t really have shows… but it was a burlesque place nonetheless). And so began my dancer career in SL. MJ and Zed showed me the ropes and gradually I learned what it was all about with these strange dance huds and stuff.”
Let this be a lesson to venue owners who won’t take anyone who doesn’t have experience; you never know what sort of a diamond in the rough might exist who has art, photography and/or music experience. Anyone can learn to use a HUD and string together dances, but to create a scene and mood and story takes more than just one skill set!
Speaking of HUDs, Nancy is one of the people who uses the Artiste HUD developed by Yummy (Lat Lovencraft). It is a totally different platform that the HUDs that most of us use and it takes some getting used to according to those who use it, but they love it. I have seen it do some wondrous things, and Nancy is known to be one of those users who is willing to try just about anything with it. I have it on good authority that you can even throw another avatar with it! I haven’t seen it do that yet… but I’m waiting. *hint, hint*
She’s been using the Artiste since April of 2014 when she became a beta tester for Yummy. Before that she used the Barre. I asked her if she loved it:
Nancy Toocool: “I do. I know it’s a lot to take in but I have never seen a gadget as versatile as that thing.”
Nancy Toocool: “I have a feeling I’ve only used 10% of what it’s capable of.”
On the subject of tossing another avatar:
Nancy Toocool: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you could, hehe. If it also kept me warm at nights and made me eggs in the morning, I’d say it does everything.”
Before I let her go, I had to ask her about my favorite set of hers… It involved an enormous sea serpent and she was clothed in some spectacular chains leaving little to the imagination and I was dying to know what inspired such a unique act:
Nancy Toocool: “That number actually had a more complicated birth story. I got this idea of a siren number maybe two or three years ago. I wanted to use This Mortal Coil’s version of ‘Song to the Siren’, but I then found out that Slappy from Ellie’s had done that song before, and I try to avoid using the same music or ideas as other dancers, so I buried the idea. Then years later, I was visiting the Fantasy Fair (or something). It was a gacha event and I spent a fortune on the machine that had that headpiece and the chain… outfit. So I then knew I had to do my siren idea. Luckily, I remembered this Nightwish song called ‘The Siren’ and realized it would fit perfectly. I’m glad I didn’t go with the original song idea I had, it would have been a lot more… Is “calm” a good, polite synonym for ‘boring’?”
That really sums Nancy up. You can call her cool, but you could never call her boring! I encourage you to keep an eye out for shows at MJs. It’s currently the only place you can catch a glimpse of the uniqueness that is Nancy. She will be more active after the summer is over and they typically do shows once a month on a Friday and repeat on Sunday. I for one, can’t wait to figure out how to skip work to see the next one she’s in!