Melody Sweets from Vegas' Hit Show Absinthe

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Burlesque in the Black
MELODY SWEETS
from the hit show Absinthe
BY SANTODONATO

 

Melody Sweets, a sultry singer with unabashed sexiness, has played the Green Fairy in Absinthe since the show opened here in Las Vegas. Absinthe, at Caesars Palace, voted “Best Show” many times over, features outrageous comedy with live singing and stripteases by Melody, up-close and personal. The role allows her to sing and dance to her own original songs, as she wows the crowds.

This classy burlesque artist is also the songwriter for her band, The Candy Shop Boys. Burlesque in the Black was her debut album, a compilation of songs for the stage, written about stories of burlesque acts. Melody feels that it’s empowering for women to be unafraid of their bodies, and shows off her own body in an uninhibited stunning exhibition to bolster that point. Her show is one of the hottest shows in Vegas. 

SMARTY: How did you get into the entertainment business?
MELODY: Entertainment… I started singing when I moved to New York City. A friend of mine heard me sing and said: “You have to sing in my cover band.” It was an all-girl cover band. It was in a club called “Meow Mix” on the lower Eastside in Manhattan. I did a couple of shows, and I of course, loved it. I’ve always wanted to perform. But I didn’t want to sing other people’s songs anymore. So I ended up gathering musicians and forming a band called “Gold Digga”. It was a bit rock ‘n roll, a bit Blondie-esque. Did that for a couple of years in New York. We went into the studio to record an album, and a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to do a burlesque show, and I said: “Well, only if I can sing. I wrote “Slice of Heaven”. I did it just for fun. I just wanted to stay on the stage. I thought, ‘Whatever, the pasties are pretty, you know,’ and here I am. I kept getting hired. I kept getting booked as a burlesque performer and singer. I was getting paid by the song. That was always nice. It was very hard in New York. You’re in a sea of musicians. And to be in a band… I really give kudos to bands that really make it and succeed in New York City, because that is a hustle – one that I enjoyed very much. But my band ended up breaking up anyway, because my bass player found out that his real father was Roger Daltrey. No shit! And he had posters of his dad on his walls. His whole life he was looking at his father! Could you imagine that? It’s crazy! So he ended up going back to England. So the band broke up, but I had already started doing burlesque.
SMARTY: Did you sing or play instruments as a child? 
MELODY: No, I was forbidden to sing. I just wanted to get on stage. I just had a couple sips of courage to get me up there. 

"When you’re on stage, it’s different. You’re controlling what people are seeing and for how long they’re seeing it, and whatever way you’re presenting it. Especially in Absinthe, it’s more playful, and I think that it also is more inviting for the audience and doesn’t make things awkward for either one of us. Maybe “Voodoo” can be a little strange sometimes. (laughter) Simulated fellatio could upset some people, but it’s showbiz."

I wasn’t doing it to be a professional singer. I was just doing it because a friend asked me to come in, and I loved the songs and the bands that we were doing. It gave me a chance to do costumes and I love that whole process: making a costume, coming up with a concept, showing off, and for the most part, I think I can hold a tune. (laughter) So it worked out.
SMARTY: What’s your favorite part about being on stage?
MELODY: The audience. I’m entertained by the audience. It’s a great feeling. It’s a liberating feeling. You’re in control of what you’re doing. You’re in control of what people are seeing and you’re able to present yourself in a way that I couldn’t present myself walking down the street. And above all, I get to sing. Who would think that you could get paid to do something… to me, something as simple as singing? Everybody can sing. Everybody has a voice. The fact that I can get up there and maybe, I don’t know, what’s the word? Inspire someone… It’s thrilling for me.
SMARTY: And in Absinthe, in the tent, it’s such an intimate, in-your-face setting. The audience is practically on stage with you. Are you ever apprehensive about the burlesque side of things?
MELODY: No, I’m more scared… I’m a little more threatened of people judging my voice, judging my inside… something I can’t really change, than judging my outside – because everybody has nipples. It’s a body. I have a different view on it. I would be awkward, and really shy, if I were just sitting here now doing that act. But it’s the lights. It’s a show. And that part doesn’t bother me. And actually, I know we’ve talked about that before: when there’s old ladies in the audience… or even sometimes young ladies… maybe they’re threatened by other females, and they scowl. There are some scowlers out there… Those are the people that I want to impress or turn around the way that they think the most, about the physical body, and about being afraid of what they’re seeing on stage. So I try to smile at them more and put on more of a show for them and make them feel less uncomfortable – ‘cause they’re sitting there like (hmmff). So that’s a nice challenge for me while I’m on the stage.
SMARTY: So you’ve always been really comfortable with your body?
MELODY: I never said I was comfortable with my body. I have issues with my body that I’m sure most women have. We all have our things. I would imagine if you asked the most beautiful model in the world if she was completely satisfied with the way she looked, I would doubt she would be. There’s definitely a challenge in it for me. When you’re on stage, it’s different. You’re controlling what people are seeing and for how long they’re seeing it, and whatever way you’re presenting it. Especially in Absinthe, it’s more playful, and I think that it also is more inviting for the audience and doesn’t make things awkward for either one of us. Maybe “Voodoo” can be a little strange sometimes. (laughter) Simulated fellatio could upset some people, but it’s showbiz.
SMARTY: How are you assimilating to Vegas, coming from New York City?
MELODY: It’s taken me a while. It took me quite a while, but I love Vegas. It’s all about perspective. Before you come to Vegas, you have all these different ideas about Vegas that you’re programmed to believe. You get here and you actually find the real Vegas and you fall in love with it. I love it. I love its history and all the new, too.
STRIPLV: What’s your favorite local Vegas hang?
MELODY: I kinda like this really old-school restaurant called Casa di Amore. It’s open until 5:00am, and it’s really good Italian food. No frills, just old-school. 
STRIPLV: On Tropicana, right?
MELODY: Yeah, on Tropicana. It’s awesome, and the staff there are like: “Oh, Melody is here – the Casa di Amore mascot.” But it’s quiet and you’re treated well, and you eat well. And it’s Italiano, so…
SMARTY: Favorite bar?
MELODY: I like to go have a drink at the Cosmo, at the Chandelier Bar – it’s nice. It’s the complete opposite from Casa di Amore, but they’ve got good cocktails and hot girls and boys running around… eye candy! 
SMARTY: Do you go out a lot, to clubs and stuff?
MELODY: I’m not a big nightclub person. If I go out, I enjoy talking to the people that I’m with. Once in a while, I like to go out and just get smashed and dance, and let it all go. But for the most part, I enjoy dinners and more personal outings. 
SMARTY: Favorite food?
MELODY: Everything. My favorite food would be chocolate and champagne.
SMARTY: Favorite band and singer?
MELODY: Ooh, my favorite band: The Candy Shop Boys! That was shameless self-promotion. My favorite band would have to be The Animals. My favorite singer… I like old-school jazz – Nina Simone and Billy Holiday. Grace Jones – not that she’s old-school jazz, but…
SMARTY: Did you ever see Grace tour live?
MELODY: I regret that I’ve never… I’ve heard stories… My old drummer tells me this story. He went there, and there was this moment in the song where all the instruments and everyone goes quiet…and she’s supposed to cue the guitarist, and her cue is like this… (motioning with hands in the air) and he went too early on his cue and she slammed down on the piano, and there was just this heavy air in the entire stadium. Then she made the cue sign again and continued on. Could you imagine?! I can.
SMARTY: What’s playing on your iPod right now?
MELODY: Elvis. I think “King Creole.” I never knew about it either, but I got this “All Hits” album and that’s one of the songs. I’d never heard it before this. It’s this New Orleans jazzy feel and I love it. It’s like energy and he’s hot. He’s one of my favorites.
SMARTY: Craziest night in Vegas?
MELODY: I don’t remember so much of it. Craziest night in Vegas was when we first got here. The whole cast went to Peppermill and I ended up getting us kicked out, because I had this feather headpiece and they said that it was a hat, and I was drunk and whatever, so we got kicked out. We went to a nightclub, the whole cast. It was new, fresh and exciting… it’s not now… and we had too much to drink. I woke up in the very-gay choreographer’s and one of the girl performer’s bed. We were all in the same bed and somehow I had the least amount of clothes on. But it was hysterical and I woke up and they were laughing… it was so funny… definitely an icebreaker, and we are all very good friends now. (laughter) It was definitely a “Vegas” experience.
SMARTY: Favorite store/designer?
MELODY: Alexander McQueen. I like the real avant garde… the crazier, the better, kind of stuff. 
SMARTY: So it’s seems as if you have a shoe fetish? How many pairs do you own?
MELODY: I don’t know, it’s getting bad.
SMARTY: You don’t have a separate guest room in your house just for your shoes, do you? 
MELODY: I’m going to need another closet. I’m okay with that. 
SMARTY: How many pairs do you own?
MELODY: I would say, in all, I don’t know. All my shoes are still in New York. I only brought a suitcase here first. I have a couple huge suitcases full of shoes and I wear them all, so they’re all very necessary. Do you hear me getting defensive right now? I have a shoe problem. (laughter) I’m sorry. I’m going to go buy shoes right when we leave. It’s bad, but it’s true.
SMARTY: Have you ever had a straight gig?
MELODY: I did telemarketing once. It lasted about 3 weeks, because I would put people on hold for hours. I did hair, but I couldn’t handle what other people wanted me to do to them, so I had to get out of the service industry. I wasn’t the nicest person and I didn’t want to do their haircutting or hairstyles, so that doesn’t work out so well in that business.
SMARTY: Where do you grab your inspiration from when you write?
MELODY: I guess I pull a lot from the music that I listen to – the traveling I’ve done, but most of the time I think of a burlesque act or story, a visual story that then inspires the song. My song “Gold Digga”… the meaning of the song is much different than where I got the inspiration. I actually got the inspiration from this gorgeous golden costume that I had, but this song has nothing to do with this gorgeous golden costume. It’s about gold diggers: girls that just go out with guys for their money or vice versa. That’s where it stems from. It can be anything… a pair of shoes, or I want to do a cowboy act, so I’ll have to write a cowboy song now and learn line dancing while stripping. I’m trying to find somebody to teach me how to lasso while singing. I can’t move the microphone and take my outfit off. That’s multitasking at its finest! That’s going to be my new CD: “Multitasking”!
SMARTY: Are you a passenger on the bus, or are you driving the bus?
MELODY: I’m helping drive. Your life is a bunch of decisions and it’s whatever decisions you’ve made in your life that are going to take you wherever. I’m trying to guide it in an always-forward progression and try to challenge myself all the time and do this. At the same time, I don’t want to put any labels on it. I don’t want to put any restrictions on it, because I haven’t done that so far. That allows me to work with all different kinds of musicians, all different kinds of looks, different characters, different anything, and I don’t have to be this one thing. That’s great because I love creating. I love making new stuff. So I’m steering it a little bit, but whatever road I’m on, I’ll just go. Hopefully it’s a smooth, wonderful drive. 
SMARTY: Do you cry at movies?
MELODY: Do I cry at movies? Of course, don’t you? 
SMARTY: Yes. Do you cry when you see a great live performance or hear a great song that moves you?
MELODY: I cry more with feeling the audience, for example, if I were to go to a football game. I’m not a sports fan. I won’t watch it on TV. I’ll fall asleep, but I love going to the games – not because I’m following the game, but because I have no idea what’s going on. The audience and the energy of the audience, you get this feeling… and that’s the best feeling in the world, and I’ll cry, and it’s stupid. One time I went to the UK, Liverpool, and they’re crazy about football there. The whole crowd just knew 50 different songs and the energy was so overwhelming, and I’m crying. My friend was like: “What’s wrong with you?” I’m like: “It’s great!” That energy takes you away from yourself and it’s awesome.
SMARTY: Favorite movie?
MELODY: Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Gone With The Wind… don’t tell anybody, and…there’s so many… Frida. 
SMARTY: What are you looking for in a man?
MELODY: Honesty and a 10-pack. (laughter)

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