She’s well-versed in revving up an audience, teasing onlookers with seductive moves and strutting her long legs across the stage. Jennifer Tseng Werber, known as Miso Pretty in the burlesque world, got her start in the industry more than 20 years ago. The entertainer has also worked her talent behind the scenes producing her own Asian burlesque variety revue in 2019 called The Jade Follies, which was met with much success.
With a background in musical theatre and an undeniable passion for the burlesque art form, Miso Pretty exudes charisma in the spotlight. She was another performer I had the fortune of seeing a few years ago at The Federal Bar’s Burlesque Brunch event in Long Beach, California. Her numbers pulsated with high energy and she sported the regalia to match—sparkling fishnets, ruffles, feathers and tightly-laced corsets!
The dancer makes it a point to emphasize the significance of non-judgement and acceptance. It’s a major reason she’s found herself at home within the burlesque scene—a community where diversity, in all of its forms, is welcome.
In the following interview, Jennifer gives us a glimpse into her alluring world as a performer, discussing her experience among the glitz and glam.
Q: What was the journey like for you getting into the burlesque scene and becoming a performer?
A: It was actually quite natural. I started as a commercial jazz and musical theatre dancer. I did theme parks, magic shows, private events and back up dancing for an Elvis Impersonator. Eventually I began craving a more sexy and edgy style of performance. In walked burlesque!
Q: You exude such vibrant energy when you perform! From where do you draw inspiration for your dance acts? And do you feel you embody a different persona when you’re on stage?
A: I love connecting with the audience. They inspire me! I actually draw my inspiration from all those smiling faces in the audience! The tough part is when the crowd is overly drunk or non-expressive. That’s when I gotta turn up the energy 100 percent! And yes …. I’m a different person on stage! By day I’m a soccer mom and dance instructor!
Q: In 2019, you established the all-Asian burlesque and variety show The Jade Follies in efforts to highlight performers in this underrepresented community. How did the idea initially come to you and do you plan to bring it back once live shows are happening again?
A: This idea came to me when I began to realize that very rarely would I be cast in a show with another Asian dancer. Typically there was always just one of us. I’d count 10 white girls, and maybe one or two women of color. It was eye opening and inspiring at the same time. Hopefully, The Jade Follies can come back soon. We are hoping to produce a show this summer to raise money for AAPI, an organization helping those who were victims of Asian hate crimes this past year.
Q: So I read on your blog that you’re a mother to a beautiful boy! In the article, you discussed how you received backlash from other mothers because of your profession as a burlesque dancer and role as a parent. It seems that some people assume you can’t or shouldn’t have the best of both worlds, but how has being a mom and performer enriched your life?
A: Being a performer has kept me sane! Any mom will tell you how stressful parenthood can be! Thank god burlesque has given me the opportunity to have a creative outlet. Most days, moms are giving so much to their children and households, they forget about themselves. I was a burlesque dancer waaaaaaaaaaaay before giving birth, and I didn’t wanna lose that side of me.
Q: How would you like to see the burlesque scene evolve in the coming years?
A: Great question! I’m a huge fan of body inclusion. Dancers come in all colors, shapes and sizes! I’d love to see more full-figured performers in the spotlight these coming years!
Q: What words of wisdom would you give to anyone wanting to get their foot into burlesque and show business?
A: Be persistent, but patient! Learn how to embellish costumes. Be kind to yourself and others. Study your craft. Reach out to fellow performers who inspire you!
Q: Would you like to leave readers with any hints of what you have planned next?
A: As Covid numbers continue to drop, I might very well be performing soon in outdoor venues and events! Fingers crossed!
Keep up with the Jennifer Tseng Werber and find out when she’s performing next at the Miso Pretty Burlesque official website.