When I first saw the horror movie “American Mary“(click link to watch the trailer). It was mainly for Katherine Isabelle because I was such a fan of “Ginger Snaps“. The movie itself was awesome and Katherine was really good, but there was one other actress who really helped steal the show. Her name is Tristan Risk and she played the role of Beatress, a woman who wanted to look like Betty Boop and uses body modification to get that dream. I really liked her character because I never knew what her true intentions were, and I thought Tristan played her perfectly. While doing a bit of research , I found out that not only is she an actress. Tristan is a circus performer and a burlesque dancer I recently got the chance to interview Miss Risk about her performance and working with the Soska Twins as well as her other activities.
Vern – Hello Tristan. First of all thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today. Before we begin talking about American Mary and your role as Beatress in it. Could you tell our readers at least three movies that have influenced you and the work you do. (Or at least 3 movies you like)
Tristan – “American Werewolf In London“, as it was the springboard for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller“, which used all the same gimmicks as AWIL. I saw Thriller when I was really young and later as an adult I fell in love with the effects and storytelling of AWIL. Made me go into the fields and get the coyotes howling where I grew up just to hear something that *might* be werewolves howling. It was such a beautiful sound and language and always reminded me both of the opening scene of the movie within the video in “Thriller” as well.
“Labyrinth” is my favorite movie of all time. I love puppets, Muppets and high fantasy. As a young woman who was frequently given over to flights of fancy in my youth, you can see how this would appeal to me. It also sparked m interest in using different techniques for shooting actors, props and so on together after watching a documentary on the making of. It was so beautiful to me and even as an adult it still thrills me. That, and David Bowie killing it and thus setting the bar for every man I’d ever be attracted to the rest of my life.
“Pan’s Labyrinth“… story aside, which I love, the visuals in this are stunning, but the story holds up as well. Doug Jones’ body language playing different characters is such an inspiration for me, coming from a dance and body movement background. The lushness of the everything in the set design is so juicy from the costumes, the colour, and the characters. It’s like staring at a tapestry – you love the big picture but looking at each of the individual threads brings you massive joy. It’s like that; you can pick certain elements you enjoy but the overall package floors you.
Vern – On your Website www.littlemissrisk.ca it mentions that besides acting you also dabble in Circus performances, Burlesque shows and Fetish modeling. What got you into that line of work and what do you suggest for other women who are looking to get involved with it. I have seen a few burlesque shows at concerts I go to, and the work those girls put into each performance is amazing. It’s a lot more then just taking of one’s clothes. They have this seduction skill set that can’t be matched by your normal strippers. Some of the shows I have seen the girl doesn’t remove much and yet you are fully hypnotized.I have no doubt that’s what happens at one of your shows.
Tristan – The art of seduction has always been something I’ve enjoyed exploring. When I first started burlesque it was as a joke for a friend’s birthday, but I was given opportunities to further pursue it. I’ve always been blessed with strange luck, and the moment I made up my mind to do burlesque, and latterly circus and sideshow, the universe conspired to let me flex my muscle in that world. When I started, it was quite sometime ago, and there were a bare few burlesque performers in Vancouver. Now we are the heart of a thriving burlesque community with at least two schools, a multitude of talented performers and a world class reputation. I’m proud to be a contributor to this, as it’s my sparkly chrysalis that gave me the confidence to emerge into other art forms. For anyone looking to get into it, I’d say go out, find others who already perform where you are, and if not, check YouTube, Facebook, make connections, and go out there and do it! Have fun. Make art. Be bold. It’s enjoying a golden age right now, and I see there’s no sign of stopping as more folks ‘discover’ this type of entertainment.
Vern– Reading that you have done some circus acts including things like fire eating and tight rope walking. What is the most dangerous stunt you performed?
Tristan – The most dangerous stunt I’ve likely performed… I’ve always a slight misgiving regarding anything to do with broken glass from walking on it to eating lightbulbs. I think if the films “Truth Or Dare” and “Occulus” have shown us is that we all have an inherent distrust of shattered glass. As to dangerous, well, I think there’s an element of danger in all sideshow and circus acts, however, practice and technique are major factors to diminish risk. You learn pretty quickly how to get it right and repetition makes it less work and more play as your confidence. The number of times I’ve honestly cheated death with these acts is few, since I think I’ve been in greater danger riding on motorcycles and potentially falling out of trees while intoxicated.
Vern – Now on to “American Mary“. How did you meet up with the Soska Twins? What was the audition process like if there was any?
Tristan – The Soskas originally asked me to be dance coordinator for Mary but latterly asked if I’d be interested in auditioning for Beatress. I went into the audition prepared with not just the dialog but I sang, danced, stripped, everything. If there were any other contenders to that throne, I was on the cusp of offering to mud wrestle them to decide the clear choice (which, no bragging, I feel I’d win).
Vern – Beatress is a very interesting character. She acts like a guide between Mary and her clients and in a way is responsible for starting Mary on this quest. What helped prepare you for playing this role. Did you base her from anyone you knew or does she represent any part of your personality.
Tristan – Taking reference points from not only Ellen Greene in “Little Shop Of Horrors“, I also drew heavily from Madonna in “Who’s That Girl” for a little street influence. Once I was cast, I watched I think three hours of old Betty Boop cartoons with the Soskas during one of our marathon movie nights. It was pretty easy to get into the part once I had the face and wig on. The voice just came out naturally, and was quite fun. Everyone rather liked ‘Beatress’ on set.
Vern – How long did it take to get the makeup done and how long did you stay in it?
Tristan – The makeup application was 1.5 – 2 hours to get into it and an hour to get out of it. Once I was in, I was in for the day. The day’s weren’t hugely long, at least not for me. I know some folks don’t like wearing heavy make up like that, but I did. It really helped to keep me in character.
Vern – A lot of your scenes are spent opposite of Katherine Isabelle. What was it like working with her?
Tristan – Katherine is lovely. She and I share a birthday, a year apart, so maybe we had a little bit of Scorpio brain-melding. But our roles in life mirrored us in real life as well, so it was to play that up. I had always had a lot of respect for her ever since I first saw her onscreen in “Ginger Snaps“.
Vern – “American Mary” is one of your first big roles in a full length feature film and I thought you were just amazing. I was also glad to see you get nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw award for Best Supporting Actress. What is it like shooting a movie like this versus one of your earlier works like “The Darkest Hour“? Have you performed in anything else outside of film?
Tristan – I have a dance, theatre, and musical background, so prior to Mary I had toured North America and Europe with my band as a dancer for six years, as well as all over as a solo performer. I had done a ton of film work, just things here and there, so Mary was my first experience in a major film role in a feature. Like David Bowie in Labyrinth, it has become the bar by which I measure all other film shoots and experiences…
Vern – After the success of “American Mary” do you want to continue perusing an acting career or do you want to focus mainly on your live performances. It would be great to do both, but Im asking what are you more interested in.
Tristan – I’ve actually continued to keep a balance now between my film work and my live shows, though I feel since I’m still new to film and I’ve been enjoying it, that my focus is held here for the time being. I’ve been a live performer all of my adult life, so the chance to experiment more and more with this new medium is exciting to me.
Vern – Do you have any upcoming events that you would like to share with our readers?
Tristan – There is a BIG announcement next week about my next feature film, but I’m looking forward to shooting Todd Freeman’s ‘Love Sick’ with Francisco Barreiro (Here Comes The Devil), voicing a character on Chainsaw Sally The Animated Series, and am currently shooting a pilot for Death Row Democracy. I just recently wrapped House Of Manson, Fetish Factory and Mindless as well, so between that and shows, I’ve almost been too busy to put clothes on to take them off again! Thankfully my troupe, Sweet Soul Burlesque, has a weekly show every Thursday at the Keefer Bar in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and I’m German Pet of The Month in June’s Penthouse!