When most people think of burlesque, they’re probably more likely to think of sexy stripteases, ornate outfits, costume jewelry and comedy than about an educational experience. Marijuana Madness, an event created by veteran burlesque performer Miss Marquez, aims to change that. With a focus on the classiness, humor and the theater of classic burlesque, Marquez has developed a captivating show that traces the origins of cannabis prohibition and includes some of the best burlesque entertainers in California and a stunning live jazz quartet, The Mad Reeefers, delivering the fiery jazz of the era. Additionally, Marquez has partnered with local cannabis-centric fine dining and event planners, Grassfed. Together they create a completely separate “Viper Room” inside of The Three Clubs venue, where attendees can get fully immersed in the experience and enjoy a chic vape bar, health conscious edibles and see a live rosin press.
“The reason why I feel that burlesque is such a great pairing with cannabis prohibition is that all of those anti-marijuana propaganda campaigns in the late thirties and forties always talked about how marijuana would affect your moral inhibitions.”
Recently, CULTURE had the opportunity to catch up with Miss Marquez and hear all about her exciting Marijuana Madness show and her own personal experiences with the wonders of cannabis.
Photo by: Christopher Kristensen
How long have you had the idea to do your show, Marijuana Madness? Was there any key turning point that made you decide it was something worth developing?
I’ve been sitting on this concept of doing Marijuana Madness for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right venue to do it and the timing just seemed off. But, once we voted to make recreational cannabis legal in California, I was like, “Time to light a fire under my ass to do this now, because if I don’t do it someone else will!” That’s why I decided to debut it during the first month of recreational legalization.
For those who have never attended a burlesque show before, can you tell us a bit about what folks who are attending can expect? How is your show unique from other burlesque events?
As far as Marijuana Madness goes, it’s a mix of burlesque performances, live music and narrative theatre. When you see a burlesque performance, especially of the style that I and the performers I hired do, it’s a really interactive experience so that the audience feels one with the performance.
The reason why I feel that burlesque is such a great pairing with cannabis prohibition is that all of those anti-marijuana propaganda campaigns in the late ’30s and ’40s always talked about how marijuana would affect your moral inhibitions. If you smoked cannabis, there’s going to be wild orgies and parties; I mean we’ve all seen Reefer Madness. When you look up burlesque in the dictionary, one of the chief words used to describe it is “comedy,” and I think comedy and parody are really important to the classic form of burlesque. So, that’s why I chose to use burlesque as a platform in this show—to parody the ludicrous claims that marijuana is going to instantly make you this crazy dope fiend that needs to go to wild orgy parties and all of that crazy stuff.
A lot of the show revolves around the history of cannabis prohibition and how socially unethical it is. Is this an issue that resonates with you personally?
I am first generation Mexican-American on my mother’s side, and so especially once I started understanding the stigma of the term “marihuana” with an “h” and why people were trying to prohibit it, of course it resonated with me. Additionally, whether you’re Mexican or not, cannabis users have had to deal with the typical stigma of being a stoner for so long, and it’s just ridiculous. I think it’s really important to show people that not all cannabis users look the same or act the same, and that’s another reason I wanted to pair it with burlesque and class it up.
Is cannabis something that’s been beneficial in your life or in the lives of people you know?
Absolutely! My mother actually gets bad migraines and has lupus, and only in the last six months have I gotten her comfortable with using it to help her. A couple of months ago there was a week where she had a migraine that was so bad that she went to urgent care, and then the emergency room. They gave her morphine, and that didn’t work. So, she ended up going home still not feeling good, and I got on the phone with her, told her to go into her kitchen cabinet where I’d left her an edible cookie and to eat it. Thirty minutes later, that migraine that lasted a week was gone. So many people suffer from autoimmune diseases or other health issues where marijuana is really medicine for them. That experience has made me more passionate to get the word out about marijuana’s medicinal purposes.
To get back to your show, what kind of experience do you hope attendees will have with Marijuana Madness? What do you hope they’ll walk away from it with?
I hope that when people walk away that they feel entertained and that they had a fantastic time, but that they also learned something about the history. By learning the history, you really see the parallels between then and where we are right now.