MusicThatMadeWE #21: Lady Mabuhay

1 hours, 16 minutes (audio only version)
1 hour, 45 minutes (Patreon exclusive version)

Released: April 23, 2022
Recorded: February 20, 2022

On this episode of The Music That Made WE, Viktor talks with Lady Mabuhay, NYC based
burlesque performer.


Lady Mabuhay is a delightful New York City performer with an extensive dance background, from Kathak to showgirl realness. She gives us some of her most formative tracks, with major surprises all the way.

“Darling Nikki” by Prince
Mabuhay says: “So Prince is my all time favorite artist. There are times when I don’t listen to him for awhile, but when I do listen to him I remember how advanced and how masterful he was with his artistry. And the reason I like Darling Nikki is a couple things. It was one of the first songs I heard when I was 10 or 11, maybe 12, when I realized that art is more than a painting on the wall and sex is more than copulation. And with regards to censorship, Darling Nikki was one of the songs that prompted that parental advisory label debate. And so it started to make me question: if something is dirty, is it still art?”

“Whatta Man” by Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue
Mabuhay says: “What do I like about it? Girl Power! Though I think that term was coined a little after this song came out… When you hear the lyrics it may not immediately come off as girl power but it was one of the few songs where women were talking about how happy they were with what they had and who they had… A lot of songs sung by women were about heart break… This to me was girl power in that a woman was able to state what she liked about the situation and be proud of it… It demonstrated balance. I didn’t have those words at the time, but there was something about it that was a little bit different from the other songs I heard at 13 or 14.

“Sober” by Tool
Mabuhay says: “It embodies the epitome of the 90’s. Very existential. This particular song is actually about addiction. It’s very dark, it’s very desperate. But if you’ve ever seen Tool perform live, the front man, Maynard James Keenan, is embodying this person who is addicted to drugs or whatever it is and he’s very theatrical in his performance. And what I remember hearing is he actually had stage fright. So there is a way he performs where it’s not like other performs who are interacting with the audience. He’s actually in a trance… But he’s also in this state of mind where he embodies the character of this particular song. So I think what I love about that is when a performer embodies the character of their song or act or whatever it is they perform, in the case of burlesque, I love watching performers who do more than just go through the moves. They have to emote something, they have to pull me in in some way. Whenever I listen to Tool and I have seen them perform life twice… I remember I would stop head banging and just watch. Because I was so drawn to the atmosphere that Tool was creating with this song.

“Train” by Chitresh Das
Mabuhay says: “For 16 years I was a classical Northern Indian dancer before I became a burlesque performer. The dance is called Kathak coming from the sanskrit word katha which means story. The other thing Kathak is noted for is its mathematically rhythmic percussive footwork. This clip is actually from a video of my master, the late guru Chitresh Das… [The] percussive footwork is all bare feet and in order to create those slaps on the ground you have to have really highly developed muscles in your feet and the strength and the stamina over years of practice of course. Wrapped around each ankle is five pounds worth of bells so they actually come up to your knees sometimes… Those bells add another dimension of sound. In this particular story he is actually telling of the movement of a train replicated by his feet using specific rhythmic patterns… So you’ll hear the journey of a train… [and this is because] he grew up in a time when the train was still the major mode of transportation in India… So when I was living in San Francisco, I started dancing with him and even when I loved to New York City I continued to study with him and many times I would use up all of my vacation just to fly out to San Francisco and see him and his company perform…He passed away seven years ago. Very meaningful in my dance career.

“Little Stinky Kitty” by The Mermen
Mabuhay says: “I have an act (to this song.) If you’ve seen this act you know it’s hot pink and spoiler alert there are a lot of tassels at the end. And the whole point of it is to just challenge me physically to sustain that beat because it’s a very fast song and I don’t stop except maybe in the middle but it’s not enough to catch my breath really. [I try to] portray a kitty going through the zoomies having fun on stage and emoting that fun while not looking tired because it is very exhausting.

“Nothing Else Matters”” by Apocalyptica
Mabuhay says: “[This] is a cover of Metallica ‘s Nothing Else Matters by a Finnish band Apocalyptica. They are classically trained cellists and they started off doing Metallica covers. The reason I like this song so much is because rock in itself it by nature rough. It’s supposed to embody anger and the darker parts of human emotion very often… But sometimes I like to listen to instrumental versions… [in this case] it sounds very pretty… But I think what I like better are that the lyrics are stripped out of it. Because often I find that I am distracted by lyrics. Yes they are part of the song and add an element to the song but sometimes I want my emotions and my body to roll with the melody and the tune and the flow of the music. This song does that.

“Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen
Hazel says: “Many of you will remember this song from that classic movie Dirty Dancing. As much as I love this song I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites, it’s just that every time I’ve heard this song now in the last year, I think of a very particular song I had with a friend about this song. It showed a difference in perspective, perhaps even a generational difference because of this song. We were on vacation in the car and this song came on and the lyrics to her sounded like a guy stalking a woman. Which sure if you read the lyrics kind of sound like that. But to me I was like no it doesn’t! It’s about a man in love and he’s lusting after a woman. It’s supposed to be romantic… And I thought about that for a very long time…I think more than anything it makes me think about something like a song and how the interpretation changes over time depending on who is listening to it and is based on the sentiment of the time.

“Black Heart of Gold” by Justin Johnson
Mabuhay says: “The reason I love this song enough to do an act to it and why I chose it for this list is that the same friend I had a conversation with about Hungry Eyes, [we had a conversation that started with] me saying something along the lines of: I would fuck to this song, and she said nah, I don’t like country… To each their own, I get it, but to me, I don’t think it matters what genre it is. What matters to me is if the artist has a command of the instrument so much so that you understand the artist through the instrument and it colors the song in such a way that it makes me want to move and have lustful sex to? Then I want to fuck to that song.

Recording of a Kauaʻi ʻōʻō Bird
Mabuhay says: “It’s a male bird who is singing a mating call and he is waiting for female to respond. You don’t hear a female, and the reason is he is the last bird of his species. The rest of the birds are extinct. So he is constantly waiting for a response from a female bird and this is the last recording of the last known bird. So as far as we know, his voice is gone too.

“Jumpin’ Jive” by Cab Calloway
Mabuhay says: “After living here in New York City for almost 16 years now, I’m very fascinated by the history. What I love, is how Broadway was influenced by the Harlem Renaissance and vice versa. So, Broadway music and movement was influenced by tap and jazz just as tap and jazz …elevated their performances to be more theatrical.

WEBurlesque Podcast Nework is the creation of Viktor Devonne. Podcast Network logo artwork by Logan Laveau, WEBurlesque the Podcast cover art photography by Atticus Stevenson. Incidental music via under fair use. Visit for notes on this and every episode. Follow @weburlesque and @viktordevonne on just about every platform, and support the podcast via or via Venmo @Viktor-Devonne. Don’t got the cash? Please follow, subscribe, and give 5 stars on every platform you can get your hands on. It really does help. All original material is owned by Viktor Devonne and White Elephant Burlesque Corporation; all other materials property of their respective copyright. No infringement, while likely, is intended.

– The Music That Made WE is a creation of WEBurlesque Podcast Network, produced by Viktor Devonne.

[Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act in 1976; Allowance is made for “Fair Use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All rights and credit go directly to its rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended.]


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