Our interview and photos with the talented Canadian musician known as Lew Phillips.
THE PREPPY VOICE
Our interview and photos with the talented Canadian musician known as Lew Phillips.
Upon first meeting Bloodshot Bill at the 2006 Drop Dead Festival in New York City, we were enamored by his musical talent. A Montreal-based rockabilly one man band, Bill has a raw and wild 50’s style, which has often been compared to the great legend Hasil Adkins. Shortly after that festival, Bill was no longer able to gain admittance into the United States, in fact, for five long years. Luckily for all American rockabilly fanatics, he is now able to tour freely throughout the U.S. Bloodshot Bill is also now on the Norton Records label.
PONYBOY: Bill, please tell us about your background.
BLOODSHOT BILL: I’m Trinitalian (half Italian, half Trinidadian, that is) and born and raised in Canada. I started playing music in high school – the drums first – and only started playing guitar in my early 20’s. I play with many bands, as well as doing my own solo/one man band shows. I have many recorded releases and hope you pick one up.
PONYBOY: At what age did you start getting into music?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I was pretty young. My best friend in First Grade had an older brother with cool records, and an older cousin who actually played in a rockabilly band. We thought it was pretty cool. I recently played a show with the older cousin (George Stryker). It was the first time I’d seen him in about 30 years! Also around that age, when my family would go on little weekend trips in the car, we’d always have this one Conway Twitty tape on. And we’d all sing along! I knew all the words and never got sick of it. I guess I was 6 or 7 years old.
PONYBOY: You toured in the United States for a while, then were forbidden to re-enter the U.S. Please tell us a bit about that.
BLOODSHOT BILL: I crossed into the States without a proper work visa. That’s it. And I was banned for 5 years. Now, I’m allowed back in and have the proper visa, etc. All is well, but what a pain it is to get that visa going. Eeef!
PONYBOY: Did you feel it set your career back at the time?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I don’t know. My expectations aren’t too high considering the kind of stuff I do. I was really bummed to not be able to play, see friends, travel, etc
PONYBOY: Since you’ve been able to enter the States and play, it seems like you are now touring more than ever. Is this correct?
BLOODSHOT BILL: No, I used to tour much more than I do now. I still get around. I’m just more selective of where I go. Before, I used to just hop in the car and be gone for months and months at a time. Now, I try to just head out on weekends, or for two weeks tops.
PONYBOY: You are now signed with Norton Records, a great American label. How has that been for you? It seems a perfect fit.
BLOODSHOT BILL: It’s a really great feeling to be on my favorite record label, and a huge honour to be one of the very few modern acts to release albums with them. I love everything they’ve done. And they really are the greatest people, too.
PONYBOY: How many records have you done with Norton? And many have you done in total?
BLOODSHOT BILL: With Norton, I’ve released 5 albums (as Bloodshot Bill, Ding-Dongs, and Tandoori Knights), 7 singles/EPs (as Bloodshot Bill, Tandoori Knights, and Bollywood Argyles), and have a new album planned for release this year with them. In total, with various labels (and not counting tracks on compilations), I have had 40 releases.
PONYBOY: That’s quite an extensive music library at a young age. We also love that you have your very own Bloodshot Bill Pomade Nice’N’Greasy. How did that come about?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I played a weekender in Kansas City years ago called Greaserama. The organizers also ran American Greaser Supply. We hit it off really well, and they sponsored me. They made me my own Frankenstein blend of their greases. It was the best. I still have some left but am hanging on to it hoarder-style, since they sold the company years ago.
PONYBOY: You now have a family. Please tell us about your daughter.
BLOODSHOT BILL: My daughter is the best! I love her so much. Her name is Penny Lee. She’s turning two next week. I smile everytime I look at her.
PONYBOY: What are your plans as far as recording and future touring?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I’m gonna “keep on keepin’ on”. I’ve got lots of new recordings coming out this year and plenty more touring. I’m heading to Florida next week, France, Belgium, and maybe the Yukon at some point this year. I’ve got lots of fun stuff planned.
Bettina May. Red head. Pin-up model. Burlesque Queen. Always in demand. Always on the go. With bombshell movie star looks, Ponyboy caught up with this beauty recently before she jumped on a plane for a quick chat. All photos courtesy of Bettina May.
PONYBOY: You hail from Canada originally?
BETTINA MAY: Yes, I was born in a little town in British Columbia near Vancouver and moved to Victoria to go to university. And from there I moved to New York.
PONYBOY: How did you get into burlesque performing?
BETTINA MAY: I got into it through vintage culture, hairstyles and outfits. I did pin-up modeling first and through that was introduced to the burlesque world. I basically saw it as a way to explore my love of all things vintage.
PONYBOY: It really is a true talent, not just something that anyone can do. Who are your burlesque idols?
BETTINA MAY: I have to give a huge shout out to Dita Von Teese for bringing the modern burlesque resurgence to a more mainstream audience without diluting the art form. I also love the work of Tempest Storm, Tiffany Carter and Bambi Jones – true legends of burlesque.
PONYBOY: Have you always been into the vintage aesthetic? 40-50’s?
BETTINA MAY: Yes, it has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching “I Love Lucy” and “Leave It To Beaver” and couldn’t wait to dress like all the stylish ladies I admired onscreen. I dabbled with 60’s and 70’s styles in grade school and spent a lot of time working on perfecting hairstyles, makeup and collecting clothes from the 30’s-50’s.
PONYBOY: All that glamour you have…you must get stopped in the street a lot. Do people recognize you?
BETTINA MAY: People are definitely not used to seeing red lips and precisely coiffed hair out in public, even in New York City. So I do get a lot of attention. Once in a while people recognize me, but mostly they just think I must be someone legitimately famous. People still associate that high level of glamour that Hollywood starlets in the golden age of cinema flaunted with celebrity, so I get asked if I’m “somebody” quite a bit. Short answer: No! Hahaha!
PONYBOY: Are you a natural redhead?
BETTINA MAY: While red hair runs in my family and I prayed for years that it would come in, my dreams did not in fact come true. I took matters in my own hands.
PONYBOY: In your burlesque career, what has been your favorite performance?
BETTINA MAY: Oh goodness, that’s a tough one! Every time I get on stage is my next favorite because I enjoy being up there and sharing my love of dance with every person in the audience and feeling their enjoyment reflected back on me. I think the one I’ll always remember was during my first European tour in 2007. I performed in a beautiful little club in Lisbon, Portugal to a gorgeous, perfectly dressed audience of vintage culture enthusiasts. Unforgettable!
PONYBOY: Who was your favorite celebrity to perform for?
BETTINA MAY: Performing for Brooke Shields was my favorite experience. We got to meet her after the show. She was so lovely, genuine and sweet – everything I’d hoped she’d be.
PONYBOY: What brought about your Bettina May Pin-up classes?
BETTINA MAY: When I started performing I had so many ladies come up to me after shows asking me for hairstyling and make-up tips. After a while of trying to explain the finer points of a proper roller set in a loud night club to drunk fans, I decided a proper class was in order. The first class in 2006 was a great success. And since then I’ve brought my class around the world and tour the US with it at least once per year. It’s been amazing to see how life-changing it can be for my students. It’s truly heart-warming.
PONYBOY: Congratulations on your green card. Any big plans for the future?
BETTINA MAY: Thank you so much! It seemed an impossible task, but now that the US Government has declared me an Alien of Extraordinary Ability in burlesque and pin-up modeling, I’m inspired to set much larger and loftier goals. I’m currently booking another European tour for Spring 2014, and lots of other exciting projects are in the planning stages that I need to keep under wraps for now.