La Bomba Waters and Les Cougars
photo by Chad Sutherland - Rise Up Lights
The Valentine invite intrigued me. Live musicians, comedy, dancing, burlesque—an all in one, all-woman show (unless you count Cupid, a young man wearing a diaper, as the only contributing factor to the male side of the cast). But once the lights went down on a packed house at the Cardinal Bar in Madison, a full complement of creative energy was on display, and did not disappoint. Tulin Waters takes her opportunity to entertain very seriously. Her group is known as Les Cougars, and her on-stage persona, “La Bomba,” is brash, but brilliant. Yet her whole goal of this good time revolves around supporting other entertaining women of a certain age—- meaning, not your 20-somethings. There were shapes, colors, styles of all types showing off their talents. And if it left the performers feeling good, it also left almost everyone in the audience with a certain kinship, and sense of power. As Les Cougars prepares for another show, they’ll be part of the CD Release Party for Meghan Rose at the Inferno on February 13th at 9 pm, Tulin took time to talk with me about the importance of making a difference, and how she’s finding the stage a perfect place to do it.
Maximum Ink: You are funny, but in a real, relatable sense. Your show includes humor, but still revolves around music, why?
Tulin Waters: I am a music scout, not a musician, which allows me to create a different type of show. My ear for talent came from living in 6 different countries growing up. It gave me a sense of respect and admiration for all types of music. The more you learn about other music from around the world, the more you grasp who has a real passion and understanding of it.
MI: Music is mixed with the unexpected for your group, Les Cougars. Why did you focus on this approach for a show?
TW: I started Les Cougars because this town is full of talented women over the age of 35. In the entertainment business, “maturing” women face ageism and get overlooked unfairly way too often. To me this is a travesty because talent only gets better with experience, and it is at this age when women are in their prime and absolute best up on stage. We should be glorified for what we have accomplished, not replaced, and I am proud to bring to the table a show where there are so many diverse and talented women coming together to preach age empowerment.
Les Cougars offers power house vocalists and musicians such as Lyndsay Evans from Sexy Ester, Shelley Faith from Pilot, the infamous Vanessa Tortolano, Kitty LaRue from Peach Pies. Julia McConahay from She She, who wows the audience with her violin. Our dancers include Victoria Thomas who brings the eccentric Middle East with her Burlesque-Belly Dancing fusion, Greta Thorn who embodies classic Burlesque a la Cabaret, Lili Luxe who mixes her background in ballet with her dominatrix style, and Veronica Smash who brings out the naughtiness in the show. We even have our own rapper, MC Lovie (Lisa Loniello), who puts her Cougar hips in her hop with her hilarious lyrical rhymes. Speaking of funny, we have the most active female comic in town, Ms. Sarah Connor, who does her stand up comedy in a corset and fish nets that leaves you laughing and drooling at the same time. And then there is me, Tulin Waters (aka La Bomba), who directs and emcees the show. I do stand up, and comedic dirty dancing. It is an alphabet Cougar soup, needless to say!
MI: Why is this line-up important to you?
TW: If you were to ask most women who have reached their mid-thirties and up, “Do you embrace your age?”, I think most would say yes. The problem is, society does not. Social media makes being a girl sexy, while the aging woman is depicted as wise. To me, there is nothing sexier than a woman who wears her age on the outside with pride. Les Cougars just takes it to another level… we wear it in lace, corsets, silk, and leather. We have fun in our own skin, and want others to come see our show so they can, too.
MI: What have you learned about yourself through your efforts?
TW: My dad always used to tell me, “Nothing is gonna fall in your lap, kiddo.” I have learned through hard work and a persistent vision, a woman can succeed. I’m lucky that doing something I love has taught me to love myself more, and even luckier that I have met some amazing women who are now amazing friends in the process.
MI: You should be proud of yourself! Are you happy with these accomplishments?
TW: I have produced several “All Female” shows around town. Whether these were Comedy, Burlesque, or Rock shows - it brought a lot of talented women together to display how strong a presence we are in this city. I brought the first “All Female” comedy show and the first “Women of a Certain Age” troupe to Madison. This makes me more than proud… this makes me feel like a woman. And there is nothing better!
MI: Any plans to put out a CD or DVD of your show?
TW: We are already planning on it. To have an album where you can listen to amazing vocals, instruments, and comedy all in one? I think it’s something that hasn’t been done before, or at least not by an all-female group sharing our message of power with age.
MI: Do you have higher aspirations for Les Cougars?
TW: I want to take Les Cougars on the road, and make them a touring act across the country. And then of course… rule the world with a hairless kitty on my lap!
MI: You’re an open book. But is there anything most people do not know about you?
TW: I never sit on public toilets (not even drunk); if I could bring back Paul Newman Weird Science style, I would; I like to wear men’s underwear (especially my boyfriend’s); and I don’t trust people who like black licorice.
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