Gina Katon
Gina Katon (photo credit: Justin Manzano)

Gina Katon isn’t just your average woman. She is the powerhouse force behind the rock and roll burlesque crew known as Little Miss Nasty.

Birthed in the heart of Hollywood, in the guts of the famed Viper Room on the sunset strip in 2012, Gina built what was once a one act show, into a world touring, celebrity packed, gritty, sexy and empowering fully produced three-part experience.

In two short years they took their one act, smaller show to Harvelle’s in Santa Monica which sold out nightly and gained popularity almost as fast as their pulse pounding act. Since then, Gina has been working tirelessly to bring her “Badass Babes” to the forefront of the burlesque scene.

To date, Gina and her band of Sex Kittens have performed at hundreds of venues, have a handful of residencies, which, currently includes Los Angeles, California, The Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, and Long Beach, California. They also frequent cities like San Francisco, where I got the pleasure to see them perform on a cool Sunday night at Jolene’s Bar.

Jolene’s is the mecca for anything and everything queer in San Francisco. It was no surprise to anyone that Little Miss Nasty sold out Jolene’s that night in a hurry. You could feel the collective buzz about what was to come around Jolene’s just before Gina and her crew came on. Being as it was my first time experiencing LMN, I asked a few of the people who had seen them before to give me an overview of what I was about to experience.

The best response was, “You’re about to watch a bunch of incredible women light this place on fire.”

This was no exaggeration. For over an hour, four of the most empowered, fierce, and downright nasty (in the best way possible) women took the stage to the familiar beat of heavy rock and roll. No one could take their eyes off them. Their back bending, acrobatic, aerial show is in your face and completely interactive. So much so, during a fan-favorite part of their set where one of the Nasty’s pour a beer over herself and some audience members and hair flips it around, exactly like a rock and roller would.

The motto of LMN is pulled from a Rage Against the Machine lyric “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” and it is exactly who they are. As Gina puts it, “We are art makers and rule breakers. We believe in rebelling against the system. We are advocates for freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Being outspoken and being fearless are things that LMN stand for.” Their sex appeal is apparent, but more than that, everyone in Jolene’s that night came away with a sense of power.

Gina goes on, “We encourage women to be as sexy as they want to be, to be confident and badass. We rock as hard as the boys do; if not harder!”.

LMN has everything anyone looking to be entertained would want. They have beautiful women, they have some shock value, they have incredibly creative and artistic ways of expressing themselves, they have female power moving all over the stage, they have feats of spectacular athleticism, because let’s not forget these women are not only putting on a great show, they are doing it at a break-neck pace.

little miss nasty
little miss nasty

The LMN crew is made up of 20 of the most professional and sought-after dancers. They have worked with artists like Beyoncé, Kid Rock, Eminem, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Pink, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Xtina, Britney Spears, Jlo, Alicia Keys, P Diddy, Jason Derulo, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Ne-Yo and it shows.

The LMN dancers have been on stage at the Emmys, AMAs, VMA’s, Grammys, Latin Grammys, CMAs as well Super Bowl halftime performances. On top of all of that the LMN dancers have had film and television roles, have starred or currently star in burlesque theater shows like The Pussycat Dolls, Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce and Rock Of Ages, and an abundance of them teach their own dance classes or choreograph classes in and around the Los Angeles, California area.

“If playboy and suicide girls had a middle child, that is LMN” explains Gina. Looking into the future this middle child is looking to take the world by storm and tour internationally, all while spreading female empowerment on a global scale. In this day and age, when being a womxn can be hard, it’s important to have Little Miss Nasty’s in the world to remind us that we can be exactly who we want to be, when we want to be, and be as badass as we please without anyone else’s opinions, rules, boundaries, or lines.

I’ve written about and seen a number of burlesque performers and crews in my tenure as a photojournalist, but Little Miss Nasty is a different breed of women.

Burlesque, by nature, is women taking back their power, their sexuality, their identity and giving it back to the world with a powerful message. Sometimes that message is heard loud and clear, and sometimes that message is shouted from the rooftops at the highest frequency possible without really caring what anyone thinks about the noise they’re making. The latter is Little Miss Nasty. These women were the match that lit the entire place on fire, and we all fell in line to watch it burn. Just as rock and roll should be.