Valley-bred Michelle Carr tapped into the showbiz genes of her vaudeville grandparents. Her first performances were as a go-go dancer for a band in an art gallery. Working two jobs, she saved money to open Jabberjaw with a partner. The coffeehouse-cum-all-ages-club, located in Arlington Heights from 1989 to 1997, was where Kurt Cobain, performing with Nirvana, met his idol, Iggy Pop. “It was a wonderland of fake glamour that we whipped up from thrift stores with almost no money,” says Carr. Va-va-voom:
In 1995, Carr cocreated the burlesque revival with the Velvet Hammer, a troupe of tattooed women of various shapes and sizes. After staging shows in L.A. for a decade, she took the group to Berlin—and stayed for three years. The new girl:
Carr returned here in 2008, and this spring she debuts Berber: The Life and Times of Anita Berber
. The cabaret pays tribute to the German expressionist dancer whom many consider the first performance artist. “All the projects are related,” Carr says. “They embody my love of punk and glam rock and the beauty of the grotesque and weird.” » Go to berbershow.posterous.com .
Photograph by Coral Von Zumwalt