Scout Durwood is an entertainer in every sense of the word: she’s a burlesque performer, stand-up comic, singer, musician, and now the creator and lead of a digital series on YouTube. The series, Take One Thing Off, is inspired by her album of the same name. Both series and album are a mixture of songs, skits, and commentary.
We talked to Durwood about her identity and performance career.
You describe yourself as a chanteuse and a bon vivant. What do those words mean to you?
“Chanteuse” is a very precious word to me, because there aren’t a lot of us left. It’s usually a woman who sings in a live performance. What I love about being a chanteuse is the relationship I get to build with an audience that disappears as soon as that audience leaves. As for the bon vivant, so many people are focused on working hard, but I throw back. I like to have fun, go drinking, enjoy myself.
You’ve done so many kinds of entertaining. What have those different mediums taught you as a performer?
I’ve learned that you can go two ways in life. Either you’re beset by a passion when you’re younger, or you’re not. If you’re someone who shoots anything other than straight down the middle, you have to create your own target. I’ve always been kind of a scattershot, because I didn’t have that, so I like to synthesize multiple interests and talents into a single project. Making a show scratches all my itches.
The name of your album and series is Take One Thing Off. You’ve said that’s inspired by the Coco Chanel quote, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
Yeah, it’s one of my favorite quotes. I know that Coco Chanel was talking about accessories, but I like to expand it a little. Choose one attitude or reservation to take off before you go out into the world. It’s weirdly cool to be hard on yourself, and to dislike what other people are doing around you. For me, the thing I take off hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions. I remove that layer of judgment.
How has being a gay performer affected your career?
I think that for me because I present myself as super femme, I have to have the conversation about my sexuality at some point with my audiences. Being queer is super central to my identity; the majority of my conversations about the world aren’t like what other people talk about, because I don’t relate to that. I’m really lucky that I get to cast [my web] series out of a diverse group of people who are also my friends. I like to say, “Build a net, not a tightrope,” and they’re definitely my net.