The Bombshell Revue holds space for the young, the old, the weird and everyone in between

click to enlarge The Bombshell Revue holds space for the young, the old, the weird and everyone in between
Erick Doxey photo
Performers of the Bombshell Revue with Atomic Threads owner Tina Brandvold (back row center, pink hair).

On the corner of Monroe Street and Northwest Boulevard sits a not-so-unassuming building. Its brick facade is adorned with rainbow flags, and neon lights flash in every window. It's hard to miss Atomic Threads Boutique.

Step over the threshold, and enter a world of debauchery, camp and, most importantly, inclusivity. And it's been that way since the beginning.

Tina Brandvold, who goes by Madam Stina Rae on stage, started the boutique with the help of her husband, Mike, because she noticed a lack of size inclusivity in the local vintage and alternative clothing spheres.

"Before my gastric sleeve surgery I was always a 300-pound, size 24 person," Tina says. "It is so much harder to find cute clothes. It's bullshit that a clothing company can dictate what you can and cannot wear just because of your size."

After multiple trips to Seattle and Portland in search of pin-up-style clothing that would fit her, Tina could only find clothes that went up to a size 16.

"That's where it started," she says. "I felt like garbage about myself, so I wanted to help others feel less garbage about themselves."

In 2017, the couple purchased $2,500 worth of size-inclusive burlesque, vintage and pin-up-style clothing, and started running what would become Atomic Threads out of their basement. Two years later, they opened a small retail space next to a Baskin-Robbins and then, in June 2021, everything aligned. Tina and Mike secured a spacious spot in the Boulevard Building, and Tina's love for all things burlesque began growing by the minute.

Though the duo had organized one-off burlesque shows at various local venues since the boutique's inception, Tina's dream was to curate her own troupe and have a space to perform that was their very own, where acceptance and inclusivity were of the utmost importance. Mike built a stage in the corner, and the Bombshell Revue was born in all of its glittery glory.

Members of Atomic Threads' burlesque troupe range in ages, from 18 to 51, and a slew of body types are represented on the Nightingale Stage. From thin to curvy, tall to short, the Brandvolds make space for anyone who wants to perform.

Backstage, Mike handles the technical aspects, though he's recently stepped out from behind the curtain to gain more experience hosting and performing.

"I'm really cheese-tastic out there," Mike says. "Being on stage by myself is a newer thing for me. My mind just goes blank, I'm terrified."

All of that nervous energy gets channeled into his performances — it isn't Mike Brandvold on that stage, it's Mister Stina Rae.

Atomic Threads' stage is covered in sequins and glitter, some intentionally placed while others are just a remnant of past sultry performances. Shows are usually themed, but that doesn't mean troupe members are limited. From drag kings in Speedos to screaming performers in feathered body suits, Tina and Mike have practically seen it all.

The couple want all performers who step onto their stage, and every audience member, to feel the same way they felt the first time they emerged into the spotlight — free to be themselves without reservation.

"When you look at it objectively across the board, burlesque caters to a very specific type of person," she says. "The people participating in typical shows are of a certain age, of a certain gender and of a very specific aesthetic. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are a lot of people that want to see themselves onstage and have a chance to be up there."

The Bombshell Revue has a core group of artists who perform in almost every show, but also accepts applications from new talent so as to show off as many new faces as possible.

Nora Jean Willette, a regular performer and also Atomic Threads's sole employee, has found comfort performing on the boutique's stage.

Sat, Feb. 11 at 8 pm; $25/general, $35/VIP
Atomic Threads Moutique, 1905 N. Monroe St.

Willette first worked with the Bombshell Revue as a stagehand, or what the troupe refers to as a "kitten," for a 2019 show at The Pin. When COVID hit and gatherings halted, Willette decided to fully immerse themselves in the world of drag.

"When I'm performing as Duck E. Loveless, I'm bitey," Willette says. "Off stage, I'm nervous and a bit shy. I get to kind of protect myself through my character. It's an outlet for me to express whatever feelings I want without holding back."

Willette has performed as Duck in many of the Bombshell Revue's shows and will be in attendance at the Revue's upcoming romantic goth cabaret show, "Nevermore." Each act is influenced by the romantic era of literature, siphoning inspiration from the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley.

"We've been those weirdos without a space," Tina says. "Now it's our job to make sure that everybody has somewhere to simply exist in their truest, most authentic form." ♦

Facing Fire: Art, Wildfire, and the End of Nature in the New West @ Jundt Art Museum

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About The Author

Madison Pearson

Madison Pearson is the Inlander's Listings Editor, managing the calendar of events and regularly contributing to the Arts & Culture section of the paper. She joined the staff in 2022 after graduating from Eastern Washington University.