It takes a special person to raise the spirits of an entire city with only her humor, independent spirit and generosity. Laura Coppinger is one of those people. Armed with a ukulele and plenty of spunk, she is breaking down barriers and connecting communities.

As herself or in the guise of her onstage alter ego, Mimi Le Uke, the Madame of Mischief, Coppinger has spent the last decade working ceaselessly to help St. Louisans let their hair down.

A former middle school teacher, actress and house manager for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Coppinger starred onstage in several area theater shows before nding her calling in burlesque as a member of the Alley Cat Revue before forming her own ensemble, the Randy Dandies, in 2010.

In 2015, Coppinger debuted as Mimi Le Uke, a sassy-mouthed chanteuse who unabashedly sings about sex, politics and whatever the hell she wants. In addition to performing regularly with her burlesque brethren, when her comedy and saucy serenades challenge conventional social and sexual norms, this “hostess with the mostest” also emcees drag shows and cabarets.

Spreading her laughs around town, Coppinger frequently presents Burlesque Bingo on the third Thursday of each month at the Crack Fox as well as Mimi’s Gigglebox on the third Friday of each month at the Monocle.

Despite this rigorous performance schedule, Coppinger has been unwavering o stage in making the River City a better place by hosting and producing fundraisers for local organizations, including Tenth Life and Food Outreach as well as Paint for Peace, a community exhibition celebrating the power of art in stimulating cultural understanding after the Ferguson and South Grand riots. Coppinger underscored her dedication to nurturing the local community. “We are a really gritty small town where everyone knows each other,” she says. “You can really make a name for yourself if you have the drive, but you have to connect with the community … [and] prove that you are willing to grunt it out. I love what I do; it’s not about having a fancy home, it’s about being able to be connected to my community.”

Civic-minded and sexy, the punchy singer has also spent the last five years raising money for sexual assault victims by helming the Mynx Academy Pole Dance Extravaganza. Additionally, she and her boyfriend have organized the largest school supply drive in the city the past two years, distributing over $5,000 worth of supplies annually.

When asked what she has done to make St. Louis a cooler place to live, Coppinger candidly replied, “I think I have given people permission to have fun. We, as a culture, are pent up and work too much and play too little. Throughout all of the jobs I have done, from bartending to character work to hosting a show, I have gotten people to get silly.”

Beyond her philanthropy and musical comedy, Coppinger serves as the general manager, bartender and booker for the Monocle, a vintage-inspired speakeasy in the Grove. M