My education of Burlesque so far, and what not to expect…
I’m gonna try and circulate my ‘themes’ so that I don’t have too many fatty posts or makeup posts in a row! My first post was about my size/modelling so I’m gonna make this next post about my love affair with an enticing, sexually charged, unforgettable subject; Burlesque [ber-lesk]
Flash forward a few weeks; I’m co-running the society and I’m in a room full of young women with several tabs open on my laptop ready to showcase a brief history of Burlesque. I was desperate for these women to see that Burlesque was not in fact what the world had ever so recently been subjected to: Christina and Cher’s contribution.
Don’t get me wrong, that film is my absolute guilty pleasure, the costumes were beautiful and the soundtrack itself makes for excellent shower singing sessions, but let’s be honest, the title is a little misleading.
Post-presentation and a ‘question time’, it was obvious that most of the room had the slightly more mainstream and often misinformed idea about Burlesque:
(think Ann Summers corsets and red lipstick, or at best, a Smiffy’s special…)
These girls had turned up with no previous knowledge of cabaret, limited ideas in characterisation and no particular skills with hair, makeup and costumes. To be honest, I’m still not sure what they were expecting of me. After a few rehearsals, I came to the conclusion that I was essentially running and choreographing a free, very basic group jazz dance class with no essence of Burlesque what-so-ever. Knowing that I had to focus on my third year of uni, and feeling increasingly disappointed that the society was not going in the right direction at all, I made the decision to leave the society. I wanted my burlesque name to be associated with my personal passion, standards and talents. I wish those girls all the best and hope that they realised their comfort zones within other outlets of performance.
Through my new networking in the community of Burlesque, I found out about a local show on in February 2011, and had no idea at the time what this show would eventually mean to me! It wasn’t just any burlesque show, it was a production by Neil Kendall (Goldust Shows), a cherished member of the Burly community and vintage photographer to the stars!
(This is me that very evening before the show started, just turned 21, barely grasping liquid liner and topping up my weak-ass red lipstick!)
The lineup was incredible, the atmosphere was electric, and the champagne mixed with red wine was a bad idea. I. Was. Hooked.
I saw the magical LouLou D’Vil, who went on to win the title of Miss Exotic World 2013 (one of Burlesque’s most prestigious titles!) The beautiful Billie Rae, with the most enchanting victoriana-style ballerina and circus acts, Vicky Butterfly, who is something of a British Burlesque legend, along with singers, magicians, circus skills and comedy. I couldn’t have been luckier that this was my first of many experiences of professional Burlesque. Meeting Neil Kendall was like meeting a celebrity for me, and I was in awe of his energy, presence and fabulous professionalism! I’m still gobsmacked when he recognises me and I’ve been lucky enough to attend all of his local events including those held at the beautiful Morecambe Winter Gardens (a crumbling yet stunning theatre). Most of his events are now at Halloween, so we often meet in a whirlwind of costumes/blood/sweat/beers:
(Halloween 2013 and 2014, fully costumed and fully sozzled!)
So that, my friends, was my introduction to the real world of Burlesque. At the age of 21, I developed a life-long devotion with this art form, a relationship I’m still working on. The first people to know about my debut performance will be you, so keep your eyes peeled for costume prep, musical choices and my inspirations!
In my next burly-related post, I’ll introduce a few more of my personal favourite acts and outline some of the best sources for you to begin your own love of Burlesque!